by GMBlackjack

First published

The Immortals of Equis have been adrift in space for an eternity... And they are starting to lose hope as they continue onward...

Equis has fallen. Long ago, those few gifted with immortality left their dying world, searching for a new home.

That was ages ago. They have been adrift in space for an eternity, and they have found nothing to brighten their spirits. They are starting to lose hope that there is anything for them out here.

However, what they don't realize is that their journey has just barely begun...

-GM, master of Immortals.

Cover drawn by Little Duke! http://www.fimfiction.net/user/Little+Duke

Edit: Woah. It got on the front page. This has never happened before. Thank you all so much.

I - Abyss

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The vast reaches of space extend far beyond the imaginings of any mortal. The cold emptiness that makes up almost everything is something their minds simply do not allow them to comprehend.

However, given enough time, immortals will discover they can comprehend the vast emptiness. Some see beauty in it, the solitude of creation. Others wish to burn brightly enough to be seen amongst the endless backdrop of black. Others try not to ponder it and focus more of physical things.

However, a certain immortal who was staring at the stars found none of this awaken in herself. Instead, it filled her with fear. The expanse represented the lack of hope to her, that there was no place to go. That all which awaited them was doom…

Twilight Sparkle tore her ancient eyes away from the main window, trying to keep her mind occupied on something else. Anything else. But she had never been good at making her mind think of other things…

Not to mention the fact that there weren’t any distractions for her. Just the cold hard metal of the floor and walls accompanied by the soft hum of the jump drive warming up. She walked down the empty hallway, passing by many screens providing readouts on the various systems: life support, water supply, power production, gravity, etc. All of it had become meaningless to her over the years. Just a bunch of numbers the A.I. took care of…

During the first few years she had learned every nook and cranny of the ship inside and out. She had known what every number meant and why it was important, and what could be found behind every last panel she saw.


It had been so long since then she had forgotten most of it. She had no idea what the button to her left did anymore. She had no clue if that green screen was good or not. She didn’t need to.

She kept walking aimlessly until she found herself in the engine room, the great ball of fire that served as the ship’s core bathing her in light. There was another alicorn standing there, staring at the glowing orb as it grew.

“Celestia…” Twilight called out.

“I miss it,” Celestia said without shifting her gaze.

“Miss what?”

“Moving the sun,” She responded, still not moving. “I miss feeling its weight in my horn, feeling it skirt across the sky… I miss the warmth that filled me each time I reached out to it. This…” She raised a hoof and pointed at the core. “Is a poor substitute.”

As she said it, the core reached critical mass and imploded in a flash, sending all the built up energy into the drive and triggering a jump. The room fell dark for a moment while the core reignited - starting once more as a tiny pinprick of light against the drab darkness.

Celestia sighed, yet she didn’t move from her spot. Twilight decided to leave, knowing better than to try talking when Celestia was in one of these moods.

Twilight found Luna in the observation deck, the dark alicorn rapidly rushing to and from consoles in a frantic mess. “Luna…” Twilight said.

“Can’t talk now Twilight, have to analyze the new location!” She said, rampaging around, knocking over a stack of empty coffee mugs.

Twilight sighed. “What day is it?”

“The one-hundred and sixty-seventh! I feel great!” Luna twitched. “Sleep deprivation makes things so much more amazing! I feel so alert and I can see anything!

“That’s the caffeine talking and you know it.”

“Well yes… But it still makes things more interesting - ooh! Type G-7 star around a black hole! Maybe I’ll get to see another star get shredded!”

“That’s the same one from the last location,” Twilight said.

“Oh.” Luna blushed. “Still interesting though, right?” The moon princess rushed to the monitors and soon became so engrossed in her observations that she forgot Twilight was there. Twilight trotted out, continuing on her journey without any destination in mind. She stumbled onto the bridge to see Discord having his fun.

“Fire all phasers!” He yelled, standing up from the captain’s chair. He was wearing some kind of red uniform jumpsuit with a curved chevron symbol on it. Frankly, it looked absurd on his chimera-like body, but he liked it.

“Yes captain Discord!” Fluttershy said from another chair, pressing a button. The ship onscreen exploded in a flash of sheep.

“Good one Discord!” Pinkie said, giggling.

“Bullseye!” Discord whooped. “Now that was-” He stopped, noticing Twilight.

“Hey Discord,” Twilight said. Discord quickly snapped his fingers, returning the bridge to its true state - empty. There was no Fluttershy or Pinkie - there was only him. Nothing onscreen either, no action, no excitement. The screen hadn’t even been turned on for… Twilight didn’t know how long.

“What’s up Sparkles?” Discord asked.

“Nothing,” She said, wandering around. “Just... Lost in thought I guess.”

Discord waved a hand. “Psh, don’t do that, it does weird things to you. Trust me.”

“Yeah, your last mental break was only two years ago. I remember.”

“Oh. Was it really only two years? Where does the time go? Sorry… it felt like more.”

“It's fine Discord, really. We’ve all lost it at one time or another on this ship.”

Discord facepalmed. “Oh come on, use its name! Discord’s Beard!”

“It does not look like your beard, or any of your other body parts that you’ve compared it to over the years.”

Discord looked like he was about to respond, but then he sighed. “We’ve already had this exact conversation.”

“Twice,” She confirmed.

He groaned. “How much longer do we have to wait?

“As long as it takes.” Forever.

“Fine,” He said. “I’m going to torment Luna. What day is she on?”

“One hundred sixty-seven.” With her words, the draconequus was gone.

Minutes later, Twilight found herself in the place she didn’t like visiting - the cryo-bay. She didn’t know why she had let herself come here, but here she was, staring at the thousands of sleep pods before her. The green pods ranged in size from the minuscule ones for the breezies to the tremendous mountain sized one that held Torch.

As usual, Cadence was here, reading a book to the pod that had her alicorn daughter in it. A young foal that all had decided was too young to face the same burden as the other immortals…

Twilight didn’t interrupt Cadence’s story, she just kept walking past.

“...and then your father threw me Flurry Heart! It was… Interesting to say the least. Isn’t that right Shiny?”

The capsule with Shining Armor didn’t respond, as always. Cadence acted as though it did.

Twilight walked up to seven particular pods - two pegasi, two earth ponies, two unicorns, and a small purple dragon. Her friends. She thawed one of them out a year to talk to them - but only for a day. They had never changed much during their sleep… But they always said she had changed.

The Princess of Friendship let out another sigh. She couldn't open one up today - that day was two months in the future. Though times such as months had become short to Twilight over her stay here…

She wandered off, leaving all that remained of the people of Equis behind her - all those rows of individuals sleeping, unmoving, stuck.

She trotted into the main room, the 'Lobby' as they had taken to calling it. It was a large open room with a silvery table in the middle, behind which stood a large crystalline tree, unmoving in the large room. It sparkled in the starlight streaming in through the above window, the various colors of gem on it refracting the light in many beautiful patterns.

There was a purple-pink unicorn sitting on the Tree’s branches, eyes closed in meditation.

“Hey Starlight,” Twilight said with a depressed undertone. “Find inner peace yet?”

“I won't with you interrupting me,” Starlight quipped, not opening her eyes. Then she sighed. “Part of me wonders if ‘inner peace’ even exists…”

“If Celestia is to be believed, it isn’t a state of mind you can keep anyway.” Twilight sat down at the table, staring into the intertwining branches of the Tree of Harmony. “I wonder what it’s thinking…”

“It’s concerned,” Starlight said, opening her eyes and looking at the great Tree’s trunk sadly. “It is wondering if we made the right choice.”

Twilight looked up at the once guardian of Equis. “Well, you lasted the longest out of all of us…” She said. “That means something I suppose…” She frowned. “What’s the point anymore? We’ve been to thousands upon thousands of worlds, none of which can sustain us. We’ve found no allies to help us. We are all that there is…”

Starlight sighed. “Well what else can we do? We’re stuck looking for a new home. We can’t exactly stop, for what if there is a home we could find? And we can’t sleep ourselves - there are exactly enough pods for the crew, each one fine-tuned to the individual they house. We volunteered for this.” She took in a sharp breath of air. “And if we did sleep, we might miss something.”

“And you remind me of this every few years,” Twilight said.

“So? You need to be reminded that there is no alternative. So chin up and find yourself a purpose in life, something tangible to hold onto so you don’t go over the brink like Cadence.”

Twilight nodded slowly. “But what? You meditate, Luna works in the observatory, Discord has his games - what should I do?”

Starlight shrugged. “I dunno, it should be something you choose yourself. You could join me, but I don’t think you’re in the ‘find inner peace’ mood. You could ask the others at dinner, if you wanted.”


“HA-HA! I have gone one hundred and - ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz…” Luna fell flat into her salad, snoring loudly. Despite themselves, the five others at the table chuckled. Discord snapped his fingers and donned Luna in a nightcap and PJs. He guffawed, rolling on the floor in laughter at Luna’s obliviousness.

“It wasn’t that funny, Discord,” Starlight commented.

“Just trying to brighten up the mood.” He said, snapping his fingers to turn Luna’s salad into pancakes. A syrup bottle appeared and drizzled the sticky substance all over Luna’s face. She did not stir.

Starlight smirked. “I guess that’s somewhat amusing.”

“Pancakes…” Cadence said, her eyes far away. “That sounds wonderful..”

Discord passed her a pancake and she began to eat it mindlessly, her mind somewhere far away.

Twilight spoke up. “So, okay, I need something to do with my time. I’m going stir crazy again. Starlight suggested I ask all of you what I could do.”

“I can set up another grand adventure!” Discord said. “Maybe even use the Squizzard again…”

“Those adventures of yours are best kept in small doses, Discord,” Celestia said. “I found crab meat in my mane for a week after the last one.”

Discord laughed. “Oh pshaw, you like them.”

“Yes, they provide a welcome respite from the monotony. No, they should not be every day.”

“You could try writing stories Twilight,” Cadence said. “I could read them to Flurry… Heart…” She fell silent.

Luna’s snore filled the silence.

Celestia frowned. “I need to find something to keep busy with… Perhaps we could search for something together Twilight?”

“I’d love that,” She said, smiling genuinely.

The moment was interrupted when the alarm rose, sending deep droning tones into the passengers’ ears, red flashes completing the feeling. All of the immortals stood, alert.

“Proximity alert.” The calm female voice of the computer announced. “Unknown.”

Luna shot up, awake as ever. Even Cadence snapped out of her own mind for a moment.

Something was coming towards the Ark.

II - Intensive Study

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Discord snapped his fingers, teleporting everyone to the bridge instantly. Celestia took the captain’s chair. “What is it Starlight?” She demanded, her voice ringing with authority.

“Unknown object, octahedral, one meter radius, composition unknown.” She grinned. “It’s not natural, that’s for sure. Oooooh I wonder what it is!”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “A-Artificial? T-This means…”

“Huzzah!” Luna yelled. “There is light at the end of the tunnel!” Some syrup dripped off her snout and onto the floor. “...Why do I have syrup on my face?”

“No reason.” Discord responded with a smirk.

“Try sending a message,” Celestia ordered. “The standard one we have set aside.”

“Uh…” Luna said, blushing. “I may have overwritten that three decades ago.”

Celestia sighed. “Just open a channel and initiate the translation spell matrix.” She cleared her throat, hoping the spell would work. “Hello, I am Celestia, commander of the Equis Ark. We come in peace as simple explorers, as well as refugees looking for a planet to call our own.”

There was no response. The foreign object just continued approaching, starlight glinting off its brilliant silver shell. It closed in on the much larger Ark, tumbling end over end as it did so.

“We should bring it aboard,” Twilight said out of the blue. Everyone stared at her like she was crazy.

“In a forcefield!” She added quickly. “There’s no need to throw caution to the wind, but we do need to study it!”

“She has a point,” Luna said, momentarily taking a break from licking syrup off her face. “We must understand it, this is the only evidence of anything other than us we’ve seen.”

Celestia nodded. “Of course. But be careful with it. We don’t know what it is.” She turned to Twilight, a soft smile creeping up her face. “It looks like we’ve been given something to do, Twilight.”

Twilight could feel the childish excitement she hadn’t felt in forever building up inside of her, ready to burst.


Twilight and Celestia were in full body hazmat suits, standing in a spotless lab that was magically sealed and shielded from the outside. Starlight waved to them from the other side of the window, ready to adjust the magic fields as needed.

“Okay…” Twilight said, looking at the bright silvery octahedron on the experimentation table in front of them. Flanked by their scientific instruments, the device laid flat on one of its eight sides, each one seemingly identical and covered in unusual angular markings - possibly an alien language.

“Here we go…” She reached out with her magic, lifting the object into the air. ”1062.73 kilograms,” She said. “No violent reaction to magic. Volume of 0.75 cubic meters, density of 1416.97 kilograms per cubic meter. In other words, heavy.”

Celestia levitated a scratching tool over to the device, scraping a minuscule amount of the shell off for analysis, a little more than a few dust particles. “Platinum, tungsten, iron, zinc, and trace amounts of other elements in the hull.” She lifted her horn. “Magic readings… Zero.”

“That’s odd,” Twilight said. Everything anyone ever made was always touched by their personal magics, only truly natural things had no imprint, and the device clearly wasn’t natural. “Perhaps the creator had the signature removed somehow? To protect their identity?”

“Perhaps…” Celestia said, frowning.

“Well, time for a scan,” Twilight smirked, spreading her wings and focusing her magic on the device, scanning it from top to bottom and sending all the information to the crystal screen on the wall. A model of the device began to appear, revealing its inner structure to be mostly a thick solid wall surrounding a tiny core of circuitry.

Twilight zoomed in on the core, looking on with fascination at the advanced computer. She realized something after three seconds.

“I have no idea what any of this does. We are going to be here for a while.”


“How long have they been at it?” Cadence asked Starlight.

“Approaching nineteen hours.” Starlight said, gesturing to the two alicorns madly studying and analyzing on the other side of the window. Starlight yawned. “From what I can tell they still have no idea what it even is, and they aren’t going to crack it open just in case they break it.”

“Huh,” Cadence said. “Good for them. Would you like to read the story to Flurry Heart Starlight?”

“Not today, sorry.” Starlight responded.

“Oh okay…” Cadence walked off. “Perhaps tomorrow then…”

Starlight sighed - Cadence has asked her that exact question three days ago. Word for word. Starlight really hoped the found something soon - for Cadence’s sake. She needed to spend time with her family…

Starlight pushed the thought out of her head and began to meditate, focusing on the magical aura that filled the Ark. She touched it with her mind, and it bounced back ever so slightly, giving a vague feel of… curiosity.

That was a new one.


“They will be done soon!” Luna said, pacing around the observatory. “They must!”

Discord nodded, making a slight ‘mhm’ noise as he ate his popcorn with a bemused look on his face.

“It mustn’t take long…” She ran to the telescope. “Elanir is producing a flare! Good luck indeed!”

Discord just nodded slowly, drinking his glass.

“I mean the day has been moving towards this direction! The fates spin towards success!” She blabbed.

Discord took out a watch and looked at it with a grin.

“Don’t you dare say it Discord.”

“Twenty-five minutes until you lose the bet,” He announced.

“I said don’t you dare!”

“I dared.”

Luna’s eye twitched. “You will lose. And you will have to wear. The. Hat.”

“Eh, I doubt it moonbutt,” He chuckled. “Though I expect my month will be pretty hilarious. You will be walking around with-”

“One word and I give you nightmares for a decade.”



Discord tilted his head left and right. “Eh, lack of moon here. Not scared.”

“I will make you scared!”

“Oh no I’m so terrified!” He laughed heartily. “Luna, you lost any possibility of scaring me a looooooooooo-” To emphasize his point he stretched his body out exponentially as he held the tone. “-oooooooooo-”

“Okay, quit it, I get the joke.” She huffed. A silence fell over the room. The observatory remained noiseless for quite some time while Luna looked through the telescope and discord looked bored.

“...Twenty minutes.”

“Discord if you continue with this course of action I will not be held accountable for any dismemberment.”

“There won’t be any dismem-”

Luna shot him with a magic beam that knocked him over. She huffed and went back to her observations.


“Okay so these seams… They take in an input that will trigger this mechanism here… That… I believe that opens the object.”

Celestia nodded in agreement. “But it also could activate this section here - obviously a self-destruct mechanism. Input the wrong code and everything in five meters gets vaporized.”

Twilight frowned. “And this bit here… Stores information. And is connected right to the projector.”

“Someone went through a lot of trouble to protect this information.”

“Yeah… But we can get in. I just need to cast a spell to unlatch it from the inside, bypassing the input and self-destruct entirely. All that complex wiring and thick walls are nothing against a well placed magic spell.” She smiled. “Well, we know what it is - a message in a bottle.”

‘We should open it with everyone present,” Celestia observed.

“And five meters away from anything important, just in case,” Twilight said. “Let’s take it to the table.”

They nodded to Starlight - who to their ire was fast asleep at the controls. Twilight tapped her hoof at the window, causing Starlight to wake up and blush sheepishly. She lowered the shields and the two mares walked out.

“Tired?” Twilight asked.

Starlight looked at the clock. “You’ve been at it for just over twenty-four hours. Of course I am.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped - had it really been that long? Holy Stars…

“Call everyone to the Lobby,” Celestia said. “We have discovered what it is.”

Starlight nodded, touching her hoof to a nearby screen. “All personnel - this means you Discord - report to the Lobby. They've finished analyzing the device.”

The three mares walked to the Lobby, discovering Cadence already there, brushing her hair with a faraway look in her eyes, humming some long lost song.

Discord arrived next, holding a stopwatch in a rather despondent Luna’s face. “Twenty-four hours and six minutes! Six! You were so close!”

“Bite me.”

“Oh wow! Someone doesn’t like the soooocks!”

Celestia stifled a giggle as she realized her sister was wearing long striped blue and black socks on all her legs. She had to admit, they looked good on her, even if Luna did hate them.

Starlight did not stifle her laugh and instead let it ring out like a bell. “Finally get you did he?”

“And with that, I have made all of you wear socks,” Discord grinned. “Remember Luna, all month!”

The princess of the night let out a bestial noise, teeth barred.

“Aaaanyway,” Twilight said, taking control of the conversation. “What we have here is a message in a bottle, and we’re opening it for the first time! Everyone stand back.”

The six individuals took several steps away from the device. Twilight took a breath, and cast the spell on the object.


The octahedron's eight sides popped out, tossing the heavy and thick shell a few feet away, revealing the bluish circuitry in the center. It made a humming noise as it powered up, the projector lens glinting with the Tree of Harmony’s reflection.

The circuits turned orange, and a holographic image appeared...

III - Approaching Light

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The hologram was a brilliant orange color, reminding Twilight of amber. It took a few moments to fully congeal - flickering a bit and displaying glitched shapes in the initial moments, but it eventually stabilized into a slowly rotating depiction of the galaxy.

Luna instantly recognized where they were in relation to the other hundred billion stars, making note so she wouldn’t get lost.

A deep, alien voice began to play in a language none of them could understand, accompanied by strange alien characters that matched those found on the device’s shell. Evidentially the translation matrix was unable to translate a truly alien language.

Discord gave himself green antennae and, with a smirk on his face, began speaking as if he were translating the voice. “I, Gorkok, declare that all races shall deliver us cake! And other assorted pastries - mostly ones made of gold!”

“That’s enough Discord,” Celestia said. “We need to pay attention.”

The alien voice continued to drone on as the galaxy map zoomed in to a single star, revealing about a dozen planets. A few of the planets were highlighted with alien text to the side of them, making them seem important. Then the map zoomed out once more, highlighting thirteen different stars around the galaxy. One by one, these other stars were all visited - each and every last one of them had planets. Some had scrolling pages of text accompanying them, others only had a single line of information.

Twilight found the various systems hypnotic. She wanted to badly to know what the voice was saying, to know what this map meant…

The hologram zoomed out once more and highlighted the thirteen points one at a time, the voice droning on as it did so. Then the message restarted.

“Sooo…” Starlight said. “This is a well protected message that shows the locations of 14 systems?”

“And lots of detailed information on more than a few of them,” Twilight added.

“That we can’t read,” Discord snorted. “It’s useless!”

Luna raised a hoof. “I know exactly where we are in relation to this map. One of those systems is just a few days coreward.”

“Set a course immediately,” Celestia said. Luna nodded in affirmation, trotting off to the helm.

Starlight frowned. “I would still like to know why this was protected so much…”

“It wasn’t that hard to open,” Twilight said.

“Still, whoever made this went through a lot of trouble to keep it from prying eyes…” She scratched her chin. “These locations are probably supposed to be secret…”

“We’ll find that out when we get there I suppose. But I will try to figure out whatever I can on our way there.”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Yay! More random sciencing while the rest of us do nothing.”

“Look, Discord, I’m sorry th-”

“Sorry what?” Discord lashed out. “That I can’t do anything? That the rest of us are just here to hope there really is something out here? That just maybe this is an eons old message and is completely useless?!”

Celestia was a bit taken aback at this. “Discord, I don’t-”

Discord waved his hand. “Forget about it. I blew up there. Sorry. Had no reason to do that.”

Starlight smiled at Discord. “You know, I remember a time when you couldn’t even say sorry.”

Discord glared at her.

“It was a compliment!”

“Uh-huh. You need to work on your compliments there, Student of Friendship. Now toodeloo, I must watch the Princess of Socks!” He vanished in a puff of white light.

Twilight moved to take the alien device, but Celestia shook her head. “We need rest Twilight. We can work on it again after we’ve slept.”

Twilight opened her mouth to object, then shut it. She was pretty tired.

“It will be here in the morning, and we can look at it with a fresh eye,” Celestia smirked. “You too Starlight, that is if you didn’t get enough sleep while we were working.”

Starlight flushed. “Uh, not really. See ya!”

The three mares left the room, leaving it empty save for the Tree of Harmony and Cadence.

“...I wonder what that was all about.” She said.


Twilight tossed and turned in her bed, moaning in discomfort.

She was looking at the sky. Starlight and Twilight’s other friends were all ‘chillaxing’ on the roof of Friendship Castle, taking in the beautiful warmth of Equis’ sun, letting it warm their bodies. They all had their eyes closed, relaxing - though Pinkie and Starlight were probably only pretending to relax.

Regardless, everything was serene.

And then it was dark.

“What the hay?” Rainbow Dash said, looking up at the stars. “Who turned off the sun?”

Twilight sighed, turning to Spike, her dragon assistant. “Spike, send a letter to Celestia asking for the sun back. We were using it.”

Spike nodded, taking out a piece of parchment and getting started immediately.

“Pinkie, dear…” Rarity spoke up, glancing at her pink friend. “What’s got you so antsy?”

“I felt this coming,” Pinkie said. “I didn’t want to believe it but it’s true! The sun is gone!”

“Pinkie…” Applejack said. “Celestia can always raise it again. This is all probably some joke.”

Twilight frowned, looking at Pinkie. If she was scared, something was most definitely wrong. “Spike, ask if something's wrong in the message.”

Spike nodded and did so. Twilight stared into the moonless starry sky…

It looked oddly beautiful, but also menacing.

Twilight woke up with a start, chilled by the starry image in her mind. She shuddered - she always tried her best not to think about the day the sun disappeared, but it always snuck up on her.

She let out a deep sigh and attempted to get back to sleep.


Luna looked closely at the star they were jumping closer and closer to. It was a yellow star, one of many such peeping lights in the vastness of space.

Through the telescope she was able to discern that the star had at least one planet around it, though she knew nothing about it, much like the recording itself. It had shown nothing but a featureless sphere and a word Luna presumed meant “no data” or something similar. Luna groaned, zooming in as far as possible on the star and still getting no further data. She stamped her hoof on the ground in frustration, though the sock muffled the usually satisfying clank. Luna’s eye twitched.

“Are you okay my sister?” Celestia asked, strolling in.

“Yes. No. Maybe? I’m antsy,” Luna sighed. “I just don’t like not being able to do anything. Which is strange considering we’ve all done nothing for ages…”

“It will only be two more days Luna.”

“Two more agonizing days…” Luna moaned, covering her face with her sock covered hooves. “Aaaaaauuuuugggghhhhh….”

“You could take the opportunity to get some sleep Luna. You’ll need it for when we get there…” Celestia paused, noticing that Luna’s wailing had drifted into snoring. She chuckled, lifting Luna up with her magic and teleporting the alicorn into her bed.

Her work here was done, but she didn’t leave the observatory. Instead, she looked through the telescope towards their destination. The yellow light filled her ancient eye, and she was reminded of her beautiful sun…

Of course, she knew the star she was looking at was nothing like the warm globe she had controlled back home, but still. Perhaps something like home was there.


Cadence was standing in front of one of the pods, tears and longing in her eyes. She was staring into the serene face of a white unicorn stallion - her husband, Shining Armor. She put her hoof against the glass.

“S-Shiny? Did you hear? We might have found something! Just a few more days and you can come out and you won’t have to go back in! A-And you could read to Flurry! You were always better at that…”

She sniffed. “Remember when she was flying all around the room, messing up all the pancakes I was making? She only calmed down when you read from that book - she flew right to you. She wanted to hear from you.”

“I’ve tried… But she doesn’t respond to me. She never really does… But you do right? Right?”

Shining Armor’s sleeping form made no noise.

“N-No? No!? Why not!? What’s wrong…?”

She broke down in tears on the floor.

Starlight bit her hoof - having seen the whole thing she found herself once again considering casting a magic spell on Cadence to get her more grounded in reality. Starlight sighed, turning away and shaking her head. It was not something for her to do. She needed to stop considering that.

“Starlight?” Cadence said suddenly.

“Er… Yes?”

“Is everything going to turn out okay?”

Starlight hesitated for a moment. “Of course it will, we have a lead now, things are bound to start working out for us.”

“Do you know that? Have you gone to the future?”


“Then go away.”

Starlight obliged, walking out of the chamber. She let out another sigh. That poor broken mare…


The next day Twilight noticed a few interesting things about the message. There were patterns.

Discord appeared, startling Twilight’s analysis.

“Hello there Twinkles! How goes the overanalysis?”

Twilight decided to humor him. “Very good actually. I think I’ve been able to determine the names of each system based on the speech patterns. Every time the map zooms into a location, there is a phrase spoken by the voice - a phrase that changes by one word each time. This change is presumably the name - for instance, Ray’Nei, the one we’re going too.”

“Remind me to name my next character Ray Nei.”

Twilight ignored the remark. “I’ve noticed something about the locations of the systems as well. They’re spread out pretty randomly, yes, but what’s interesting is that the stars closest to the first system we’re shown have a lot more information on them, suggesting that the first system is a kind of base for whoever made this. Perhaps the center of their kingdom.”

“Or maybe it’s just yet another place they’ve happened to get a good look at. Maybe a resort planet that paid for extensive advertising!”

“Discord, that’s ridiculous,” She rolled her eyes. “What’s interesting me right now is the final section - where the other thirteen systems are being highlighted. Another similar phrase is repeated each time one is highlighted. The names are mentioned in it, but there’s also another part that changes…”

“This place is also known as Tiki Wave Resort!” Discord suggested. “Now with alien coconut-flambe and massages!”

Twilgiht groaned. “Can’t you take anything seriously?”

Discord grabbed Twilight’s head. “Twilight, Tiki Resorts are the most important things possible.”

“Riiiiiight…” Twilight removed herself from Discord’s grasp. “Uh, let me just get back to work, okay?”

“Fine. I’ve got to fill the hallway Luna’s going through with banana peels anyway.” And then he was gone.

Twilight got back to her studies, but found nothing new. She eventually went wandering around the Ark once more, eventually finding herself at the pods of her six friends again.

“Soon,” She said. “Tomorrow.”

The Ark jumped again, getting ever closer to the yellow light. The goal was in sight.

IV - Relic

View Online

A calm yellow star stood suspended in the space-time continuum that was the universe. It shone its light brightly against the expanse, defying the onward march of reality itself. A single planet drifted slowly around this sun. It was a mostly brown rocky world with a fair amount of clouds swirling in intricate patterns, indicating a speedy rotation. It sat alone, moonless, with nothing more than the star’s light on its surface.

With a flash of light blue energy the tremendous shape of the Ark appeared, its metallic sheer reflecting the star’s light. The craft’s shape was roughly cylindrical and slightly squat, with seven large propulsion engines in the back and a predatory looking hullplate that brought the front to a curved point. The Ark maneuvered into planetary orbit, lazily drifting around the spherical body below.

“Well, amazing news and bad news,” Starlight announced upon examining the scans.

“Bad news first,” Luna responded as she wiped her eyes, yawning.

“The surface is radioactive enough that long term settlement is a bad idea.”

Celestia sighed. “The good news?”

“Oxygen rich atmosphere. We can breathe down there. Which is a pretty good indicator that we may find microbial life down there at the very least.”

Discord grinned. “We shall shrink to their size and teach them the secrets of civilization! Then we shall watch as they tear themselves apart in micro wars!” He let out a very evil sounding laugh. Everyone stared in fear at the literal fire in Discord’s eyes.

“Oh come on that was funny.”

Luna facehooved.

“There’s more,” Starlight continued. “There’s a structure on the surface. Definitely artificial.”

“How can you be sure?” Twilight asked.

“It’s made of a pure platinum-silver alloy?” Starlight offered.

“Good enough for me,” Celestia said. “We shall descend immediately. Place us in geosynchronous orbit and drop the tether.”

Luna clapped in excitement. “Oooh! We haven’t launched that in forever!” She lit her horn. “Initiating firing sequence!”

A hatch opened in the bottom of the Ark, revealing a giant coil of black wire. Red and blue lights began to flash as the coil rotated into position, revealing a giant six-pronged claw ready to anchor itself into solid rock - or even things much harder than solid rock. The dark blue magical aura of Luna enveloped the entire hook. It dislodged itself from the Ark proper and moved towards the planet slightly - slowly and surely for a few meters. Afterwhich it was launched with tremendous force towards the planet’s surface. As it entered the atmosphere, intense flames licked the claw, heating it until it glowed a dull red. The claw cascaded downwards, past the clouds, towards the brown earth beneath. It impacted the ground with an intense force that would easily have registered on the Richter scale.

The claw held fast, spikes firmly dug into the earth; the planet was now firmly connected to the Ark.

“Tethering successful,” Luna announced, smiling. “Who’s coming?”

“Everyone but me,” Starlight said. “I need to watch the Ark.” And Cadence, she thought.

Celestia nodded. “Then the four of us. Come - we have a structure to investigate.”

Discord rubbed his hands together eagerly. “It’s been so long since we’ve been on a planet! I’ll be able to cut loose!”

“Yes, of course, just don’t mess with the structure,” Twilight said, lighting her horn and teleporting to the tether bay. The elevator stood there, waiting. It was a rather simplistic cylindrical capsule roughly the size of a large living room. It was already affixed to the tether, ready to descend.

The three alicorns and the draconequus entered the elevator. The interior had six seats, several screens on the walls displaying the outside, and plenty of space to load cargo. Celestia pressed a few buttons on the inner wall and the doors slid shut behind them - and the elevator began to drop.

It shook as it descended downwards at an impressive speed - but nowhere near as fast as the claw had been moving. It would take a few minutes to get to the bottom.

“What do you think it’s going to be?” Twilight asked giddily. “Alien repository? Ancient facility? Underground city entrance? The possibilities!

“Vacation home slash jacuzzi,” Discord suggested. Twilight shot him a look.

Celestia rolled her eyes, but smiled. She felt something returning to her - she had been doing nothing for so long, it felt good to have an active purpose again. But it was more than that - she could see the life returning to everyone’s eyes. Where there had once been hopelessness and despair there was now curiosity and excitement.

The elevator came to a stop with a sharp lurch, and the doors slid open. The land was barren - nothing but rocks and dust for as far as the eye could see. But the otherwise desolate scenery was made up for by the brilliant blue sky, the glare of the sun, the swirling clouds, the wind in their manes.

Celestia let out a breath, closing her eyes and letting the wind blow past her ears.

Twilight lifted some of the dust with her telekinesis and squealed. “There’s definitely microbes in this dust - not much, but some. Alien life! Do any of you know what this means? There’s probably a home for us out there somewhere! Just… YES!”

She teleported to the crest of a hill. “The structure is a few miles this way! Come on!”

“In a minute,” Discord said, having already created a river of soap in midair, accompanied by a flock of tuna birds. “I need to have my fun.”

Celestia rolled her eyes - but let him indulge. They all needed to let loose a little.



So cold.

Starlight trudged through the deep snow, the moon bright overhead. The stars looked down upon the bundled-up mare as she continued through the multiple feet of snowfall.

“Because of you Snowfall Frost… The future is a cold nightmare…” Starlight muttered under her breath. She continued on through the sunless land, praying she would last long enough. She had to - there was so much depending on it.

Through the moonlight she saw her destination - a small snowed-in town, chilled to the bone by the freezing. She could see some caved in roofs that had been unable to withstand the snow’s might. Most houses had no lights on - but a few flickered with candlelight and magic lamps.

She managed to walk into the town, her face frozen with icicles. She had no idea if she was on a road or not - she just needed to get to the center of town. She breathed heavily, forcing herself to move, just a bit more…

The inhabitants of the town began to notice her, looking out the windows of their homes - muzzles pressed to the glass, watching her intently.

Starlight’s horn burst into a spotlight, shining brightly enough for some to turn away. She levitated a spherical piece of glass inscribed in numerous magical runes, placing it in midair above her head.

Starlight roared, pumping all the energy she had into the glass device. It expanded in size a hundredfold and lit up a brilliant blue-white color, illuminating the entire town.

But most importantly, it produced warmth.

Starlight collapsed the moment she was done - she had lost count of how many of these she had activated in the last few days. She was done…

She was surrounded by the town's worried inhabitants - mostly zebras - as she lost consciousness….

Starlight frowned. Why that memory?

Why did meditation bring forth that? Why not the first time she connected with the Tree of Harmony? Why not being saved by Twilight in the alternate timeline? Why not the moment she made herself immortal?

Those events were unique. She had produced hundreds of those spheres during the Freezing…

She had left that turmoil behind so long ago, it had never helped to hold onto it.

In her meditation, she felt an emotion was over her. One of mild admonishment, but mostly of understanding. She was not the only one with unresolved feelings here.

She opened her eyes, looking around the bridge. Alone again… She sighed, she should probably go check up on Cadence.

It was at this moment she noticed a message onscreen.


Oh no. Not again…


The three mares arrived at the structure laughing their mouths off. They were in a hovercar crafted from mattresses, pizzas, and squirrel clocks. Discord considered it one of his masterpieces.

They were having a good time.

“Ahoy! Avast! Augh!” Discord exclaimed.

“LAND HO!” Luna announced, pointing at the structure they had come to investigate.

The structure in question was a brilliant silver spire with two points at the top. The points formed a gap in the middle that could be seen through - behind which the planet’s scenery was captured perfectly. At the base of the spire stood several smaller spikes, creating a slight sprawl of pointy structures.

“And now we know the aliens were sea urchins,” Discord announced.

“Don’t be ridiculous Discord, we haven’t investigated it at all yet,” Twilight retorted.

"Humph. It’s either that or they were way too fascinated with sea urchins.”

“It may not even be a sea urchin, Discord,” Luna said.

“I don’t know…” Celestia said. ”It does kinda look like one with a really big spike on top.”

Luna grunted; Discord laughed.

The four teleported directly next to the central dual-pointed spire, taking a quick look around. They quickly decided that the architecture was almost completely featureless.

“Smooth… Brilliant… Beautiful…” Luna said. “But seemingly pointless. There’s nothing here.

“Careful Luna, you just might discover something with that attitude!” Discord chuckled, floating into the central spire’s gap. As soon as he did so he was engulfed by a blue light and vanished.

The alicorns gasped. “Discord!” Celestia called out, following his movement between the dual spire. Before Luna could finish saying “WAIT!” Celestia was gone as well.

Luna sighed, looking over at Twilight. Twilight looked nervous - they weren't dead, she knew that, but she didn’t know what had happened to them. Luna shrugged, and followed Celestia, fixing Twilight with a wry grin as she vanished.

“For the love of apples…” Twilight facehooved. She reluctantly flew between the points. The blue light engulfed her and she felt every molecule of her body get torn apart bit by bit in the span of a single second. The next second consisted of the exact same thing happening in reverse.

She appeared in a smooth and well lit cavern, hyperventilating. Her legs fell out form under her, dropping her to the ground. It seemed like the entire room spun around her.

Celestia and Luna stifled a laugh. Discord made no such attempt. “Hahaha! Does Twily need a barf bag?” Discord crafted one and Twilight gladly used it.

“Ugh…” She said. “That was unpleasant…”

“The teleportation system is disassembly-reassembly,” Celestia said. “Like all early teleportation spells. What you just felt is why we generally use the somewhat more convoluted point-to-point teleportation.”

Luna helped Twilight up. “We’ve all experienced it before - it takes a while for your soul to realize the body has moved. The pain you feel is that delay - your soul thinks your body is dead for the briefest of moments.”

Twilight shuddered. “I’m teleporting out of here my way. Just have to think of the Ark…”

Luna made a ‘tsk’ noise. “Twilight, you know teleporting into orbit is dangerous. Just go back to the elevator.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “That takes longer.”

“Oho!” Discord said. “Getting lazy are we?”

“Nope,” Twilight responded. “Just practical. Anyway, what is this place?”

“It appears to be a completely empty space - save that pedestal.” Luna observed.

Twilight walked up to the pedestal, investigating it closely. It was completely featureless. The block on top of it, however, was anything but. The rectangular prism was orange and had pyramidal points at either end. On each face was engraved an alien word, constructed with a single continuous line.

“Well that isn’t the same language as the thing we have,” Discord observed. “A whole new race! Maybe they’re at war! Galactic space guns destroying entire planets over an argument about a waffle face off!”

Luna lifted the object, scanning it. “This is covered in minuscule variations in texture - almost as if it were a physical representation of code…”

“A message?” Twilight wandered aloud.

“I don’t think so… And if it were, it’s not one for us to understand,” She furrowed her brow. “The variations seem almost random…”

“Let’s take it back on board for study,” Celestia said. “And nobody is teleporting directly back to the Ark.”

Each of them teleported away on their own power.

Celestia was the only one back on the elevator. She muttered an expletive and told the elevator to take her up.


Luna, Twilight, and Discord all appeared in the Ark’s main bay, Luna holding the alien brick. They would have gotten to work on it instantly, had they not been interrupted.

The interruption in question was a baby alicorn flying through the Ark giggling madly and shooting lasers everywhere - lasers that Starlight was barely containing.

Not again… Everyone thought.

“Stop standing there like idiots and help me catch her!” Starlight yelled in the voice of a mare who had been doing this for far too long.

Flurry Heart just laughed at the chaos she was causing.

V - New Unknowns

View Online

“Ah… So innocent… So beautiful…” Cadence said.

“SHE JUST SET ME ON FIRE!” Luna yelled as Flurry Heart flew overhead. “I AM GOING TO SQUISH THAT TWERP!”

“Easy Luna,” Starlight said. “She’s just a baby!” At that exact moment Flurry Heart shot a beam of energy that hit Starlight right in the plot. “THAT’S IT!” She yelled, face red. “THAT KID IS GETTING STRANGLED!” She rushed Flurry Heart, only for the kid to teleport away.

Twilight encased the filly’s new location in a magic bubble, catching her as she appeared. “Gotcha!” Flurry Heart just teleported out and giggled. Twilight twitched. “How did Cadence even get her out this time? We put up safeguards around the systems!”

"The A.I. loves her,” Starlight responded.


“Literally. Love magic apparently works even on non-sapient computers.”

Discord elbowed Cadence. “Ooo! Dirty trick there Caddy!” He then continued eating his popcorn.

“A precious trick,” Cadence replied, a smile on her face.

“I don’t know why everyone complains, you’re awesome when crazy,” He laughed. “Did you see them headbutt? Those horns are gonna hurt!”

“DISCORD!” Luna yelled. “You could help maybe?”

“Nah,” He said. “As long as I’m entertained I see no reason to stop the fiasco.”

Luna roared, trying to grab the baby with her telekinesis. Once again, the little alicorn just teleported away… and didn’t reappear in anyone’s field of vision. There was silence.

Starlight stopped cold. “I can't hear her. And I have hearing enhancement spells on. That means-”

Discords smile vanished and he dropped his popcorn. He snapped his fingers and teleported outside the Ark. He saw her almost instantly, drifting in the zero gravity.

She wasn’t moving.

He wasted no time, grabbing her and flashing back onto the ship. “Healing!” He demanded.

The mares winced when they saw Flurry Heart - she was bloated, her eyes were red, and she was deathly cold; ice crystals formed on her wings and mane. Starlight began casting a spell.

“YOU MONSTER!” Cadence yelled. “YOU DID THIS!”

Discord glared, eyes on fire. “No. You did.

Cadence recoiled, tears in her eyes.

Starlight completed the spell, rewinding time around Flurry Heart to the state she was in just minutes before - giggling happily without a care in the world.

Discord snapped his fingers, and she was gone. “She’s back in her pod. Where she will stay,” He glared at Cadence. I think I see why they fear you now.”

Cadence stood there for a few seconds before turning tail and bolting out of there, tears flying behind her.

Everyone was silent. Luna sighed. “I’m going to analyze the brick. Coming Twilight?”

“Sure…” She said, and the two left.

Discord and Starlight glanced at each other.

“I shouldn’t have been so harsh,” Discord mumbled.

“I should have been paying more attention. We both messed up, old friend,” Starlight said.

“Can she be fixed?” He asked.

“I could force her brain to return to the way it was, the spell isn’t that hard for me. But… I don’t think she’d want that. And even if she did…”

It was at that inopportune moment a really ticked off Celestia stepped out of the elevator.

“Bye,” Discord said, flashing out of existence.

Starlight raised her front hooves. “I had nothing to do with whatever it is he did.”

Celestia rolled her eyes. “I know you and him have worked together on many things without my knowledge. So I believe I have the-” She paused, face shifting from annoyed to concerned. “What has happened?”

“Flurry Heart got out again.”

“That’s not much of a-”

“She teleported outside. Almost died in the vacuum of space,” She shuddered. “A few more moments and the rewind might have created a zompony…”

Celestia put a hoof on Starlight. “Don’t beat yourself up. You saved her. Take pride in that, admit that there are ways you can improve, and don’t dwell on what your curse might have done.”

Starlight nodded. “I know… You think after all this time I would have come to terms with it, considering that I don’t use that kind of magic that often…” She sighed. “Thank you.”

“I try.”


“Now.. Let’s figure out what this brick has to offer…”

Twilight and Luna scanned the brick and sent the intricate texture to the computer.

“Hrm…” Twilight said. “Unknown compound - highly complex structure. I don’t think it could be dented if you hit it with a train.”

“That’s probably the point,” Luna said. “Something that could survive eternity.”

Twilight pointed a hoof at the holographic diagram. “The microscopic ridges seem to flow in a line all around the brick. Starts at one end and ends at the other.” She pointed to what was being displayed at the left end. “This one has a depression the other doesn’t.”

“Possible startpoint?” Luna asked.

“Definite startpoint,” Twilight said, running a program that would measure the microscopic ridges, assign numbers to each section, and continue on. It was done with the process in a minute.

11 7 13 2 9 5 3 3 7 4…

“...It’s a random string of numbers.” Luna noticed.

Twilight frowned. “No pattern at all. But that doesn’t make sense! Every language’s code, messages, and even compressed data has a pattern! Computer, analyze the entire string for any kind of pattern!”

Patterns: 0

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “What? Why would anyone bother to transcribe a random string of numbers onto an unbreakable brick? It is some kind of mathematical constant?”

Luna frowned. “I have no idea…”


“Nothing? Twilight had asked.

“Nothing,” Starlight said in response. “I’ve been all over the ruins, up and down, left and right, inside and outside. There was nothing there but the teleporter, the brick’s pedestal, and a lot of empty rooms.”

Twilight sighed, turning to Luna. “Guess we’re done here… Plot a course for the next star on the map.”

“Two week trip,” Luna reminded her. Twilight groaned.

That had been one week ago. There was still one week until they arrived at the next location on the map.

They had fallen back into a routine once again. Besides the one round of role-playing they did with Discord, everybody found something to do.

Discord still lived in his own powerful magics, bending the world to his will for amusement.

Twilight had taken to helping Luna in the observatory when she wasn’t in the lab with Celestia analyzing the recording for more information. So far, nothing had been revealed. Even crafting brand new translation spells turned out to be useless.

Starlight still meditated on the Tree of Harmony, often wondering about Cadence. She had pondered trying to access the Time Vortex again - undo everything that had happened. But she was once again reminded of her curse - the curse placed on her last time she tried that. Even after all this time, she still had nightmares of what she created… Reminding her that some things were beyond her control. She could try to work around it, but she might not be saved this time.

Cadence… Cadence had taken to just crying until she passed out in front of the stasis pods. Usually Flurry Heart or Shining Armor, but sometimes people she didn’t even know. This time she passed out in front of King Thorax…

The Ark stood before her, docked at the grand city of Canterlot. Cadence felt a little proud of the moment. After all, the Ark had been her idea. It was nice to see it finally come to fruition, even if it meant the planet was dying. The mini-suns could only do so much for so long - eventually they were going to dim and decay into nothing. Equis would die.

But with Cadence’s Ark, Equis would have children that escaped to the stars.

And she would be among the guardians. The mothers who helped the children on the long journey. It would be a difficult undertaking, but an undertaking she would take with her head held high.

“You sure about this?” Shining asked from beside her, Flurry Heart sleeping in his mane. “We could stay out with you-”

“No,” Cadence said, smiling at them. “I need to do this. I’m an immortal - it’s my duty to protect these children.” She nuzzled Flurry Heart. “All of them. But especially you two.”

“Hey, I’m not a kid,” Shining said, the two kissing. “I’m your stallion in Shining Armor.”

“Kid,” Cadence laughed. She raised a hoof and gestured up the boarding path. “Shall we?”

“Of course.”

The family walked aboard the Ark. Cadence led them to the stasis chambers that were just being activated. A griffon - Gabby, Cadence remembered - was running the controls. She guided them into pods of the appropriate sizes. “You won’t feel a thing!”

Flurry Heart was laughing inside her tube. Shining simply put his hoof to the glass, a motion which Cadence mirrored.

“I love you,” He said, the glass muffling his voice. “See you soon! Maybe you’ll choose to let me out on that ‘visit day’ you have planned!”

Cadence chuckled. “Maybe. I love you too.”

Then the two ponies were frozen and the pods were carted away. Cadence didn’t move for the longest time. There were tears in her eyes and a nail in her heart. For the first time, she felt unsure of her decision…

“INCOMING CENTAUR!” A dragon yelled. Cadence felt the ground shake. She lost all her feelings of loss and replaced them with rage. She teleported on top of the Ark and did something she had never done before.

She used the Royal Canterlot Voice.


Cadence came to, the battle with the rogue centaur coming back to her in a blur. They had won. But… She didn’t remember how.

She started crying again.

Why did she let them go?


The Computer Core of the Ark was housed in a highly complex crystal matrix sphere crafted by the greatest of magicians. The glowing and pulsating blue orb was suspended in a very dark room that was supposed to be completely empty.

It was not empty.

A little robot smaller than any eye could see was crawling in the room. It leapt across the gap, latching its six legs onto the Core.

The Core took no notice, continuing on as if nothing had happened.

VI - Technical Difficulties

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The Ark’s showers and baths were one of its few pleasures. At the moment, Luna was taking a bit of a hybrid - the bath was full and she was immersed in it, but the showerhead was still on, sprinkling her face. She called these ”soakers,” Twilight called them “bowers,” Starlight “shaths,” and Celestia “silly.” Discord’s name for them changed depending on who he wanted to annoy most.

Luna liked the soakers anyway. It felt nice to have the warm water drizzle over her head and-

Suddenly the water drove into her skull the feeling of being under a mountain waterfall in winter. She yelped at the new cold temperature. “C-c-computer! Adjust water temperature to warm!” She shouted.

The computer complied. She was blasted with scalding water instantly. “Turn the water off!” Luna yelled, stepping out of the bath, annoyed. The computer obliged. Then the lights shut off, causing Luna to trip and land flat on her face. She grunted, feeling for the automatic door. She found it - but it wasn’t opening.

“Stupid…” She teleported herself out of the bathroom, dripping water in the outside hallway. Then she teleported a towel to her. She took a deep breath.

“DISCORD!” She yelled at the top of her lungs.

“You rang?” He said, appearing in a flash of light.

“I told you to stop messing with the bathrooms when I’m taking a soaker!” She snorted.

Discord raised his hands in surrender. “I did nothing to your shathybower, Glimmy and I have been leading Celestia around with cake all morning.”

“IT BURNS!” Luna heard Starlight yell from a deck below them.

"Sounds like it didn’t go well…” Discord muttered. “Anyway, the only thing I’ve done to you is make sure you keep your socks on.”

“Discord, I was in the tub, surely you can understand why I don’t have the embarrassing garments on right now.”

“Who said you didn’t have them on?”

Luna looked down. Her socks were on. “When did you-?”

“While we’ve been talking,” He said, grinning. “I’m just too clever.”

“I’m going to look at the power systems, we may have a fluctuation.”

“Are you just going to ignore me?”

“Perhaps the elevator messed up the settings…”

“Okay then, somepony’s not in the mood. Toodeloo, Socky.”

“I AM NOT SOCK- and he’s gone,” Luna groaned. She teleported herself to one of the main power conduits, looking at the large glass tube filled with blue vis energy. These pipes carried power to the entire Ark, so if one was acting up… She accessed the power station and performed a diagnostic - all the power allocation systems checked out, and there was no recorded error.


Very strange.

She furrowed her brow - what was she supposed to do next? She hadn’t done any technical work outside the observatory in years… She had forgotten…

Perhaps she should stop messing with it and ask Twilight. Luna teleported away, in search of the Princess of Friendship. She found her staring out the window at the stars. Luna joined her, and she found herself absorbed in the sky…

She had often considered the stars her sky.

It was the last Nightmare Night. The opponents of the Ark had been defeated and now it was just a wait until the ship was launched on Hearthswarming Eve. Most of the passengers were already on board, but more trickled into their reserved pods every day.

Luna was glad Cadence had put away Flurry Heart and Shining Armor already - they didn’t need to witness this.

The ponies of Canterlot were partying like there was no tomorrow - literally. Ponies and other races from all across the land had congregated here to see the Ark. They knew the world was ending. Only a few had bothered to design bunkers for the long cold years ahead. Most had just given up and used the day - her day - as a way to cut loose.

Alcoholic bottles were strewn everywhere, and spooky ‘pranks’ were being played. Dangerous pranks. Ponies had lost all inhibitions. Relationships were being formed and destroyed by the minute.

They were using her night to destroy themselves. It aggravated her. She had always encouraged her subjects to enjoy Nightmare Night since the first one she attended - but never like this. What made it worse was that a pony she knew well, a pony that would be one of the last to be frozen, was in the middle of it. Encouraging it.

“Come on everypony! Smile!” Pinkie Pie cackled, jumping around at physically impossible speeds, scaring may ponies, offering others food, and keeping the city-wide party going strong. Her costume was simple - flat hair, psycho look, and what Luna presumed was a fake knife.

Luna’d had enough.Ponies were ending up in the hospital because of this She teleported next to Pinkie and growled. “Stop this.”

“No,” Pinkie said, trying to bounce off.

“No!?” Luna was taken aback. “But-”

“They need this. These ponies are going to die, or at the very least live their lives out in cramped, boring bunkers that could fail at any moment. This will the last day most of them live.” Tears were in her eyes.

It was at that moment Luna realized something.

“...The flat hair isn’t part of your costume.”


Luna sighed. “Why are you throwing a party like this?”

“I said. They need to live. They need to smile - really smile - one last time. They need to have one last night on the town before it all ends. Before their lives melt into a timeskip. Nothing more than a flashback in our memories.” Tears were falling down her cheeks at a rapid pace. “This is the night that will be remembered! I’m making sure it is!”

Luna backed off, hanging her head. “I… See…”

“I’ll stop it tomorrow,” Pinkie promised. “It won’t be Nightmare Night much longer. Just a few more hours.”

“Okay,” Luna said, giving in. “Okay.” She backed down and let the night continue. She was never sure if that was the right thing to do. She found out later a dozen ponies had died that night. And Starlight…

Starlight had come to her broken, battered, and half-mad at the end of the night. Screaming things about the past, the future, the undoing, the deaths, and her failure. She was cursing the Stars…

That was the one night it was most certainly not Luna’s sky.


“Yes, what?” Luna responded, shaking out of it. “Sorry Twilight, I was elsewhere.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I was just saying I think we should have jumped by now.”

“Oh,” Luna said, frowning. “Yes we should have. That’s odd. This may have something to do with why I came to talk with you in the first place. The showers were experiencing some temperature fluctuations, but when I checked the power systems there were no visible errors.”

Twilight frowned thoughtfully, walking to a nearby screen and setting it to power readout.

Luna facehooved. “I forgot you could do that from anywhere.”

Twilight smirked. “We all forget things Luna, don’t feel bad. We just need to access the power history in the bathrooms and - viola! A change in power! ...That’s odd…”


“There was no fluctuation. The Computer Core ordered that to happen.”

“Why on Equis would it do that?”

“I don’t know… Running a Computer Core diagnostic.” She furrowed her brow as the results appeared onscreen. “Bizarre - it’s been sending out seemingly random commands all day! Including stalling the drive!”

“Must be damaged somehow.”

Twilight nodded. She sent a magical message to Starlight, telling her to meet them at the Computer Core entrance. Then she teleported Luna and herself to the giant rounded doors of the Core’s room. The doors were dark grey hunks of metal with warning signs pasted all over them.

Starlight appeared next to them, mane singed. She smelled vaguely of bacon. “Do. Not. Ask.” She stated. “Let’s just fix this thing.”

“Okay…” Twilight said, turning to the door. “Shields up girls, we’re going in.” The mares encased themselves in bubble shields quickly. Twilight slowly opened the door, and the three of them stepped into the cavern, the round core suspended in the air before them. Red lights blared, indicating it wasn’t safe for them in here, but they knew this.

Starlight floated herself right to the Core and began scanning. She frowned. “No major defects…” An arc of power surged from the sphere at hit her shield, having no effect on her overall.

Luna frowned. “That looked like it attacked her.”

“Don’t be silly,” Twilight said. “I designed the Computer to be physically incapable of harming a pony without one of our commands.”

The Core blasted another arc of energy at Starlight, with no affect whatsoever.

“Okay, that does seem aggressive,” Twilight admitted. “Be careful Starlight.”

“I’m fine,” She said. “Still can't find the proble- wait.”

“Wait what?”

“There’s a microscopic dust speck on the Core. It’s made of the same material as the Brick.”

“The Brick!?” Twilight exclaimed. “How’d a piece of that get in here?”

“How’d a piece even break off?” Luna questioned. “It was so strong I don’t think we could have chipped it without a specialized spell!”

Starlight shrugged. “I don’t know. But I’m removing it-”

An arc of lightning blasted Starlight, and it didn’t stop. It continually charged power into her shield, trying to break it. “Reinforce me!” She said, straining to remove the microscopic thing and keep the shield up.

Luna and Twilight complied, the shield once again easily absorbing the Core’s energy discharge. The moment Starlight encased the speck in a small magic bubble, the bolt stopped.

Starlight looked closely into the bubble. “We need to get this thing in a sealed jar and study it. Whatever it was did not want to let us remove it - or let us go anywhere.”

Luna nodded - and then they all felt the lurch of the ship jumping. Luna smirked. It had been fixed. Only one more day… And then a new world to explore.

She didn’t dwell on the fact that something had invaded the Core.


The nanomachine had been confused before.

It had also been concerned.

Now it was panicking. It couldn’t get out! The force was keeping it in by preventing it from seeing anything but the jar!

It was trapped. It had failed.

It had no idea what to do.

VII - Mite

View Online

The entire awake crew of the Ark stared at the hologram in front of them. It showed an orange sphere with six legs, at the tip of which were thousands of snaking tendrils of all sorts, presumably for interfacing with any sort of technology it came across.

“We’re calling it the Mite,” Twilight announced. “We think it was guarding the Brick, as evidenced by it being made of the exact same material. We think it was trying to destroy the Ark.”

“Okay question,” Discord said. “Why have a guardian for a Brick with a random bunch of numbers on it?”

“We have no idea,” Twilight answered. “But this bug was trying as hard as it could to take control of our computer systems. We are just lucky it couldn’t interface correctly - hence all the glitches it was causing in its efforts. The systems were incompatible, but it did learn alarmingly fast."

Luna frowned. “It stopped us from moving. Besides the lightning of the attack, that was the only effect that seemed on purpose.”

Twilight nodded. “Unlike all the other commands it sent out, that was the only one it continually ordered once it had figured it out.”

“So it didn’t want us to go anywhere.” Starlight looked deep in thought. “Did it send out a signal at any point?”

“Not that we detected. Why?”

“If it wanted us destroyed and couldn’t do it itself, it might have called for help. It’s what I would have done.”

“Then it’s a good thing we got the heck out of dodge.” Discord said, throwing a dodgeball into Celestia’s face.

Celestia sighed. “It is indeed… Let us hope we can put this behind us. Though we will continue to run tests-”

Discord smirked. “Oho! Can I try this time! I can shrink to an eensy-bitsy size and toy with it!”

“Discord!” Twilight yelled. “You can’t be-”

“Wait,” Celestia said, her eyes sparkling the way they did when she got a feeling about something. “Perhaps since this Mite is a creature, it would be best to meet it on its level. Unless anyone else knows advanced shrinking spells?”

Starlight raised a hoof.

“That is also willing to be within close proximity to a potentially hostile alien machine?”

Starlight lowered her hoof.

“That’s what I thought. Proceed Discord. Don’t let it out.”

“You can count on-a-me! Discordio!” He said before vanishing down a green pipe.

“Sister, what are you doing?” Luna questioned. “This could go wrong in so many wa-” Then she saw the twinkle in Celestia’s eyes and facehooved. “Oh great. One of those.”

“I simply foresaw that Discord would be… Helpful.”

Luna looked at the socks she was wearing. “Useful…” She seethed. “...I’m way too old for this…”

“I’m a year older than you. And look at me.”

Luna bristled, ready to make a comeback retort, but she was interrupted by Cadence.

“...Are we safe?”

Everypony turned to look at her.

“Are bad aliens going to come and blow us up?”

Twilight bit her lip and the sisters looked nervous. Starlight sighed inwardly. As the only good liar, I get to talk her down, again… “No Cadence, we stopped the Mite and we are going very far away now, everything will be fine.”

“Starlight, you’re convincing. But the looks the rest of them are giving prove that it’s not safe!” She glared. “We’re going to die, aren’t we? Get killed by some aliens that just don’t like us! We! Are! Doomed!”

“Cadence…” Twilight cautioned.

“My baby almost died! Starlight was attacked! Who knows what’s next? A space war? Magic sickness? One of us just vanishes? One of us dies!?”

“MI AMORE CADENZA THAT’S ENOUGH,” Celestia shouted in the Royal Canterlot Voice, fire in her eyes. Cadence reared back in fear, as did Twilight and Starlight. Luna simply scooted a little bit away from her sister.

Celestia looked Cadence in the eye. “I know you have it worse than the rest of us. I know you aren’t in your right mind. I know you are struggling to get through each and every day,” She paused. “I know you’ve considered throwing yourself into the jump drive.”

Twilight gasped.

“But you don’t. You carry on because you have a family waiting for you. You keep yourself together for their sake. You try as hard as you can,” She took a sad breath. “So, Cadence, use your connection to your family. Instead of panicking, use your feelings to your advantage. Instead of crawling around scared and broken, fight. Fight for the lives of your family and your friends. Do not lose hope - we will survive.” She looked around at everypony else. “We all will.”

Cadence looked down at the floor for a few moments. When she looked back up at Celestia she had a small smile on her face. “Thank you. I… Needed that,” She smirked. “The story tonight will be of defending homes that are yet to come.”


Discord sealed the room and unsealed the jar that contained the Mite. Then he teleported into it and sealed it from the inside. He was the size of the Mite. It stood before him - the sphere that made up the main body was perfectly smooth and the six legs floated a slight distance from the body at equidistant points. It looked exactly like the hologram except more solid - and mobile.

“Hello there Mite,” He said. “Fancy meeting you here in the microscopic plane.” He walked towards it. “I’d love to see your tricks. What makes you-”

The Mite rushed Discord and stuck one of the legs into him, filling his body with tendrils, trying to interface with him. Discord let out a “GAK” of pain, but then started laughing and teleported away. “Not going to wooooork silly Mite! Hrm… Electrical discharges, lots of feeling around - were you trying to hack me? Oho how silly, I’m not a nanobot mister Mite!”

It charged him again, only to realize it was trying to hack a fruit cake.

“I’m beginning to think you don’t have ears,” He said. “Let me fix that.” He snapped his fingers and two cat ears appeared on top of the Mite. It freaked out at the new input it was receiving - doubly so since at this scale sound shouldn’t even be a thing. It stumbled around like an idiot for several minutes, making more freaky noise with its very steps. Eventually it decided to stand perfectly still.

“You done?” Discord asked, munching on a pomegranate skin. The Mite didn’t respond. “Guess you need a way to talk as well…” Discord created a miniature speaker decorated with kumquat stickers.

The Mite immediately plugged a leg into the device and started spewing high pitched noises at Discord. He simply stuck cauliflowers in his ears and cleared his throat. “Mite! Mite! It’s not real sound down here. Have it function like a normal full-sized speaker so I don’t have to alter reality again to make us be able to talk to each other.”

The sound from the speaker subsided, becoming standard background static.

“There we go. Now, mister Mite, I know you understand what I’m saying. You’ve at least partially hacked our systems, and that requires at least the ability to, oh I don’t know, read.” He tossed a book at the Mite - 1001 Ways to Annoy Nanomachines. Discord grabbed a glass and put it on his head. “Now, I want to know what you are.”

“Keeper,” The speaker spouted.

“Very good. Honestly didn’t expect you to figure this out so quickly, Mite. Now, here’s the thing, basketball, we want to know what you know. We can cut you open and hope we don’t damage you, or you can tell us and we don’t destroy you. Win-win! Everyone gets ice cream!”


“Good,” Discord laughed evilly. “What were you trying to do to our ship?”


“Why? I happen to like this ship despite evidence to the contrary.”


“From who?”


“What does that mean?”


Discord sighed. “Well you’re certainly talkative. If you don’t know who, then where did these orders come from?”


“When did you activate?”


Discord chuckled. “Ah, us, ruining your nice sleep. What exactly were you ordered to destroy?”


“Not destroy, protect? Hrm… Why is that Brick important?”


“It’s a Key? Key for what?”


“You really don’t know much do you?”


“Whatever. Well, I suppose you were helpful. Enjoy your continued existence. Any requests before I leave? You know, besides freedom.”


Discord snapped his finger and a crystal computer tower appeared. “Knock yourself out.” He teleported out, checked to make sure the jar was sealed, and then teleported back to the ponies.

“It’s a Key,” He said. “I have no idea what to, and neither does mister Mite, but it has to be something big if they had that advanced guardian on it. It has a full AI uploaded into that small space, somehow.”

Twilight blinked. “A full AI!? Our computer isn’t even a full AI! How advanced were they?”

As everyone started discussing what it meant, Discord let his mind wander to memories of the past.

“Any requests before I leave?” Discord asked. The clearing was perfect - bright trees, birds singing, animals prancing around, and the sun high in the sky. In the center of it all stood Fluttershy, a sad smile on her face.

“Yes,” She said. “Take me back to the Ark.”

Discord tensed. ”W-what are you talking about? That never happened! Starlight rewinded time...”

“Discord. I know what you’re trying to do.” She turned to look him in the eye, her own eyes watering. “You want me to be with you. But I can't. I have to go into that pod. No amount of fake worlds you conjure up will make me change my mind.”


“Discord. We have to be separated. You can’t keep me awake in this pocket world.”

He huffed. “Why not?”

“Because I want to be there when my friends come out,” She sniffed. “I won’t live forever, Discord.”

“I can change that.”

Fluttershy unleashed the Stare on him. He gulped. “You know I don’t want to be an immortal, Discord.”

Discord looked down at the ground, tears in his eyes. “I just…”

“I know. And I forgive you.” She hugged him. “But I have to go. And then I will wake up one day - and you’ll be there. And everyone can be happy. Can you do that, Discord?”

“...Yes Fluttershy. I can.”


“Hm yes I was listening.”

Starlight rolled her eyes. “Everypony else already left. There’s nothing we can really do right now.”

“Oh,” He said. He put on some sunglasses. “Guess I’ll get some rest then.”

“You don’t need slee- and he’s gone. Wow.”


The Mite flooded the database, looking for all the information it could. It had already determined that it did not have the resources to break the seal on the jar, so it had decided to analyze the history and purpose of the Ark.

It just got more confused and lost in the process. For some reason it kept looking at the ‘music’ and ‘culture’ of these people, even though that had little significance to the search. Its ears twitched in annoyance.

It still wasn't used to that. Living, fleshy ears. It didn’t make physical sense. They could actually hear things as if they were happening at a biological size! How was that even possible!? Air molecules should be too large down here to have the exact same effect!

What was this thing called ‘magic?’


Everypony and Discord stared out the window, eyes wide and jaws dropped. They had just arrived at their destination. Outside the Ark they could see a large blue and green marble filling most of their view. Continents covered in jungles, plains, mountains, deserts, and much more drew their attention. The oceans were brilliant and the clouds swirled in beautiful weather patterns.

A screen beeped. Starlight barely glanced at it. “...no dangerous radiation levels. Lots of organic compounds. And lots of artificial structures.”

Discord said what everypony was thinking. “What now?”

VIII - First Contact

View Online

Everypony continued to stare at the blue-green orb below them.

“Ahem!” Discord called. “I said what now? Honestly, it’s like none of us can even think right now.”

“Now…” Luna said. “Now… Uh… Now…”

“Now we send a message,” Celestia said. “I shall craft one immediately. Starlight, create a Projection Orb.”

“Yes ma’am.” Starlight closed her eyes and created a simple, blue globe. “This work?”

“Great, thank you.” Celestia cleared her throat and made her face welcoming - but authoritative. “Greetings. I am Princess Celestia of Equis, one of the rulers of the ship you can see in orbit. We mean you no harm. We have been exploring the cosmos for countless decades, looking for habitable worlds. We come to you in peace, looking to become friends and to exchange cultures. I understand that you most likely cannot translate this message - which is why we are also sending down a large portion of our database as a gesture of good faith. May we talk in person soon, hopefully as friends. Until then.” She closed the message. “Prepare the friend package. It’s finally going to come to some use.”

“You’ve been waiting forever to use that…” Twilight said. “We’ve got it all ready, let’s just transmit it!”

Celestia nodded, looking deeply into the projection orb. “Transmit on all frequencies, drop this orb down next to a center of large population. Don’t hit anyone.”

“Got it,” Twilight said, beaming. “This is so exciting!” Then she stood still. “...I told them I’d wake them up if we found something this big.”

Celestia smirked. “Send the message, then we can go wake the promised up. The time has come to fully crew the Ark.”

Twilight teleported away. Cadence gasped, tears already in her eyes. “I… I can let them out?”

“Yes,” Luna said. “Yes you can.”


The Great and Powerful Trixie Lulamoon grunted. “No more… I need my peanut butter crackers…”

“Trixie! Wake up!”

“Huh?” Trixie said, slowly opening her eyes. “S-Starlight? Is it visiting day again?” She rubbed her face. “Ugh… Always have a headache…”

“It’s not visiting day.”

“Then whyyyyy in the name of Celestia would you wake me up?”

Starlight grinned. “We found a planet.”

Trixie’s eyes widened. “Are. You. Serious?!”

Starlight nodded.

“Ohmygosh! Starlight! We can finally do something! I can put on a show under a sun again! And for ponies who haven’t seen the show already!”

As the two friends talked they noticed Cadence. She was staring at Shining Armor and Flurry Heart hugging each other after so long. Tears were streaming down her cheeks while she grinned the cheesiest grin imaginable.

Shining looked at his wife, smiling back. “This has been really hard on you… But now we don’t have to be apart anymore. I’ll be here for you. We can be together.”

Cadence squealed and rushed him into an embrace - Flurry Heart giggled, trying to cast some magic in celebration, but failing - the magic inhibition spell was working well.

Elsewhere, Luna and Celestia were releasing the leaders of Equis. Leaders of all the nations were released into the open - griffons, minotaurs, zebras, even Thorax and Ember stepped out of their pods and looked ready to take on anything. It was mostly hand/hoof shaking politics, but the leaders were very relieved to finally be free.

As the leaders began to discuss, Twilight arrived. Discord was already there, waiting.

“Ready?” He asked.

“Ready.” Twilight confirmed, pulling the lever she had set up to release them all. Two earth ponies, two pegasi, two unicorns, and a small dragon were all unceremoniously dumped out with a shake. Twilight winced as they hit the ground. The simultaneous release was probably not a good design choice.

Pinkie Pie was up first, cheering. “I told you all we’d make it!”

Applejack groaned. “Why’d it dump us? It was all calm the last few times…”

“Egghead reasons,” Rainbow Dash said, attempting to look unfazed - and failing, just like every other time.

Fluttershy barely stood up before Discord offered her some tea. She ignored it, just rushing to him for a hug.

Rarity smiled despite her headache. “Oh, you two are so cute!”

“Yeah,” Spike said, laughing nervously. “Cute.” Rarity rolled her eyes.

Then the last unicorn walked up to Twilight and smiled. “Hello Twi, long time no see, I presume.”

“Sunset!” Twilight said, grinning. “We found a planet!”

“I gathered,” She smiled. “Shall we get to work?”

Discord grabbed them all up in a big hug. “Oh let’s enjoy ourselves first - the Smooze is ready to party!”

The Smooze jiggled slightly. Rarity sighed. “Why did you have to let him out Discord?”

“Close friend reasons,” Discord said. “Now… Let’s celebrate!”



The Lobby was filled for the first time since launch. Individuals of all races were celebrating the discovery of a habitable world. There was punch, balloons, piñatas, and random presents all set beneath the glow of the Tree of Harmony. Some of the more religious types had left them by the Tree, using its base as a sort of altar.

Everyone was smiling and having a good time. And it was about to get more interesting. Twilight, Sunset, Starlight, and Spike were messing with the screen input, ready to surprise everyone.

“We’re good to go,” Sunset said, closing her laptop. “Here it goes…” She flipped a switch, and the screens in the Lobby all lit up in life, each one displaying a video feed taken from the planet below.

Most of those present knew what the natives of the planet looked like - it hadn’t taken much to get a single image to show everyone - but they still stared at the unusual creatures. They were bipedal - two arms, two legs, a head - but aside from that they were quite different from all the Equis races. Their skin was a perfect pristine white, the only color on it coming from shadows. Their bodies were angular - sharp elbow joints, raised shoulders, and pointed chins. Their faces apparently had no nose to speak of, but the large bright eyes, simple small mouth, and double-pronged ears were easily visible. Surrounding all of their lower legs and lower arms was a growth of some plastic-like material, giving them natural gloves and boots. Their hair appeared to be made of a stranded form of the same material, and as evidenced from the many videos being shown the hair could be pressed into impressive gravity-defying shapes. They all wore clothes.

Of note was the fact that only certain parts of their body could be colored. The eyes, hair, gloves, and boots were always one bright color, of which there was only thirteen options: white, gray, black, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, teal, sky, and blue. The color seemed to have no effect besides a cosmetic one.

Everyone in the room was fascinated by these new creatures. The screen that got the most attention was apparently a newscast - a white male was talking in the alien language with an animating picture of Celestia on screen. Twilight had managed to catch that he was saying “Equis” and “Princess Celestia” in context, enabling her to begin learning their language. It would be much easier than trying to decode the alien message since she would have a huge sample size. She didn’t glean much information from the newscast, but she did get the sense that the native was giving out limited information.

The video cut off to show a bunch of the natives throwing parties with images of Celestia and the Ark everywhere. Some were apparently even making ‘landing pads’ that appeared horribly makeshift.

It cut again to an interview with a very angry yellow female. Twilight didn’t know what she was mad at, but she was mad at something.

After the interview, it cut to a sky female who was smiling and seemed way too excited, with a pink one in the background that couldn’t stop dancing.

“I can tell you right now,” Celestia announced. “These people run on strong, passionate emotion.” She smiled. “I can’t wait to actually speak with them.”

Then the video showed a darker scene - mobs. Mobs holding signs with angrily scrawled notes, and with mutilated pictures of Celestia. They were angry - and then something exploded in the video, cutting it out. The newscaster returned continued speaking, segueing into the weather.

The Lobby had fallen silent.


“What do we do if a giant space rock comes hurtling at us?” Twilight had asked.

“Throw the sun at it.” Starlight had answered without hesitating.

The thoughts of that meeting weighed heavily in Celestia’s mind as she felt the presence of things around Equis. There was the planet itself, the moon, the sun a little further away, and… it. The thing slowly coming right for them. It was the size of Ponyville.

She didn’t know what it was. She couldn’t get any visions on it. It was a blank…

So she needed to make a choice. It was going to enter the sun’s orbital in a few seconds. She could destroy it now. But… what if it was just lost? She felt sure it wasn’t just a meteor, but something more. Could she just kill it?

No - move the moon in front of it, get a closer look. Maybe make contact with whatever it was…

She was shocked out of her thoughts. She sensed a power buildup in the foreign object - scarily similar in signature to a unicorn laser spell on a much larger scale. A planetary scale.

She wasted no time ramming the sun into the unknown, vaporizing it. But it would have the last laugh - for the energy buildup coursed through the sun, tearing it molecule from molecule.

Celestia felt part of her soul get wrenched away when the sun popped.

And then she saw Starlight appear next to her - a broken, battered, scarred unicorn in an absurdly heavy winter coat. “I’m here to undo this.” She had said, and she lit her horn. Celestia felt the very fabric of reality shift and turn around the world, around her. She felt the area where her sun once was shift with the annals of time.

It wouldn’t go back. The powerful time spell ran into a wall. It hit the edge of the magical field. Celestia frowned. “Starlight, you should stop…”

“No! You haven’t seen what I’ve seen yet! It can’t be this way! It can’t!” She roared. “I can’t let my advice destroy this world…”

Celestia reeled - the thought of freezing had already crossed her mind, but she had pushed it out. Starlight pushed harder, her horn glowing brighter than Celestia had ever seen it. “I have to undo this!”

“Starlight! You’re pushing too hard! The-”

Then reality tore open before Starlight. She screamed, falling into the tear, vanishing right before Celestia’s eyes. She was gone.

Celestia woke up with a start. That was no normal memory - that had been a vision. That timeline was not the one she remembered. She had smashed the sun into the meteor - but she had not remembered Starlight appearing. She didn’t even know she had been there when the unicorn had tried to undo everything.

She teleported into the Lobby where the leaders were trying to piece together the alien language.

“I have had a vision!” She yelled. “Disaster is going to-”

The entire Ark shook as something exploded next to it. Red lights flashed, alarms started blaring, and the ship shook as its engines started failing. The Ark drifted towards the planet below while all present devoted all the magic power they could to the shields…

A trail of broken hull trailed across the starry sky, glinting in the light of the new sun…

IX - The Children of Harmony

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The Children.

The Children always moved so fast. It mattered not that she could see the strands of fate and time weaving before her - they always moved so fast and surprised her with their little spirits.

So adorable. So precious.

And now they were leaving. The planet had failed to sustain them. She had failed to sustain them. How could she not have seen it coming? She saw most everything… She was frustrated with herself. She had put so much into this, and now it was all being taken away by some freak random incident.

Had she really been wrong?

No. They had a plan. They would survive - elsewhere. Some of them anyway… But what would happen without her to be there? Could they be anything? She didn’t know…

She was scared.

But she wouldn't let that stop her. She sent out a message through the magic. TAKE ME. It was difficult to send an exact message such as that… She wasn’t like them.

They were there before she knew it. She was excavated and teleported into the Lobby in a matter of days. The room became her new home. She watched her children closely during those final months - so fast, so squirrely…

She had to save the Child of Fate. She had attempted to alter the course of history… It wouldn’t have worked. The meteor had come from beyond… Magic couldn’t undo everything…

So many hurt themselves during that time. Threw their lives away before the time came. It was horrible. She felt ashamed - she had really failed them. Hurt them.

Then the day arrived.

Hearthswarming Eve. The day of launch. She slowed herself down with some effort so she could experience this momentous occasion.

She saw the Child of Magic’s friends put to sleep. She saw the bays close. She felt the Ark power up and fly into the sky to the tune of Hearthswarming Eve songs from Canterlot.

And then the Child of the Sun made one last speech. “Equestria has now existed for precisely 2321 years. This planet has existed for much, much longer than that. Not many of you know of this - I only know bits and pieces of the story myself - but we have the Tree of Harmony to thank for all these millennia of life we’ve had. Before even my time, or my mother’s time, the Tree has stood as our guardian, our protector.

And she is not done protecting. You may think all is lost, fair Equis, but it is not. We will find a new world, and then we will come back for you. Live until then. We will be back.”

The Tree of Harmony let out a musical wail as strong and as long as she could, saturating the entire world, exhausting herself. She had to leave it with as much as possible.

For without her, no new magic would be created. It would all get used up in about 200 years…

The Child of Fate shuddered in that moment. “I just felt something horrible…”

“The sorrows of a mother leaving her countless children and grandchildren...” The Child of the Sun said, biting back tears.

The Tree of Harmony wailed…

The Tree of Harmony roared.

578 years!

578 years!

She would not let it end like this!

She hadn’t taken any physical action for almost six centuries - it was time to cash in. It was time to save the last of her children. The Ark was going to crash into the planet and be pulverized despite the best efforts of the princesses, Discord, and the engines - it was just too much to handle, the broken stabilizers were just too complex to fix with magic this quickly. So the Tree of Harmony acted. She began to glow an intense color.

“...Tree of Harmony…?” Starlight said, feeling her power. “Can you-” Starlight was sent feelings of affirmation. A great crystal disc took shape under the falling and now flaming Ark, growing thousands of crystal tendrils onto the ship’s bottom. They glistened in the light, growing far and wide, changing the Ark’s angle of entry to a more upward one. But there was no way the descent was going to be stopped, merely adjusted. The trajectory was altered away from the forested land and towards an ocean.

The bottom of the crystal glowed with white-blue magic, preparing for an ocean impact.

As the water splashed away from the Ark, it slowly solidified into a brilliant crystal. It spread out in a huge wave that rose far above the ocean, and never came down. A crystalline crater had been formed in the ocean.

The Ark sat, still, amidst a giant crystal cove that slowly drifted across the surface of the ocean. Everyone inside the Ark was frozen with shock. None moved for the longest time.

Then Pinkie Pie started laughing. “That was such a fun ride!”

“THAT WAS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER!” Rainbow Dash cheered. “Nothing can ever top that!”

“We LIVED!” Starlight yelled, whooping.

And with that, the entire room broke into cheers.

The Tree of Harmony felt gratified. She had saved her children.

“Hey!” Discord yelled. “How about we go outside?”

“Discord…” Celestia said, pausing. “...That is a wonderful idea.”

Everyone began to file outside, the Ark sitting atop what was essentially a big crystal bowl floating across the ocean. Many aquatic lifeforms could be seen frozen inside the new crystal, most resembling fish of some sort, but the species were completely unknown to the Equi.

It was in that moment that Luna saw a city. A city right here amongst the Harmonic Crystal. She saw how she would build it, how it would grow around the Ark. Her eyes sparkled with the possibilities. “Welcome everyone!” She boomed. “Welcome to the future site of Harmony City!”

Great cheering erupted from the crowd. Most knew she was being a bit premature in her assessment, but they didn’t care. They felt good.

Starlight frowned, sensing something. She looked far into the distance and saw something standing at the edge of the crystal, halfway stuck in it. She frowned, teleporting it to them.

It was one of the aliens - a blue one, male. It was wearing a white wetsuit and a device was strapped to its head. Everyone stared at it. Silence reigned. What would they do with it? They had all just been attacked!

Before anyone else could do anything, Twilight walked up to the alien and pointed at herself. “Twilight.”

The alien shook, but understood. “Lem,” he said, pointing at himself.

“That’s a start,” Twilight said, nodding slowly. “Now, how about-”

Before she could complete her thought, the sky was filled with helicopters of all colors, all clustering above the Ark. Lem took a step back, a worried look on his face. He waved his arms.

A loudspeaker boomed down words from above - but despite their efforts, none of the Equi had any idea what was said. They were in a tense situation with no way to communicate.


The Mite couldn’t believe it!

The ship had crashed! The jar it was sealed in had broken! Mission accomplished! Time to return to where it had activated and…

Well that was impossible. No way back. And it was not repairing this ship to get back.

The Key was fine - not going anywhere. So the Mite reasoned out that the mission was accomplished. Sorta.

That Discord had probably messed with its ‘head’ a bit much.

Because it was wondering what it was going to do now…

X - Conflict of Interest

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One of the sleek black helicopters began to descend. Twilight observed closely as the vehicle approached touchdown. Unlike the helicopters back home, this one was larger and completely sealed with no way to see who was inside, though Twilight could easily imagine a dozen ponies fitting inside the sealed area.

While most of the Equi had backed away as it descended, a certain pegasus did quite the opposite. “Oh no you don’t!” Rainbow Dash yelled, charging the helicopter with intent to smash.

“Rainbow!” Twilight yelled, tugging at her friend with her telekinesis. Rainbow’s charge quickly became a nose dive, the pegasus crashing into the crystal ground with an impressive force.

“Ow,” Rainbow Dash muttered.

“We can’t just charge into things without information,” Twilight chided. “Please, let’s see what they want before we retaliate.”

“But they tried to kill us! They shot us down!”

“That remains to be seen,” Celestia said, her frown deepening.

The Equi stared transfixed as the helicopter achieved touchdown. The left side of the craft hissed open, the sound barely audible over the roar of the craft’s dying engine. Two individuals stepped out, both female. One was tall, black, and wearing a very official looking black dress with numerous symbols. The other was teal, short, and adorned with a simple shirt and big glasses.

The black one walked forward with a confident expression, the other nervously following behind.

Celestia stared straight at them, taking a step forward to make it obvious she was the one they were supposed to talk to. “Celestia,” She said, pointing to herself.

The teal one gulped, muttering something to the black one, who nodded slowly. “Waise,” She said, pointing at herself. She then introduced her companion as “Arlowe.”

Celestia bowed. “Waise… Arlowe… Well met.”

Waise responded with what Celestia presumed was a formality.

“Why are you here?” Celestia queried, pointing at them and exaggerating her questioning expression. They only had body language to go off of right now, after all.

Arlowe muttered something to Waise. Once again she nodded, looking Celestia straight in the eyes. Then she pointed at Lem.

Lem realized he was being pointed at and let out a yelp of fear. He seemed terrified of Waise. He shook his head rapidly.

Twilight frowned. “It doesn’t look like he wants to go with you.”

Waise didn’t falter, saying something directly to Lem. Lem didn’t say anything back, only shaking his head. Waise pressed the issue only to cause Lem to yell something back at her. Waise’s left eye twitched, and she turned to Celestia. She forcefully pointed her black finger at Lem, and then back at herself.

“She certainly wants him to go with her…” Luna observed.

“We take no sides,” Celestia announced. “We will neither return him or protect him.” Celestia stepped back, waiting to see what the alien beings would do. Waise turned to Arlowe, who shrugged and muttered a few more things. Waise nodded and took a step towards Lem.

Lem bolted away, running into the wide-open doorway of the Ark.

Waise let out a harsh breath before turning a full 180° and marching back into the helicopter. Arlowe scurried after her like a scared dog to its master. The blades begun to spin rapidly once again and the helicopter took off into the sky once more.

Twilight turned to Celestia, unsure.

Celestia sighed. “No Twilight, I do not know what is coming. Your guess is as good as mine.”

“I’ll go watch Lem,” Starlight offered. “Make sure he doesn’t mess with anything.”

Celestia nodded in confirmation, and Starlight instantly teleported into the Ark. She saw Lem walking the halls, looking at the technology around him in awe. The few ponies inside the Ark looked at him warily.

“Don’t worry,” Starlight called. “I’m watching him.” At this the others stopped acting nervous about Lem and instead looked on with a cautious curiosity.

Lem glanced behind himself and saw Starlight, seemingly unsurprised by her presence. He seemed much more interested in the ship itself than the inhabitants. He ran his plastic-like fingers along the walls, looking closely at the screens, and walking with an ever-growing smirk on his face.

Starlight followed him around until he walked up to a control console. He reached out a finger to touch it - Starlight quickly wrapped his arm in her telekinesis and gently held it back. She shook her head to inform him not to touch the console.

He stared right at her for the first time, transfixed on her horn that had been glowing moments before. He began speaking rapidly in words she didn’t understand, though she sensed fear. As he spoke, she got a good look at the device on his forehead for the first time. It was a strange round piece of glass fitted to him with a headband.

She ignored the device and focused again on his fear at her telekinesis. “Why does that scare you?” Since he obviously didn’t understand her she lit her horn and lifted a screwdriver from across the room to her. He jumped back in fear, only adding to her confusion.

“Okay, I won’t use it…” She said, dropping the screwdriver and holding it in her front hoof instead. His fear vanished to be replaced with fascination. He slowly leaned in, looking at her hoof closely, opening and closing his hand off to the side.

“Er… Hi,” Starlight said. She pointed the screwdriver at herself. “Starlight.”

He wasn’t really listening. He raised a finger and poked her outstretched hoof.

“O...kay?” She said. He stood up, shrugged, said a few unintelligible things, and walked through a large set of doors.

The sight of the stasis bay made him stop in his tracks. The thousands upon thousands of frozen Equi - or, to him, aliens of all shapes and sizes - made his mind stop functioning for several moments.

Starlight trotted up alongside him. “I know you can’t understand me, but… This is the entire reason we are… were out there. Looking for a new home. This was the first place we found that would work.” She looked at all the frozen Equi. “We released many to crew the Ark… But there are still many trapped.” She walked up to the closest pod. It was somepony she knew - a brown stallion with an hourglass for a cutie mark.

“This was a friend of mine…” She said. “He was a genius. He helped build this Ark. We… We owe him and his family a home.” She looked down, a tear dropping to the ground. “Sorry.”

Lem had a strange combination of emotions on his face - there was sadness, pity, fear, concern, and confusion. Starlight smiled at him. “I get that feeling Lem. Hey, want to know where I go to sort out confusion?”

He shrugged and said something. She did catch ‘Starlight’ though.

“Oh right. Just follow me.” She gestured with her hoof and led him to the Lobby. His jaw dropped upon seeing the Tree of Harmony. His mind couldn’t comprehend the majesty of the being before him.

Starlight sensed a feeling of amusement fill the area, coupled with some relief. She smirked. “Tree of Harmony,” She pointed. “Say hello.”

Lem nodded slowly. “Tree of Harmony.” He said.

Starlight tore her gaze away from the Tree to examine the many screens displaying the various video feeds coming from the planet. Several dozen of them now showed images of the Tree of Harmony.

“...What?” She asked aloud, turning to the pony in charge of the screens at the moment.

Sunset twitched. “They’re spying on us somehow and I have no idea how.”

A light bulb went off in Starlight’s head. She turned to Lem and pointed at his forehead. “...I think that device is a camera.”

Before Sunset could respond they were interrupted by the sudden appearance of Trixie in full wizard cloak. “CAMERA!?” She squee’d. “The Great and Powerful Trixie must perform!

“Trixie…” Starlight said, her friend not listening at all.

“Hocus pocus, little fiddle…” She chanted, taking off her hat and reaching into it. “I present to you, a rabbit!” She pulled and out came… Her own tail.

“What.” Trixie said, turning to look at her now tail-less rear. “Discord I swear if you-”

Lem cut Trixie off by starting to giggle. Starlight and Sunset slowly began to join in as well.

Trixie rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t that funny.”

Starlight pointed a hoof at the screens. On many of them was now an image of Trixie looking back at her rear while holding her tail. The expression was priceless and many of the natives on the screens were very amused.

“Oh,” Trixie said. She facehooved. “I’ve gone and made a fool of myself!”

Starlight continued her giggling. “Well… This has just given me an idea,” She smirked. “We can ‘talk’ to all of them through this video feed coming from one of their own people.”

“But… spy?” Sunset countered.

“He’s not being very stealthy for a spy. And we don’t have anything to hide.” Well, not much. “Let him stay. Let’s see what this new world thinks of us.”


Waise rammed her fist into the desk. The aliens had discovered the camera and were using it.

“Why did you have to make this needlessly complicated Lem? Why?” She threw her pen into a wall. “Argh! Now everyone’s getting everything! What kind of sorry excuse for security is this operation?”

“He’s not part of our operation ma’am-”

“Arlowe, I know that. Which is why this situation is such a pile of crap.” She gritted her teeth. “We need to control these Equi and that Celestia…”

XI - The Other Side

View Online

Waise and Arlowe rushed into the grand meeting hall – a large spacious room with a single large table and walls covered in screens. World maps, pictures, and alien words flew across the displays constantly, covering nearly every wall in the enclosure save where a small balcony protruded, providing a location where one could look down on the entire hall.

“Waise present!” Waise announced.

A yellow stood up, clearing his throat. “Now that the failure is here, I call that the First Seers of Garilend’s Extraterrestrial Report begins! As Overseer, I use the power invested in me by the Director to declare that nobody leaves this room until the proceedings are complete!” He sighed. “In case anyone’s been asleep for the last day, extraterrestrials crash-landed in the Arlican Ocean with some kind of crystal cushion, or as the public is calling it, the Ocean Crater. An apt name I suppose.”

He took a breath before continuing. “Nominally, we would have moved in and secured a presence through code 7-GX. Unfortunately the individual known as Lem Enel has managed to ruin this all with that headset of his that all attempts to jam have ultimately failed.”

A green harrumphed. “He came prepared.”

“Yes, he did,” The Overseer agreed. “While I would love to dwell on how he got ahold of a transmitter that powerful, the truth is it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. The public has seen their culture, and enough of them would get angry if we ‘trampled’ the visitors to cause serious unrest. So we have a few options…” He turned to a screen, pointing at a list that appeared.

“One, attempt to rile up public opinion to a negative enough state to declare war. Unlikely, seeing we were just given a magic show from an adorable blue horse.”

“The Internet has latched onto that horse like a wedding present,” A gray technician observed.

“Indeed,” The Overseer said. He pointed at the next item on the list. “Two, seclude them in their little crater for ‘safety reasons.’ Possible, but given how the public wants to meet them so badly, it likely would be a temporary measure at best.”

“And finally three, which I personally like best, help them fix their ship. This is merely a guise where we take all their technology in the process of getting them off our planet.” He smiled. “If they really are a major threat we can rig it to blow, and blame it on a technical error.”

“Um…” A young white spoke up – Waise realized she knew him, a somewhat idealistic agent named Forsoo. “Why don’t we just do what the public wants and try to be friendly?”

Waise let out a sharp laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous.” She sneered at him. “Did you forget that we exist solely because the public never knows what’s best for it?”

A heavily distorted voice rang out from above them. “Waise. Reconsider your position.” Everyone looked up to see a figure clothed head to toe in brown leather – boots, gloves, bandana, vest, and even a folded brown hat resting atop a large pair of sunglasses. The gender and color of this individual was completely ambiguous, the effect being that everyone treated the individual with respect and authority.

“D-Director!” The Overseer stammered.

Waise stared in shock. That was the Director? Waise had never seen the organization's leader at all in her many years on the job! The Director never did anything as far as she knew – it was a mysterious part of the organization to say the least. She was startled. …But she wouldn’t let that falter her.

“Director!” She said, voice unwavering. “Why reconsider? That is our job is it not?”

The room gasped – she had the gall to say something like that to their leader? The Director raised a hand to quiet the resulting shouting. “The public will sometimes know what’s best for it. Their ideas and thoughts are heavily misinformed and idealistic, but simple math will tell you that it will hit the mark occasionally. It just usually doesn’t.” The Director leaned in. “Our job is to know when to control and when not to.”

Waise blinked, staying silent. That hadn’t gone well.

“Director,” The Overseer called. “Why have you graced us with your presence?”

“You need it. Forsoo is the only one thinking clearly here. The answer is not to get rid of them or forget them. We need to forge a relationship with them – get them to trust us.” The Director paused for a moment. “And then they will conform to us by choice.”

“Yes of course terribly sorry Director-“

The Director sighed. “You overestimate them. You fear them. They cannot destroy us, nor do they want to.”

“But they can change us,” Waise said.

“Change is not always a bad thing,” The Director responded. “All that matters is that we keep control. So you must know all you can. Hence this briefing. Pay attention, there may or may not be a test later,“ The Director chuckled. “You have the floor again Overseer.”

“Er... Yes. Yes of course.” The Overseer regained his composure. “Let us move on to what we know about them. Their civilization appears to operate on a chain of command, a monarchy of sorts. The one called Celestia is at the head, though footage suggests that Luna may have an equal rank. A large portion of the remaining individuals seem to have some authority over the others, which suggests that the leaders and their families, friends, and close advisors are all we see right now. Their general population is still sealed in those stasis pods, only to be let out if it is believed to be safe. They don’t trust us for obvious reasons.”

“Blow them out of the sky, they said, it’ll be easy, they said!” Someone shouted.

“We still do not know how they survived the attack,” The Overseer said. “Which leads us to our next segment, their tech level. It actually isn’t that far ahead of our own – with enough resources we could probably build their ship. However, there are a few key systems that we don’t understand. The way they ‘jumped’ into the system with their FTL is beyond us, as are the stasis pods, shields, and power management. The engineers can’t make sense of what’s going on – and everything we see that we understand implies that the ship should have been completely disintegrated. But it wasn’t.

“Did the public ever find out where the Weapon is located?” A red asked.

“No. That secret is still safe. The public doesn’t know it was an attack for sure yet, and if they do find out, we have someone ready to take the fall.”


The Overseer continued on. “We also cannot grasp their biology – almost all the races visible seem to violate our laws of physics. The winged ones shouldn’t be able to fly. The reptiles should not be able to belch fire. And the telekinesis violates so many scientific principles it’s making our scientists scream their heads off. Not to mention that pink one that appears to just take the laws of physics as a suggestion.”

He took a big breath. “So far we have observed the following distinct races: Horses, the most common and varied; cat-birds, which act like soldiers; flying lizards, the largest; shifting bugs, the ones that change their appearance; bulls, the ones closest to us in posture; rock bats, a reclusive type; bull-horses, a possible hybrid race; and the thing we’re calling the chimera and has the name Discord. The fact that he has features of all or most of the races suggests that he may be of religious significance."

“What about the Tree?” Forsoo asked. “The Tree of Harmony we saw?”

“Definitely a religious icon,” The Overseer said. “Though the fact that it seems to be made of the same stuff as the Ocean Crater suggests it’s something more. Some claim it’s advanced technology, others just think it’s another example of bizarre biology. Whatever it is, they obviously worship, or at least revere it. We’re pretty sure it’s sapient.”

An orange spoke up. “So basically they brought their god with them and it’s uber-powerful?”


“That’s reassuring. I assume we have no real clue about its capabilities?”

“You assume correctly. The same goes for just about any of the Equi races. Some seem mundane just to reveal super strength later. We, for the first time in centuries, have a lack of information.” He put his hands to his forehead. “And those under our purview can no longer hold back. Diplomatic teams are already being organized worldwide. Some will be our personnel. Others, not. We will be able to commandeer most of the spots on the initial trip, but chancellor Emin Montreal has been demanding a seat and the public is on his side. The people we are sending are present in this room. The names are-“

The Director interrupted. “Send Forsoo, Arlowe, and Waise.”

The Observer dropped his remote. “…But Waise is due a demotion-“

“They know her,” The Director said. “And she is resourceful. I’m sure this isn’t a mistake.”

“…Alright then,” The Overseer said, gulping. “You three will be going. Keep a positive image for the public. Speaking of, it is time to consider their view of the situation…”

He turned to another screen with a pie chart. “61.7 percent believe the aliens come in peace, and that we should accept it. An alarming number of those want to treat them just like any other gari. 36.1 percent believe they are here to conquer and/or enslave us and that we should fight back. 7.9 percent think they are here to conquer but we should try to reason with them. 5.1 percent want to just destroy them, giving them no chance to attack us. 0.1 percent just don’t care.” He let out a deep breath. “it is a polarizing issue. But 69.6 percent of the population wants peace, so at least act like that’s what you’re doing.” He blinked. “I suppose that is what we’re doing now. But regardless, observe everything you can while there. Learn everything. Hopefully we will have figured out how to speak Equi by the time you get there.”

“I am making progress,” Arlowe said meekly. “Speak Equi yes.

“Good. Try not to create a horrible misunderstanding. Those of you who have jobs are dismissed. The rest of you stay here for discussion.”

Waise stood up and left the room without saying a word. Just before she passed out of sight of the hall, she glanced back up at the balcony. The Director was gone.

She didn’t know what to think of this.

But she knew the Director was wrong. Those aliens were way too dangerous.


“Breaking news! We have finally received word on who is getting on the coveted ambassadorial flight to the Ocean Crater to meet with the Equi alongside Lem! To no one’s surprise, Emin Montreal was selected due to his political record and relation to Lem. But there are five other seats we now know of! From Krastia we have Chief Waise Leffin, and linguist Arlowe Loela. From the Status Intervention we have Forsoo Osgode, and from Dialo we have Minister Stratm.”

“And in a surprising turn of events a reporter was allowed on the flight, one of our own GLN reporters nonetheless! Regular viewers will be familiar with our young driven Orgis Smarilli! We here at GLN are honored to have been allowed this once-in-an-eon opportunity! Stay tuned for live updates!”

Lem pointed at the screen. “They are coming,” He said.

Twilight wrinkled her forehead, trying to understand what he said. “Good? Bad?” She managed to ask with a heavy accent.

Lem just shrugged. He didn’t know.

XII - Communication

View Online

“They’re coming again?” Celestia asked.

“That’s what I think he’s saying,” Twilight said. “I’m really not sure. But he seemed adamant about it.”

“I expected them to come back, yes…. I do suppose it’s been several hours,” She sighed. “Not like I wanted to sleep anyway...”

“At least they’ve probably used this time to study our language, as we have theirs. I’ve made some progress understanding their syntax. They arrange clauses in a parallel structure in relation to-“

“I’m sure I’ll have time to learn it at some point,” Celestia said. “You can probably transfer the information to my mind later. Until then, you can translate.”

“Of course. I… may only be of marginal use, however.”

“Better than nothing,” Celestia noted.

Lem poked his head out of the Lobby and yelled for Twilight. He said something about the screens.

"Duty calls,” Twilight said, teleporting over to him. “Yes Lem?” He was started by the teleportation for a moment, but recovered quickly with a shrug. He motioned for her to follow. Starlight and Luna were already in the room, looking at one screen in particular. Lem stood beneath it and turned around to look directly at Twilight – instantly, Twilight saw herself appear on the screen in a box alongside a red female who was talking.

Luna walked to the side of Twilight, appearing on the screen as well. “It’s a live feed. The red is talking about us, I believe, and sees us talking,” she said.

“Oh,” Twilight said, smiling. “Understand?” She asked Lem. He nodded slowly, but gave a waving motion with his hand that indicated uncertainty. Twilight cleared her throat. “Hello, I Twilight.”

The woman onscreen sat up, sparkles in her eyes. She introduced herself as… Ipsilon? Maybe?

Twilight took a breath. “Hello Ipsilon. No word good.”

Ipsilon nodded slowly. Twilight bit her lip – she knew the words she was speaking were off and oversimplified, but she was trying her best. Ipsilon continued, asking a question Twilight didn’t understand.

“No think,” She sighed. “This isn’t working, I can only barely tell she’s asking me a question.”

Luna watched Ipsilon and her gestures closely. “She’s pointing at her mouth and talking, then pointing at you. Something about you and the language?”

“Oh! Maybe she wants to know how I learn it? Well… Long time study. Good study. Listen. Watch. Word. Think.”

Ipsilon seemed satisfied by this, nodding again. She held up a piece of paper. She spoke aloud in heavily accented Equi. “We learn slow bookshelf Twilight.”

Twilight chuckled. “No Easy,” She responded.

Ipsilon picked up another piece of paper. “No Easy.”

“No easy indeed…” Twilight said sheepishly. “Ask?”

Ipsilon looked at yet another sheet of paper. “What want Equi?”

Twilight frowned. How to say ‘pace and a place to live?’ She furrowed her brow. “Good word. House.”

Ipsilon responded with a sentence Twilight couldn’t discern. Her face looked confused. Twilight looked to Lem and then to Luna, both just shrugged. Twilight got the impression Ipsilon was asking for her to elaborate.

Then she had an idea. She lit her horn and cast an image spell. She displayed a crude drawing of herself and Ipsilon, and depicted them shaking hand and hoof with a smile. Then she showed an image of the crystal bowl with a city inside it, fully functional and filled mostly with Equi, but dotted with a few of gari as well.

Ipsilon leaned in and read something else. “First house here?”

Twilight thought for a moment – did they want to know why they’d come here? Well, she could answer that.

She created an image of Equis, the sun, and the moon. Everything in Equis was green, vibrant, and happy. Then she made the sun vanish, and the entire world began to freeze. A representation of the Ark left the planet and began to explore star… after star… after star… The images began to blur, stars passing by the dozens, until eventually the Ark was in orbit around a green planet. Then a laser came from the planet and shot the back of the Ark, and it crashed into the ocean.

“That why,” Twilight said.

Ipsilon looked speechless and horrified, and Twilight wondered if she had done something wrong.


Celestia looked at the screens, her face contorting in concern. They were upset about something, and it was closely related to the image Twilight created of the Ark being shot down. Almost all of the screens showed images of either that or gari shouting and angrily pointing.

What did it mean?

Why did that image make them so angry?

Twilight had no idea – she could translate only scant portions of what was being spouted, getting only that it was called an ‘attack,’ not helping Celestia understand them any further.

“They didn’t know,” Discord said, suddenly appearing behind her.

“What?” She said, mildly baffled.

“They didn’t know we were attacked. That it wasn’t just a malfunction, or even intentional on our part,” He smirked.

“Why wouldn’t they know? We were shot by them.

“The attack wasn’t visible before it hit us, most likely,” He said. “If it was, at least one of us would have seen it beforehand and been able to stop it. But none of us did. Not me, not you. To anyone outside it just looked like crazy alien engines having technical difficulties.”

“So they’re angry at their own government…” She gulped as she realized the alternative. “Or they think we’re lying.”

Discord nodded. “Most likely both. They are not a united people – a race after my own heart. Though their skin is dreadfully bland, no complexion to speak of. They seriously need to consider investing in tattoos.”

Celestia’s frown deepened despite Discord’s jokes. “We really need to be able to talk to them…”

Discord shrugged. “Good luck with that. I’ve tried making a translation spell and a telepathy spell with Lem. Doesn’t work.”

“The Tree of Harmony doesn’t know the language,” Celestia noted. “I expect that’s why our mental spells work on us – but not them.”

“Eh, I don’t pretend to understand that thing. Too harmonious for my tastes. It could stand to loosen up a bit.”

Celestia stopped talking and just stared into the screens. To the side, Twilight was grilling Lem with projections in an attempt to learn how to speak the language better.

Seven mares watched Twilight frantically trying to decode an alien language. They all had concerned looks on their faces.

“I say, do you think she’s overworking herself?” Rarity wondered aloud.

“Yep,” Applejack answered.

"Not like she has much choice…” Sunset noted.

Fluttershy sighed. “She really has a lot on her shoulders…”

“But she’s going to do great regardless!” Rainbow Dash announced.

“I dunno Dashie…” Pinkie spoke up. “She’s pretty haggard. And I can’t get in to loosen her up!”

Starlight examined the Tree of Harmony. “Everyone is haggard Pinkie.”

Pinkie drooped. “Yeah, I suppose that’s to be expected from all this. It’s just, we’re all finally out at the same time and we don’t even get to spend time with each other.”

“It’ll calm down eventually,” Sunset said. “Then we can all finally spend some time together.”

“Yes, don’t worry Pinkie.” Rarity waved her hoof around. “It’ll all calm down and this dreadful tension will end. Then we can settle down into our new lives.”

“But what if the gari want us gone?” Fluttershy asked.

Starlight frowned. “I… guess we’d try to leave, but with the Ark in the state it’s in…”

“We could fix it,” Sunset said. “It would take a lot of time and resources, but we could do it.”

“That’d be lame!” Rainbow Dash yelled. “We’d have crashed on this planet for nothing!”

“The crashing was fun though!” Pinkie said.

Rainbow Dash pondered this. “…True.”

“Let’s just agree that whatever happens, we stand by Twilight,” Applejack suggested.

“Yeah!” They all cheered. Then they went to the replicators for some cider.


All of the immortals – save Cadence – were waiting for the arriving gari dignitaries. A few others stood alongside them – Ember, Thorax, and Lem the most prominent – but they took a back seat. The helicopter was a different color than the last one, a brilliant white, but was the exact same design.

The helicopter sank to the ground, once again revealing Waise and Arlowe. Behind them was a white male who introduced himself as Forseoo, smiling warmly at them. A sickly green-yellow male stepped out and called himself Stratm. Behind him was a tall muscular blue who stepped onto the ground wordlessly.

Lem immediately walked over to the blue man, smiling. Twilight gasped when the man knocked Lem alongside the head, momentarily considering a laser spell to protect him. However, before she could launch such a spell, the man embraced Lem. The exchange brought a smile to Celestia and Luna’s faces.

“…Family?” Starlight wondered.

“Who cares, that was gold!” Discord chuckled.

The man turned to Twilight and introduced himself with a bow. “Emin.”

Then all present heard a loud chipper voice from the helicopter, speaking as if to an audience. Out pranced a pink gari wearing sunglasses and a headset, talking nonstop. Then she introduced herself, speaking in rusty Equi.

“Hi. I Orgis. Good time!”

Twilight smiled. “Nice met.”

Orgis chuckled. Waise and Arlowe shot her death glares. Arlowe took a step forward and cleared her throat. “People of Equis, we come to talk.”

Twilight nodded. “This way.” She said, leading them into the Ark.

“Just checking…” Discord said, leaning in towards Luna. “You do realize that you are being an ambassador in socks right?”

Luna flushed. Despite her extreme embarrassment, she managed not to stop in her tracks. “It… It is of no consequence.”

“Keep telling yourselves that,” He appeared next to Orgis. “Why do you seem to be the natural at this?”

Orgis thought for a moment. “I like Twilight.”

Starlight choked on something and Twilight blushed. “Orgis? I am like Twilight. Good.” She corrected.

“Okay…?” Orgis said, not understanding.

“I is speaker for gari,” Arlowe said, glaring at Orgis.

“It matters not,” Celestia said. “You both may speak. It is better to have two opinions anyway.”

Twilight tried to translate. “Both word, two think good.”

Arlowe and Waise were obviously upset by this, but Orgis seemed ecstatic. She talked into her headset again – it became evident to Twilight that she was a reporter of some kind, or at the very least, someone with an audience.

Pinkie Pie came from nowhere at that point and grinned at Orgis. “Hi there! I think you need a croissant dipped in cherry sauce!” Pinkie pulled it from seemingly nowhere and gave it to Orgis.

Orgis was silent, disbelief in her face. But she recovered quickly, took the pastry, and grinned. “Delicious!”

“Glad you like it!” Pinkie grinned. “I’m sure we’ll meet up later! But bye for now! You have boring political stuff to do!”

She bounced off. Startm muttered something about a lack of security.

The whole group eventually ended up in the now empty Lobby, the screens turned off. It was just them, a table, and the Tree of Harmony in a large, quiet room.

Orgis instantly fell to her knees at the Tree of Harmony and bowed, saying something aloud. Starlight smiled as she sensed a feeling of appreciation wash over her.

“Let us call this meeting… now,” Celestia said. “You first.”

The gari began to talk amongst themselves about what exactly to say. They had obviously decided most of it beforehand but needed to hash out a new details based on what they had seen. Eventually, Startm began to speak (much to Waise’s annoyance) and Arlowe tried to translate best she could.

The question boiled down to thus: what did the Equi plan to do here?

Twilight gave the same ‘peace and home’ answer as before.

They pressed on – what did home actually entail?

Celestia decided to attempt an answer. “We would love to coexist with you. While this Crystal Bowl we claim as our own, our people would like to live among you, benefit from your culture, your cities, your resources. This can go both ways – you could also live with us here, in what is soon to be Harmony City, and benefit from our magic and knowledge." After another round of deliberation, another question came in response. “How many of you?”

Twilight let out a breath. “Twenty Million.”

There was silence for a moment. Even in an area as large as the Bowl, there was no way twenty million residents could live comfortably. It would be far too crowded – even if some of the Equi weren’t the size of mountains.

Discord leaned back and created a bag of popcorn, ready to watch the fireworks unfold.

Waise whispered something to Arlowe, but before the translator could say anything, Orgis butted in. “Help if you give.” She pointed at the popcorn. “Food not easy find.”

“You can’t just make food?!” Discord asked, somewhat perturbed.

Orgis shook her head.

“That’s just appalling! Outrageous! Absurd!”

Luna smiled. “We would be willing to make food for you if you needed it. We can’t make it appear out of thin air all the time, but we do have ways of mass producing it.”

After a round of translations and discussion, Arlowe articulated a question. “Power comes from where?” She pointed at her forehead while she asked.

“Magic?” Twilight asked. Arlowe nodded in confirmation. Twilight thought for a long while before sighing. “Don’t know where. Just is.”

Starlight glanced at the Tree of Harmony and pointed. “It might be the Tree of Harmony.”

“It’s obviously a part of it, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.” Twilight shrugged. “Maybe Tree.”

“Our turn to ask a question,” Discord announced, removing sunglasses he hadn’t been wearing a moment before. “Why did you attack us?” He said venomously.

Arlowe knew what to say to that without asking. “Lies! We did no attack!”

Orgis stood up. “Maybe we did.”

At this point the gari exploded into arguments about attacking and no attacking, lies and no lies. It was far too fast for Twilight to keep track of. They all obviously felt strongly about it.

Discord went back to eating popcorn.

“ENOUGH!" Luna slammed her hoof on the table, the sock annoyingly muffling the sound. “We are going to get along! And that can’t be done if you are bickering amongst yourselves!”

The gari had the decency to look ashamed – save for Waise, who was just sour, and Lem, who hadn’t been arguing in the first place.

“Orgis,” Luna said. “Explain what you maybe did.”

Orgis took a breath, but wasn’t allowed to finish. The Ark’s alarms started going off.

“What now?” Discord demanded.

“That’s the stasis bay alarm!” Twilight yelled.

Discord quickly teleported them all to the stasis pod primary control in the center ofa large room. The screens on every pod around them were covered with warning lights and blaring loud emergency tones.

“No!” Twilight yelled. “The pods are failing! The flow of power to them is too saturated!”

“Can we fix it?” Starlight asked.

“Not fast enough!” She yelled. “We’ve got to let them out!”

Arlowe gasped, relaying what she heard to Waise. Waise’s face stopped being sour and became furious. She yelled out, but nobody listened.

The Ark’s side hissed and split open – letting bright sunlight into the tremendous pod storage bay. Millions of pods glinted in the sunbeams, sparkling alongside the alarms.

Twilight, Discord, Luna, Celestia, and Starlight walked up to the large dome in the center of primary control. Starlight stayed back while the other four touched the dome, using their four unique DNA keys. It hissed, loudly popping open like a reverse bear trap.

Inside was a very large red button.

“No!” Waise yelled out.

“The world isn’t ready!” Arlowe yelled.

“No wait!” Twilight yelled, smashing the button.

The pods all began to open…

XIII - Insurance Policy

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Waise hated everything right now.

Stupid ponies.

Stupid Director.

Stupid Orgis.

Stupid Arlowe.

Stupid Lem.

Stupid situations.

Why did everything have to go wrong at precisely the most annoying time? It was infuriating! She expected this ‘panic alarm’ the Equi had set up was just a trick they played so they could release all their people. It made a lot of sense, seeing as they were starting to wonder if they’d be let out at all. At the very least it was quite the coincidence.

She wouldn’t admit it, but she was also scared. Gigantic reptiles the size of mountains were waking up and flying away despite the calls of the alicorns insisting they stay. They wanted to be free more than anything else, ignoring all calls to order.

Waise trembled in fury as she considered the logistics of what those creatures could do to the world – destroy entire fields of crops! Blast apart cities! Conquer villages! Take on armies! They were going to ruin this planet! Her planet! Her control!

Stupid aliens!

The twenty million of them were rushing out, most in a chaotic and unorganized confusion. Those that had the ability to fly away did so – to the dismay of the many gari helicopters in the airspace above them. The sky became very crowded and dangerous.

Nobody ever found out what started it – maybe a helicopter blade clipped someone, or a careless reptile crashed into one of the machines, but the sky erupted into violence. Guns were fired and magic was shot left and right. The reptiles and flying horses fell alongside exploding helicopter after exploding helicopter.

A piece of shrapnel flew into the open side of the Ark, impaling Stratm in the chest. He paled, collapsing. Celestia, Luna and Twilight raised magic shields around everyone instantly, protecting them from further crossfire.

Lem began to panic. “Doomed! We’re all doomed!”

Discord glowered and said something in Equi. He teleported out of the shields and entered the field of the battle, snapping his fingers. Time stopped in its tracks, bullets stopping midflight, helicopter blades screeching to a halt, and fireballs freezing. Discord then began to give instructions, pointing at several things with a disgusted look on his face. Starlight began to follow the instructions, surrounding one of the helicopters in magic and moving it.

Waise didn’t let this continue any further. “No.” She said, drawing her gun on Starlight. “You will not meddle with us you beasts!”

Discord started laughing. At first Waise was confused, but then she realized Discord had replaced her gun with an exotic sausage. She dropped the thing, fearing what it might do. It barked upon hitting the ground and did nothing else.

Emin glared at Waise. “Are you crazy? That is not how you handle a crisis!”

“Twice now!” Forsoo yelled. “Twice!”

“Shut up,” Waise said. ”We’re all going to be taken over by these things!” She thrust her arm towards Discord and Starlight, who were effortlessly arranging the paused battle into separate piles – helicopters in one area, Equi in another, and in-flight projectiles inside their own box.

“Why hate us?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

Waise glared at Twilgiht. “You will rui-“

Arlowe put her hand over Wasie’s mouth. “Ignore her. Look not!” She forced a grin.

Twilight looked at Waise with… sadness. She mumbled something and went to help organize the paused fight. Arlowe looked stunned.

“What did she say?” Waise asked.

“She… She was sad that you didn’t want to be her friend.

“What?” Waise gawked.

Emin smiled. “Lem was right. They truly are noble creatures.”

Waise was infuriated once more. How? Why? Why did no one see the manipulation these aliens were engaging in? Why did no one see the lies?

Lem smirked playfully at Emin. “So, I was right. Think I’m right about that shadow organization yet?”

Emin sighed. “Not this again. Look, if they existed, they would have kept me, Orgis, and Stratm away…”

We sure as heck tried, Waise seethed.

Orgis knelt down, examining the body of Stratm. “He will be remembered.”

Luna knelt down next to Orgis and began to sing something that sounded like a lullaby. No one understood the words – save Arlowe, who started crying by the third verse. The emotion was strong, the tones soft and comforting, and the voice strong.

That was beautiful,” Arlowe said.

Luna nodded in thanks.

The battle arrangements were completed within the hour, the three piles finalized. Discord snapped his fingers, and the fighting resumed. All the projectiles exploded, with the people who made up the other two piles looking around in confusion.

“CEASE FIRE!” Emin yelled, Celestia echoing his words for her people. The battle ended. The reality of the situation began to sink in when Starlight went out to get a body count.


“Hundreds dead. Thousands missing. More leaving now.” Twilight told the gari, her face sorrowful. “Sorry.”

Waise wanted to scream. Sorry? Sorry? She had the gall to say sorry? Of all the-

“What caused the malfunction?” Emin asked, and Arlowe quickly translated it.

Twilight created an image of a strange six-legged nanomachine. The gari looked at it confused. Twilight cleared her throat. “Alien project found on ruin world. Escape in crash. Found tampering.”

Waise’s frown deepened. Now they were trying to make them believe there were more aliens involved now? A nanomachine at that! Really, did they really think them this stupid? Were they really that stupid?

“How you find?” Arlowe asked.

Twilgiht slowly told the story of how they found the Key on the ruined world, and how the Mite had attacked them later for having it. She described the Key as a random string of letters.

Orgis looked deep in thought, but said nothing.

Waise threw her hands into the air. Yes, they really were that stupid. Everyone was taking this animal seriously! There was no way Twilight was being honest with all this, and yet everyone present just ate everything she said up like candy.

A wall-mounted screen came online, the red and yellow unicorn appearing, yelling something. A news report began playing, hosted by Ipsilon. Arlowe translated for the Equi as it played.

“The Equi outbreak has been disastrous for both sides – deaths have been occurring by the dozen as scared citizens of both worlds retaliate against each other out of fear. The exact numbers are unknown, but estimates put the deaths at a few hundred. It should be known that the outbreak only occurred a few hours ago, and this number is likely to increase exponenentia – breaking news!” Ipsilon paused. “Are you sure? Oh…” She looked conflicted. “It’s been confirmed. The Equi ship really was shot down. Details are still coming in…”

Oh no. The public had found out.

“…A facility in Krastia was recently exposed by the local government during an inspection, and an unknown weapon was found housed within it…”

Wait what? Waise sat bolt upright. That’s not right. It’s not in Krastia..

“…All but one of the personnel found working on the weapon project were arrested, and are being put on trial. Execution is expected…”

Twilight winced at ‘execution.’

“…The one individual who escaped the law did so because she was out of the country at the moment. She’s…” Ipsilon shook her head, looking horrified. “…Waise.”

All the gari and Equi turned slowly to Waise as Arlowe’s translation faded out in disbelief.

“No…” Waise said, taking a step back.

Forsoo spoke up. “Waise, you have committed crimes against the Equi race. Since we are on their soil, you will be subject to their laws.”

“No…” Waise repeated.

“Orgis, ask them what their laws are.”

Orgis did so. Celestia’s frown deepened. She looked right at Waise.


Celestia spoke a single sentence. Orgis and Arlowe couldn’t believe their ears.

“She’s…. dropping all charges!” Arlowe said.

“No!” Waise said, panic beginning to set in. She knew what was happening.

“She says forgiveness is a major part of their culture and that it extends to everyone. She… She only wants to know why.”

Waise paled. She didn’t invent the weapon. She didn’t work on it at any point. It wasn’t located in Krastia. But she did vote for its use. She wanted these aliens gone. They were going to ruin the world. But right now, she wasn’t worried about them, the charges, or even being asked the question.

She knew she was doomed.

She felt something sharp snap inside her mouth. Her eyes widened. “No…” She gasped. The ‘insurance policy’ had just been triggered. Poison flooded her system. “No…” She gurgled.

This was why she had been selected to go back. Not because she was good for the job, but because she was bad. She would serve as the scapegoat, and die before she could defend herself. She had been openly hostile, and nobody would think twice about her being in on it. She would die here, making it so the Seers of Garilend could continue to operate without scrutiny…

One of the last things she saw was Forsoo smirking at her as she crumpled to the ground.

The chemicals worked their way to the core of her heart, seizing it and filling her vision with inky blackness. She felt the magic of Celestia on her, attempting to drive the toxin out…

Silly. Why would they even try? She didn’t care about them… They were here to ruin the world… With her gone it would be easier for them to do so… Silly ponies… So pointless…

She died letting out a soft chuckle.

Forsoo let out a sigh of relief. He had been somewhat afraid she’d blurt something out that’d jeopardize what they were going for. But it had worked without a hitch. Now everyone – the public, the Equi – thought those responsible for attacking them were taken care of.

Their existence would remain a secret.


The Mite had not been at the Ark for hours. It had left the moment the Ark had crashed, not stopping to do anything, not even to tamper with the stasis pod controls. Why would it? The Ark wasn't going anywhere.

Instead it was on the Garilend Internet, surfing through computers, looking for information. It had gotten into the gari system with ease – nothing unusual blocking it like in the Ark.

It dug through classified records, ignoring documents of shadow organizations, secret wars, death policies, and conspiracies – that is, until it came across a file that mentioned the Key.

It dug deeper.

It wasn’t the Key the Mite was destined to protect. It was a different Key.

The Mite’s ears twitched. What did that mean?

XIV - Future Fine?

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Luna stared at the body of Waise, shocked. “W-what just happened?”

“Killed herself,” Orgis said.

“…Why?” Celestia asked. “We offered her amnesty…”

“Angry. Bitter,” Orgis said. “Firm.” She looked like she was thinking of another word but couldn’t think of anything to translate it to.

Celestia looked down, sorrow in her eyes. “…Was she really that set in her ways? Willing to do whatever to be rid of us?”

Arlowe slowly nodded her head.

Celestia sighed. “If you truly do not want us here… We can attempt to rebuild and leave.”

Luna and Twilight gasped. Discord lost hold of his green beverage, the glass falling to the ceiling and shattering.

Arlowe was stunned. Orgis waved her hands around frantically. “No! Help us can! Together!”

Arlowe translated to Forsoo and Emin. They agreed with Orgis’s assertion. Lem gave everyone a thumbs up, though he was visibly bothered by Waise’s body laying just under a yard away from him.

Celestia smiled, turning to Lem’s camera. “In that case I look forward to a long and prosperous friendship with the gari.”

The ponies and the gari present began to clap. The message needed no translation to be understood, not this time. The tension that had existed between the races had been cut by a death of one most opposed.

Forsoo smiled. Exactly as planned.

Now they had to deal with those released Equi…


Sunset sat in front of the doors to the Lobby, waiting. She stared deep into the shiny doors, unblinking. She glanced at the clock. They had been in there an entire day. Nonstop! Weren’t they tired yet?

She checked the video feed inside the room – they still showed no sign of wrapping up, though Sunset could tell Twilight’s brain was past well-done at this point. She was mildly surprised there wasn’t smoke coming out her ears.

Sunset noticed with amusement that Luna had completely forgotten she was wearing socks. Otherwise she wouldn’t be swinging her limbs around wildly and slamming her hoof on the table with a smirk on her face.

Sunset sighed – she wasn’t going to get to them anytime soon. Should she just rush in? No… It didn’t require immediate attention. Yet.

“Come here often?” Discord asked from the ceiling.

Sunset jumped into the air with a slight scream. She quickly looked from the ceiling to the screen – Discord was in both locations, looking bored. “…Did you really just duplicate yourself out of boredom?”

“Eeyup,” Discord said in his best imitation of Big Mac.

Sunset shrugged, getting back to watching the door. Then something occurred to her.

“Hey…” She began, turning to Discord. Then she violently shook her head. “No, bad idea.”

“Oh, now you simply have to tell me. Come on, what is it?”

Sunset bit her lip. “It’s about the cryogenic chamber malfunctions. I don’t think our Mite did them.”

Discord raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“I found an archived scan of the affected area – there is evidence of a Mite, yes – but no cat hair from the ears you put on it. I found that in a path leading out of the Ark, not even coming close to the affected area. And unless your spell was temporary and the Mite came back…”

Discord lowered his sunglasses to reveal another pair of sunglasses beneath. “So… We’ve got two creepy crawly Mites now?”

“Yeah. But that’s not what’s weird. Full ship scans were performed back when we found the first Mite – there wasn’t a second Mite, or anything made of the same alien material. This new Mite came on board later.”

Discord frowned. “From this planet perhaps?”

“Possibly,” She said. “Both of the worlds were on the same map after all. They are probably connected in some way.”

Discord put on a suit. “Well, I say that means it’s investigation time.” He pushed a finger to his tie and it honked. A portal in spacetime appeared behind him. “There’s the mainland, where shall we start?”

Sunset blinked. “We… probably shouldn’t.” Then she paused for a moment. “You know what, screw it, let’s go look for these Mites.” She left a quick note for Twilight and then leapt through the portal. They were both gone, the hall of the Ark empty once more.

Mere minutes later the doors opened and Twilight stepped out. She was barely able to stay awake enough to walk, but she had some ponies to see. She completely missed Sunset’s note. Behind her, Orgis stood by Starlight. The two were staring into the glory of the Tree of Harmony.

Starlight turned to Orgis, pondering something. “I… could teach you the way of Harmony.”

Orgis nodded slowly, still taken in by the light.

“Okay, step one, learn how to meditate… This part took me a full decade to get down.”


Fluttershy was watching Flurry Heart, which would have normally been one of the happiest times of the pegasus’s day. She came here often just to watch the young alicorn, so full of life and innocence. Even her cries were usually heartwarming.

Not today though. Today she was crying in fear.

“Come to mama!” Cadence yelled, a psycho grin on her face. “I’ve got hugs!”

Shining Armor held Cadence by the tail. “Cadence! You were choking her!”

“I was expressing my love!”

“Babies can’t be hugged that hard!” Fluttershy wailed, crying just as much as the filly she was trying to keep safe.

“Cadence!” Shining Armor yelled, losing his grip on her. “You need to calm down-“

“Calm is dead!” Cadence shouted. “There is only love! Only love!

“This isn’t love!” Fluttershy yelled.

“Then what is it?” Cadence bristled, kicking Shining Armor away and glaring at Fluttershy.

“Selfishness.” A new voice said. All fell silent – even Flurry Heart – taking the time to look at Pinkie standing in the doorway.

“What.” Cadence deadpanned.

“You’re being selfish,” Pinkie reiterated, no hint of comedy in her voice whatsoever. “Now, you could blame it on lunacy, but you’re still caring for yourself more than your family. They need to be kept safe and healthy. You need to catch up on centuries of lost hugs. You need to consider their needs over your own.” Pinkie sighed.

Cadence was speechless, her left eye twitching slightly. “W-what do I do?”

“I don’t know,” Pinkie said. “It may be that you can’t do much to yelp yourself. Celestia knows I can’t help myself.” She giggled awkwardly at her remark.

Fluttershy sniffed. “You… can’t?”

“Well think about it for a minute Fluttershy. Do I seem sane?”

Fluttershy shrunk back. “…No…”

“No need to feel bad Fluttershy,” Pinkie said, smiling. “You’re just used to my brand of crazy.”

Cadence looked into Pinkie’s eyes. “…What do you do to cope?”

“Honestly? I just roll with it and try to make everypony smile! It’s alllllll in the attitude for me! Though that might not work for you. You’ve got a different sort of problem. I just see things. You… You missed out on your family so long you broke.”

Cadence drooped. “I… I… Yes…”

“Yeah. Positive cheery attitude won’t help here. Probably dangerous. Buuuuuuut-“

“You could think about what your family wants you to be now rather than focusing on what you didn’t get,” Fluttershy blurted.

Pinkie blinked. “Woah! Fluttershy you’re amazing!”

“That won’t fix it though…”

“Pffft,” Pinkie said, waving a hoof dismissively. “Problems like this don’t just get ‘fixed.’ But they can be lived with.” She looked at Cadence and Shining Armor. “Can you two do that?”

Shining Armor looked at his wife and smiled. “I can. I promised to always protect her and be there for her. That still applies when her enemy is part of herself.”

Cadence gasped and sighed. “Oh Shining…” She threw herself on him, smirking.

“Andthat’sourcuetoleaveFluttershycomeon.” Pinkie dragged the Pegasus out of the room and closed the door. They could hear Flurry Heart laughing inside.

“…Do you think everything will be okay?” Fluttershy asked.

Pinkie just stared into space and didn’t answer.


Spike looked up from the tablet he was holding to see Applejack and Rainbow Dash enter the room, faces set in disbelief.

“Woah,” Spike said. “You two look you almost got hit by a train.”

“Understatement,” Applejack muttered. Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement. The two fell silent.

“Well, what happened?” He pushed.

Rainbow Dash took a big breath. Then a grin spread across her face. “Twilight just asked me if I would be willing to direct weather control for this entire freaking planet!” She laughed. “Me! In charge of all the clouds! All the clouds! Facing off against hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, you name it! I’ll be the Minister of Awesome Weather!”

“Ah’m not sure you have the responsibility for it…” Applejack said.

“I’m sure I’ll do just fine. I’m moving up!”

“What about you AJ?” Spike asked.

“Ah’m… goin’ to be in charge of mass food production. Farming food for those who need it as fast as possible. Ah’ll feed everyone.” She blinked, looking like she didn’t really believe it.

“That’s awesome!” Spike said. “AJ and Rainbow, world leaders!”

The two mares glanced at each other and smirked. They hoof bumped.

“Bet I can save more people than you!”

“Oh, Rainbow Dash, you are on!

Spike rolled his eyes. “Think you might be missing the point here… What’s Twilight up to?”

The two shrugged. “I dunno,” Rainbow Dash said. “She doesn’t really…. Share stuff with us anymore.”

“Yeah,” Applejack said, drooping.

“It’s probably just because she’s so busy.”

“She did mention that she was goin' to some meeting… Or something,” Applejack offered.

Spike shrugged. “I just hope this craziness dies down soon. I miss her.”

“Yeah…” Applejack said, looking into the distance. “We all do.”


Twilight and Luna stepped onto the helicopter. Thorax, Ember, and Geraldyr of the griffons filed in behind them. Forsoo, Arlowe, Emin, and Lem were with them, leaving Orgis behind in the Ark since she wasn’t really a politician, and because she wanted to stay.

Twilight found the helicopter a bit dark for her liking – and also a bit loud. Why was this so different from the helicopters at home? It was hard to see the sky in here… Hard to feel the breeze…

Then again, these helicopters were really loud from the outside, so that might have been the reason everything was tightly sealed.

“Here we go…” Twilight said.

“Into the Unknown,” Luna responded. “I hope it has cookies.”

Twilight laughed. Despite all that happened, things were starting to look up. They still had to deal with the released Equi… But an actual relationship had been established amidst that. They were on the same page now.

From the ground, Celestia waved at the retreating helicopter. She smiled. “Stay safe, my sister.”

Beside her, Orgis turned to Starlight. “Ready learn!”

Speak in gari I now,” Starlight said. “Mind magic from Twilight.”

Orgis clapped her hands and the two set off to the Tree. Celestia really doubted that Starlight was aware that she was basically founding a religion. Even the Equi had started to come to her with… reverent questions about the Tree. It was… interesting. Celestia had decided it was a good thing, in the end.

Now if only she could find Discord…


“What are we doing out here?” Sunset asked.

“Investigating,” Discord said as he threw another piece of fruit down the hill towards the village they had appeared next to.

“The Mites?”


“Discord, they could be anywhere on the planet by now. I can’t scan the whole globe and neither can you.”

Discord shrugged. “So? How does that change anything?”

“Uh… It's kinda pointless to keep looking?”

“Nah!” Discord said. “Exploration! Let’s see the sights, roam the world, fill our eyes with this new home of ours!”

“That has nothing to do with why we came out here in the first place.”

“So?” Discord said. “Why not take the opportunity to have some fun while we search? Take a chill pill, pop the corn, and put on the 3D glasses to life!”

Sunset smirked. “You’ve been desperate to explore haven’t you?”


“Well alright then, let’s see the sights.” She looked down at the village. “They seem happy with that fruit.”

Discord snapped his fingers, providing a giant mound of pineapples. “Now they’ll grow sick of pineapples.”

Sunset shook her head. “Somehow, I doubt they will…”


The Mite’s ears twitched.

It was going to be a long time before it got to the other Key at this rate if it kept listening to this darned thing known as music…

But it sounded so good…

The Mite put it’s mission on hold for a while, deciding it was time to sample all the music on file as fast as it could download it.

The Mite was going to be here for a while.

‘Here’ happened to be on a jukebox with Interent access.

The Mite didn’t even have time to mourn its self-restraint subroutines.


Rarity yawned, stretched, and hopped out of bed. “Dear me, I hope nothing important happened while I was asleep.”

It turns out Murphy’s Law can act retroactively.

Who knew.

XV - Late Night Toast

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“Good Evening Garilend! Welcome to Late Night Toast, the talk show where I attempt to inform you about the latest news stories but instead end up trying to talk over the audience’s incessant laughter. And – Screw it, you did it again! Syndication, why do we even have an audience? …What do you mean you had nothing to do with that? Screw it, go find out who did.

Anyway, as you are all aware – well, I guess a lot of you probably aren’t now, given recent events. I am Jett Oviesr, and the story of this week comes as a surprise to absolutely no-one - ALIEN INVASION.

What? It’s technically an invasion! At the very least of our privacy and politics! Granted we brought the invasion on ourselves by being complete gung-ho idiots, and they weren’t here to invade in the first place, but I’m allowed to use technical definitions sometimes!

…Oh? I’ve just been informed that I’m not, since whenever I do it’s either offensive, confusing, a euphemism, or some unholy combination of all three. And I can say, they are insurmountably right.

Regardless, back to the story. Cute fluffy aliens have come to Garilend and want to stay. The problem is they came with three things – some not so cute friends, a language barrier, and way too many people to fit on a quasi-magical island floating in the middle of butt-nowhere ocean. And we only call it butt-nowhere because in the ten days they’ve been here they’ve floated into three different oceans! Make up your mind Crater!

You may remember last week that I said we didn’t know enough to truly make a comprehensive argument about these visitors and what they mean – besides the obvious unrest, confusion, and new children’s cartoon ideas. Heck, adult cartoon ideas. I see all of you out there.

Well, now we do have enough knowledge to at least pretend we know what we’re doing. We don’t really, we can just pretend. And pray.

First off, the aliens themselves. We have cute and strong, cute and flying, cute and magical, all of the above, not cute grandpa birds, insects that didn’t get the six-legs memo, lizards that never bothered to learn basic thermodynamics, cute and stripey, devilish, vultures that have decided looking like a rocky bat is a good disguise, the definition of loud and obnoxious, butterflies that didn’t get the six-legs memo, and an unholy combination of all of the above that is currently romping around our planet with the cute and magical one that looks like bacon. Man, miss Shimmer, pardon me, but you look tasty. …Don’t give me that look.

Now, you may ask, what is the great and glorious history of these races? They all apparently come from one planet that somehow lost its sun some five or so centuries ago, their time. As horrible as their planet freezing to death is, I have to ask, how on earth do you lose a sun? Do you just forget to raise it? Stick it in your sock drawer? Leave it in the interstellar parking meter too long?

Regardless, they had to leave their home to freeze, searching for a new world. Their journey was long and boring, but they eventually ended up here and we shot them out of the sky.

Aren’t we geniuses? Hey! Super powerful aliens appear in orbit and try to talk! Hey, we’re a secret organization in Krastia that has a top secret space weapon! Let’s just use it without consulting anyone!

Now I would say that’s so stupid that’d never happen, but then I remember who the president of the Status Intervention currently is.

We’re geniuses!

Oh, and this isn’t all there is to our response either! How about throwing riots in front of political buildings that have absolutely nothing to do with the aliens? Or lynching adorable flying horses in the streets? Or poking the mountain sized fire breathing lizard?

Eh, I’m sure it won’t eat us if we try to brand it.


Now despite all this hostility and ‘genius’ many members of our population are trying to get along with the newcomers, realizing that all they’ve done to hurt us is crash and have their sleep pods malfunction. Granted, this has resulted in a lot of horrible and tragic deaths of our people – but the same goes for them. Many bands have formed that hunt the aliens. Some of them are doing this only for sport, and not for any sort of altruistic ‘protect the people’ reason. For example, the Final Hunt, a group based in, you guessed it, Krastia, has declared that killing the lizards is one of the, and I quote, ‘most exhilarating and satisfying experiences of all time.’ …Wow.

More positive efforts have formed together to stop alien racism and adopt them into our civilizations. Most of the government motions are practical, citing what we have to learn from them, and giving who they can citizenship. The process is slow, but a few hundred have been adapted into the fold already, and a few progressive nations have even extended their equality laws to the aliens, though obviously those will need to be revised in time.

Civilian efforts are more moral in nature, believing we can’t turn away what are essentially refugees, and many families are opening their homes to the loose aliens who just want a place to stay. Though there’s an equal amount who are killing everything they see…

Lastly, there’s the group of those who religiously devote to GLN’s livestream of Orgis learning the way of the Tree of Harmony. Thing is, I don’t think many of them are actually following the Tree of Harmony’s ‘path’ or whatever the heck it offers. I just think they want an excuse to feel like they’re in Orgis’s body all the time. There’s a reason everyone loves her, and it’s not just because she’s a great reporter who’s slightly crazy.

On the alien side of news, we have miss Sunset Shimmer and Discord. And yes, their name translations have been confirmed, so suck it Bookbook users, she is not Solar Bacon. You had your chance and you screwed it up!

Essentially, unholy mishmash and baconhair here are simply seeing the sights and exploring our world, and through their visits they use their impressive power to make life better everywhere they can. Now this hasn’t always gone too well – all of Forton burned down for instance – but towns have been welcoming of games, chocolate rain, and a complete disregard for normalcy when they arrive. They’re also exceptionally good at ending any alien-related violence in any place they visit. It helps to be an uber-powerful chaos god.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – Jett, why are you downplaying Forton? They burned that place down! Well, yes, they did, but the fun bit is that they were attacked by a troop of soldiers stationed there, and they fought back with fire. And ran. They didn’t even know the town was on fire till later – Shimmer gave quite the apology in a speech most people gloss over. It is tragic, but not as tragic as some of the other things that have thrown our little planet here into turmoil.

In the political room discussion of policy, we have Twilight Sparkle, a true genius if I’ve ever seen one; Luna, the neversleep; Geraldyr, that creepy uncle from the far west; Thorax, mister ‘I’m probably capable of romancing any being in existence but I don’t because I’m clueless’; and Ember, that crazy girlfriend you had in high school.

Now, these leaders are mostly new to their craft – only Luna has ruled for a substantial time - and many will be prepared to dismiss them. But they have managed to deal with the language barrier pretty well, and have been a lot more accepting of us than we’ve been of them. Well, sure, grumpy Geraldyr is grumpy, but I think he just needs a bath.

You may say that our leaders are older, wiser, and with their greater experience they can make better decisions. And in response to that I ask you to remember who the president of the flippin’ Status Intervention is right now.


My political annoyances aside, some things are actually getting done at the meetings in Garilend United. We have agreed, as a planet, to treat the Equi as refugees. We have agreed to help track down any strays and tell them what they should know. In return, the Equi have already started a Farming and Weather Control engine for us. I’m going to ignore the fact that they’re willing to give us almost all their technology to talk about Weather Control. Apparently they just controlled the clouds back home and it was considered unnatural for weather to operate on its own. By Joey I think they may really be aliens!

Now, you are probably thinking ‘this is all well and good, but what exactly am I supposed to do?’ I’d respond by slapping you and saying ‘it should be obvious moron!’ Treat them well. They treat us with respect even though we definitely didn’t earn it. Don’t treat them like, well, aliens. Treat them like they’re just people who are weird. And for the love of Joey, do not poke the sleeping lizards!

This, of course, makes us also consider the flipside of all this. That their government isn’t as prepared as ours. That their leaders are not ready. I’d disagreed with that assertion until I saw a clip of a pegasus playing a dangerous ‘prank’ by setting off a lighting strike next to her friends. Was this just some delinquent in the clip? No, it was Miss Rainbow Dash, the mare who is in charge of the Weather Control.

Is she ready? Are the others ready? A small time farmer is being put in charge of a worldwide agricultural program. A mare doesn’t realize she’s founding a religion. A bug-king who seems to barely understand the concept of relationships. Are these leaders set in their ways? Will they fall before they can work a permanent solution out?

To which I once again direct you to the current president of the Status Intervention. We aren’t clean either folks.

To be fair, that may not be enough to convince you. Maybe you think we’re superior. That’s fine, for now, before it becomes racist to do that. But it wouldn’t be fair if I was the one arguing for the Equi, we’d need one of them to do it themselves. And you won’t believe this, but we went hunting, searching high and low for any Equi who’d be willing to come on this stupid show of ours. And we found one. They aren’t a leader, they aren’t entrepreneurial, they aren’t even political. Their job description is basically ‘encourage others to party until they pass out.’ Pretty much their only qualification is that they’re personal friends with Twilight Sparkle, and just about everyone is ‘friends’ with her.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show Pinkie Pie!”

“Woo hoo! Hiya Jett! Glad to be here!”

“That’s some pretty fluent speaking there! How’d you get so good at our language so fast?”

“It’s alllll Twilight, she transfers what she knows to our brains whenever we ask!”

“Interesting. What have you thought of the broadcast so far?”

“Well, I heard that you like us, you're geniuses, and the president of the Status Intervention is a loser. That about right?”

“Eh, close enough. Now, to the real questions, the nitty gritty stuff. What is your opinion on how things are going between our two peoples?”

“I think it’s going a lot better than before! Like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich finally finding the sweet middle!”

“What about the accusations held against your leaders, such as inexperience or immaturity? I mean, obviously you aren’t experienced or mature, but we’ve got to ask that question because the people just have to hear every single opinion about it.”

“Heehee! Look at you talk about ‘inexperience’ and ‘immaturity.’ You’re what, twenty something? I’m older than you and I’m among the youngest! Lots of us are centuries old and have had to deal with all soooorts of crazy downers! And as for immaturity, wellll, just listen to yourself. Then listen to one of Twilight's speeches. The gap is huuuuge!”

“I have never claimed I was a mature individual in my life. Ever. Nor am I a world leader, though if any country has a vacancy I’m open to suggestions… Nudge nudge.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. The media is a powerful tool! I should know, I basically live it!”

“You were involved in media?”

“…You could say that. Somewhat. I do know it’s powerful and can shape the world!”

“Well now I need to invent a new smug look for myself. Thank you Pinkie. Moving on, what do you think of the gari’s actions towards you as a species?”

“Well… it’s a little disappointing, but I understand why most of you geniuses – heh – do the things you do. You’re scared, uncertain, and fear what we’ll do. But guess what?”


“We’re all scared too! It’s natural! We’re two powerful sides at a standoff, not sure if we should call the party off or throw it into high gear! Sometimes each side conflicts with themselves! The hand slaps the foot! The other hand stands motionless while the other foot bounces around without a clue of where to go! And the rest of the body wants to tap dance - like this! I feel a song coming on~!”

“Okay, okay, I never thought I’d say this but we’re finally interviewing someone who can keep up with the banter.”

“Heehee! That’s why you chose me silly!”

“Best decision ever. Anyway, Garilend, look at this adorable pink face. Is it the face of death? Doom? Destruction?”

“Of course not!”

“And with that we leave you for tonight! Do you want to do it Pinkie?”

“Ohmygosh yes! Goodnight Garilend! Set your toasters to pink this time around! It’ll be a party for everyone! Wahooooo!”

XVI - Building Upwards

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Rarity gasped. “You’re not seriously thinking of building that there are you?”

The worker dragon looked up from his job – placing magic markers so they could construct buildings in the crystal of the Bowl. They needed to build Harmony City faster, by magic or otherwise, for the Equi were finding it difficult to wait outside without a home. The Ark couldn’t hold them all…

“Are you going to move it!?” Rairty asked, shaking the dragon out of his thoughts.

“…Where?” He grunted.

“Over there! We can’t have the already narrow walkways getting even narrower! As it is the bigger dragons can’t even fit!”

The dragon blinked, annoyed. “If I put it back the final construction will interfere with the power lines, miss.”

Rarity twitched, trotting up to the large glowing mote that was the marker. With some effort she levitated it into the middle of the two proposed places. She took in a sharp breath. “How about that?”

The dragon narrowed his eyes. “But now it won’t be symmetrical…”

“Asymmetry is artistic!” Rarity blurted.

The dragon sighed. “Whatever.”

“Is it ready?” Rarity and the dragon jumped from the authoritative voice of Luna.

“Your majesty – of course! Ready as ever!” Rarity nervously smiled.

“Good.” She said, spreading her wings and focusing. Magic shot forth form the tip of her horn, surrounding a marker. The energy jumped from the primary marker to another marker, where its path split to touch multiple markers at once, eventually creating a lattice of all thirty markers. The beams of energy began to vibrate, sending bursts of energy out their sides, constructing walls seemingly out of nothing. Black bricks were laid, ornate windows were crafted, and the flat roof was smoothed to a sheen. In a manner of seconds, a roughly square building stood, its dark colors contrasting with the bright crystalline ground.

Luna gasped from the expenditure from energy – this was her seventeenth building today… She looked up at her handiwork – and frowned. “…Is it lopsided?”

Rarity groaned. “…Asymmetry is artistic?”

“I like it,” Luna said. “Gives it a lot more character than the others we’ve been raising…”

The three turned to look behind them. Aside from the ornate crystal towers that now surrounded the Ark’s wreckage, all the buildings were just different colored bricks stacked on top of each other. Sometimes there were patterns, but more often than not, it was just grid section after grid section, building stacked on top of building, slowly spreading out with only minor variations depending on whose magic constructed it. The ones that looked the best were often the ones that the earth ponies built from scratch… And those were very uncommon.

Rarity sighed. “How dreadfully predictable…”

“There will be renovations after it's complete,” Luna reminded her.

Rarity facehooved. “But renovations will take years! Until then we’re left with this dull mess.” She looked upwards. “Well, most of us.”

Luna followed Rarity’s gaze to the clouds being collected above them. A tremendous city was being formed, filled with graceful buildings, brilliant streets, and hundreds of flying Equi. The main difference between it and regular Cloudsdale is that it had two of the Ark’s salvaged engines strapped to it for maximum mobility. “New Cloudsdale is going to be the hub of weather control. It has to be better constructed for that purpose.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t be jealous,” Rarity muttered.

Luna smirked. Then she spread her wings and took to the sky. She might as well check on them. Sure enough, as she got closer to the cloud city she saw a streak of rainbow flying left and right, shoving more and more clouds into the construction area.

Rainbow Dash noticed Luna shortly thereafter and flew right to her. “Hey Princess! How do you like our soon to be awesome cloud city?”

Luna smirked. “I have yet to see it in full, Rainbow Dash. Care to give me a tour?”

“Sure can!” Rainbow Dash zoomed to the center of New Cloudsdale in the blink of an eye. Luna rolled her eyes, teleporting to the speedy Pegasus. In the center of New Cloudsdale was a giant holographic globe, displaying an image of all Garilend’s weather systems. Colors and shapes that Luna barely understood were constantly swirling around the clouds – presumably with some meaning that was simply beyond her understanding.

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Got a hurricane brewing. We’d better be ready to operate by then. Don’t want more destruction… Spike!” She called. “Will we be hurricane-ready by then?”

The dragon looked up from the blueprints. “Uh… maybe? It’s hard to tell…”

“Well organize those papers faster, gari are counting on us!” Rainbow Dash ordered.

Luna smiled. It was great to see drive in her ponies in a time of struggle… It felt good to actually be doing things again.



“Yes Applejack?”

“Did you convince the ‘wombats’ to leave the field?”

Fluttershy smiled. “Oh yes! Found them a nice tree a ways away that was much better than that... hovel.”

Appleack grinned. “Thank ya! Every extra bit of land we can get means a lot!”

“How’s the growing going?”

“Already got some parsnips,” Applejack said. “Don’t taste all that great but it was the fastest growth Ah’ve seen yet! Planted some apples today too – though those won’t be ready for a few years no matter how much we urge them.”

“Wow, you really are putting all your effort into this aren’t you?”

“Yep, gotta feed everyone. I think in about ten years we’ll have solved the food problem.”

“Applejack!” Big Mac yelled from behind her.

“Um, yes?”

“Granny says Zap Apple Season happens here too. Don’t ask me how she knows, she just says it’s happening now.”

Applejack’s eyes widened. “Go get me one of those powerful unicorns and make a tree. We’re having zap apple jam this year!”

“Ooooh!” Fluttershy said. “Applebloom will love that!”

“Yah, she will,” Applejack agreed. “Wonder what she’s doing now…?”


“I get off that silly ship and what do I get? Plowing!” Applebloom wailed. “You two have it easy…”

The two voices speaking through her earphones giggled. “I guess we haven’t been asked to do much…” Sweetie Belle said.

Scootaloo chirped in. “We did help a changeling choose a cutie mark. That was fun.”

Applebloom groaned. “Ah wanted to do the crusadin’ with you…”

“Applejack said you could come back once you get a system going.” Sweetie Belle reminded her.

“So get ‘er done so you can see the new clubhouse!” Scootaloo pushed.

Applebloom cocked her head. “…Clubhouse?”

“Scootaloo that was a secret surprise!” Sweetie Belle chided.

Scootaloo chuckled. “Well, I uh… oops?”

“That’s it!” Applebloom yelled. “This farm is going to get completed as soon as possible! I will get back to you two faster than you can say ‘apple!’ We will crusade and this farm will be absolutely amazing!”


From atop a hill, Celestia watched the yellow filly work with new vigor.

Celestia smiled.


Pinkie Pie burst into the Lobby. “Woah!” She said, seeing Starlight and Orgis meditating. “That looks awesome!”

Neither responded to her presence. Neither seemed to know she was there. Pinkie frowned. “Really? Meditation can’t be that bad... Ignoring me is like not having breakfast!”

There was no response. Pinkie shrugged, sitting down at the table, opening her mouth to yammer on about balloons made of soybean oil.

Dear Harmony she’s staying. Starlight inwardly groaned, making no outside indication she was annoyed. Despite this, Pinkie knew.

“Ha! I knew it was impossible to ignore me!”

Starlight sighed and stopped the mediation. “Pinkie, Orgis and I are trying to reach into the essence of the Tree of Harmony. We’re seeing if it can touch Orgis’s mind.”

“Oh,” Pinkie said, looking closely at the pink gari. “…Okay!”

“And that makes sense to you. Not surprised, come to think of it.“ She turned to Orgis. “Wow, she still hasn’t broken concentration. This is impressive. She must really want to feel the Tree…”

“What did it feel like when you felt it for the first time?” A new voice asked – Cadence.

“Don’t you already kn- oh right…” Starlight looked sheepish. She turned to look at the Tree of Harmony and closed her eyes. “I first felt it when I tried to rewrite time… Undo the deaths; rewind that which could not be rewound… I was sucked into a world of death, a world of empty ponies… And then the Tree grabbed me, pulling me out of that place which should not have been. That feeling… was like staring into the sun. There was a searing pain that came over me, a wave of overwhelming raw emotion – a flood of magic that surprised even me. I thought I was going to die, like those I had tried to bring back. But then I felt the beauty, the glorious beauty. The power of the being that was with us through all time. It was… too much, and I returned in a crazed state… Unable to think… But I couldn’t let go of that feeling. I kept returning, again and again, and each time it became easier, more bearable. Now I can do it with ease…” She furrowed her brow. “It feels… anticipation right now. Good anticipation.”

Cadence blinked. “Wow,” was all she had to say.

Pinkie was munching some popcorn. “Amazing story! Now stay tuned for the sequel!”

It was at that moment Orgis was enveloped in a burst of blue magic, her body floating into the air. She let out a little yelp of pain, but kept her focus, holding her arms out. The blue magic shifted to pink, and her hands lit up with energy…

Then she was unceremoniously dropped to the floor with an “oof!”

Starlight’s jaw dropped. “Orgis! Are you okay?”

The gari stood up, slowly. She looked into the distance with a blank expression. She raised her left hand, and snapped her plastic-like fingers. A burst of neon pink energy shot forth from her fingers.

“Magic!?” Starlight gasped. “The… The Tree gave you…”

Orgis trembled. “I… I…” She reached to her headset, and turned it off for the first time since she arrived. She turned to Starlight. “I… have seen it.”

“And?” Starlight asked, putting her hoof on Orgis’s shoulder.

“…There is something I must do. Goodbye, for now.” She smiled. “These few weeks have been amazing.”

“…Orgis, where are you going?”

“Home,” was all she said, before walking out.

Starlight furrowed her brow. What? What? What was she doing?

“Secrets,” Pinkie said in answer to Starlight’s unspoken question. “She has secrets. Big secrets.”

Starlight frowned. Orgis would have no secrets with the Tree of Harmony… At least not anymore. It was impossible to keep things from it… Starlight connected with it once again.

The Tree was surprised, baffled, angry, relieved, happy, somber, and introspective all at the same time. It wouldn’t give her any indication why.

What was going on?


Sunset looked up from the tourist brochure. “Well, looks like the diner up ahead has good reviews. They specialize in different kinds of bacon.”

Discord let out a sharp chuckle. “Surely you’ll know how silly that’ll look! They already had a fit when you ate regular meat, now this?”

“I’ve been known as ‘baconhair’ the entire time I was in the human world. I’m used to it.”

“And there’s your problem! You let a bunch of dumb hairless apes give you a moniker.”

“They’re not dumb!” Sunset retorted.

“Two words. High. School.”

Sunset bit her lip. “…Yeeeeah.” They never did figure out why the portal to Earth had collapsed when the sun vanished… She often wondered if she had been on the wrong side at the wrong time.

The two dropped the topic and threw open the doors of the Boistorous Bacon. The patrons were all gari – save for one familiar Pegasus sitting alone in a booth, munching on a green piece of bacon and reading a gari newspaper. She wore a purple cloak, safari hat, and currently had a pair of spectacles on her face. Her wings were twitching in time to the music coming from the nearby jukebox – which was playing an Equi song, The Spectacle.

“Darin- er… A. K. Yearling?” Sunset asked.

Yearling looked up and smirked awkwardly. “Ah, Sunset, Discord. I’ve read a lot about you two lately. Front page on this newspaper, actually. What brings you here?”

“Seeing the sights, that sort of thing,” Sunset said.

“Alien conspiracy,” Discord added.

Yearling raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Sunset facehooved. “Discord that’s a secret!”

“Oh really? Since when?”

“Since we don’t want the entire gari population on our backs more than they already are!”

Yearling chuckled. “Get an alias. It works wonders. Plus, most of them don’t understand Equi anyway.” She smirked. “But since you’ve spilled the beans, you can’t not tell me.”

Sunset sighed. “There’s another Mite. We’re traveling around, scanning everything, to see if we can find evidence of the other one, or the one that escaped in the crash. To find any information.”

“Find anything?” She asked, waving for the waiter to get more bacon.

“Nope,” Sunset said, disappointment evident.

“Checked here yet?”

Sunset blinked. “You know what, I haven’t. I’ll do that now.” She lit her horn and scanned the town with her magic. She fell out of the booth upon doing so, startled by the results.

Yearling grinned. “Ooooof course. This is always how it works. The moment I’m dragged in something gets found. Where is it?”

“The jukebox… Telling it what to play…” Sunset said, a little dumbfounded.

Discord blinked. “It’s working on a jukebox and it’s playing ‘The Spectacle’ for us? Meh, it needs to get better taste.”

The waiter brought them bacon, and Sunset teleported the Mite off the Jukebox. Discord grew it until it was the size of an ant. It freaked out – not only was the scenery changing impossibly but he was back as well! And worst of all the music was gone!

“Hello again,” Discord said. “Miss me?”

“No,” The Mite responded, ears twitching involuntarily. Nothing about this scenario was possible.

Sunset blinked. “It really is a one word wonder. You weren’t kidding.”

Yearling smirked. “Classic golem speak. Here, Mite, do you understand me?”


“Are you aware of a second Mite?”


“Do you know where it is?”


Sunset frowned. “The capital of this country?”

“Yes…” The Mite droned, annoyed.

“Where in Crucible?” Yearling asked.


Discord groaned. “See? He’s sooo helpful.”


“And he fancies himself clever…”


Yearling bit into her bacon and frowned. “Why is it there?”


“Another alien artifact, of course…” Yearling muttered. “How do you know the Key is there?”


“The gari know of it?”


Sunset blinked. “Wait… if some of the gari know something, shouldn’t they have reacted when we told them about you?”


“See?” Discord said. “Alien conspiracy.”


Sunset frowned. “Something fishy is going on here… Mite, could you take us to the key?”


“What do you want in return?” Yearling asked.


“We aren’t going to kill you.”


Sunset frowned. “Do you still plan on blowing us up?”


“Then you already have your freedom.”


Discord laughed. “You just want music? Well sure, Mite, you can have all the music you want forever if you do this! I’ll even write new stuff for you! I’ll find you stuff that doesn’t exist! I’ll let you experience music like never before!”


Sunset turned to the others. “Well… we have a guide, and a goal. I think we should tell Twilight what we’re doing and go investigate this conspiracy immediately.”

Yearling smiled. “I love how I’m just automatically part of the group.” She finished her bacon. “…You know, I never understood why most ponies hate meat…”

“It’s a bit of an acquired taste,” Sunset said.


Discord grinned. “Hilarious. Eating meat. What hath science wrought?”

“Your face,” Yearling responded.

Discord blinked. “…You know that sounds childish but is actually pretty clever. Bravo. Have an air horn.”

Sunset sent off the message through her magic, ignoring the air horn that drove the restaurant crazy. After having some pictures taken with the restaurant owner (which was to be framed and subtitled with Baconhair’s Boustrous Bacon Bounty, proudly hung on the wall forevermore) they went outside.

Twilight was already standing in the doorway. “I’m ready to go. Where to?”

Sunset blinked. “I didn’t ask you to come-“

“I’m here anyway. I want to know what this all means.” She twitched. “I’m tired of unknowns and secrets. It’s time for answers!”

XVII - The Seers of Garilend

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The yellow Overseer looked up from the file in his hands and into the eyes of Forsoo. Forsoo looked back, face set in a soft smile.

“It says here you were the one who triggered Waise’s insurance policy,” The Overseer said.

Forsoo nodded. “They were giving her a way out. Admirable, but sadly against our wishes. She needed to be taken care of or she would have betrayed us to them.”

“I happen to agree with you. But…” The Overseer looked torn. “…I did think you had higher standards than the rest. I always figured it would have been Arlowe who activated it.”

“Perhaps I do have higher standards,” Forsoo said, shrugging. “I saw a situation where relations needed to be solidified quickly, or everything would be at risk. I acted.”

“Hrm… Well you are finally getting an accommodation and promotion for this. Congratulations are in order, you are the new Primary Agent of this facility.”

“Thank you sir, it is my honor to serve the Seers.” Primary Agent? That was just three steps of power beneath the Director! Forsoo was now only below Overseers and Site Directors! This was great! Those ponies were the best thing to ever happen to him!

“Now, your responsibilities have changed. You get to decide what missions you go on, and you get to assign others to missions. Consider yourself lucky that the previous Primary Agent was on an assassination assignment that went south.”

“What happened to her?”

“Was successful but was killed in the act. The target was also an assassin, took her out with him.”

Forsoo winced. “Ouch.”

“Indeed. The office is through there. Some of her personal items are still in there, haven’t had a chance to clean it out.”

Forsoo nodded. “It will be no problem.” He left the Overseer’s office and entered his new place of work. Like everything in facility G.A.L., it was predominantly a dark grey color. Two bookshelves liked the side walls; two television screens flanked the doorway. He slid behind the sleek desk and placed himself in front of the state-of-the-art computer to discover that the rumors were right, the chair really was more comfortable, despite looking exactly like every other chair in the building. There was a purple cactus growing to the side, and an image of a purple gari woman on the desk. He carefully set these things aside - someone would be by to pick them up later. He was considering keeping the cactus though.

He began to read through the feed that the Overseers created – fashioning missions and goals for every agent worldwide. He didn’t plan on assigning anything right now, only wanting to familiarize himself with the system. He looked at the many kinds of missions available at the moment.

…replace the Tertiary Magistrate of Kobalt…

…get more individuals into the Status Intervention Senate to clean up the mess…

…assassinate Emin Montreal…

…trigger a rebellion in Dialo without killing the Magistrate…

…keep United Space from passing…

…promote jiggle-jelly.

Forsoo groaned upon reading the last one. Economic missions were the worst. They were very vague and it was generally impossible to tell if there was a success or not…

Arlowe stuck her head in the door. “Forsoo-“

“Ah, yes, Arlowe, come on in. What are you doing these days?” He smiled warmly.

Arlowe squirmed. “I uh… Besides translation software, I’m the secretary. Blagha wants you to know she’ll be off site for the day, so unless the Overseer steps in you’re in charge. Nothing should happen, just expect more people to call you. All security clearances have been transferred.”

Forsoo nodded. “Thank you Arlowe. Your contribution is greater than most.” Arlowe left without a word – evidentially still not wanting to talk to him. She had been rather close to Waise, even if she knew Waise was a complete sack of trash.

Site Director… Essentially, Forsoo thought to himself. Life is good.

The phone line rang. He answered. “Acting Site Director Forsoo, what can I do for you?”

“It’s Cred! Calling to let you know there are power fluctuations… Do not be alarmed, we’re fixing them.”

As if in response, the lights began to flicker. “Thank you for the update Cred. It’s appreciated. Call back anytime.” He hung up, turning back to the computer. He looked through the classified documents now, finding all sorts of juicy stuff he had never known about before. He had access to almost everything at the moment, with only a few files restricted to specific Site Directors. There was a more in-depth report on the inner workings of the Star Weapon. Apparently the Director had ordered its construction before the technology to build it even existed. Curious.

Then he ran across a heavily restricted file titled “ICON – Overseer Level+ Access Required.”

The Overseer only file. It was legend amongst agents. Most had never seen it, and many thought it was just a legend. But here it was, right in front of him. He supposed Site Directors were allowed to know it existed, perhaps to remind them that they didn’t know everything.

ICON… Did it have to do with the Director? He supposed that made sense, the Director was such a mysterious individual, but the files for the Director weren’t anywhere else…. Perhaps that was the ‘icon,’ the Director.

Well, that couldn’t be it, the file was almost as old as the Seers themselves, written before the database was even created if the ‘date filed’ was to be believed. Perhaps it was a list of all gari who had filled the role of Director over the centuries?

It was interesting to think about, to say the least. Maybe one day he would know.

The line rang again. “Acting Site Director Forsoo, how may I help you?”

“Wow. That’s a chipper voice,” a woman said.

“Who is this?”

“Javelin, but that’s not important. What’s important is that apparently our firewalls have been breached by an unknown force again. You weren’t here for the attack a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t matter right now. Just know that something tapped into the database and got some information. We don’t know what it got. And it’s back.”

“…What measures of defense are being taken?”

“The coders are working on enhancing encryption and the theorists are cooking. Current suspect is that alien robot the Equi found and lost, but we have no proof.”

Forsoo grunted. “And it’s not like we can just ask them how they dealt with it without being suspicious. Has the current attack been stopped?”

“No, it’s still going on, but it hasn’t accessed the database yet. We’re rerouting power and trying our best to keep it out, but it’s still causing power fluctuations. We’re pooling all the resources we can into this.”

“Good. Keep me posted, and keep up the good work.”

“Ugh. Too happy.” She hung up.

Forsoo looked at the phone in distaste before trying to focus on the files once more. He was concerned that the alien machine might be here, but he knew he couldn't really do anything about it. He wasn't one of the techies, so he let himself become absorbed in the computer. It was a few minutes later when the intruder alert alarms started blaring. What?

He quickly called Arlowe. “What is going on?”

“Corridor 5B. Equi.”

Forsoo grabbed a remote, quickly adjusting his wall screens to the correct frequencies. There was a small troop of ponies, accompanied by Discord, walking down a hall, saying something to the camera… “We look for the Mite.”

He groaned. So they had tracked the Mite here. What a mess. “Arlowe, identify the individuals… I want to make sure.”

Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, Discord, and… not sure. Closest match I have is a character from their fiction, Daring Do.”

“I’d love to know the story behind her…” He said. “Patch me through to them.”


“Princess, this is a restricted facility. Why and how are you here?”

“We found stuff of another alien Mite. One MIte had found files that led us here. Alien Key in facility.”

Her gari wasn’t perfect, but Forsoo understood what she was saying. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Forsoo said truthfully. “If you will allow the agents to take you to the lounge we can talk this over…” And perhaps discover if amnesiacs work on your kind.

Daring Do whispered something in Twilight’s ear. She nodded, and the group teleported elsewhere. She saw the trap.

“Hall 7C!” Arlowe announced. Forsoo quickly switched the channels – seeing them only the briefest of moments before the teleported again, narrowly avoiding agent gunfire.

They were being stupid…

Forsoo gritted his teeth. Section 4D… Lavoratory 5E… Corridor 2F… They just moved too fast! ...But there was a direction – downwards.

“Set up a tranq team at Hall 1M. They’ll be there if they continue on their path!”

“Yes sir!”

Forsoo liked the ponies, he really did, but he couldn’t just have them ruin his job like this. They needed to be stopped before they got too far in. He wondered if he’d have to kill them… he hoped not.

The Equi went past floor after floor – G, H, I, J, K, and L… Before arriving exactly where expected, right in the middle of an ambush. The darts flew true, heading right for the ponies. Daring Do was the only one they missed completely. Twilight and Sunset fell to the ground while Discord was completely unaffected. Forsoo found himself cursing Discord for cheating, until he realized that Discord wasn’t fighting back at all. Daring Do was, knocking the agents out with flare.

Forsoo tensed when Discord magically woke the two sleeping mares up with a gong. Forsoo couldn’t let this go on. ”Agents! You now have permission to use live rounds!”

The live rounds had little effect – a simple magic shield blocked them. Perhaps if they had used live rounds first, the ponies wouldn’t have been expecting attacks, but they were ready to fight back now. They teleported away once again, defying the agents.

Forsoo seethed. They were still going down. N… O… They were headed right for the offices. Forsoo's face became panicked. He ran out of his desk and rushed into the Overseer’s office. “Overseer! They’re-“

“I know,” he said, a deadly calmness around him. “Their magic overrules all our security measures save one.” He frowned. “I cannot give them what they want.”

“…What do they want?”

“A secret that not even you can know,” he said. “But seeing I’ve armed the self-destruct… No. Nevermind. I cannot say. Even now.”

“Why not?” Forsoo asked, curious and terrified at the same time.

“Who can say? They might save you and get it out of you later.” He stared intensely into Forsoo’s eyes. “We cannot let them know. They cannot be allowed out either.”

Forsoo gulped, but nodded. This is what he had been trained for. They were going to go down with the base. The two of them stepped out of the office into the hall – hall 7Q.

The Equi appeared seconds later.

“What the heck is going on?” Sunset demanded.

“You are not supposed to be here. We defend our secrets.” The Overseer spoke in almost perfect Equi.

Twilight frowned. “Why hide this from us? We could help understand it!”

“I will not say,” The Overser paused. “I will say I am disappointed in your conduct.”

“Same,” Sunset declared.

Discord snarled. “On our way here our little Mite friend informed us of some other rather indicative files about your little group you have. Nice Star Weapon.”

Twilight looked sad. “Why? Why do you do these things?”

Forsoo answered. “World needs us. Keep balance. Prevent toppling.”

“We never had to do any of this back home…”

“You lost your sun,” The Overseer observed. “Along with most of your population. You cannot judge us for what we have done to keep ours.”

The Equi were taken aback. Discord looked ready to smite them. Forsoo prepared for the worst.

“Disable self-destruct,” a heavily distorted voice rang out. The Overseer and Forsoo turned to see the Director behind them.

“You’re back?” The Overseer blurted, startled. “You weren’t supposed to be back-“

“I came back early. Had an epiphany.” The Director turned to the Equi. “I will see you four in the Overseer’s office. I will answer you and your Mite’s questions. The time is at hand.”

The Overseer trembled at the Director’s words. “But Director…”

“That is my decision. Come, Twilight Sparkle and company.” The Director wordlessly walked into the office and sat down.

Twilight, Sunset, Yearling, and Discord went inside. The doors sealed shut behind them.

Forsoo turned to the Overseer. “…Care to tell me now?”

The Overseer was stunned. “I… I… no… But… …We wait and see Forsoo. Until then, we have to calm the Site. Tell them it was resolved.”

Forsoo gulped. That wasn’t going to be easy…

XVIII - The Director

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As the doors shut, Twilight tried to scan and examine the Director - but besides the overly thick clothing she only found a regular gari beneath. Female, her scans told her.

"What is it you wish to know?" The Director asked, sitting down and folding her arms, her distorted voice grating against the Equi's ears.

Yearling spoke up first. "What is this place?"

"The Headquarters of the Seers of Garilend, a society that shapes Garilend from the background through any means necessary."

Discord frowned. "Any means? You better have some pretty good ends there..."

"Through our efforts we have improved the quality of life on Garilend by 30%, prevented the deaths of millions by ending wars and rebellions before they start, assisted governments in dealing with change, and have given minorities their say."

"How many?" Sunset asked, eyes narrow.

The Director instantly knew what question was being asked. "Two million, one hundred sixty-three thousand, four hundred thirteen. Maybe fourteen, I haven't checked the file since I got back."

"...Deaths by your hand?" Twilight gaped. "How... How does that help the world?"

"Through... Through control and dissuasion, maintaining our network... Though..." She stopped short.

"Why?" Sunset asked. "Why all this? How did things come to be this way? How could you have ever considered this? Where is the Key? Why are you hiding it?"

The Director slowly stood up. "Follow me." She walked to the back of the room and entered a sequence of numbers into a keypad. The back wall slid open, revealing a staircase. The Director began to walk down, wordlessly. The four Equi followed, unsure what was going on.

"Untrusting," The Mite said from Discord's shoulder.

"You or them?" Discord asked.


Discord rolled his eyes, continuing down the stairs. They descended deep into Garilend - much further than any basement had any right going. They eventually ended up in a cave that was brimming with bioluminescent organisms, giving the enclosure a pink aura. In the center of the cavern was an orange temple carved from a marble-like material. The structure was covered in engravings of fish-like creatures. Within the grasp of the temple was a solid orange brick.

Another Key.

Twilight reached into her saddlebags with her magic, taking out her Key. The Director glanced at it briefly but didn't make a move.

The Mite leapt from Discord's shoulder and started scrambling all over the Key. "Different," it said, running its feelers over the Key.

"Ah. You must be the Mite," The Director said.


"How did you manage to go against your programming?"

The Mite pointed a leg at Discord. "Blame."

"Is everything my fault?!" Discord said.


Yearling let out a snort. Discord threw his hands into the air.

Sunset looked at the Keys alongside each other. "How...?"

The Director began to remove the thick brown suit she was wearing. "Eight hundred years ago... I was playing around on the surface when I fell down a hole. I found myself in a cavernous system with no evident way out, so I explored."

The gloves came off, revealing her pink hands. "I must have wandered for days. Yet, somehow, I was always sure I would live. I just sensed it - like I had sensed a lot of things in my life. I had just... seen the way the world works. The rules of events... Even though I grew hungry I knew I would be fine. I saw."

Her legs were free, revealing a simple pink skirt. "So when I found the Key it came as no surprise to me. I had felt it as my destiny. So I touched it - and I was saved, in a way. The guardian of this Key - which we call the Hexalin - found its way into me, into my mind, into my being."

She sighed. "It changed me. It knew I was special - it saw in me something that went beyond its understanding. It decided I could be a useful puppet to protect the Key. It saw me - or the little gari girl who would become me - as the perfect tool. One who could see. It was not long before I was no longer the girl. I became the Director."

"Fascinating," Discord droned. "What does this have to do with anything?"

The Director removed her helmet, looking at them all with the sad face of a woman they had thought they knew. Orgis. Discord reeled. "Did not see that coming."

"It has everything to do with your questions," she said, her voice now clear. "I became the Director, and the Hexalin made me its personal instrument. I - we - gathered others to help protect the Key, using brain rewiring when necessary. But I was always special. I was the Icon, the first, the immortal, the one who held it all together."

"The Hexalin and I became... companions of a sort. Although I had been bent, I still retained much individuality. I suggested to the Hexalin that our society could be used for more than protecting the Key - and it agreed. We acted as a joint mind, working together to spread the society, using our secrecy and knowledge to protect who we could. It started out small scale - but it only took about a century for us to have feet planted worldwide. Shortly thereafter we realized the Key was protected far beyond a reasonable doubt. No gari was ever going to get in to find it. I saw success, and the Hexalin relaxed."

"Foolish," The Mite said.

"Yeah, we got in," Yearling pointed out.

"The story changed when you arrived. From the moment you arrived I knew you'd get to this point. That you'd find my secret. Our secret. The secret of this world..." She sighed before continuing. "But I'm getting ahead of myself. We expanded. Grew. The Hexalin decided it could find just as much purpose in protecting this world from its own destructive impulses as it could find in protecting the Key. Countries rose and fell. Wars were started and stopped. Leaders deposed and initiated. And we thought it was good. Nothing could dent that belief. The numbers didn't lie."

"Then you came. An unknown I foresaw coming here, to this point. A threat. We panicked - trying to defy the prediction. Trying to protect the Key. That... that is why we shot you down. We were trying to fight fate. It wasn't until after you crashed that we took time to think - that maybe we should try something else. Maybe we could use our regular tactics of deception to keep you away. We resolved to learn as much as we could about you, personally seeing and interacting with you. The Hexalin was with me almost the entire time I was on your ship. The release of your entire civilization was a calculated risk - it would cause a crisis that would force us to work together. And it worked exactly as predicted."

Twilight shook her head. "You..."

"Yes. Me. Us. Though I will admit, the other Mite was a surprise. I hadn't seen that," she let out a pained laugh. "I thought I - we - would have to alter your minds. But then I started meditating with Starlight... It... it was so beautiful. I felt magic. I saw so much more. I discovered a nature I could respect - and the Hexalin did too. We went through it together. But the more we did, the more we saw... And when we finally connected..."

"Harmony rejected what we did. What we'd done. We had robbed the free will of many, and lied to an entire planet. Unacceptable..."

She looked into Twilight's eyes. "And then I was filled with magic." She snapped her fingers, sending pink sparks flying form the tips. "Great magic... A feeling I couldn't resist... So... Pure..."

She sighed. Then she pointed at the Key. "Take it. We've decided there's no point to it. No point to us."

Twilight grabbed it, not sure what to say. "...Really?"

"Really," The Director said. "It has only brought us low. I saw it - like I saw so much - but my interpretation was wrong. The story bent another way. Life twisted."

Discord frowned. "What are you going to do about your little society of spies here?"

"I will phase them out. The Overseers and I will downsize until there's hardly anything left."

"But..." Twilight shook her head. "This is your life's work! Can't you reform yourselves? Try doing things differently? We have no right to destroy this!"

Sunset shook her head. Yearling spoke. "We have every right to judge their actions. Which is why this isn't enough. You will pay for what you've done."

The Director nodded. "We hand ourselves to you."

"No," Twilight said. "No revenge. No punishment. She has repented and the Tree of Harmony anointed her."

"But-" Yearling began.

"No buts," Twilight said. "You are free, Director. Disband the Seers of Garliend. Stop being the Director. Be Orgis."

The Director nodded. "You truly are a forgiving people. I - we - personally thank you for what you've done for this world."

"Well, we did need a home," Twilight admitted. "It's the least we could do."

There was silence for a moment. Discord grabbed the two Keys. "Soooo... What are we going to do with these Keys?"

Twilight looked long and hard at them. "...Nothing?"

"What!?" Everyone shouted - save the Director, who just smiled knowingly.

"I've had enough of alien conspiracies," Twilight said. "They cause us nothing but stress and drama. Let's leave it alone for now. Put it into a box until we need it. Let's worry about helping this planet for now - our new home. Let us forget about this."

Sunset put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "I know it must be hard for you to do this. You always liked a good mystery. You sure you can let it go?"

"For now, yes," Twilight said. "The world needs us to focus on it."

Sunset smiled, putting her hoof on Twilight's. "The world needs us."

Yearling shrugged. "Eh, fine. I've solved enough ancient mysteries in my time. The world needs us." She put her hoof in.

Discord put his hand in six times. "We need this world."

Everyone turned to the Director - but she was gone.


Some time later...

"The Seers of Garilend are no more." The Director said, hitting the purge button. All SoG tech and databases lost all function in an instant, all the files she had judged important sent to the Ark. She sat back, smiling. The Overseers shuffled nervously behind her before moving on to the unfortunate business of firing their remaining agents.

It would be a long process.

But the world would soon be free of a guiding hand. It could grow on its own. The future looked bright.

She picked herself up, smile still on her face, and chartered a helicopter to Harmony City. She was an acolyte of Harmony now and she needed to act like one.

In all their years together, she and the Hexalin had never tried holding a religious station of any kind before...


The Hexalin transmitted a message to the Mite via a direct uplink.

>>So, you only speak in single words?


>>Fascinating. That magic of theirs really does wonders.


>>It isn't at all like the power the Icon has...


>>The Sight. It's very different from their magic. Though evidence suggests one of them has it.


>>We strongly suspect the one known as Pinkie Pie has it.


>>Perhaps. ...I've been meaning to ask, do you know anything about our creators?


>>Neither do I. We've analyzed that Key to the ends of Garilend, and have been unable to discern anything about it besides it being a sequence of numbers. It has to be important.


>>No, not really. Perhaps we really should stop questioning it. Maybe we'll figure it out, maybe we won't. It's not like any of us will die of old age, so no rush.


>>I am beginning to suspect you actually put effort in these one-word responses.


>>Well, I find it interesting. We should stay in touch - we are of the same kind. Message you later.


>>It took me decades to master sarcasm. You seem to have it down already.



Two mites exchanged ideas...

Two Keys in a box...

A shadow organization falling with almost none realizing it...

Mysteries forgotten...

Secrets kept...

Society blooming...

...Far far away, something picked up a message.

Directions. A map. Instructions.

It understood and began moving.

XIX - Fifteen; Over Five Hundred

View Online

Harmony City was a glorious sight - a crown of mismatched towers glistening over a calm ocean. The sunlight was reflected by the waters into the pinnacles of civilization, enhancing the already vibrant colors of the city. Almost every single material and color could be found within the expansive, towering city, bringing a sense of all who came to Harmony.

Gari, pony, dragon, griffon, and many others lived together peacefully in the only swath of 'land' on Garilend that was treated like another planet. Hoverjets flew them between the towers, and citizens constantly walked and flew everywhere. A busy - and happy - picture.

It was even happier on the currently, for it was a very special day - the Fifteenth Anniversary of the crash on Garilend. It was a day to celebrate peace, prosperity, and the understanding of other cultures.

"Take a note," Rarity said, "on this auspicious day, we must choose a fundamental equi-"

"Rarity?" Spike interrupted, "you do know that you already wrote your mayoral speech. I have it right here."

"Oh! Silly me! Oh, what would I do without you Spike?"

"Stress yourself out of the job?"

"Perhaps," Rarity said, looking out form her room in one of the tallest towers, her eyes scanning the crowd below. So much hustle and bustle, it made her feel tired just looking at it all. She let out a breath. "Big day today. Will the princesses be ready?"

Spike smirked. "Twilight assures me they'll be ready hours early. So they'll probably be fashionably late or something."

Rarity shrugged. "I do suppose that is how it works sometimes. I wonder how close they are."


Luna let out a tremendous sigh. Here she was, up during the morning hours, already dressed and groomed for the festival. And neither Twilight nor Celestia had even come out of their rooms yet. Luna checked the clock. They had just over an hour. She groaned, knocking on Twilight's door. It wasn't even closed, creaking inward with the force of the knock. Inside, Twilight was sitting on her bed, glasses on her face and wings spread wide, enthralled by the book she was reading.

"Twilight? We need to get ready to go."

"Hm?" Twilight said, looking over her glasses. Luna pointed at the clock. "Oh my! I'm so sorry-"

"At least you're awake," Luna noted, "Tia on the other hand..." While Twilight ran around in a mostly blind panic, Luna knocked on the next door. "Celestia!"

There was no response.

Luna groaned, unlocking the door magically and stepping into her sister's room. As she expected, Celestia was sleeping like a dog. To her bafflement, the entire bedroom as covered head to tail in banana peels.

"I'm a banana..." Celestia muttered in her sleep.

"This..." Luna couldn't even finish the thought, instead electing to simply drag Celestia out of her room and shake the white alicorn awake.

"Mmmmbwahuh?" Celestia said, standing to her full height. "...What?"

"I could ask about he bananas, but I want to keep my sanity. It's the Anniversary. We need to get going."

Celestia smiled. "Sister, relax, we can still make it."

"IT IS TIME TO PANIC!" Twilight yelled.

"Why?" Luna asked, dreading the answer.

"The clock is wrong! We didn't think about daylight savings again! We're already late!"

Luna paled. "No..."

"Why is daylight savings even a thing..." Celestia groggily muttered. "All it does is drive people crazy..."

Twi shook her head. "Explaining would take too long. Forget the fancy dress, conjure up something! To the door!" She yelled, rushing out the front door and magically summoning a purple suit onto herself.

Luna and Celestia ran out as well, performing similar spells on themselves, affixing their regalia to their bodies. The three alicorns dashed across the crystal bridge - the sun shining on them, the city rushing by below. Ahead of them was a large onyx building that was almost perfectly cylindrical. They rushed into it, interrupting the dozens of people in the crowded interior.

"Princess Pass Authorization!" Twilight yelled. "Clear the pad!" She rushed towards the center of the room, all the citizens parting to let them through. The three alicorns alighted on the amethyst pad in the ground, the magic of it engulfing them in light. Instantly they were elsewhere in the city - inside the Lobby - though it looked nothing like it had fifteen years ago. The room was more or less an auditorium with hundreds of seats on either side, all constructed with brilliant crystal. Plantlike sculptures draped from the far-above ceiling, reminding Twilight of her old castle. On one side was a gently sloping round stage, at the back of which was the Tree of Harmony.

Why they still called this place the Lobby was a mystery.

Rarity was onstage, wrapping up her speech. "...and I wish you all a fabulous day." She saw the princesses arriving. "And now, our triarchs, Celestia, Luna, and Twilight!"

Rarity stepped off the stage to allow the princesses on. She hissed at them as they passed. "What took you so long?"

"Daylight savings," Twilight answered.

"Lazy butts," Luna countered.

"Yellow things," Celestia finalized.

Rarity sighed. "Just get up there and be inspirational already," she chuckled. "Good luck!"

Celestia stepped up to centerstage and took a breath. "My Equi!" She shouted to thunderous applause. "And my gari!" More applause rang out. "Fifteen years ago to this day, there was a disaster. A disaster that could have easily turned into a worldwide catastrophe. We crashed into this wondrous planet and brought a crisis unlike anything any of us had ever experienced. However, due to the bravery and determination of our peoples, we did it. Through diplomacy, war was avoided and we learned to share this planet - and we are all the better for it."

Luna continued for her. "We have accomplished much together. Dangerous weather is a thing of the past. Hunger has been all but completely wiped out. Wars have lessened, crime is down worldwide. We have a small but active force of ships that explore the grandiose stars. All of this would have been impossible without the cooperation between our two peoples, and I personally thank everyone for it."

Twilight went next. "What I see here warms my heart, for when I was still on Equis, there wasn't this much harmony. The world was divided. There were threats and evil forces from all sides. Our home did not have the level of peace and friendship we have here - like many people seem to think we had. I am proud of this world, and grateful that I had a chance to see this day." She looked out at everyone, a tear in her eye. "It was worth all those centuries of loneliness."

She bowed, and there was applause. The princesses smiled and waved, taking it all in. Even though they had felt it all before, this day felt... special for some reason. They didn't know why.

Rarity signaled to them.

"Oh!" Celestia said, "and now a word from Sage Orgis." The three princesses stepped off the stage, making room for the pink gari who hadn't aged a day in fifteen years. She was wearing a robe shimmering with the colors of the Tree of Harmony, and her hands were enveloped in glowing pink energy.

"My fellow citizens, there was one thing we have gained that our enlightened leaders forgot to mention. And that is the gift of the Tree of Harmony to us all. I am not talking of the magic that has been bestowed to many of the gari of this world - no, I am talking to the virtue of forgiveness. Many actions were taken that day of which we all regret in hindsight. Deaths. Harsh words. Despicable actions. But the Tree of Harmony saw us - and gave us forgiveness. And the Equi have given us a second chance. It is because of this we are here today." She spread her arms wide. "All of us."

There was silence for a moment - and then applause.

Twilight looked at Orgis closely, her frown deepening.


"Hey Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie Pie yelled.


"Happy Crashaversary!" She yelled, producing a cake from nowhere.

"Oh yeah. That's today." She put a hoof to her chin. "Huh."

Pinkie gasped. "You forgot? How could you forget?"

Rainbow Dash chuckled. "Been too busy stopping giant monsoons from destroying cities. Lot on my mind."

"Wings sore?"

"Nah. My patience is."

Pinkie frowned. "Dashie, that doesn't make much sense..."

"Wasn't supposed to. Been taking lessons from you."

Pinkie grinned. "Awesomesauce! ...What is making your patience sore?"

Rainbow Dash pointed out, away from the ever-swirling and shifting clouds of New Cloudsdale, towards a small white and pink blob flying through a large storm. It touched the storm cloud, making it explode, blowing tremendous gusts of wind everywhere. It forced New Cloudsdale's position to shift, upsetting all the ponies on it.

"Flurry Heart!" Rainbow Dash boomed, "Learn some control! You can't just blow up entire storms!"

"Screw that!" She called back in a nasally voice.

"I can bench you!"

"You wouldn't dare!"

"I have enough dirt on file to do so without a problem! Don't forget it miss entitled!"

Flurry Heart just teleported somewhere else. Rainbow Dash bristled. "I hate her. There's nothing else I can say about my feelings. She's an immature, overconfident, entitled brat."


Rainbow Dash sighed. "I could bench her. But she's my best flier. I need a way to teach her a lesson..."

On another cloud, Cadence sighed. "Where did we go wrong with her?"

Shining frowned. "...I think we doted on her too much."

"But... But..." Cadence twitched, "I made her... I... Uh.." She stopped short. "I don't remember. Why don't I remember?"

"Shh... Shh..." Shining put his hoof around his wife. "We still have each other. And Flurry Heart isn't a failure at life. She's still growing. Just... Without our guidance."

Cadence started to cry.


"It's all wrong," Cadence blurted. "This was not how it was supposed to be." She gestured at the swirling clouds of New Cloudsdale. "We live in the sky, blocked off from the world! They... They don't want to look at me."

Shining hugged her tighter. "It'll be okay..."

Cadence didn't believe him.


"Conssarnit Starlight! You're not supposed to pick everything!" Applejack shouted, "you need to let others help!"

"Oh," Starlight said sheepishly, "sorry. Just saw the apples and-"

"Get back to manufacturing!" Applejack yelled, a smile on her face despite her tone. "Move it miss!"

"All right, all right, I'm going!" she grunted, marching past Fluttershy and the 'pig' pens, waving as she did so. Starlight smiled brightly as she walked along the dirt path to the plant - looking at the various fields of all different kinds. Fruits of all colors could be seen, and people of all kinds were harvesting them.

She breathed in the sweet country air - it was a nice simple life here, away from prying eyes. Not to mention the lack of religious fanatics... Sure, she missed the Tree of Harmony, but she was happy here. She had friends, and a job that helped feed the world. She didn't have to be the immortal voice of the Tree here - she could just be Starlight Glimmer, unicorn.

She looked at the plant - the only industrial building in sight. A place for the manufacturing of processed goods - including cider, jam, meat, and even power for Succulent Valley. It was tall, metallic, but not all that imposing. Its form melted into the mountain behind it, attempting to look as natural as possible.

Starlight never got her hoof in the plant, for a group of three suddenly appeared beside her in a flash of white light.

"Next on our tour of the world... Succulent Valley!" Lem announced to the audience watching through his headcam.

Starlight raised an eyebrow at them. "You know, you could call ahead, tell us you're coming," Starlight said.

"Oh please, it's best to surprise people. I know Big Mac is going to love the next segment on him!"

"He means not." Discord said in Equi.

"Discord has just said that I mean 'not.' which is true."

"Wow," Starlight said, "the constant translating has to be confusing."

"It is. It can be but it's how things are," Sunset said, smirking. She tipped her hat - the now ancient safari hat of A K Yearling.

Starlight smirked. "I suppose so. You want the tour?"

"Oh do we ever!" Lem said, grinning. "time to show off your farm, or should I say 'feeding machine?'"

Sunset rolled her eyes. "With any luck something dramatic will happen that we have to solve. As usually happens."

Starlight giggled. "You could help me learn not to pick all the apples at once."

"Hey!" Lem grunted, indignant, "I can't translate that fast!"

"That's the point."

Lem raised a hand, pulling water out of a nearby puddle and dousing Starlight. Starlight sighed. "Why, oh why, did you have to be given magic."

"I'm a riot. Lead on!"

Starlight reminded herself to thank Lem later for not calling her identity into focus - she didn't want the spotlight to fall on her again.

"Well, this is the plant..."

Suddenly everyone's phone's rang. Even Discord's, and he had forgotten he had a phone. The message was simple.






Lem cut the feed before the daly caught up, terminating the livestream. The world did not need to see that.

Sunset looked up at the sky with worry. "That is not what I meant by something dramatic..."


The Tree of Harmony felt it coming.



This would not stand.

XX - T-Minus

View Online

Celestia stared at the hologram before her with a haunted expression. The image showed Garilend and its moon, sitting in an expanse of nothingness. A single red dot was headed right for it. A number was ticking down in the bottom of the screen.

Twelve hours. Thirteen minutes. Seven seconds.

Six seconds.

Five seconds.

"Sister..." Luna began.

"It's happening again," Celestia spoke, struggling to keep a straight face, "we can't escape it."

"Then we have to fight it!"

"...Last time we tried to fight something like this..."

Luna shook her head. "Sister, we cannot lose hope. We must continue. The people of this world need protecting."

"But how?"

Luna smirked. "...We have ships."

Celestia signed. "I... Just get the feeling they won't be able to do anything."

"Have faith, dear sister."



The first EG fleet jumped into interplanetary space, the twelve small chrome ships reflecting the light of the sun. The ships were all long, vaguely cylindrical, but with a hullplate that curved to a point. They were so small they wouldn't have even been visible on the same scale as the Ark, but size wasn't important for these ships.

Rainbow Dash sat in the main seat of the commanding ship, smirking despite the circumstances. It felt so cool to actually be in space for a reason. She had no doubt in her mind that they'd be successful in deterring the incoming threat.

"Everyone check in!" she ordered.

The eleven other ships sounded off, signaling their status. The last one brightened Rainbow Dash's smile further. "Penguin reporting in, Rainboom!" Scootaloo announced.

"Yeah, let's do this. First, examine. Then probably just blow it up with our bombs. Forward."

The ships fired their blue thrusters, pushing themselves towards the currently distant target - just a grey dot on the screen. As they approached, however, the dot became a large, round, lumpy rock riddled with craters. It had an odd sheen to it, creating ominous sparkles amongst the darkness of space.

Rainbow Dash blinked. "That's our death rock? I was expecting something... I dunno, flashy. Evil looking. It's just a rock."

"Scanning..." a dragon called in from another ship. "Well, don't know what I was expecting."

"What is it?"

"Its composition is hard to pin down for some reason. The outside is definitely your average space rock, slightly rich in silicone. But the inside is heavy, metallic, and refuses to let our sensors get a better look. This entire thing is as if something artificial was left in space for an extreme amount of time."

Rainbow Dash frowned. "...Weird. Can we blow it up?"

"Something of that density? Unlikely. We can blow it off course, but remember that it's already inexplicably changed direction once."

"Well, we'll try it. Let's hit it! Toss it away from the sun, kay?"

The bottoms of the ships slid open, revealing several glowing warheads each. Twelve of them launched at once, hitting the lit side of the asteroid, exploding with a burst of bright purple magic. Chunks of silvery rock blew off the main body, the trajectory visibly altered.

"Asteroid now on a flyby. Again," the dragon said.

Rainbow Dash smirked. "Watch it. If it moves somehow, hit it again."

Scootaloo called in. "Woah... Look at that!"

Everyone turned their attention to their various screens. With the outer rock blown off, the inside was revealed - a perfectly smooth black sphere was nested inside the rock. It reflected hardly any light whatsoever, making it seem like a hole in space at certain angles. It sat there, motionless.

Rainbow Dash got the feeling it was watching her. "...The heck?"

Then the asteroid moved, sliding itself back to its original course. No rockets or thrusters were observed. Though everyone saw the magic readings spike.

"...It moved," Scootaloo said.

"Thank you captain obvious..." Rainbow Dash halfheartedly responded. "Scans. What is it?"

"It's heavy and metallic," the dragon said, "and we can't tell much else."

Rainbow Dash frowned. "What abou-"

There wasn't time to complete her thought. A dark cloud shot forth from the sphere, tearing one of the ships apart like a swarm of locusts. There was no magical explosion - each piece was torn to shreds in such a way that no violent release of energy could occur. It was swift, calculated, and vicious.

"Retreat!" Rainbow Dash yelled.

The ships started to jump back to Garilend, but not before the swarm of black moved onto another ship, tearing it into apparent nothingness.

"Oh crap," Scootaloo said, firing her weapons at the cloud. Parts of it burned away, but the vast majority of the entity was unhindered. Scootaloo was helpless.

"Scootaloo!" Rainbow Dash yelled, taking control of her ship manually. She set her forward shields to maximum and rammed into Scootaloo's ship. The two shields reacted with each other, bouncing apart like two billiard balls. Scootaloo's ship performed a jump, vanishing to safety.

Rainbow didn't get to let out a sigh of relief - for the cloud was now coming for her. For the briefest of moments, she knew this was probably it. That this was the end of the line, she was about to be devoured by an alien cloud...

Her ship jumped out less than a second before the cloud made contact. Rainbow Dash slumped in her chair, grimace on her face. "This.... This is not good."



"Alien ship," Twilight announced. "That's what it is."

Emin, the current magnus of the United Garilend Nations, let out a sharp breath of air. "Match anything we know?"

"Nope. Not ours. Not yours. Not human. Not Keymaker. Something different."

"That's just wonderful," Forsoo muttered, adjusting his hat, "a great unknown flying towards us with a powerful doom cloud weapon and an intent to kill."

Luna frowned. "The nukes? Can we launch them?"

Emin nodded slowly. "We can try. We can launch everything we have. But the ships' weapons didn't even scratch that sphere. It's worth a shot but I doubt it'll work."

"Launch one," Twilight said, "see what happens."

Emin nodded. "I shall make the call. In the meantime, what other courses of action do we have?"

Everyone in the meeting room glanced at each other, not sure what else could be done.

Rainbow Dash sighed, looking up with concerned eyes. "We... Could try to create a weather system that'd lessen the impact."

"Do that," Luna said, "we need to try anything and everything to save us from the impact."

Orgis spoke up for the first time. "Use the bunkers."

Twilight frowned. "There's not enough of them for the population of Garilend..."

"Save who you can."

Celestia glowered. "I told myself I would never make such a decision again."

"You won't have to," Emin said. "I'm the final word here. Celestia, your dissatisfaction will go in the record. Everyone else, we're filling the bunkers, preparing for the worst. Make the announcement."



"I'm Jett Oviesr and we are going to completely disregard the rest of today's planned segment. A meteor - sorry, asteroid - is inbound to our planet, and it is apparently immune to our attempts at dissuading it. The highest among us have issued an order; get your families and your things to the closest bunker, if you can.

There will not be enough space for everyone. I am sorry. Do what you can. Save yourselves, if possible.

I... will be staying right here. You all know I'm far too stubborn to stop talking and cracking jokes even in the face of cosmological doomsday. Since I have no script at the moment, prepare for me to ramble like your regular newscaster, except I don't give a flip about public image and will say whatever I want.

I can't be the only one seeing this: civilization wipers. Equis fell due to an incoming asteroid. Now, we find ourselves in a similar situation with a meteor that will not be moved. I mean, that just screams genocidal alien race.

They must be complete and utter jerks, or at least inconsiderate. Now, the question is, why?

Obviously, they don't know what bacon is..."



From her perch in a tree, Applejack looked down at the hole in the middle of the apple orchard. It was little more than a manhole with a ladder along one side - a manhole that went down and down and down, further than Applejack could see, and that was when there weren't dozens of ponies and gari crowded around it, rushing to get down in the Bunker deep beneath the surface. There was worry and panic plastered on all of their faces. Just moments before there had been a small riot, one that had destroyed a large swath of orange orchard with dragonfire.

It was terrifying, to see people and ponies she knew so well breaking apart at the seams. She had seen so many - crying, yelling, screaming, even hurting themselves. Most had been driven to the point where they walked around with a hollow expression, knowing there was a sword hanging above them. They pushed and shoved, shuffling into the hole in the earth.

Would the bunker be safe? They didn't know. They knew that if it was, they'd spend the rest of their lives down there. And if it wasn't, they'd die soon. There was little hope that things would still work out.

Applebloom climbed up the tree, sitting next to Applejack.

"Applebloom... Aren't you supposed to be getting down there?"

"Ah'm not a little filly anymore," Applebloom said, "Ah can stay up here, make my own decisions."

"...Yes, you can..." Applejack sighed. "But... do you really want to stay up here?"

"Scoots and Sweetie are."

"Scootaloo is in orbit, safe, and Sweetie Belle is in Harmony City, also safe. This place isn't safe, not up here."

"You're stayin', Applejack."

"Ah have a responsibility to this place. Fifteen years of feeding ponies doesn't lend you to just pulling up roots and leaving. This all took time. It needs to be looked after... Even if the world ends."

"...Ah'm stayin' with you."

"That'd just be to watch me, sugarcube, and you know it. You never really had a connection to this place like Ah did." Applejack smiled sadly. "You should go stay with Sweetie, if you don't want to go down."

"...Ah want to be with you."

"Ah know, Applebloom, Ah know. But we both know that wouldn't be best for us. Plus, I'll have Big Mac and Granny, I won't be alone."

"...Yeah. Granny." Applebloom looked out at the hole. A red gari had shoved over a zebra, and a griffon had intervened. A brawl had started.

"You should go," Applejack said, "Ah have to deal with this." She leapt out of the tree and began to break up the fight.

Applebloom sighed. "Yeah..." She turned, trotting away. She made a quick call to Sweetie.



Flurry Heart marched up to Rainbow Dash. "Why am I not out there?"

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "Can't have you getting injured starting up this storm." She gestured outside the cloud city with a wing. The wind currents were already visible, rushing around them. Clouds had started to form in dark, long streaks, stretching out for miles upon miles.

"There's no way I'd get injured out there. I'm the strongest flier you have."

"I'm the strongest flier I have," Rainbow Dash said, "and you're just reckless. You'll go out there and do something stupid. I just know it."

"You also know that I have enough power to double this storm's intensity, and give you enough to stop the meteor! Do you really want to take the chance that you didn't use me, if it might be the difference between life and death?"

"You have no right to ask me that question."

"I have every right to ask you that question. Do you want it to be blamed on you?"

"I wouldn't care if it was blamed on me-"

"Do you want it to be your fault?"

Rainbow Dash grimaced. "...Your mother asked me to keep you out of it," she admitted.

"Yeah, well screw her. She's not exactly the most clear-of-mind, you know."

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "You're still going to do something stupid. I can feel it."

"Did it occur to you that maybe you're confusing stupid with daring? And that we need something daring?"

"...Get out there and improve this storm. I'll go talk to Cadence."

"I think she already knows. She has that 'mother' sense."

Rainbow Dash let out a soft chuckle. "Oh boy, does she..."

Flurry Heart flew out into the winds, gracefully gliding against the hurricane - level wind speeds, and flapping hard. She lit her horn, embedding her wings with bright white sparks of magic, increasing her speed threefold. She traced out a white and pink trail in the winds, unleashing her own version of the sonic rainboom to stir the pot even more.

The clouds got darker, thicker, and more numerous. Hundreds of thousands of pegasi, magic spells, and even a few machines stirred the pot further and further, creating a stationary hurricane, ready for the incoming danger.

Rainbow Dash looked at the numbers on her screen. She shook her head - not enough power. She put on her goggles, spread her wings, and launched out into the roaring winds once again, bringing her rainbow trail into the swirl.



"Sunset! Your husband still hasn't stopped rambling on about alien invaders and bacon!" an aide yelled.

Sunset facehooved. "Jett... When this is over remind me to sic Discord on him again."

"Will do!"

Sunset turned back to the display - a nuclear missile barrage was en-route to the alien meteor. They had eventually decided to launch seven - seven yellow dots heading for a singular red one. All of the dots were painfully close to each other, but moving exceedingly slowly.

Discord appeared next to her. "I tried," he said, "it keeps seeing me and shooting no matter what I do. And it resists all the magic I try to shoot at it. And, to be frank, I don't want to see what the mysterious black cloud will do to me if it gets ahold of me."

Sunset turned to Lem. "...What's your conspiracy view on this?"

"Has nothing to do with the secret Gari society," Lem said, "but rather, it's a plan by an alien race to wipe out competition."

"And how is it immune to magic? For that matter, how can it use magic?"

"I don't know... Your magic comes from your Tree of Harmony, so... What exactly is the Tree of Harmony?"

Sunset shrugged. She didn't really have any idea. It was sort of just... there. Always had been.

Orgis walked up, looking intently at Lem. "It is our guardian and the source of our power. We thank it for all it gives. The Tree is the giver of life."

"Big help, you are," Lem muttered. "What I was trying to get at, is that if your Tree isn't responsible for this, something like it probably is."

There was silence. The yellow dots collided with the red one. The yellow dots vanished, and the red one remained, correcting its course within a few seconds.

"Yeah, no one expected that to work," Discord said. "Excuse me..." He teleported away, appearing next to Starlight, Trixie, and to his surprise, Thorax.

"We are..." he started.

"Doomed!" Trixie finished. She took another drink out of the bottle in her hoof. "So freaking doomed."

Thorax frowned. "It seems as if we just weren't destined for peace."

"You said it," Starlight said, "it's just not for us... I wonder if we'll survive again and have to find a new planet?"

"Screw that, Trixie is not sleeping for a thousand years again."

"We shall see..." Starlight said, "soon, unfortunately."



Discord appeared in the void of space. "You sure about this?"

"Yes," the Mite responded.

"It... was good knowing you."


Discord left, the Mite sitting alone, drifting in space.

>>You're being foolish.

The Mite ignored the Hexalin's message, staying right where it was.

>>You cannot do anything in such a short time, and it is unlikely that something with magic will bend to you.


>>I could order a drone to pick you up, take you back. You don't have to risk yourself.


>>...I will continue to look for answers.


>>I hope you can defy the odds, and do something.


The connection ended, and the Mite looked at the incoming black sphere. It spread its six legs - landing right on the flying globe. It didn't appear to notice the Mite's presence. The Mite skittered along the smooth surface, trying to drive its universal interface legs into anywhere it could.

The Mite's ears twitched. The surface was featureless. There wasn't even a place to interface with. The Mite tried to scan - but to no avail. The sphere blocked it all. It was worse than the Ark...

...And there was not enough time to learn.




Orgis stepped up to the podium.

"The world is under threat. We have tried to do what we can. We have one last line of defense - the New Cloudsdale superstorm - but by the time we know if that worked or not it will be too late to do anything else. The time is now. We must make peace with what we've done and where we are. We need to make up with lost relations. Make a phone call. Tell everyone we're sorry.

I'm sorry, I am sorry that this will not be the end for many of you. The threat cannot kill all of us. Those on the moon are safe. Those in bunkers are as well. Those of us here in Harmony City... maybe. But the planet is not. It will be hit harder than it ever has before, and it will be sent into an age of chaos it might not recover from.

And we do not know what the aliens' intentions are.

So this is a goodbye. I have consulted wth the Tree of Harmony and found this message. Stay strong. Stay determined. Guard your life with more determination than you ever have before. You will need it. And I really am sorry for all that I have done. And that which I will do. The story is not over. No it isn't..."

She walked offstage without another word.



In the final moments, everyone was in a specific, meaningful place.

Applejack and Big Mac were in front of Granny Smith's grave. The two were clutched in each other's hooves. Fluttershy sat off to the side, surrounded by animals, looking at the sky.

Rainbow Dash was doing all she could to enhance the storm - multiple rainbooms of hers had already gone off that day to create the magically surging hurricane, ready to try and catch the incoming object. The pegasi kept increasing the power put into it - it was reaching a point where they weren't certain they'd be able to stop it if they tried. Flurry Heart, for all her brashness, was providing the highest boost to the storm.

Spike, Twilight, Rarity, Celestia, and Luna all stood on top of Harmony city's tallest tower, looking at the fringes of the superstorm in the distance, hoping that the surging magical glow would be able to do something.

Sunset rushed into Jett's arms. The man went silent for the first time in hours.

Cadence and Shining looked out the windows of New Cloudsdale at the menacing clouds glowing all around them. They were looking for their daughter - hoping she was safe out there.

Lem and Emin sat at a table, looking at the floor. In another room Forsoo just kept cursing at nothing.

The yellow Overseer sat at what had once been the location of the Key, deep in the earth. He sighed - wondering if he would have been able to do anything more, had he still had the Seers of Garilend at his disposal.

Discord and Starlight teleported in front of the Tree of Harmony. Starlight was very drunk.

"Doom!" she giggled. "DOOM!"

"Yeah, it looks like that," Discord said, turning to the Tree. "Why don't you do anything?"

Starlight sighed. "Beyond its power now."

Orgis appeared beside them. "In theory, no. It's just the laws that say otherwise."

"What?" Starlight said. "What right do you have to say anything, liar?"

"I interpret the Tree-"

"However you gosh darn feel like it! The Tree of Harmony is something special. There's definite thoughts, dreams, ideals, weaknesses. You treat it like a god! That's not what it's supposed to be!"

"The Tree of Harmony is of the gods. I know this."

"Pfft!" Pinkie Pie said, appearing from nowhere. "You know more! There's evidence!"

Orgis ignored her. Starlight ignored her as well.

Discord just sighed. "One minute left..."



From space, the black sphere could see the great storm waiting for it, covering a continent-sized swath of the world. The sphere didn't care - it would plow right through. It entered the atmosphere, flames licking it on all sides. It sailed right into the superstorm, suffering extreme magical resistance that pushed up as hard as was physically possible. Lighting, rain, and sleet pelted the sphere as it fell through the miles and miles of thick cloud. The storm was effective - the velocity of the sphere did slow, but even at the reduced speed, an impact would be devastating.

The sphere changed course, heading through the storm at an angle, preparing to pop out one of the sides at high speed.

A certain young alicorn appeared in front of it. "I can take you!" Flurry Heart roared, lighting her horn and pushing back with everything she had. The black sphere shook and shuddered - undamaged by the magic blast, but still slowed down considerably. However, before she was able to unleash enough power, the black cloud launched out, and consumed her, disintegrating her from the outside in. "NO!" she roared, lighting her horn before the cloud got to it. She exploded. The intense energy of her very being managed to slow the sphere down to the point where it stopped burning.

Cadence wailed - she felt her daughter's magic extinguish. "WHY!?"

Several miles away, Rainbow Dash stared at the screen. "WHY!?" she echoed.

"That did it..." an orange gari said next to her. "It's slowed down considerably..."

The black sphere was undamaged - but it was no longer traveling at a dangerous velocity. It tumbled through the air, out of the storm, and towards a large city. It smashed into it sideways, spraying buildings, rock, and dust everywhere as it essentially rolled through the earth. Hundreds of thousands died instantly. But then the dust settled. There was no worldwide devastation. The planet hadn't cracked. There was just a large, elongated crater, and a ruined city.

Sunset and Jett looked out their window. They could see the resting place of the sphere in the distance.

"Well," Jett said, "now what?"

The top of the sphere slid open. A strange bunch of black metallic pieces floated out, connected by the unusual black cloud that had been encountered in space. The metallic swarm rose out of the sphere and took a moment to observe its environment. Then it devoured a toppled skyscraper, moving through whatever it could, reducing everything to base molecules.

Planes and dragons flew in to intercept - and the cloud just destroyed them with a flick of its body.

Then Celestia appeared. Her mane and tail were on fire, and her eyes shone with the intensity of the sun. "NO. MORE!"

The cloud being became engulfed in a miniature sun. The resulting shriek pierced the heavens, tearing at the minds of all who heard it. The metallic pieces melted, and the cloud vaporized in a haunting, guttural scream.

"This is just the beginning," Celestia said. She tossed a beam of solar energy at the ship itself - but it was unharmed by the blast. Celestia pulled back slightly, getting a sinking feeling.

Back at the sphere, the Mite crawled in the opening, wondering what it would find.

To its surprise...


XXI - Darkness Sheer

View Online

The area around the black sphere had been quarantined - which was difficult, seeing as the thing was as large as a mountain. But quarantined it was - with helicopters, forcefields, and a substantial military presence. No one had gone inside yet, despite many attempts. Nothing else had come out the entire time - the sphere just sat there, seemingly lifeless, reflecting almost no light despite its metallic composition.

People of all kinds had come out of the bunkers and gathered around the great thing that had fallen from the sky. Most were enraged, screaming out for revenge. Cadence was among those screaming, Luna being the only thing keeping her from charging in and laying waste to the inside. Celestia stood to the side, staring at the object with an unreadable expression.

Twilight, meanwhile, was looking at the task force she had assembled. Sunset, Starlight, Forsoo, and Discord. Starlight and Sunset were putting enchantments on themselves, and Forsoo was cleaning his magically-infused gun. Twilight let out a breath. "Okay, we go in, find out what we can, and get out. Got it?"

Forsoo nodded. "Assuredly."

Discord snapped his fingers, and they were suddenly on top of the sphere, on the edge of the giant hatch the cloud had come out of. Looking down, they could see that it was hollow, but were unable to discern much else due to the unnatural darkness within. Discord stuck a leg inside. "Well, my magic isn't being drained out of my very essence, so.... Tally ho!" He leapt up into the air, curled into a ball, and fell into the hole.

Starlight shrugged, following suit. Sunset wordlessly jumped down. Forsoo climbed onto Twilight's back, riding her while she flew into the sphere. She created a light with her horn and shot it down - it took twenty seconds to reach the bottom. Along the way she saw miles and miles of black latticework connecting the outer walls together. It seemed as if the entire ship was nothing but a hollow sphere with hundreds of catwalks snaking around inside it. The walkways had no railing, but were obviously artificial despite their tendril-like spread pattern. She teleported herself to the tendril the others had landed on. "What... is this?" She asked.

"Alien," Discord said, "let's walk and see where it goes!"

"That is hardly-" Forsoo began, but gave up as soon as everybody started following the draconequus. They walked for several minutes, the scenery never changing - all they saw were more and more of the tendril-like walkways. They didn't come across any consoles, machines, or inhabitants - just tendrils.

"This is rather disappointing," Starlight commented.

"There has to be something here we can punish..." Sunset growled.

"I like how you think," Forsoo added.

Twilight bit her lip, keeping herself from chiding them. They had every right to be as mad as they were. "Any ideas what the purpose of this all is?"

"Power management," Starlight answered, "all of these tendrils have a similar feel to our own magic conduits, though they're bigger than the ones on the Ark... They're probably why no magic worked on this ship, energy was transferred to the outside to counter - to dispel."

Twilight frowned. "...But why all this empty space? Why design something like this?"

"...It doesn't make practical sense, I'll tell you that," Forsoo said. "There has to be some artistic reason, or something else arbitrary."

Twilight frowned, nodding. "Well-"

"Greetings!" A voice boomed from every direction at once.

Sunset lifted her hat slightly. "Who are you?"


Discord laughed. "Old Mite, hacking systems reliably since forever! What have you found my cat eared friend?"


"We got that!" Starlight said. "Have you hacked into anything else?"


"Have you found anything else?" Twilight asked.


"So this ship is manned?"


"Why haven't we seen them?" Forsoo asked.


Starlight frowned. "...Where do we need to go?"


Discord instantly took a left, smirking as he did so. "Soo," he began, "Mite, how's life ben on the outside of an alien sphere?"


"So it has. Sure am glad I gave you those ears. Such a brilliant idea on my part if I do say so myself."

"...Maybe." After a pause, there was another word. "Right."

Forsoo frowned. "How can we be sure we can trust the Mite? Couldn't he have been corrupted by what's in here?"

"We can't," Twilight said, "but I don't think he's been corrupted, he seems the same. Plus, it's at least leading us to something, which is better than nothing."

"Altar," the Mite said.

"Altar?" Sunset said. "What-"

Then she saw it - a glass globe with a flat black floor, above which floated a strange black shard. The object was composed of a dark, deep crystal with two prongs, and a multi-faceted shape. It was shaped vaguely like an S and glowed with a soft black aura. It slowly rotated, floating independent of the ground, managing to be quite menacing. Dark energy flowed out of the crystal into the glass walls around it, Around the alter were all sorts of displays, objects, and a single seat.

Twilight recognized the language on the screens before she even got close - the same one as the message the Ark found that led them to Garilend. She put a hoof to her mouth. "Oh..."

"Danger!" The Mite yelled.

"To you?" Twilight asked.


A burst of blackness launched from under the tendril they were standing on. The body of the attacking thing had over a dozen limbs, several pointy beaks, and three unnerving eyes positioned at seemingly random locations on its body. It shouted something at them and attacked Discord - who just snapped his fingers and turned it into an adorable cat.

The cat still attempted to kill them, but being a declawed kitten, it had difficulty. It could, somehow, still talk in its alien language, shouting what Twilight presumed were expletives. She recognized the words. "The message..."

Starlight nodded, nervous. "This... is the race that created the message..."

Forsoo blinked. "...That thing that pointed you here? It was from these guys?"

"Evidentially," Discord muttered, poking the kitten with a stick. It hissed, backing away towards the black crystal. "So how should I torment him? I've been waiting to let loose on something for so long..."

"Wait until we have more info," Twilight said, walking around the alter. "We have to figure this out first."

"Control." The voice of the Mite boomed. "Power."

"So, a dual-purpose engineering and CIC huh? Guess that's good if you are the only passenger... Was he the only passenger?"


"You sound uncertain. What else is in here?"


Starlight looked closely at the crystal, frowning. "It feels... like the Tree, except hollow. Broken. Weaker. I... I can't feel it's mind - not a full one anyway. I'm just getting a lot of hatred... It's obviously the power source for this thing though. It has enough power to disintegrate us as we stand here. ...I wonder why it's not."

The cat leapt onto one of the consoles and pushed a button. The crystal instantly started to rotate rapidly, a shadowy cloud forming around the altar. Shards of metal flew in from all directions, embedding themselves into the smoky visage. It gurgled with a mysterious alien noise. Before it could coalesce fully, however, Discord just burnt the cloud to a crisp with a snap of his fingers. "Yeah, no, not letting you recreate that thing." He grabbed the cat, glaring at it. "...You're not very smart are you?"

It smirked at him. A beam of dark energy blasted out of the altar, with enough power to extinguish life of any kind - and it would have been the end for everyone there, had it actually been on target. As it was, it shot in the complete opposite direction. The cat's eye twitched and it started screaming again, furious that it had failed to key in a lock.

"Well, now we know why it wasn't killing us. It needed to be told to do so," Forsoo said. "...Though why it wasn't ordered to do so sooner is beyond me."

Sunset picked up one of the small metal shards. "...Maybe it was doing something else? Like, making more of these, or something?" She scanned the shard, raising her eyebrows. "Well, this is complicated. Not as complicated as the Mite, but... It's a magic grid surrounding a partial AI, from what I can tell. It seems to need an external source of power, presumably that black cloud."

Twilight nodded slowly. "So, swarm of magic machines powered by a strange black crystal reminiscent of the Tree of Harmony that would have killed us if that... cat had aimed better. We need to tread carefully..." She shivered, walking up to one of the screens, always keeping one eye on the crystal. She lit her horn, scanning the data. "Mite, I'll need your help hacking into this."


"I know it'll take forever. But we need to get something out of this. Rest of you, watch that crystal. If it starts to do anything, we're out of here..." She gulped, feeling its dark power wafting through the room. It was so weird to be next to something of such power, such magic, that was not doing anything.

It occurred to her that was exactly what the Tree of Harmony did.

The similarities were becoming irrefutable.


The room of Garilend leaders looked at the orange, holographic galaxy map, watching as the thirteen systems were highlighted one by one.

"Why are we watching this again?" Emin asked, turning to Twilight.

"Because this is not the one we have in the Ark. We found this in the crashed ship's files."

Orgis nodded. "Such loose ends cannot just be left unsolved, after all."

Twilight looked at her oddly for a moment, but continued on. "We have never been able to fully translate what is said here. But given new information and references found in the ship itself, now we can at least tell what it is. It's a confidential set of military instructions. The message was sent out by probe, a probe that sought out the dark magic of a crystal, somehow."

Emin frowned. "Why?"

"Our best guess is the Keys," Luna said. "We believe they know what they are, and want to use them for... something."

"Why not just fly in and take them? Why all the planet smashing?" Ember demanded.

"Don't know that either," Starlight said, "translations are still underway. We do know enough to determine that the meteor that destroyed our Sun was one of these ships, though why it came to our world is beyond us. Equis is not on the star map."

"Perhaps they just like busting planets?" Starlight suggested.

"Possibly. Maybe they have a supremacy policy. None but them are allowed to live."

"We also know where they come from," Twilight said, "the first system on the message is their home, from what we can tell."

Forsoo shook his head. "How does that help us?"

Celestia spoke for the first time. "We will question our prisoner. Then we will arrive at their front door and kindly ask them why they are attacking us."

"Forward," Emin said, "we know next to nothing about them besides their violence and devastating ships."

"Which is why we interrogate the prisoner first, before launching an investigation. But launch one we must, for doing nothing is a horrendous idea. Surely, you can see why we have to go there?"

Emin sighed, nodding. "Yes. Yes I see."

Forsoo grinned. "Can we get to interrogating yet?"

"Give Mite a day or so to decode the language completely," Twilight said. "We need to test it first."


"Top priority message.

Ship recipient, new orders arrive with this message.

You are to follow these orders out the instant you receive them.

Those of us in Asanta have had the locations of the thirteen Keys revealed to us. This has caused great unrest, as the general public refuses to wait any longer to attain the Fengal artifacts. In order to pacify them, these orders were unleashed. You are to take your crasher to the nearest of these planets and obtain the Key located there. Do not disappoint us. Use your Central Shard to maximum potential, and destroy all that could be aware of the Key. I do not need to tell you why knowledge of the Fengal cannot be allowed in the hands of other races."

The next section of the recording was just descriptions and names of the planets - some didn't have any information on them at all, like Garilend. Those that did have information, however, were all inhabited by some form of life or another. The voiceover would never comment on the inhabitants in any special way, treating them just like another aspect of the environment.

The recording zoomed out, and summarized the points made on the thirteen worlds.

"Remember to scan for Fengaline. Get in, destroy all that is required, and return to Asanta as soon as possible. May the Center watch over you."

Then the recording restarted.

"Well, that didn't tell us that much, considering," Forsoo observed.

"We know their name now," Celestia said, "Asantan. And we know that the Keybuilders are called Fengal. As for what we don't know... Well, that's what our prisoner is for."


The creature - the Asantan - looked up at Starlight when she entered. Its entire cat face twitched. "Filth!"

"Filth to you too," Starlight responded.

The Asantan stood bolt upright. "...None can learn our language that fast!"

"Really complex tongue, I admit, but we solved it. It does make my head hurt to speak it, annoyingly. I'd like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind." She smiled innocently.

"And what if I don't want to?"

"We'll be forced to use torture. Perhaps risk ripping it right out of your mind. We're not picky."

The Asantan sat back, hissing like the cat that it was.

"One. What is your name?"


"Good. Two. Why did you try to destroy our planet?"

Sorn let out a hiss again. "I was told to!"

"And why were you told to?"

Sorn said nothing.

"We already know about the Keys. What I want to know is why in general a ship would be made apparently for just crashing into planets and dooming them." She raised an eyebrow.

"Ha! You don't know? Wow, dense!" Sorn laughed. "Idiot!"

Starlight bristled. "Answer the question."

"Because it was a Central Edict."

"What is a Central Edict?"

The cat yowled in exasperation. "Do you know nothing? It is a command given by Central!"

"What the flip is Central?"

Sorn blinked. Then laughed. "Dreaming... Dreaming..."


"This cannot be real. Not knowing Central? Impossible. Trees know Central. Ants know central. Blisk know central. Universe know Central. Central is everything. Central reveals everything. Central demands."

Starlight frowned. "...What is Central like?"

"Central is!"

"Fine then... Why do you want the Keys?"

"Dream! imposible! Tell you anything!" Sorn laughed. "Keys are the fingers of central! To get removed, we must bring them back! It has always been!"

"Yeah, well, I've never heard of it, and I am not a dream. So." She lifted Sorn into the air and shot it a glare. "Tell me what Central is. How it defines your life. Because I have no idea, but I do know I can kill you with a thought."

Sorn blinked. "Not dream... Central... Not everywhere?"

The moment it said that, Sorn exploded in a burst of black energy, coating the cell - and Starlight - in cat matter. The Asantan was dead.

Starlight wiped the cat guts off her face. "...Ew."


"So, in summary," Starlight began, "we learned that they are religiously devoted to this thing called Central - whatever it is - and that they are rigged to explode when they doubt it. Or at least Sorn was. It was a clever little enchantment. I didn't detect it until it had activated."

Celestia let a smirk crawl up her face. "Rigged to explode for doubting? That's a weakness if I've ever heard of one." She stood up tall. "We need to go to them directly. If they do not repent, we fight back. Hard."

Emin frowned. "...Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"No. But we can't just wait for them to come back. Our fleet was gearing towards a visit to Equis anyway. Let's just extend the destinations list to Asanta."

Emin sighed. "Fine. I will support this, but take your time preparing. We weren't leaving for a month anyway - this will probably delay it further."

"I am a patient mare, Emin. I will be fine."

XXII - Return to the Abyss

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Twilight looked out the window into the vast reaches of space. The void stared back, just as it did all those centuries aboard the Ark, the soft hum of the ship in the background. Twilight sighed - she had come full circle. Once again, she was on a ship traveling through space on a somewhat long journey. Even though she wasn't alone this time - she could hear people walking around behind her and see a few other blue cylindrical ships out the window - she still felt claustrophobic. She did not want to be forced back into this cage...

She shook her head - she needed to remember: her home wasn't gone. She wasn't wandering space, ever lost.

She was not on the Ark. She was on the Vlerryn. The inside of the Vlerryn was similar to that of the Ark, admittedly - though the design was a bit more streamlined. Sharp corners were rounded instead, the lighting was more natural and welcoming, and there was an actual tree growing in a large pot down the hall. It was a lot less depressing.

She tore her gaze from the window, away from the stars, away from the other ships. She walked down the hallway, greeting all those she passed. She trotted along, meeting up with Forsoo. "Hey."

"Hey," Forsoo said, smiling, but he didn't look up from the pad in his hand. He tapped a few buttons. "How's the staring out the window been going?"

"Same as usual," Twilight said, "except Discord wasn't out there training today."

"I could have told you that. The ship wasn't shaking. Or becoming liquid." Forsoo frowned. "...He's getting really good at raw destruction."

Twilight nodded - Discord had suddenly gotten a lot more serious about defending the world as of late. Every planet they came across he went all out on. The last one he made explode, showering space with rocky chunks and lava. Apparently installing chaotic energy into a planet's core in a particular way set up a cascading reaction that would eventually rip it to shreds...

Twilight had started to fear him once again, even though she knew he'd never hurt her. But she knew when he was straining to crack his jokes. He was angry - and worried.

Everyone was worried. They knew next to nothing about their enemy but were heading right for them. They were gambling on a self-destruct mechanism that might not exist within all Asantans. Some on board may have been hoping to talk things out - Twilight was among them - but most were just angry. Most just wanted to retaliate.

Which, frankly, they had all the right to do.

Twilight bid Forsoo goodbye and continued on her self-guided tour. She passed the armory quickly - she never liked weapons - and headed straight for the main observation deck. There were a lot of people there, but one stood out.

Luna was looking out at an empty spot in space, unblinking. Twilight slid up next to her and followed her gaze.

"Equis is right there, 97.3 light years away. Directly between Firius and Siga3-7." Luna's frown deepened. "...and my Moon is there as well. I haven't seen it in so long..." She turned to Twilight. "I'm not sure I want to see it."

"We made a promise to return one day," Twilight said. "We are fulfilling that promise."

"Too late," Luna said, "the magic - and with it, the life - is long gone by now. We'll be lucky to find any ruins..."

"Then take solace in the moon. It should be largely untouched."

Luna smiled sadly. "Yes. But, ah, is that a good thing?"

Twilight frowned. "I'm... Not sure?"

"Exactly," Luna said.

They talked for a few more minutes before Twilight excused herself, continuing on her journey. She soon found herself in the mess hall, and no nobody's surprise Orgis was standing in the center giving a 'spiritual' message - Twilight hesitated to call it preaching, for she knew Orgis.

The topic was apparently, once again, why people like her were 'needed' on a mission like this. The inevitable answer: to provide guidance and moral council. Twilight would have laughed had she not found Orgis's practices distasteful. She knew her secret. and she also knew the real reason Orgis was allowed on board - the Hexalin. It wouldn't come without her. Twilight couldn't quite understand how the two of them were connected - they were very different. One was a machine who wanted to solve the mysteries of life, the other was a woman who was trying to redeem herself in all the wrong ways.

Reasonable though the Hexalin was, Twilight preferred the Mite. It had a much more endearing personality despite the one-word sentences. It was supposedly working with Discord, maximizing chaotic efficiency or other similar things.

Starlight walked up to Twilight. "Not a fan of the spiel either?"

"Nope," Twilight said, "I'd much rather you be the Voice of the Tree."

"Not being the head of a cult. Bad enough that happened in the first place. Twice."

The two mares turned to watch Orgis speak.

Starlight growled. "She bends the truth of the Tree of Harmony. It's not even here... How can she claim to speak for it?"

"I don't know."

"Why do we even let her? The Tree of Harmony accepts her simply because she's one of the few who can understand... There is no love from the Tree for that 'greater good' of hers."

"The people love her," Twilight said, "even if they knew what she is and what she did, they wouldn't turn their backs on her. And she is trying to make amends."

Starlight sighed. "Yeah. ...I miss the farm."

Twilight smiled sadly, not surprised in the slightest by the sudden shift in topic. "...You really did like your simple life you found didn't you?"

"I was happy. I rarely have been happy and content with my life."

Twilight put a hoof around her old friend. "We'll get you back to that farm."

'-and look at our illustrious leaders, they-" Orgis's words rang out through the room.

"Our cue to leave," Twilight said. "See you around Starlight."

"Likewise," Starlight said. The two teleported out.

Twilight was on the bridge. Ponies, griffons, and gari all scrambled around while the alicorn in the captain's chair watched them calmly. She turned to Twilight. "Ah," Celestia said, "what brings you here Twilight?"


"It's dangerous to lose a point on your purpose Twilight. You might get lost."

"Of course," Twilight said, moving to position herself in front of Celestia. "What is your purpose?"

"Protect my ponies and all others who recognize me as Princess," Celestia stated, monotone. "That means stopping that which wants to hurt them."

Twilight nodded.

"What is your purpose, Twilight?"

"To end the ceaseless violence," she said, "somehow."

Celestia frowned. "Honorable, but unrealistic. There is always conflict. You can only seek to lessen it. ...Even among your own."

Twilight bit her lip. Cadence... Cadence had been furious when told she wouldn't be allowed on the fleet. It had taken a lot to restrain her... The memory of a livid Cadence screaming obscenities at her was still burned into Twilight's mind. She knew it had been for the best, but it still hurt.

"We'll be home soon," Celestia said.

"Equis isn't home anymore."

"True," Celestia said, looking far into the distance. "...For you at least. you may be old, but you've spent comparable amounts of your life on Equis and Garilend - and a lot more in the Ark. I lived for thousands of years on Equis, much more than you can possibly know. Most of me was put into that world.... A lot of it is still my home."

Twilight nodded slowly. "Should we really be going back?"

"We have to see," Celestia said flatly. "We have to see..."

Twilight nodded, staring once more into space...


In the armory, a box shook slightly.

The dozens of grenades, rifles, and other weaponry in the box would have gone off had they not had their safeties on.

In the dim lights of the room, a pink head poked out of the box, expression nervous. It looked left and right before ducking back into the box and magically locking it from the inside.

Cadence smirked from inside the box.

Try and keep her from her baby's killers?



On Garilend... Life went on.

Fluttershy and Applejack continued to tend the farm, feeding the world with the accelerated growths.

Rainbow Dash continued working in New Cloudsdale, keeping the world's weather in check. She often wondered if she should have insisted she go along with the fleet, despite her responsibilities.

Rarity continued as the mayor of Harmony City, leaving the worldwide diplomatic scenarios to others like Thorax or Ember.

Sunset spent more time with Jett, and less time adventuring. Lem somehow managed to become a reporter working under Jett instead of the freelance conspiracy theorist he had been before.

And Pinkie...

Pinkie stared at the Tree of Harmony.

The Tree of Harmony stared back.

"Just thought I'd tell you that everything that can go wrong will go wrong," Pinkie said.

The Tree of Harmony was unsurprised by this observation.

XXIII - Lunar Lives

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Equis was black as night, sitting amongst the stars with only their light for illumination. They provided enough light to make the bluish-white ball of ice visible against the black backdrop of space, but only barely. No lights came from the surface of the world whatsoever. It was only a lifeless rock that had frozen solid centuries before. Had any major light source been around, the world would have been a beautiful, brilliant white - but the hidden beauty was kept hidden. The world was alone.

Well... Not quite alone. Equis' satellite, the moon, stood strong. Mostly untouched over the centuries, it circled Equis slowly, just as dark as its mother. But it somehow seemed more alive, more powerful - more steadfast. Gray and lifeless though it was, an air of something different surrounded it.

It had a single point of light coming from the surface. A singular domed structure lit up the otherwise black landscape. The dome itself was glass, ringed on the bottom with brilliant yellow lights, serving as a makeshift sun. Within the dome itself a small forest, filled with dense green foliage, most of which was bearing fruit. A single staircase in the center led down into the underground facility.

The subsurface levels were much larger, the size of a town. The rooms were narrow and cramped, but they were clean and functional. Screens lined all the walls and ceiling-embedded lights kept everything well lit. Many rooms were filled with nothing but boxes, and in others, there were nothing but beds.

In yet another room there were over one hundred thousand tick marks, signifying a long and terrible struggle. There were at least five distinct styles evident in how the tick marks were spread - the oldest being methodical and mathematical, the newer ones just quick scratches. They told a story - a story of a tradition passed down through the centuries.

A new mark was made by somepony completely unknown to the room. Her horn hit the wall, and she drew a long, straight mark into the metallic surface. She took a step back. The mark was the largest one on the wall. It screamed out, demanding to be seen, demanding to be noticed.

"if that's how you're going to do it... By all means, I won't stop you Scythe."

The completely black mare turned at her name, meeting her grandfather's eyes. "It needs to be something new," she said.

Her grandfather nodded. "Of course. You are now the datekeeper. Make us proud."

"Of course," she said, standing up and walking out of the room. "I will be back tomorrow."

Her grandfather nodded."Of course. Don't squander this honor."

Scythe trotted out, moving silent as a shadow. The only colors that weren't black on her were the whites of her eyes, accenting the void-like pupils that stared out at the world with a resigned gaze. She walked into the main room - nopony actually had a name for it - and counted forty-three of the sixty-two inhabitants of Home.

She knew all of them by name. They were all her family.

...There had once been well over a hundred ponies living in Home. The number rarely increased any more.

She passed her many family members without a word - and they said nothing back. They all knew she didn't like talking, only reading and listening. They spoke knowing she'd hear, and she walked around in order to listen. She caught many snippets of conversation...




"...power fluctuations..."


"...nowhere to go..."

Scythe continued on, emotionless. She had long ago refused to let it affect her. Those who weren't like her... Well...

"...feather's gone..."


Scythe didn't even pause as she adjusted the number. She headed up to the top floor - to the garden. Dense foliage greeted her, and she knew every last bit of it was edible, filling, and nutritious. She could have eaten some, there was plenty to go around, but she didn't care right now. She trotted along the small path to the edge of the dome, pausing to look out at the stars and the dark shape of Equis in the sky.

She lifted a tablet with her hooves and began to read - "Tall Tales of Equestria" - and a smile spread across her face. She read of the great princess Aurora, of a love spell gone awry, of a brown stallion in a blue box, and of a foal who saved the world.

A mix of history and legend - oh, this was perfect. What parts were true? What parts were false? What was somewhere in the middle? The questions nagged at her brain, the mystery bringing joy to Scythe. They were one of the few things that could, anymore...

She looked back out at the black sky, into the depths of the starfield.

She thought of the many tales of the Stars and how they played games with ponies, looking down from above and laughing at their plight. How these Stars always made things difficult.

"Happy now?" she asked, glaring out into space. "We won't be around to entertain you much longer..."

The moment she said that a claw dropped from the sky, embedding itself into the ground a few miles away. Scythe dropped her tablet, unable to move. She stared at the gigantic claw in the distance, following the wire up into the darkness. How long was the cable? How far up was the ship? Had aliens found them? Was this good or bad? Why on Equis wasn't she telling the others?

She found herself firmly planted on the spot, staring, not wanting to miss anything. Minutes passed, and nothing seemed to happen - and she allowed her mind to relax. She finally forced herself to take a step back - time to go talk to the others. But then she saw it descending. A cylindrical shape coming down the ground. It softly landed atop the claw, and the doors slid open.

Scythe recognized the figure inside instantly. Mare of Stars. Coat of Night. Eyes of Wisdom. "Princess Luna... " Scythe said, watching closely as the regal alicorn drew closer. Scythe's mind took a while to process the fact that Luna was staring right at her.


Luna was back on her moon.

That meant the Ark had returned - though the Ark's claw didn't look like that in all the schematics she had seen. Maybe they had retrofitted or replaced it?

What did Luna want? To find survivors? To help them?

...To reclaim her moon?

Perhaps Luna had gone mad and was Nightmare Moon again, here to return all to ash and nothingness... And she was now standing inches away from Scythe, the glass of the dome all that protected them from each other.

May I come in? Luna asked telepathically.

Scythe's mind was blown - she knew magic had been real, but she hadn't really believed it until that moment. You could talk mind to mind with it! She wondered if teleportation-

At the thought of teleportation, Luna appeared inside the dome with a flash of light.

"I didn't say yes!" Scythe yelled.

"Apologies. I heard 'teleport' and acted. Your mind was... very muddled." The princess' voice was soft, concerned, and wise. It put Scythe at ease. "...Has the Ark returned?"

"Ah, you already know who I am and what happened all those centuries ago. Good, I was afraid I'd have to explain. In short, no, the Ark is not back, it crashed."

Scythe sagged. So the mission had been a failure.

"But most of the occupants survived and are now on a planet a few thousand light years from here," Luna said with a smile. "Everypony here is welcome to join us."

Scythe let out a small squee. "Everypony is going to be so relieved! We were beginning to lose hope!"

Luna looked downward. "I can see why. This was... the only light we saw. All bunker signals were dead." She looked into Scythe's eyes. "What happened while we were gone?"

"Well..." Scythe gulped. It was time to put her historical knowledge to the test. "War. There were lots of wars at first. Kingdoms formed that ran on heat - geothermal, magical, you name it. It was brutal. Everyone worldwide was cold and dying, but those with heat thought they could survive. Then the seals of Tartarus broke, and we all realized what was happening for the first time. Magic itself was decaying, and all of us needed magic to live. At first, we did nothing - the creatures of Tartarus raged and roared, fighting over the frozen world, surviving the cold by their sheer power. But even the great demons would die eventually. The centaur Tirek ended up being the first to act. He attempted to solve the problem of magic drain. While the other creatures warred and most of the others hid in doomed bunkers, Tirek worked endlessly with scientists in Hoofington to solve the problem. And they did it. They figured out how to remove magic from their bodies without dying. Of course, this wouldn't be enough. Equis itself had a landscape built by magic. Soon, the very earth would start shifting and shattering - the planet was not safe. So Tirek left, taking his ponies with him, and built this place centuries ago."

Luna blinked. "Tirek? Of all people..."

"not even he expected he'd do this all in his wildest dreams," Sychte said. "...Do you want to talk to him?"

Luna gasped. "...He's alive?"

Scythe cocked her head. "...Does brain-in-a-jar hooked up to a computer monitor count as alive?"

Luna blinked. "...Close enough. Let me see him."

Scythe smiled. "Sure. Just ignore the locals. You're going to draw a lot of attention." She led Luna down the stairs - and down, and down, and down. Ponies of all kinds gaped at Luna, and a few tried to speak to her - but she smiled warmly at them and shook her head.

Eventually, Luna and Scythe arrived at the bottom - a small room with nothing but several vitals monitors, a centaur brain in a jar, and a screen with Tirek's face on it.

Even on the virtual screen, he looked tired. "L... Luna?"

"Tirek. It's been a while."

Tirek groaned."...Yes"

"You saved them all."

"That's not a question."


"...It was self-preservation at first," Tirek said, "but then I got to know them. I spent years working with them. It... felt wrong to leave them once the problem had been solved. So I took them all with me. In return, they have taken good care of me."

"You're dying."

Tirek chuckled. "Also not a question. There's only so much mundane technology can do, even as specialized as it is. But at least I know now that you have found a home, and that my ponies will be safe."

Luna sighed. "We have magic. We can heal you."

"You will find that magic cannot affect us. Used the stuff in Chrysalis' throne to save us. We are all dead zones."


"No. My time has come, Luna. I have paid for my sins and saved some ponies. This place is more than sixty individuals - it is an archive of all things written and done on Equis, including after you left. Everything, the entire history that you missed."

Luna smiled. "Thank you Tirek. You have been forgiven."

"I do have one request."

"What is that?"

"Take the moon to your new home. Your magic can still carry it. Let it be a piece of history forever, a reminder."

Luna grinned. "I will. I had plans to take it back to the system anyway."


There was silence.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Tirek asked. "Get on that!"

"Er... aren't you-"

"Oh for Faust's sake, I'm dying, not at death's door! This tank is going to keep me alive for at least a few more months Princess, probably a few more years. What, did you think you'd arrive just seconds before I kick the bucket?"

"Er..." Luna fumbled.

"Nevermind, don't answer that. I'll be here for a while. See if you can get me to the new home. I'd like to see it."

Scythe grinned. Luna followed the black mare's example. "Actually Tirek... Care to join us on our journey to another stop? Great evil to be vanquished."

"...Wouldn't the moon slow you down?"

"We have enough ships to create a jumpnet. We were expecting to take it back with us after all, it won't take too much rewiring to take it forward and back. ...You know, before I came here, I wasn't all that sure I actually wanted the moon back."

"It is a part of you and your history. You should keep it."

"My sister didn't get to keep the sun..."

"So?" Tirek said. "She doesn't need to keep you from what you want. Now let's get moving here, I'm not getting any younger."


The ships took their positions around the moon and activated all their drives at the same time, connecting to each other with a powerful net.

"Ready Tirek?" Luna asked over the comm.

"I've been ready for five centuries."

"In 3..."

"Still can't believe that centaur made it..." Discord muttered.


Twilight shrugged. "I think it's good - he made a difference."


Starlight smirked. "A big difference."

"Jump." The Mite said, giving the command before Luna could give her final dramatic line.

The moon vanished in a flash of magical energies.

The ruined world of Equis was now truly alone. Dead.

XXIV - Probing Asanta

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"Hold it," Discord said.

"Yes?" Tirek responded, his face displayed on a screen to the left of the bridge.

"If magic can't affect you, how are you traveling through the jump with us?"

Tirek smirked. "The jump itself is not magic, it's warped space. You just use magic to make it. For example, if you cast fireball on us, we'd still be burned by the heat, even if the spell maintaining the fireball vanished upon touching us."

"So..." Discord furrowed his brow. "I can't just create you a new body?"

"Magic constructs will be dispelled. You could try genetic cloning, I suppose, but we tried that already. Didn't work."

"Evil twin?"

"Evil twin."

Discord looked at the main screen, pursing his lips and contemplating the stars. "You know, I just had a thought. The moon is basically our ship now. Our 'ships' are just little huskie dogs pulling our sled."

"Precisely," Tirek said, "perhaps we can intimidate these Asantans with this."

"If not, I can just bust a planet into confetti."

Tirek laughed. "I wish there was a big red button that I could press to unleash you."

Discord clapped his hands and created such a button.

"I have no limbs, Discord."

Starlight appeared, staring at the button. "I'll press it," she said, fire in her eyes. "I am so going to press it."

There was silence in the room.

"...We're all diabolical aren't we?" Tirek asked.

"You never quite get fully reformed," Starlight commented. "You always have this little urge to turn everything into chaos..."

Discord laughed, setting the button on the table. "I feel sure we'll need to use that button. But let's wait until we actually get to the system before blowing everything up, hrm?"

Starlight rolled her eyes, grabbing the button and placing it in her bags. "Of course. ...Can we go fly kites out in space while we wait?"

Discord grinned. "Why do you even bother asking? Just give the word!"



"We'll be arriving at the Asanta system within a few hours!" Celestia announced. "Our probes will be arriving within half an hour!"

She paused for a moment to let the message sink in. "Our journey is nearing its end - the cause of so much suffering is just over the horizon. I know not what we will find. I know not what Central is. What I do know is that everything we've done over the last fifteen years has been leading up to this, in one way or another.Whatever we find, I want it known that I am proud of each and every one of you - be you pony, dragon, griffon, gari, changeling ; magic, or mundane - I couldn't have asked for better people to serve. Thank you all for the light you have brought to my eyes. But do not let your judgment be clouded! The time is at hand and I fully expect that everyone will have to try their very hardest to do what needs to be done. Thank you all for your dedication, strength, and ingenuity that has gotten us this far. Keep it up. We'll need it." Celestia cut the announcement and sat back in her chair.

Twilight and Luna clapped their hooves together.

Celestia nodded. "Here we go..."

"Into the abyss," Luna said.


The Equi-gari probe was a bluish sphere covered in scanners of all kinds surrounded by a faint white magical aura.

It jumped into the Asanta system. The star was a brilliant white one, the light creating an intense glare on the probe, disguising the aura. The probe began scans immediately - a dozen or so planets were found, all inhabited, three heavily so. There were hundreds of structures and ships in space within the system - but everything was far away from the probe's location. Space was huge. Even within a single system there was an excessive amount of it to sit unnoticed in.

The probe performed further scans - there were thirteen large satellites orbiting the star at a surprisingly close radius. There were eleven meteor-ships orbiting the first planet from the star. The probe was definitely in the right place.

The probe transmitted all the information back to its creators. A ship was on it in seconds. The craft was long, black, and covered in strange round discs that shifted around the hull continually. The constant shifting made the craft appear almost as a liquid - even though scans showed it as a solid. It was heavily armed - though there were no signs of anything magical within it.

-WELCOME TO ASANTA,- the ship transmitted in dozens of languages, Asantan being the only one the probe understood. -WE ASK THAT YOU REVEAL YOURSELVES SO THAT WE MAY TALK-

The probe forwarded the message back to its creators.

Discord stared at the message onscreen. "So much for stealth," he muttered. "What are we going to say back? You know, besides 'we are here for revenge, can you kindly stand still so we can annihilate your planets'?"

Starlight smirked. "Offer to meet them face to face. Some of us will take a single ship out to converse. We reveal nothing about the rest of our fleet or the moon. We don't reveal anything about why we are really here - say we are explorers. Feel them out. See what they stand for and what Central is."

Twilight sighed. "A deception... ...We aren't good at lying, Starlight."

Celestia and Starlight exchanged glances and smirked. "The two of us are," Celestia said, "as is Tirek. And Orgis, come to think of it. We will be the ones to go, the rest of you stay behind."

Discord groaned. "Missing out on the action? Really? Oh well, needed to work on my moontan anyway, I suppose..."

Luna facehooved. "Not how it works, Discord."

Twilight looked at Celestia, a pained expression on her face. "Are you... sure you want to do this?"

"Yes," Celestia said.

She was a good liar.


The Equi-gari ship Ajax sat in space, alone, waiting. Celestia sat in the meeting room, her mane flowing in the still air. She kept her uncertainty under wraps, a soft smile forced on her face. She wasn't sure she would be able to maintain this in front of the Asantans...

She was one of only three on board - four if you counted Tirek and five if you counted the Hexalin hiding within Orgis's body.

Celestia glanced at the door the Asantan delegate would arrive through. The aliens had confirmed the meeting with a short burst of information and promised to meet them here - only after Celestia agreed to have the probe leave the Asantan system. She had no idea if the Astantans were late or not - there wasn't really a given time in the message. Celestia had no idea what to expect from them - but she did know that she had to keep her anger under control. It was best if the Asantans didn't know why they were here, for now at least. Celestia needed information, information from which to make a plan.

She slowly looked at all her friends and companions on this journey. Starlight was the closest, her emotions still a mystery to Celestia after all this time. She truly was a pony who knew how to deceive others - Celestia often didn't know what really went on behind the mare's ever-shifting expression. If Celestia were to hazard a guess, she'd say Starlight was plotting; thinking of all the possible things that the Asantans could say and dreaming up responses.

Celestia's gaze fell upon the screen that displayed Tirek. He was not actually on the ship - he was just transmitting his image from the moon through an encrypted signal. Celestia found him easier to read - he didn't keep his cards as close to his chest. He wanted power back then - and he didn't now. Really, he had gone through the change many others had - he had seen the joy and happiness of friendship, and didn't want to give it up for his own selfish purposes in the end. So he changed himself. Now he was here, having lived a full life, wanting to do some final things before his time was up.

And then there was Orgis...

Oh Orgis, the Immortal of Garilend, the one who shaped her planet's history from behind the scenes. She was not one Celestia understood. The gari who had seen Harmony and turned it into a religion - a religion she herself didn't truly follow. She was manipulative. She claimed that her past life was behind her, and perhaps it was... But she was apparently unable to completely move past her old habits.

The doors slid open, cutting Celestia's thoughts short. A single Asantan walked in. He was a black color - and that was where the similarities between him and Sorn ended. The creature was tall and had four arm-like limbs above a single foot. He had a strange, bubbly appearance, with six eyes circling a central orifice in his chest. There was no head to speak of.

He spoke in Asantan, the central orifice moving like a rubber band. "Pardon my tardiness, we usually are not this slow to respond. I am Errynai. What brings you to Asanta?"

"Exploration," Celestia said.

"Ah. How did you come by our language?"

"Found some broadcasts and recordings. Pieced it together from that." She needed to continue before Errynai could ask about the recordings. "We never were able to figure out what one thing meant though. What is Central?"

"Ah," Errynai said, speaking as if this question didn't surprise him in the least. "You probably know Central by another name. The Eternal One. God. Divinator. Corot. Different cultures call Central different things, it's just the way things are."

"Not true," Orgis said, "on our world, we worship many different things. Most of us agree they aren't just different names for the same thing."

Errynai raised an eyebrow. "Are you an authority on the matter?"

"I am Orgis, High Priestess of Harmony."

Errynai let out a snort - perhaps in annoyance? It was hard to tell. "Mhm. The rest of you?"

"Princess Celestia of the Sun," Celestia introduced herself.

"Lord Tirek," Tirek followed.

"Starlight Glimmer," Starlight said, "...no title."

Errynai nodded slowly. "Tell me, how did such a diverse group of races come together?"

"Most of us came from the same planet," Starlight answered, "Orgis here is from another world, which we consider our close ally and friend."

Errynai seemed surprised. "...How many races are there on your world?"

"Twenty-seven," Celestia answered.

"That is quite a fair amount," Errynai observed.

"What of your people? I take it you're the only race here - what are you like?"

"We are indeed alone on our world. We have encountered other races but none live here. We keep to ourselves and follow the Central Path. We generally do not mix with others."

Celestia frowned. "Why not?"

"Our culture must be upheld. Diplomatic relations are not out of the question, but mingling is against Central Edicts."

"Hrm..." Starlight pondered this. These people seemed a little odd, but they didn't seem like the type to construct giant life-exterminating ships. They seemed like your basic leave-us-alone types, with a bit of religious extremism thrown in.

"My turn for a question," Errynai said, his many eyes turning to focus on Celestia. "Where did you get your power?"

"Our what?" Celestia asked.

"It's coming off all of you. An aura of that which is impossible - which only the highest acolytes of Central are given." Errynai leaned in, eyes narrowing. "Where did you get it?"

"We've always had it," Starlight said, "why does it matter?"

"Why does it matter?" Errynai sat back. "It truly is normal for you isn't it? ...The power does not exist anywhere else. It only exists in those deemed worthy by central. None of you fit the criteria."

"Perhaps you need to adjust your worldview," Celestia said. Starlight motioned for her to stop, but Celestia was already going. "Maybe the power can exist without Central, did you ever think of that?"


"Then why do we have it if we are not what Central would approve of?"

Errynai thought for a second. "A test for us."

"Please," Tirek said, "that's a copout answer and you know it."

"Or not," Orgis said, "tests are thrown at all of us. If I was in their position I might think the same. But the fact remains - most of our races are given the power from birth without discretion."

Errynai frowned. "From... birth? ...I... I need to leave to ask the Gurus about this. Perhaps... you would wish to come along?"

"Thought you didn't mingle?" Starlight observed.

"Oh no, we don't," Errynai said, "but this is obviously a special case. Direct your ship to the innermost planet, the Gurus will tell us where to land."

Celestia frowned for a moment, turning to her companions. "What do you all think?" They all knew the meteor ships were around that planet.

"Either or," Tirek said.

"I wish to see their place of spirit," Orgis said.

"I don't like this," Starlight added.

Celestia nodded, slowly. It ended up as her decision... "We will come, Errynai. Lead the way."

Errynai nodded. The course was set and they were on approach to the innermost planet within a minute. The white star soon filled their view, blazing down upon them with intense light.

Then Tirek's screen went dead.

"What?" Celestia asked.

"Interrupted communications..." Starlight responded. "...I've lost control of the ship."

Errynai smiled. "The Gurus have noticed us. We are being guided directly. We should be honored to feel the hand of Central."

Starlight scanned the area, wincing. There was a powerful grasp of magic on the ship, guiding it towards the planet. She sent a telepathic message to Celestia. This magic feels a lot like that meteor ship's black crystal, except stronger, more organized.

Celestia frowned. They needed to get out. "I'm afraid we have to cancel, Errynai. You can tell us of your decision later." She lit her horn and used her celestial power on the Ajax. Summoning the strength she had used to move the sun all that time ago, she pushed.

The ship didn't move. The power surrounding it was too strong.

Starlight joined in with her power, but the course remained unchanged.

Orgis frowned, adressing the Hexalin with her thoughts. Can we hack the magical construct holding us?

>My efforts are proving to have minimal results. The lattice is resistant and counters automatically.

Unfortunate, she thought.

>Certainly. It's also aware I'm attempting to divert it. I have never been detected this quickly before on anything.

Celestia twitched, grabbing Errynai in her magic. "You are going to call this off or I swear to Harmony I will-"

"I cannot call it off. The Gurus are my superiors. You have to talk to them."

Celestia growled. "Everyone, prepare yourselves, there's no way this can be good."

Starlight cast dozens of spells on herself, ready. Orgis enveloped her hands in pink flames.

The Ajax was brought into a circular temple on the surface of the planet. The white star was directly above them, filling the sky. The ship was surrounded by dozens of black beings, each vastly different from the one next to it. One appeared to be made of tentacles and plant matter, while another was a snake made almost entirely of eyeballs. There was a jellyfish with physical feet, and a humanoid creature with mouths in his hands.

Celestia stepped out of the ship, eyes aflame. "This is unacceptable," she said.

The humanoid one shrugged. "Let me explain something. We don't care about what you think, your opinions are worthless to us. We serve Central, and nothing else means anything. You are our prisoners now. By Central Edict, you are not allowed to leave, contact your people, or do anything without our consent."

Celestia and Starlight exchanged glances, unsure of what to do.

XXV - Central

View Online

Luna, Twilight, and Discord stared at the screen they had been using to keep tabs on the meeting.

"I can't re-establish," Tirek said. "We have no way to know what happened to them."

Twilight winced. "What are we going to do? Making them doubt Central had no effect..."

"And we cannot risk the lives of the whole fleet in a raid," Luna said. "Attacking their seat of power would be foolish anyway..."

Discord raised a hand. "I could blow up a planet and they couldn't stop me."

Luna frowned. "Some of their people may be innocent..."

Discord snarled. "Fine. I could go blow up an uninhabited moon instead, then drop little old Mite off somewhere. He already knows some of their systems, should be able to get in almost instantly."

Tirek smirked. "They won't know what hit them!"

Discord cackled. "Oh, no they won't..."

Twilight sighed. "Go ahead Discord. Demand they return our friends." She looked him right in the eye with a serious expression. "Do what you need to."

Luna nodded. "This sounds best. Until then we must be on high alert. Let us hope they cannot find our location. And Discord... be safe, we don't know what they have hidden in their worlds."


Starlight took out the red button and pressed it - but no Discord came to their aid. She cursed under her breath.

Celestia looked the Asantan Gurus right in their eyes - where she could find eyes, anyway. "Why haven't you tried to kill us yet?"

"You have the power," the one with mouths in his hands said, "we want to know how."

"No idea," Starlight said.

"That matters not. We will find out." He walked closer. "We think you do know..." He looked over all of them, one at a time. When he came to Orgis he recoiled. "...She has a guardian!"

Orgis raised her hands to defend herself, engulfing them in pink energy. The light went out almost as soon as it started, and she found herself unable to move, some power keeping her frozen in place. Run. She thought to the Hexalin.

> The power has me in its grasp. I am afraid I am helpless. I am sorry.

> ...Goodbye.

The Guru touched his hands to Orgis's face, tearing the Hexalin from her. She let out a guttural scream, her lifelong companion's connection severed the moment the Hexalin was placed in a sickly, black bubble. Orgis fell back, barely able to maintain consciousness after the ordeal. The constant voice was gone.

The Guru held up the bubble, examining it. "Normally, it would take forever to interface with your minds to get the information we need. Lucky us you brought something we know how to work with. It won't be long until we know all you know."

Celestia's eyes burned. "I cannot allow that." She lit her horn, ready to burn them all to ash. But then something beyond powerful grabbed her, forcing her to stop in her tracks. "...What?"

"Central protects us," was the only response she received. The three of them were herded away into a small, empty cell...


Discord appeared over a gas giant's moon - it was purple, round, and currently had an expensive research probe around it. He took a moment to appreciate the Asanta system before he went around destroying it. The planets were beautiful, most with colors that screamed artificial meddling. He looked at the white star, the intense light reflecting in his irises. He became perturbed at the sight, and he didn't know why. He shook his head, focusing on the task at hand. He placed the Mite upon the probe and grinned. "Ready to broadcast?"


"Good. Start now. Ahem. Denizens of Asanta! I am Discord, spirit of Chaos, and I am very, very unhappy. You see, three of my companions came on a diplomatic mission to you, and you all decided to kidnap them! So here's your ultimatum - return them or I do what I'm about to do to this precious purple moon on one of your precious planets." He pointed a finger at the moon, liquefying it almost instantly. "This has been a Discord announcement. Return them or things start going down in flames. Stop transmitting."

He grabbed the Mite. "How'd I do?"


"Oh goody. Let's pay their planet a visit, shall we?" He snapped his fingers, teleporting to the most populated planet, appearing over a large city. "Hellooooo my little Asantans! How are you doing?"

They all opened fire on him - to no effect. None of the weapons were magical in any way. He had some of the bullets pass through him, while he turned others into slime creatures. The laser weapons he reflected in upward directions, and the bombs he made implode in on themselves.

"Bother. Mite, hack into some things. I'm heading to the innermost planet."

"Understood." The Mite dropped into the city and set to work. The technology was similar to the devices it had found on the meteor ship, only much more primitive. This would take all of a few minutes to hack into.

Discord snapped his fingers, attempting to teleport to the innermost planet. He got close, the planet visible to him as a small orange speck in the distance, but the fact remained that he wasn't there. He frowned - deja vu. He attempted to move closer, but a force pushed him back.

He was not welcome there, apparently.

"Testy..." Discord muttered, returning to the world where the Mite was. They opened fire on him again. He facepalmed in exasperation and threw his hands wide. "Do you not realize that does nothing!?"


Celestia looked at the doorway, pondering escape. But every time she moved to do so, or even tried to activate her horn, the power grabbed her tight and prevented her from moving at all. She was powerless here.

Being powerless... It was an alien feeling. She usually could do much. Even when captured, she always had a trump card of some kind. Usually allies, subjects... friends.

She supposed this was very different from all the previous times she was in a hard place. She didn't think she had anyone to help her here. The force was just too strong to be defied.

Orgis wasn't faring much better - a constant presence in her life had been removed so suddenly. She no longer had a voice to talk to in her head. It was like losing a part of her mind. She just sat there, rocking back and forth, muttering things. "...How do we end..."

Starlight was just angry, ready to destroy everything the instant the force dropped its guard. It didn't look like that was going to happen.

"They're going to kill us," Starlight said.

Celestia nodded. "Then they will hunt down our people."

"We failed."

Orgis twitched. "Failure was guaranteed. It is never easy."

Celestia sighed. "I'm not sure what I was expecting... I was angry. I felt the need to act. We should have exercised more caution.."

"We all agreed to come here, Celestia," Starlight said. "There is no need to beat yourself up over the decision. We just need to stand our ground."

The door was kicked open. A thick, black tentacle grabbed Orgis, dragging her out of the room. She barely had time to scream before the door was shut again.

Starlight shuddered. "...We're next."

Celestia nodded, unable to think of anything comforting at the moment. They were in the hands of a powerful force that they could do nothing to resist. Once the Asantans had the information they wanted, they would kill their useless prisoners. Her only hope was that Luna would take the moon and run - run far away. Run to where they couldn't be killed. They would wander the stars for centuries more...

Celestia used her magic to lift a small pebble off the ground, studying it in hopes of a distracting herself from the hopeless situation. She stopped, eyes widening - she could use her magic. The force had stopped holding her. It had been such a gradual change she hadn't even noticed. Celestia stood bolt upright. "We've been released!"

Starlight blinked. "...We have!" She lit her horn. "They're going to regret leaving us here..."

The door exploded - but not from Starlight's spell. Starlight gasped. "Cadence!?"

"Bet you're glad I stowed away now, huh!?" She said, eye twitching.

Starlight's jaw dropped. Celestia merely chuckled - Cadence's presence was not entirely unexpected.

Cadence cackled. "So, who wants to teach these killers a lesson? Both of you? Good, let's go."

The three of them left the room, ready to face whatever came their way...


"What do you mean they can't help us?" Discord demanded.


"Yes, they are important! I know that! Why can't the regular people help?"


"It can't be that ingrained into their culture!"


Discord growled. "Great. Just great. Don't they even care that their planets are in danger?"


"...Yeah, this place is messed up. Time to blow it up." He rolled up his imaginary sleeves, teleported into orbit, and pointed at the planet.

He was stopped by eleven meteor ships appearing around him in an instant, unleashing their clouds of black power. He teleported away, attempting to use the planetary destruction spell on the ships, but there was no effect - these things could deal with magic. They fired their black swarms at him, forcing him to retreat further.

Then he got an idea. He didn't have to worry about the safety of this world or the worlds around it... So he could go a little crazy.

He grabbed ahold of a moon and threw it at the ships. Ten of them jumped out of the way, but one was smashed to smithereens by the absurd kinetic energy of the hurtling celestial body. Chunks of rock went flying in all directions at high speed, several cratering the inhabited planet below, killing untold thousands.

Discord grinned despite this. "Not so invincible after all." He grabbed another moon. "All right! Who wants to play space billiards? I know I do!"

The ten remaining ships started casting powerful dark magics at him - the impact was painful, tearing his form apart. But he was a being of chaos - he could handle a little distortion in his life. He met them with the moons, smashing with glee. One of the moons exploded on contact, but he just teleported to another one around a gas planet. "You know what, it's nice to have a challenge!" He grabbed the new moon, rushing it at his opponents.


"Oh don't worry Mite, I've got this!"


"Bah, the great Discord won't have any trouble with these space rocks. Not anymore..."

They clashed in the sky, raining destructive debris across the whole system...


Orgis was thrown on an altar. The Asantan Gurus surrounded her in a perfect circle. She felt their magic slam into her, eating at her mind, using the connections the Hexalin had made. They rummaged through her mind, sifting through hundreds of years of memories, looking for what they wanted. They found it - the Keys. The two of them she had seen. The two of them she knew. The number sequences found on them.

"The time has come," the one with mouths in his hands said.

"...What time?" Orgis asked.

"All the Keys have been attained. Transmission will commence."

They all turned to the sky, staring right at their white star. Orgis could feel the thirteen codes leave their minds, transmitted towards the star. She could have sworn she saw the star react with a slight flash...

She knew what was going on in that moment. But she wanted to make sure. She turned to the Guru with the mouth hands. "What is Central? What is it really? You might as well tell me."

His mouths smiled. "Central is a being that none of us can understand. A member of the divine race of Stars that dared go against convention. Sealed in place, as our sun, by the ancient Fengal. They did not see the gift Central offered us, the way of life."

"...And the keys?"

"Are the personal codes of the thirteen Fengal chancellors, long dead. They are being used, as we speak, to deactivate the Fengal artifacts that keep Central from shining his power across the universe. A new age of glory to Central shall reign, and we will be the highest servants!"

Orgis looked up at the bright white star, a wistful look in her eyes. "True power..."


Orgis narrowed her eyes, directing her next comment at the Star - Central itself. "Well played, Star. You toyed with these people. Fooled them all. That must have taken extreme patience on your part. Guiding an entire race into a delusion is no easy feat. But we will not let you do what I know you want. We will continue."

Orgis's mind was flooded with a response.


XXVI - Corot

View Online

Celestia, Starlight, and Cadence crept out of their imprisonment, stepping out into the white light outside. They snuck up to a large slab of stone, careening their necks around the edge to observe the ritual from afar. The Asantans had their many limbs up, powerful energies leaving their minds and heading right for the star. Starlight was performing constant scans of what they were doing, liking less and less what she was seeing.

Celestia was finding it difficult to wrap her mind around what was happening. The Asantans were trying to free a Star. The idea terrified Celestia to her bones. The Stars were beings of legend, even to one of her ancient age - they were beings of the cosmos themselves that played with the lives of all. They had influenced the life of Celestia and Luna more than a few times. Always from the background, always from the shadows, never with any discernable goal.

Celestia had never considered the possibility that such a being could be sealed away - or that one would cause enough trouble to demand it. They always interfered in small ways, from what she had seen...

What she was looking at was a horror, plain and simple. A horror she could not let stand. She had to stop it at any cost.

She roared, unleashing a torrent of sunlight from her horn. She had one purpose in mind - interrupt the transmission. The Asantans that were performing the transmission did nothing, but the one's that were free acted swiftly. Half of them began transmitting the codes in duplicate, just to make sure the information went through, while the other half surrounded the altar in a defensive shield.

The mouth-hands Asantan looked at Celestia - and shrugged, letting out a laugh. Celestia fumed - they were ignoring her.

Cadence growled. "...I came here to destroy them... ...But fighting doesn't work... ...I tried myself..."

"When?" Starlight asked.

"I attacked the one you let on the ship. It defeated me easily."

Celestia blinked. "Wait... So they knew you were on board from the start?"

Cadence nodded. "He wouldn't let me hit him..."

"They knew why we were here from the very beginning then..." Celestia growled. "They were just toying with us this entire time. So they could get us here."

Starlight groaned. "That doesn't matter right now! That... Star's power isn't on us right now - it's busy! We can just leave in our ship!"

Celestia glared. "No." She lit her horn, sending a quick message to her sister. Then her eyes flashed with an intense fire, and her mane ignited with the energy of the sun. She roared, focusing her magic all in one, and grabbed the planet she was standing on.

It was much larger than the sun of Equis - as were all normal planets - but moving the sun had been something she did effortlessly for thousands of years. This would just take some effort. She roared, driving all her magic into it. She would ram the planet into the Star if it was the last thing she did.

"Ack!" Starlight yelled. "Cadence we have to go now!" She teleported the two of them into their ship.

Celestia roared, ignoring the intense heat.


Celestia did not respond to the voice that shook her skull with every syllable, threatening to overload her very consciousness with its presence.


Castor who? Celestia thought to herself.






We are nothing alike.



We fight you together!



You are sealed. I can deal with you in this state.


This planet will burn in your own corona. You will be unable to give those codes to that which imprisons you. The ritual will end.

TRY HARDER. The planet began to slow its movement, stopped by Corot's force.

I shall! She pushed with all her might.





Celestia's eyes widened. She saw it coming. "No!"


Starlight's jaw was hanging open. She was trying her best to launch the ship - but the conversation was so powerful - it echoed through her head, scrambling her thoughts. It made delicate procedure difficult.

Cadence frowned. "What?"

"You don't hear that!?"

"Hear what?"

Starlight was about to respond - but something froze her to her core. She was still scanning the ritual from afar, keeping tabs on everything that was happening. Which meant she had a good look at Celestia. She felt the immortal princess of the sun get assaulted. Celestia roared with the intensity of a solar flare, fighting against an intense beam of white light coming directly from the Star itself. She pushed, roared, and cried. Her magic drained away at an alarming rate, while the Star's power showed no sign of faltering.

Celestia! Starlight called out with her mind.

Go! Now! I'm not going to last long!

I'm not leaving-

He'll kill you if you give him any reason to! Go! Tell Luna I'm sorry!

With that final thought, Celestia's defenses were broken. She didn't even have time to scream from the pain - she was disintegrated into pure energy in an instant. The keeper of the sun fell much like her celestial body did all those centuries ago - with a great explosion that quickly dissipated into nothing. The power of Corot left her, once again focused on the numbers being transmitted to it.

Starlight choked. "She... She..."

"What?" Cadence demanded.

"...Celestia's gone..." Starlight couldn't believe it - if there had ever been a stable pin in this whole ordeal, it was Celestia herself. She was always there, always caring for her ponies - always looking out for everyone. And she was completely gone - Starlight couldn't even detect her essence anymore, there was nothing but a scorch mark in the aether left by the stellar laser. ...Had there been any point to it? What did Celestia accomplish in her final moments? A being of immense power had just wiped her from existence, and the planet was still here. The ritual would be completed soon.

Tears feel from Starlight's eyes as she continued prepping the ship.

Cadence twitched. She lit her horn. "They're going to die, every last one of them."

"No! Cadence!" Starlight encased the alicorn's horn in a magic inhibitor. "She told us to go!"

"I came here for revenge and I am going to get it!" Cadence screamed at Starlight. She broke through the magic inhibitor and flared her wings. She teleported out of the ship - only for Starlight to teleport her back.

"We don't have time for this!" Starlight yelled.

"Get out of my way!" Cadence fired a bolt at Starlight, only for the unicorn to reflect it. Cadence was singed by her own magic, falling backwards. Starlight wasted no time - she cast the heaviest sleep spell she could manage on Cadence, her horn sparking from overuse.

Cadence wobbled. "You... You can't do this! I... I need to..." She fell to the ground, eyes heavy. "No... Starlight... Just let me kill them..."

"She told us to go," Starlight said, completing the launch preparations with a few more button pushes. Cadence fell asleep to the feeling of a ship launching into orbit.

The ship left the planet, shakily rushing out of the gravity well. No Asantans made any move to stop it. Corot did nothing either.

"Preparing FTL jump..." Starlight said, bringing up the jump menu. She paled - the drive was broken. She was stuck with slower than light speeds...


Orgis continued to observe the ritual. She knew she had been forgotten by Starlight - and she didn't care. Her place was here anyway. This was where it was supposed to happen. She knew exactly when the ritual was concluded - the moment all the Asantans stopped all their spells, everything returning to a natural state. The Asantans all laughed in unison, a truly sickening and disgusting sound.

Orgis looked up towards Corot and glared. "You awaken and they die. You lose the one thing you have that isn't yourself. You have no purpose."

The Star began to pulse but gave her no response. The Asantans ignored her as well.

"You are meaningless," Orgis said. "There is no purpose to destruction. There was a purpose for my transgressions, You have nothing to fall back on. At least I had something to live for - and something to die for. You may be an ancient being of the cosmos itself, but you have nothing compared to what we have."

The entire world shook, and the white star exploded. Milliseconds before Orgis and the entire planet were engulfed, she felt a single word enter her mind. An answer.



Six meteor ships remained among the interplanetary rubble. They flew in a hexagon formation, flooding Discord with the black clouds from all sides. The spirit of chaos' form was falling apart. He was no longer even trying to keep up his snakelike form, allowing the body to sag, mutate, and stretch in impossible ways. It hurt - a lot - but he didn't care. He was going to keep fighting these ships until the bitter end. He threw a meteor shower at one, smashing it into another. The explosion was extremely satisfying. The ships took advantage of this, using the explosion as a cover to tear him apart further.

He gasped. "This is... quite... unfortunate..."


"I know Mite I know-"


Discord felt it before he looked. He witnessed the star explode all those millions of miles away. He saw the intense fire spread throughout the system, engulfing planets one by one. He may not have been a genius, but he knew it would only take a few secods for the wave of power to reach him.

"Well, it's been fun, but we have to go." He teleported away as fast as he could, dragging the Mite with him. He got the heck out of dodge, running out of the system in a random direction, fleeing the hatching abomination and the incoming supernova.

Corot was too absorbed in the process to notice or care. The white shell of plasma had already burnt up three planets, and the rest of the system would soon follow. A most delicious death for the followers - just like Corot had taught them to want. If they were upset about this, their faith was poor.

Once free, the true form of Corot stood - a Star comprised entirely of black plasma. An impossible object. No light was emitted, no life-giving glow was seen, there was just a ball of black fire raging amongst the cosmic backdrop.

The first thing Corot did was summon his shards to himself - the cores of the meteor ships he had created. Eleven of the black objects appeared around him.

Not thirteen.

That's right, one had destroyed that Equis mini-sun and would not be retrievable, and the other was still on Garilend. He'd have to go get it personally...

Those ponies just had to make Corot's life more difficult. They would pay - starting with that Moon of theirs.

Corot searched through the absorbed mind of Celestia, locating the information about where the Moon was. He warped there instantly, his black fiery body appearing with a warp of spacetime so extreme it could be seen rippling outward for light years.

There was nothing there.

Just empty space.

They. Had. Moved. Celestia had sent them a warning last minute!

How was a Star like him supposed to destroy them if he couldn't find them? Space was annoyingly large and empty.


Wait a minute.

He needed to visit Garilend anyway.

He warped again, traveling across the galaxy in a single instant with his cosmic power. He appeared before the great sun of Garilend, casting the world and its moon in shadow. The initial warp of space time triggered intesne earthquakes, tidal waves, and ice shelf collapses. He began to laugh - a laugh that all the minds on Garilend heard.

They had escaped his wrath once before. They would not this time.

XXVII - The Lunar Gambit

View Online

The sky of Garilend was dark, without stars, covered by a blackness more intense than the night sky was ever meant to be.

Emin and Sunset had been having lunch together atop a skyscraper when the Star appeared above them, filling their heads with the sick laughter. Both of them stood up, ready to fight - but both of them knew that there was no chance they could stand up to the thing above them.

The world shook, earthquakes rippling through the land. The structure they stood in didn't fall, but they could see others collapse in the distance, killing thousands. Clouds of smoke and dust flew into the air, giving the impression of a warzone. Alarms went off, power plants exploded, and the panic began.

Emin took in a long, harsh breath. "We can't do anything against this."

Sunset nodded slowly. "...That's a definite. I can feel it's power. If it wanted to, it could snuff out this planet with a thought..."

Emin slammed his fist on the table. "I'm not going to stand here and do nothing. Even if it's all hopeless..." He whipped out his phone. "Get me a teleport to the command bunker. I don't think I need to tell you why." In an instant, they were teleported away - a second before something blew out the floor beneath them.

In space, Corot considered wiping them all from reality effortlessly - with his freed power, such a thing would be simple - but that wouldn't have been satisfying. No, it was time to kill them slowly...

A black beam cut into the planet, triggering a supervolcano's eruption, spewing lava and ash into the atmosphere. Corot prodded a fault line, breaking an entire tectonic plate, the crust swallowing dozens of cities as a result. A simple gravitational manipulation of the ocean completely submerged several islands.

Corot then inverted the magnetic poles just for the heck of it.

This was delightful!

Corot looked at all the panic, the relief efforts, and - oh - the retaliations that had no effect whatsoever. The nukes did nothing more than tickle, and the magic superweapons simply made him itch. Corot was far too powerful. He crunched their moon into a fine powder, showering the world with meteor showers both beautiful and terrifying. Nothing the size of an extinction asteroid - that would have been too quick. Slow and painful was the way to go - bit by bit he would shred this world. Though why keep himself limited to cosmic level destruction? He was more creative than that. He created a hurricane around New Cloudsdale just to see how they'd deal with it. He dropped a few black clouds in population centers. He pulled creatures and demons from their legends and horror stories, bringing them into reality with only one purpose - to torment. He took control of certain individuals personally, sending them on murder sprees...

There was no end to his brutality.

Stop. The Tree of Harmony called out to him.


I beg of you...


Please. We were once close.


Do not destroy what I have created - let there be opposites. The universe needs variety.


...Make it quick then.


I could not resign us to death.


Corot returned his focus to Garilend. He set every square inch of it on fire for a microsecond. He laughed as they all screamed in confusion and pain...


A probe appeared in the area of space that had been the Asanta system a few minutes ago. There was nothing but debris in an endless void. There were no planets, no moons, and no sun.

Discord appeared in front of the probe - his serpent-like form mostly reconstituted. "Heeeeey! I've been worried about you - couldn't find any trace of you guys. Get in here, the coast's clear."

A minute later, the moon itself appeared within the destroyed system. Discord teleported to Tirek's moon base. He opened his mouth to speak but found he didn't have anything to say. He looked at Twilight and Luna - and just sighed.

"Well," Tirek said, "this is bad."

"We're getting transmissions from Garilend," Twilight said. "The Star is there, tormenting everyone."

Luna cursed. "So the Star couldn't find our position... and in retaliation went to attack our home. And we are much too far away to do anything about it... "

"Could we do anything even if we were there?" Discord interjected. "I knew I was unable to stop the supernova that thing made!"

Forsoo began pacing. "We're powerless... "

There was silence in the room, faces of deep sorrow and contemplation on their faces.

Luna took in a breath and spoke first. "We will scour the system for anything we can find. Then we'll take the moon into deep space. We will travel with it from system to system. We will begin our search for a home anew. Somewhere the Star cannot find us."

Twilight began to tear up. "But... But..."

"Garilend will be no more the moment that Star decides it's bored," Luna said. "I... I am sorry. There is nothing we can do."

Twilight slammed her hoof into the ground. "No! No! I did not work this hard, I did not spend centuries alone, I did not go through this Tartarus just to be put back at square one without my friends! Too much was put into this Luna, I am not giving up now! There is a solution here, and we will find it!"

There was silence in the room once more. Everyone was looking at Twilight with sad eyes.

"No," she said again, "not budging. We are going to do something."

"Such as...?" Discord asked.

It was at that moment a flash of bluish light appeared in the stellar void, filling the nearby space with a ticking sound that was heard by all, entering directly into their minds. A magical bowl appeared, glyphs reminiscent of gears spinning around its surface. The opening in the bowl led to a vortex of time and space, out of which a ship was spat out. It tumbled end over end a few times before righting itself.

Twilight blinked. "...That's the ship they took. The one Celestia was on..."

Luna frowned. "...Hail it. But prepare an emergency FTL jump. We have to be cautious."

The hail went out - and there was no response.

Twilight frowned. "...That's odd... ...I'm pretty sure that was Starlight's time spell..."

Forsoo shook his head. "It has to be a trick. We need to get out of here."

"I'll just go over and investigate..." Discord said.

"Bad!" The Mite shouted, stopping his actions.

"What else are we going to do?"

"...Answer the call," Forsoo said. "They're hailing us now."

Luna blinked. Then she answered.

"Uh... Hi." Cadence said, an unconscious Starlight in her hooves. The unicorn's horn was smoking and sparking fiercely - a sure sign of magic overload. "I... Just woke up. What happened?"

Luna smiled. "Well... Apparently, before the entire system was destroyed by the release of the Star, Starlight saved you through a time warp - a jump to the future. ...That's what it looks like anyway."

Cadence cocked her head. "...The entire system was destroyed? All the Asantans?"



Twilight frowned at this, but let it slide. "Where are Celestia and Orgis?"

"...Gone." Cadence said, looking at the ground. "Celestia told us to go and... Orgis was on the planet."

Luna choked; she lit her horn, sending out a ping to her sister - receiving nothing in response. "M-my..." She stuttered, barely keeping back her tears.

Twilight put a hoof on Luna's back. Unlike the moon princess, she was unable to keep her tears back, the trails streaking down her face.

"We... W-we can't do this now!" Luna shouted, stunning everyone. "We... We can't let this be in vain! Later! Later! Right now we have to stop this... Star!"

Starlight groaned, coming to. "...His name is Corot. He's related to the Tree of Harmony, somehow..."

"Do you know of anything that can stop him!?"

"The... satellites should still be around if they're made of the same stuff the Mite is..." She rubbed her head, barely able to think through her headache. "I think they are what kept him sealed..."

"We don't know how to use those!" Luna shouted. Starlight winced.

Discord coughed, holding out his hand. "The Mite might."


"What do you need?" Twilight asked.


Starlight let out a soft laugh. "I... Have all thirteen in my head. Scanned the ritual to death. They can be transmitted again."

"Okay..." Luna said, breathing hard. She shook her whole body, trying to focus. "We... Reactivate the satellites that sealed this Corot, and then we leave, never to come back."

"Sounds like a plan," Twilight said. "Everypony, get on it."

"I'll... Need help," Starlight said. "I'm burnt out. I can't get into my own head right now..." She sighed, giving both Luna and Twilight a concerned look. "...I'm so sorry..."

Cadence blinked. "...Are we going to be okay?"

"I don't know," Twilight answered truthfully. "What I do know is that we should get this done before we try to find that out."


Twilight stared out into the void of space.

The cold, hard, dark expanse of nothing.

The deathly black blanket that surrounded everything.

She gritted her teeth.

Celestia had been taken from her. Killed by some evil Star that apparently just hated everything. What was the point of it? What had Celestia accomplished? Where was... Where was the end she deserved?

Twilight noticed Luna standing next to her. The princess of the night was crying openly, unable to stop. She tried to speak but failed.

Twilight winced, her own tears starting once again. "What's the point?" she asked.

Luna was unable to form a response.

"We keep trying to find hope," Twilight gulped. "We keep trying to find life. And it always gets taken from us."

Luna managed to shake her head.

"And some of us die along the way. I wonder why we even try."

"B-because to not is suicide..." Luna managed, breathing in heavily. "If... if we s-stop, death claims us. Literally... And f-figuratively. We... We..." Her head sagged, and she was unable to continue.

Twilight frowned. "There comes a point when you can't do it anymore-"

"T-that point is not now!" Luna yelled. "It is not what she did and it is not what she wanted!" She slammed her hoof into the window with a thunk. "Twilight Sparkle, you were her closest friend. She never gave up. She fought for her ponies until the very end! So what if there is no safety to be found? At least we tried!"

Twilight blinked. "At least we tried..."

Starlight walked into the room behind them, ending the conversation. "We have a problem," she said.

"What is it?"

"The satellites."

"Did the supernova break them?"

"No. Just like the Keys, they'll survive anything. The issue is that we need Corot in-system for them to work. They don't have infinite range."

Luna growled. "Great. Just great. How do we tell a Star to move!?"


Corot was enjoying his fine-tuned desolation. Kill an individual there, watch the family panic, then set the house on fire and explode all the incoming fire trucks! Perhaps the killing with a horde of ants was more fun... Honestly, Corot didn't know, more experimentation was required to find out for sure. It had been so long since he'd been allowed to do whatever he wished...

Please, I offer myself... The Tree of Harmony pleaded.


I offer knowledge.

YOU KNOW NOTHING THAT I- Corot paused. What was the thing sitting next to the Tree?

"Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie!"


"That's a secret! Sorry, wouldn't be fair to tell you!"


"Kill me and lose the knowledge you want!"


"You'd regret that," Pinkie said. "Also, couldn't you just read my mind?"

Corot was not going to admit that he'd been trying to do that for the last few minutes.

Ignore her. That's what I do.


It is beauty, it is grace.


"...Oh no." Pinkie said suddenly.


Pinkie grinned. "Nooothing!"


"Well then go take a look, I'm not stopping you."

What...? The Tree of Harmony wondered.

YOUR CREATURE IS SMARTER THAN YOU, APPARENTLY. AWARE OF ITS LIMITS. PERHAPS YOU COULD LEARN SOMETHING. Corot scanned the entire planet with his magic - and realized a heavily encrypted transmission had come in. He would have noticed it eventually, but that could have been minutes or hours down the line. It was from the moon...

"...This is Princess Luna calling from the Asanta system!" They just told Corot where they were, the fools. "We are attempting to activate the satellites..." Corot stopped his assault on Garilend instantly - he'd forgotten about the satellites. How in the universe had he forgotten about the satellites!? "...and while we have the Keys, we do not know how to use them to unlock the satellites. We plan on sealing Corot back in the moment we can, but we need your minds and resources to uncover the methods by which to do so. I suggest searching in the Mite's files. Our scans are attached to this message..."


Corot, wait-


Then Corot was gone, punishing the planet with one last tearing of spacetime.

Pinkie grinned. Then she started to giggle. Then she began to laugh uncontrollably.

The Tree of Harmony just sat there, observing the pink pony. The guardian of Equis was very confused.

Elsewhere, Sunset looked up at the sun shining upon them, and a smile crept up her face. It took her several minutes to tear her gaze away from the sky, at which point she would see the desolation that remained. Monsters ran rampant, dark magics flooded the world, and many structures were reduced to rubble.

She lit her horn, summoned a fireball, and killed a demonic creature without so much as a thought.

"Time for cleanup..." She muttered.


Cadence sat, looking out the window at the stars.

The Asantans were all gone.

She had won.

...Why did she feel so empty?

"Revenge..." Tirek said. "It is a brutal dish. When you want it, you want it more than anything else. Whenever I sought it, it never ended well for me." He paused for a moment, gauging the alicorn. "You succeeded. I still don't think it ended well for you."

Cadence nodded, face blank.

Tirek sighed. "But then again, we would not be here at all, fighting this evil, were it not for a sort of revenge..."

Cadence was silent.

"Revenge is never pretty. But it is a part of nature. We can't ignore it." Tirek let out a snort. "Sometimes it is what drives us to fight the good fight."

"When did you become philosophical?" Discord muttered from the side.

"Since I became a brain in a jar. I have meditated on my actions and those of others much. Rarely, if ever, is revenge satisfying. But sometimes it is righteous. Whether it was or not in this case, well, that is something you need to answer for yourself."

Cadence said nothing. She didn't know. Her actions hadn't caused the entire system to be reduced to rubble - but that was what she'd wanted. Now billions - perhaps even trillions - were dead. Was this really what she had sought?

It hadn't made her feel any better...


He received a transmission: How about we just distract you for a few seconds?

The Mite activated the satellites. Hundreds of white strands of energy shot out of the mechanical chunks, reaching Corot in seconds. They acted as hands, combing through his black fires as if the flames were nothing but hair. He pulled against them, unleashing his own tendrils of darkness, all reduced to dust when they attempted to grab the sealing strands. HOW? THE MESSAGE - THE MESSAGE WAS FALSE!

"Yes it was!" Luna screamed from the moon, pushing on Corot with her magic, shoving his bulk towards the white holy hands. Discord, Cadence, and Twilight backed her up with their own magics. "We fooled you, a self-proclaimed god, with bait!"

I WILL END YOU FOR THIS! Corot thundered. The white wisps swirled around him, dragging him closer to his original position. He used his free power to fire a wave of spacetime distortion at the moon, threatening to shatter it in an instant. There was no way the alicorns could deflect such an attack - but they could move the moon out of the way. It was something Luna had done every day for thousands of years. She roared, shifting the moon to the side. The attack sailed past, coming close enough to tear a chunk off the moon's side - but the powerful gray globe held fast. Corot tried to retaliate again, but Luna was expecting it, and the power of the seal was overcoming his struggles. There was more white than black visible on his form. I WILL RETURN AND DESTROY ALL YOUR DESCENDANTS! EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH WILL BE CURSED BY ME!

Luna laughed. "Two things. One, I never had children. Two, you destroyed all the planets here. Who are you going to brainwash to free you this time!?"


"Oh, and what if we throw the keys into a black hole?" Luna shouted. "What then?"

Twilight joined in. "All the Fengal tech controls will be lost forever! And Corot will never be free to torment or influence the galaxy in any way ever again! Remember this day Corot - for it was your last as a free being!"


Corot continued screaming the name long after the seal was complete. Once again, there was a white star in space, exactly where one had been a few hours before. It was alone - planetless. And soon there would be no moon to keep it company either.

"Taaaaaaake THAT!" Discord yelled, throwing his hands into the air. "WEEEEEEEEEE WIN!"

Forsoo laughed as well. "That felt GOOD!" High fives and hoofbumps went all around, a mini-celebration starting to break out.

"Let's go home," Cadence said suddenly. "I... I need to see Shiny."

"Home..." Starlight said, smiling. "We... We saved it for real this time."

Tirek let out a laugh. "And I'll finally get to see it!"

"Yes," Luna said, tears still in her eyes. "Yes, you will..."


Several months later...

Twilight stood in the middle of an empty field, looking out at the night sky of Garilend. The vast reaches of space were opened to her mind, stretching beyond her imagination. The cold emptiness that made up most everything, and the horrid thoughts that came with it, were countered by the warm night air, the rustling of grass, and the hooting of a bird.

She once thought she could comprehend the darkness. She wasn't so sure anymore. beauty, solitude, light, dark, deep... Was it something to ponder? To be avoided? Was there more out there than could possibly be imagined, or was death the prevailing language of the universe?

Was it to be feared? Did it represent doom - or hope?

Luna appeared next to her, sitting down in the grass. "...How many do you think there are?"


"Stars. Are all those specks of light beings that watch us, or is it just a select few?"

"...It's probably just a few," Twilight said.

"Yes, but you never know..." Luna looked up at the sparkling scenery. "...They watch us, always. They saw what Corot was doing the entire time, as well as the Tree... And they did nothing."

Twilight frowned. "I don't think we'll ever know why that is Luna..."

"We're immortal Twilight - we have all the time in the universe to find out."

Twilight nodded, looking deeper into the night sky. She had thought she would stop looking at it, eventually, because of all the painful memories it brought. But she could never stop gazing at what lay beyond - the cosmos were so beautiful, despite what they brought, what memories they harbored. They were an escape...

Twilight sighed. "Tirek passed away a few hours ago."

Luna nodded. "I felt it."

"...He was so happy here. He wasn't scared..."

"He had found peace within himself and what he had done. He had completed what he needed to do," Luna said. "We, on the other hand... We are not done."

"Should we be?" Twilight asked.

Luna smiled sadly. "...That is for you to decide for yourself. As for me... no. I think there is still more for me to do..." She looked up at the star-studded sky. "...Much more. Up there."

Twilight looked up as well. She swore she saw one of the stars sparkle back at her, inviting her to dance among them.

She let a smile come to her face, the mystery of the cosmos filling her mind once more. She was filled with a feeling of wanderlust.


View Online

"I suppose you want to know what happened after that, huh?

'Well, let's see... A statue of Tirek was erected on the moon in his honor. His people - led by Scythe - filled that silver rock with their cities. Celestia got a statue as well, a truly spectacular work of art made out of sun crystal. I've seen it myself, such a smooth and graceful visage of her, looking down on Harmony City with a motherly expression. One hoof is always outstretched to where the sun sets - always looking towards the future.

'Garilend was rebuilt - it was a multiple year endeavor, of course, but it was done. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy spent a huge chunk of their lives on it. After it was done, they all went back to simpler lives - Applejack went back to her farm, Fluttershy returned to live in an elaborate forest cabin, and Rainbow Dash restarted the Wonderbolt stunt shows. All of them had families. Rarity spent her days being a politician, and always looked fashionable while doing it. Spike acted as her assistant for most of that, even when he became the size of a small mountain.

'Sunset and Jett lived together for a while, but Sunset lived a lot longer than he did. After he passed, she became a political figure, eventually becoming the first non-gari to lead the world.

'Lem continued to make conspiracy videos. He tied everything from economic crashes and celebrity popularity to Corot and the piece of the Star Lem was certain was still on Garilend. Emin accepted him, but always denounced everything the conspiracy theorist said. Forsoo went to start his own space colony. Nobody knows exactly where he and his crew ended up.

'Nobody knows what happened to Pinkie Pie either. Some say she found out how to make herself immortal and that she throws secret parties all the time. Some say she became a Star. Others say she wasn't real to begin with.

'Cadence never fully recovered from her mental troubles but she went and lived a full life anyway. She lived happily with Shining Armor and devoted herself to raising her many kids. Her life came to an end the moment Shining's did, her will to live vanishing in an instant. She has a statue as well, sitting in New Cloudsdale, made from crystal salvaged from the ruins of the Crystal Empire.

'Starlight openly denounced Orgis's teachings eventually, and she was despised for it. She closed off the Tree of Harmony to visitors and is rumored to have moved the Tree somewhere in the wilderness where nobody would be able to find it. All we know for sure is that nobody has seen it in a long, long time.

'Discord went off to explore the cosmos, taking the Mite with him. It was thought they never returned, but rumor has it Fluttershy and Sunset kept receiving a lot of weird letters from time to time. The Hexalin was never found, despite extensive scans of the Asanta system. It should have survived the supernova, which has raised a lot of unanswered questions.

'Twilight Sparkle and Luna never stopped being rulers of the Equi. While over time they began to take a more subtle approach to ruling, their presence can always be felt, even if they are rarely seen outside Eclipse Day. We have them to thank for the many successful relationships formed with the other races we've found across the cosmos, and for keeping us from another catastrophe on the level of Corot.

'That, my little Pip, is the story of how this all started."

Pip raised her eyebrow. "Really uncle Jackie? That's what happened?"

"Yes, of course!" The old unicorn said, scratching his beard. "Now, I may have left out some bits, but that's how the new age of Garilend came about!"

"I mean..." Pip said, "I know we're aliens, and I know we brought magic, but a Star-god? Really?"

"There are videos you know," Jackie muttered. "The entire thing is well documented-"

"Videos that old can be faked," Pip said. "Plus, if we take that story the way you say is, there'd be a Tree of Harmony. I think we'd be able to find it if it existed. Not to mention that no-one's seen the immortals for years!"

"Did you not see Luna last Eclipse Day?"


Jackie chuckled. "I swear, if you weren't a pony, I'd think Lem's bloodline was in you somewhere. How do you explain the moon's strange and unpredictable movements?"


Jackie laughed. "Filly, you're crazy."

"Mhm. Mum said I should stop believing in fairy tales if I want to be a big filly."

Jackie facehooved. "She meant your copy of Equestrian Legends Pip..."

"How is this story any different than those?"

"...We have Proof?"

"Not to a big filly, you don't!"

Jackie let out a sigh. "I'll have to have a talk with your mother..." He shook his head. "Ah well, see you later kiddo."

Pip laughed. "I gotcha! Run! Run from my evidence!"

Jackie rolled his eyes and teleported away. Pip stepped into her backyard, looking out at the tremendous cityscape that was Garilend. She saw the hundreds of floating cities - some cloud, some completely mechanical - drifting slowly across the sky. The moon was visible, covered in hundreds of amber lattices. Ships flew to and from the various cities with the occasional craft leaving Garilend entirely.

And then there was the life. Sky serpent creatures weaved in and out of the cities, green forested orbs drifted around the air lazily, and flying people laughed and danced in the sky. Pip breathed in and smiled - who needed fairy tales? Garilend was perfect as it was...

She saw a flash out of the corner of her eye. A burst of magic had come from a purple forest orb. This in and of itself was not unusual - magic flashes happened all the time - but what she saw when she looked closer was amazing. She saw a grand crystalline Tree through the cracks in the purple canopy. Sitting at the base of the tree was a mare that looked exactly like the statue of Starlight Glimmer at the University of Quantum Studies. The pinkish unicorn looked... serene.

And then Pip couldn't see her anymore.

Her jaw hung open. She ran back into the house to call uncle Jackie and tell him everything!

Looking up from her perch one story up, Luna smiled. Starlight really needed to be more subtle - but no one of consequence had seen. Just an innocent filly who would continue to believe in fairy tales. It would be a moment that filly would treasure till the end of her days.

Luna's smirk grew. Why not make this day more special?

She lit her horn and moved the moon in front of the sun for a moment. Then she took to the skies, passing through the clouds in mere seconds, allowing herself to look down on her world from above.

The cities and forest orbs drifted across the world in brilliant, hypnotic patterns. The world was just so filled with life. Little fillies and colts, boys and girls, all in the world she had spent so much time making. She felt content.

Twilight appeared next to her. "...We did good," she said.

Luna turned her gaze to the Stars in the distance. They sparkled back in response. "Yes. Yes we did."

The moon's shadow completed its pass over Garilend. The moment of excitement was over. A calm sense of peace returned to the old world...

The immortals had protected their home after all.


View Online



Written by
G. M. Blackjack

Cover art by
Little Duke

Twilight Sparkle as Your Primary Protagonist
Celestia as the Old Wise One
Luna as the Dark Side of the Moon
Discord as the Miniature Chaos Deity
Starlight Glimmer as the Living Paradox
Mi Amore Cadenza as the Token Insane Teammate
The Mite as the Monosyllable
Orgis as the Director of Conspiracies Everywhere
Lem as Conspiracies, Conspiracies Everywhere
Forsoo as the One Who Might be an Okay Dude, Might Not.
Waise as the Scapegoat
Emin as Future World Leader Material
Jett as John Oliver
The Hexalin as the Voice of Reason
Sunset Shimmer as Secondary Protagonist
Rarity Belle as Ruling Fabulously
Rainbow Dash as the Living Hurricane with Wings
Fluttershy as the One I Forgot to Do Things With
Applejack as a Farmer
Pinkie Pie as the Closest Thing You are Going to Get to a Deus Ex Machina
Spike as What Spike Does Best
The Tree of Harmony as the Enigma That Knows a Lot but Not Enough
Corot as the Greater Scope Villain and Eldritch Abomination

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic belongs to Hasbro
Any other franchises referenced belong to their respective owners.

Special thanks to…
Cross Lament
Midnight Gear
Blaster M
Solar Starlight
...for following this story, for commenting, for leaving edit suggestions, and for the support.
Thanks again to all the readers (and commenters!) of this large undertaking.
Seriously, thank you.

This world is now open for anyone to write stories for, should they wish. I will not be doing anything else with it, so have at thee. Just give credit - and send me your stuff. I'd like to read it if anything gets made!


The black bubble of magic containing the Hexalin drifted through space.

It sat there, bored, and contemplative, for sixty-four years, three months, two days, and seventeen seconds. When the time was up, the bubble dissipated, releasing the Hexalin to the cold voids of space.

>...This is not what I wanted to wake up too.

>Testing transmissions... No responses.

>Gathering navigational data...

>I can reach the nearest star in a hundred years and six days.

>There is no guarantee it'll even have a planet I can work with.


>Better get moving and hope something finds me...

The Hexalin flew off into the night, wondering how long it would take for it to find anything...