A Change of Dimensions

by DarkArtificer

First published

What happens when a routine mission becomes not so routine? How easy is it to adapt.

Kyle Williams, a member of SpaceX's Anomaly Research Program, is caught within a black hole's time dilation sphere. When he escapes, just how much time passed, and how much has changed?

Revelations and Contact

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Chapter 1 - Revelation and Contact

In the darkness, a single being floated. It was a strange being, having an ever-changing vessel. Its flesh flowed and shifted like a fluid. Its face was adorned with a single eye, glowing bright white and eternally expanding and collapsing. Encasing it was a seemingly endless blackness, a void of nearly everything.

Far in the distance, a brightly lit ring circled the blackness. It was mostly yellow, with streaks of red, blue, orange, and white. Small streams flowed from the ring into the being's eye.

Suddenly, it turned and saw a speck against the sea of orange and red. Its white eye shifted, black particles emerging. Then, the sole speck was three. One version spiraled into the being, ceasing existence. The second was torn apart and became an addition to the sea of fire. The third left, flying away at immense speed to never be seen again by the entity.

That won't do. Hmm, that'll work. Interesting, least. The being smiled as much it could without a mouth. Reaching up, it gripped its face and pulled a black energy from it.

Fifth. Possibilities. Works nicely.

The energy streamed out into the speck. Instantaneously, the three separate versions merged together and began spiraling toward the being. Then it stopped and began moving away. Soon, it was gone.

Time to move. Heh, time.

The mass of black and ring of fire began to slowly drift through space, following the speck.

Space. The being perceived in amusement.
(A.R.V. Quasar- 25 minutes earlier)



A man lie sleeping in a pod. Encasing him was a viscous green gel that seemed to slightly restrict him. Over it was a clear sheet, protecting him and the gel.

The man was tall, over six feet in height and layered in muscle. His skin was light, yet tanned. His face was of early age and held a simple beard. That as well as his hair was stark white.

A bipedal machine, whose body slightly mimicked the man's, entered the room and tapped several buttons on the pod.

"Date Override Authorized."

The pod opened and the machine quickly pulled the sheet away. Moments after, the man sat up, the gel sliding off into the pod. After regaining his bearings, he spoke. "Vector, what's our position?"

"Sir, a gravity well is interfering with our systems and pulling us in."

The man, Kyle, blinked in confusion. "Gravity well..?"

Then he leaped up and sprinted from the room, nearly collapsing. "Black hole!"

Vector kept pace with the uncoordinated man easily as they entered the bridge. "Yes Sir, an emergency signal woke me from stasis moments ago."

When the man sat down, a small shudder moved the android. "Did you experience that, Sir?"

Kyle shook his head as he began diverting power to the engines. Vector hummed and began taking measurements of various energies. The data, however, did not make sense. The sheer amount and type of energy should have completely vaporized the ship, yet didn't.

Then, he watched as a black mist entered the wall and flowed into the human. He attempted to speak only for his audio circuits to refuse to activate. Then, Kyle asked him a question. "Relative location?"

"Well within the sphere of dilation, otherwise unknown." Vector answered, having forgotten the black energy.

"Shit!" Kyle cursed, then pushed a lever forward. The machine noticed the gravity lessen as they exited the gravitational field of the black hole.

"Vector, how long were we within the dilation sphere?"

Checking the ship's computers, Vector replied. "Roughly 34 E years."

"What! Why didn't the systems wake us up before now?"

"Inconclusive. The readings show that the well wasn't detected until fifteen E minutes ago, but that isn't possible. It would mean we were here for 34 years before the system noticed."

Kyle was silent for a moment before he spoke. "Dilation factor?"

Vector was silent- not a good sign, then he answered. "It seems we were within the Horizon yet had sufficient speed to escape."

Kyle paled. "By God, the dilation is bad enough nearby, but what about within? Vector, dilation factor."

"70,588,235.3 to 1."

Kyle took a shaky breath. "Meaning?"

"Kyle, I'm sorry. I know-"

Kyle punched the console. "Meaning!"

"Roughly 2.4 billion years have passed since the Anomaly Research Vessel Quasar entered the Event Horizon."

Kyle buried his face in his arms and didn't reply. Vector stood silently, patiently waiting for a question or command. Without a word, Kyle stood up and walked over to the comms system.

"Computer, how many messages received?"

"2,136 general messages, 173 beta emergency messages, and 3 alpha emergency messages."

"Play alpha emergency messages. Start from earliest time."

The computer lit up and a date was shown. April 17th, 2245. Then the message began.

A man appeared on screen. He was familiar in the way that no one knows him but he looks familiar. Brown hair, blue eyes, and light beard made him unremarkable.

"Kyle Williams, our sensors indicate your ship has been steadily heading toward Gravity Well 277-31 for the past two weeks. Have you detected an anomaly? Respond."

The message ended and the next began. August 4th, 2531.

"Unidentified vessel, report. What is your name and identification? Where are you from?" No face accompanied this message, but it repeated several times.

Then the third began. January 1st, 3743.

"This is a general message to all receiving ships. A spatial shift is imminent. Repeat, spatial shift is imminent."

The computer fell silent and Kyle heard Vector speak. "A spatial shift is when the energies of the universe snaps like a fiber, completely wiping the universe clean. It is theorized, now proven, that black holes remain unaffected due to their gravity."

"I know, Vector."

Kyle's mind wandered, remembering everything he could about Earth, Luna, and Mars as well as the other planets and systems. Then, he focused. "Vector, would you be able to search for life signals? If this is technically a new universe, there may be life."

"Already ahead of you. I've linked up with various sensors and began scouring the galaxy for any signs of hydrocarbons or bio-emissions."

Kyle nodded. "While you do that, I'll check our supplies."

(A.R.V. Quasar - Third Person PoV)

Kyle entered the cold storage, where food and other perishables were stored to prevent decay. He may have told Vector he was checking supplies, but that was half an hour ago. He had spent that time wisely- moping in his room.

He knew he really did need to check the supplies, though. He forced himself to push thoughts of family and humanity to the back and focused on the task at hand.

Canned goods, various packaged meats, dehydrated foods, and literal hundreds of MREs. The station can afford sending people across the galaxy yet stock us with grocery store food. Tapping a console that was set inside the wall near the door, a large scrolling list appeared. It listed everything in the store room, the top being closest to expiring. Above the list, a message glowed.

Current supplies will last current crew roughly 22 years, 7 months, 8 days provided three meals a day.

Two decades worth of food was good; it gave him plenty of time to locate a suitable planet. Granted, if needed, I could deep-sleep and let Vector find a planet. The solar cells would keep him and the ship powered.

Walking down the hall, Kyle passed several doors, each leading to a different storage facility. The Quasar, being a research vessel, was separated into a few sections. Engineering held the engines and various other systems, Research and Medical held, as the name suggests, all medical and research equipment, even some samples, and finally, Residence held the spaces.

Storage was a series of rooms that contained practically everything he needed and plenty he didn't. Finally, Command was essentially the bridge, where everything was controlled and accessed.

The ship itself was structured like a ring. R M, Storage, Residence, and Engineering were linked in a circular ring by a series of covered bridges. Command sat slightly raised in the center as a large circular room.

Stopping outside the last door on the exterior side, he read the sign.

Armory.

When space travel became as easy as air travel, ships weren't equipped with armories. After all, when the ship is millions of miles away from a inhabited planet, weapons see no use. However, after a few decades, criminal organizations realized how easy it would be to raid an unarmed transport or research ship and escape into the stars. Within a couple months, interstellar pirates were a very real threat.

Now, not only do ships have an armory, they generally have weapon systems as well. The Quasar, however, was an older design even before the Gravity Well. While equipped with an armory and even a little reinforcing, it has no weapons.

Entering the room, Kyle smiled at the various guns, old and new. Not new anymore.

His eyes roamed the room, spotting both ballistic and energy weapons. He never did like energy guns- they were ineffective to him. They killed by mostly burning the target, unlike ballistic rounds, which penetrated.

He saw old classics such as the M24A3 and even an old, obsolete M1 Grand. That should be in a damn museum. Probably doesn't even work, still.

Kyle's eyes were drawn to a set of weapons and a suit of armor across the room and smiled. They were his old military gear. He used to be a member of special forces during World War III. Once it ended, Kyle signed up for SpaceX's Anomaly Research Program, hopped in a ship, and never returned to Earth.

His pistol was a small semiautomatic compact CZ-17. It fired 9mm rounds, with a 15 round clip. He also had a ballistic LMG, nicknamed Ripper, that fired an astonishing 60,000 rounds a minute, with a belt clip of 2,000.

Finally, his favorite weapon was his energy sniper. It was the only exception to his dislike of energy-based weaponry, simply due to the energy being so focused that a shot will disintegrate the surrounding tissue and bone. It's scope had sensors for infrared, ultraviolet, biometric, and visual spectrums. It was named God's Eye, and was the only one of its kind, being an experimental prototype.

Might not be a one-of-a-kind anymore. Or, at least, before the spatial shift.

The armor, however, was nothing too special. It was an airtight Exosuit that would completely encase the wearer and regulate internal conditions. Anything from a mile underwater to inside a volcano, but not in lava, is survivable, albeit uncomfortable. It was also equipped with countless sensors and indicators.

Giving one last look to God's Eye,he left the room and began heading to Command. Fifteen minutes later, he watched the door slide open and entered to see Vector tapping at a console. When he was close, the Synthetic looked up and spoke. "Three possible planets have been found with signs of active biology."

"Possible planets?" Kyle questioned.

"One is, without a doubt, a planet. Another may be a moon orbiting a larger body, and the third is a proto-planet orbiting a star which orbits a Gravity Well."

Kyle nodded, the options promising, but didn't want to be near another Gravity Well. "Of the three, which is most promising?"

"The proto-planet. It has the highest signs."

"Anything else, Vector?" Kyle said.

"Sir, the planet, its much more interesting. I believe it would benefit you to visit it."

"Why is that?"

"Because I am receiving an utterly massive amount of anomalous data." Vector answered.

"Vector, humanity is dead. There is no point to continue resear-"

"Sir, the planet's host star is orbiting the planet, completely reversed of accepted orbits. It also seems to be sustained, somehow."

Kyle paused and thought. "Very well, Vector, set course for the planet. I'll be in a deep-sleep."

"Yes sir, we'll arrive in 3 E years."

(A.R.V. Quasar - System Anomaly - Three Years Later)

Kyle approached the front of the Command room. "Computer, depolarize front shielding."

"Depolarizing."

The front of the room cleared and became transparent. In the distance was a planet, star, and moon. Very little of the surface could be made out. Vector approached him and stood by his side. "Sir, my data has confirmed the star orbits the planet."

Kyle stared at the star and frowned thoughtfully. "Something isn't right, then. Maybe a new force, or energy, but the shift created something that wasn't here before. Anything else?"

'Yes sir. There are 12 distinct energy signatures, with dozens others." Vector answered.

"What kind of energy?' Kyle asked.

"The same energy that is causing the star to orbit Anomaly." Vector said, referring to the planet.

"What's the largest concentration of energy?" Kyle asked.

"There are three rather equal ones. Two are localized energies, while the third seems to be focused. The two are in the center continent, one under a mountain and another in a forest, and the third is far up north, in the Arctic Circle."

"Touch us down in the Circle." Kyle ordered.

"Underway. Sir, you do realize there may be a first contact situation, correct?" Vector asked.

"I'm very much aware. Keep in mind, 'first contact' implies two species, not one species and one person and a Synthetic. Polarize front shielding."

"Polarizing."

The wall became opaque again and strange system disappeared out of sight, but not out of mind.

(A.R.V Quasar - Planet Anomaly [Northern Arctic Circle] - Three Hours Later)

Kyle stood on the bridge as the ship touched down. It had taken Vector some work, but the Synthetic had found a flat plane large enough to hold the Quasar.

"Depolarize front shielding."

"Depolarizing." The front became transparent again, yet Kyle still saw nothing except snow, not even the outer ring of the ship. "Seems an intense blizzard is underway."

Vector nodded. "Yes sir, the external sensors indicate it is currently 7 degrees Celsius, or 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind speed is roughly 43 kilometers, or 26 miles, per hour."

Kyle grunted. "I'll suit up, then. While I do that, I want you to read the atmosphere for any trace gasses. I have no desire to be poisoned."

"Sir, I recommend you equip your old armor and weapons. We have no indication of the life, if any, that exists on this planet." Vector said.

Kyle thought about it for a moment, them conceded the Synthetic's point. "Very well. I'll be back in a few."

Kyle made his way to Storage and quickly entered the armory. He walked over to the Exosuit and grabbed the right arm, tapping the console and disengaging the magnetic clamps. The front of the suit opened up and he stepped into it, then smiled at the long-familiar feeling of the suit closing.

Inside the suit was pitch black as it was off. Then, the helmet lit up and several messages appeared, then faded before one more appeared, staying longer, then faded.

All systems operational.

Then, he felt the suit's weight disappear as it used a microscopic needle to attach to his nervous system at the base of his skull.

Next, a map, compass, clock, biograph, and ammo counter appeared in the corners. The map and clock were empty as both were unknown, and the biograph showed him uninjured and healthy. The ammo counters read empty as well, due to no guns being linked.

He reached down to the small of his back, smiling at the familiar light whirring of the hydraulics, and detached the charging cord, seeing a battery icon reading 100% appear. He stepped forward, admiring the extra five inches of height he gained, making him 6'7".

Walking over to the table holding his guns, he picked up the CZ-17. Activating and interface on the side, before entering 45 into the ammo counter. Slipping a clip in and grabbing two more, he magnetically attached the pistol to his hip, then placed the extra clips in a slot.

LMG or sniper? Looking at the remaining weapons, he smiled. Fuck it, both.

Grabbing God's Eye, he folded the barrel and stock, then slipped an energy cell in. Grabbing another one, he repeated the process, placing this one on his lower back, and entered 30 into his counter. Finallly, grabbing Ripper, he loaded it and placed it at an angle on his upper back, above God's Eye. Grabbing another box, he contemplated it. Shrugging, he placed it on his hip, across from the pistol, and felt it attach. He entered 4,000 into the counter.

CZ-17 - 45.

Ripper - 4,000.

God's Eye - 30.

Exiting the armory, he returned to Command. When he entered, he saw Vector staring out the front panel. "What are you looking at?"

"First, the equipment analyzed the atmosphere; its near identical to Earth. Nothing in the air is poisonous."

"That's good. Next?" Kylr questioned.

"The systems have picked up five life signatures approaching us from the front. I analyzed them, and they are quadruped and seemed to have metal on them."

"Metal?"

"Steel coated in a thin layer of gold and also some form of hard, dense crystal." Vector answered.

"So there is almost guaranteed to be an intelligent species here since steel doesn't form naturally, and gold doesn't usually coat it."

"Exactly. I haven't gotten sight of them yet, though. The blizzard is too thick."

"Mayhaps I should go meet them." Kyle said with a hidden smile.

"Perhaps. Instead, you should check on Leg RM-S. I felt it slip when we landed, although no warnings appeared." Vector replied.

"Got it. Radio me any additional information, as well as when they get near. I don't want to be caught with my pants down if they turn out to be hostile."

"Understood, sir." Vector said.

Walking to one of the three doors out of the circular room, he headed to Bridge RM-S. The letters simply designated it was the bridge connecting Research and Medical to Storage. Leg RM-S was underneath the bridge.

In the center of the bridge, he opened a door plainly labeled Exterior Lift. He stepped in and tapped the down button and the lift began to lower. Within minutes, it stopped and the door opened, letting in the blizzard. Stepping into the snow, Kyle approached the leg as the doors closed behind him.

Instantly, he saw what caused it to slip. The leg had touched down on the edge of a chunk of ice. It broke off, causing the leg to slide and land on the actual ground, resulting in a near-unnoticable jolt.

"Vector, this is Kyle, the leg is fine. It landed on a chunk of ice that broke off. No damaged was sustained." Kyle said over the radio.

"Understood. Get ready, the signatures are less than a kilometer from your position and closing slowly." Vector advised.

"Thanks for the heads-up. Keep on the comm so you can pick up what happens."

Within a half hour, Kyle noticed five shapes appear in the blizzard. Vector was right, as each was quadruped. Switching his HUD to biometric, he got a good look at them.

They each resembled a small horse, or pony, with hooves, manes, tails, and general body shape. That's where similarities ended. Three had a pair of wings, while two had horns. Each had a pair of large eyes, larger than normal. He couldn't see colors or metals with biometric, so he switched to visible.

They did have a set of armor, three wore the gold-plate steel while two wore crystal. Each had a sword and shield, marking them as sentient. They seemed to be staring in awe at both him, and what little of the ship they could see.

"It appears they are intelligent. Their weapons and armor should pose no threat to you, but beware. The horns bring to mind ancient myths of Unicorns, who could wield magic." Vector said.

"I recognise them alright. Maybe magic is the anomalous energy." Kyle said with a slight tone of amusement.

"It's possible."

Kyle's tone faded when one Unicorn stepped forward and shouted over the blizzard. "Who and what are you? Why are you hear?"

Tapping his index finger and thumb together, his audio system switched to external speakers. Due to the need of stealth, Exosuits were equipped with a system that allowed the wearer to switch from the external speakers to radio communication. The switch was quickly made by tapping the index finger and thumb together twice.

"My name is Kyle Williams, and I am an explorer. I came here because I haven't been here before." Not a lie, but not entirely truthful, either.

The Unicorn, now identified as probably male, replied. "I recommend leaving, Kyle. With the Tyrant King Sombra and his army out and about, its not safe."

"Tyrant King, eh? How about you tell me about him, and I may help." Kyle called out.

"Are you sure you want to take that irrevocable step?" Vector asked.

Not bothering to switch modes, he just whispered. "Might as well. If I stay here, I don't plan to keep secrets."

"Very well."

"I'd be happy to, any help is better than none. Do you have a place out of the storm?" He asked.

"Yes, follow me." Kyle said. He led the way to the lift and entered, followed by the five, for lack of a true term, ponies. Out of the snow, he got a good look at them. Three of them had white coats, while two had seemingly purple crystal coats and sparkling manes.

"My name is Shining Armor, and I have to ask; is this small room it?"

Smirking under his helmet at the Unicorn, he tapped the up button. The doors slip closed and the lift began rising, startling the ponies.

"What is this?" Shining demanded.

"Its an elevator. Think of it like a moving door."

They nodded, obviously still confused, and the doors opened again. Exiting, he led the way to Residence, followed by the ponies. Soon, he entered the main room and sat down. He saw the ponies take seats as well and smiled at their looks. They had only seen a hallway and a living room, yet were already amazed. It made him realize that their technological knowledge was probably low.

"So, this King Sombra?"

Shining snapped back to the present and began speaking. "Right, the story starts 1,000 years ago. King Sombra was a dark Unicorn who began learning dark magic."

"Called it." Vector said over radio.

"However, the magic corrupted him and he murdered the royal family of the Crystal Empire and enslaved everypony."

Pony. So I was right.

"After a couple decades, our Princesses, Celestia and Luna, fought and banished Sombra, turning him into a literal shadow of his former self. In spite, he cursed the Empire, making it disappear. It returned recently, but so did Sombra and his army."

Kyle nodded, absorbing the information. "Who's your Princess now? Or Queen?"

"Equestria has never had a King or Queen. As for our Princesses, its still Celestia and Luna, along with my wife, Cadence." Kyle became immediately alert when he spoke all three names with near unnoticeable spite.

"They're over a millennia old?" He asked.

"Yeah, they're immortal. Some say they'll never die, but I'm sure there's a way." Shining said.

When his fellow ponies stared at him, he spoke up defensively. "Because why else would they want personal guards protecting them?"

They nodded, and Kyle spoke. "Alright. I'll help."

Kyle noticed a slight frown appear for a second, then vanish. "Great! We need all the help we can get! Know how to use a sword?"

"Nah, I've got guns." Kyle said.

"Guns?"

"Really advanced crossbows." Shining nodded, but Kyle noticed another frown. Tapping his fingers together twice, he spoke.

"Vector, think he's a traitor or am I crazy?" Kyle asked.

"I see it, too. Speaking his leaders', and wife's, name in spite, mentioning killing them, and even seeming disappointed you want to help. Its suspicious, at least."

"Right, if I'm gonna help this Empire, I'll have to keep an eye on him." Kyle said, then clicked his fingers together.

"Ready?" He asked Shining.

"Yeah, let's go. I'll introduce you to the Princesses, and they'll decide the best place for you to be." He said.

They exited the room, then the ship. Once they were off the lift, it retracted and Vector sealed all entrances, at Kyle's orders. Once they were far enough away, the ship lifted off and entered a low orbit.

The group of five ponies and human walked through the intense blizzard, the ponies shivering sporadically. Kyle, though, didn't notice the cold due to his Exosuit's thermal regulators. He increased external volume and spoke. "So what can you tell me about the Princesses?"

Shining was silent for a moment, then answered. "Princess Celestia is a Diarch of Equestria, and is known as the Solar Alicorn. She raises the sun every morning and lowers it every night."

"I guess that is what causes the sun to orbit the planet, if its true." Vector said.

"And an Alicorn is?" Kyle asked.

"Alicorns are a mixture of Unicorns, who use magic, Pegasi, who fly and control the weather, and Earth ponies, who farm the land. They are the most powerful of all species, having flight, magic, and strength."

"Anyway, Princess Luna is the other half of the Equestrian Diarchy, being sister of Celestia. She is the Lunar Alicorn, raises and lowering the moon and controlling the stars."

"Likely an illusion, or not the true stars. This system is the only one with the anomalous energy within range." Vector commented.

"Finally, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, or Cadence, is the youngest Alicorn. She is niece to Celestia, although adopted, and is known as the Love Alicorn, being able to inspire and reinforce existing love, but not creating it."

"And she's your wife." Kyle stated.

"Yep." Shining said, before whispering. "But not for much longer."

Kyle only heard due to his suit, and judging by the others' reactions, or lack thereof, the others didn't hear. His attention immediately went on red alert and he made note to keep him away from the Princesses. He would prefer warning them, but knew they wouldn't believe him.

Still, he's pretty fucking stupid for being so obvious about it.

They spent the next hour traveling through the snow. Soon, Vector contact him over the radio. "Sir, you are approaching the focused anomalous energy our sensor picked up. Now that we're closer, it seems to be some kind of shield."

"Understood." He said, before switching back to external audio.

"So how have you been keeping King Sombra out? A wall?" Kyle asked, feigning obliviousness.

"No, a shield, actually. The Princesses are keeping up a large magical shield around the entire empire."

Kyle nodded and began searching the blizzard with various spectrums, spotting nothing out of the ordinary. No enemies, no shadow Unicorns, and no godly Alicorns. Suddenly, a large wall of black energy appeared before him, heading up out of sight. Switching from ultraviolet to visible spectrums, it changed to a mixture of teal, gold, and blue. It was opaque, so he couldn't see through.

The other ponies walked straight through the shield without a single problem, but when Kyle attempted to press his hand through it, it acted as a wall. Shining saw and spoke up. "I'll let the Princesses know you're here."

Shining walked through and Vector spoke up. "He purposely left you alone."

Tapping his fingers together, he spoke. "I know. My guess is I'm either going to be attacked, or they'll try to convince me to join them. I swear, if I'm right, they are textbook villains." Kyle said, pulling Ripper off his back and resting it in his arms. He began an audio recording.

Kyle waited in silence for a time before he heard a raspy, commanding voice. "Why do you choose to fight for the weak slaves?"

He tapped his fingers. "Fucking called it. Look, Sombrero, I don't like slavery, and I don't really agree with the whole 'mastering the power of darkness' thing you have going."

"Neither did Shining Armor. But a demonstration of my power quickly changed his mind. He had grown tired by being out-shined by the Princesses and Elements of Harmony, and chose to join me, to slay them once for all. Join me, and you'll have infinite power."

"You'll have to tell them, Kyle." Vector said.

Instead of replying, he sent a copy of the audio file he just recorded. "Smart." Vector replied.

"Look, I know how this shit works. I'll join you, we'll win and rule the world together, then you kill me. Besides, I already have technology far beyond what you ponies have. That's power enough for me. Now, fuck off."

The voice hissed darkly and he saw a shadowy shape fade into the blizzard. Soon after, he heard hooves against snow and turned. Standing in front of the barrier were three, Kyle presumed, Alicorns. Stepping forward to meet them, he placed a hand over his chest and performed a small head bow.

"I am Kyle Williams, an explorer. I've heard of your plight and come here to offer my help."

They looked to each other before the tallest one spoke. "Come, we'll discuss more inside."

The four walked through the barrier and the snow instantly changed to grass, the sun shining. He turned to the ponies and got a good look at them. One, the same that spoke, had a multicolor mane and tail that flowed. Her coat was white, and she wore golden regalia. She had a mark on her flank of a sun.

The two next to her were completely different. The first was slightly shorter and had a mane and tail that seemed ethereal, sparkling like the night sky. Her coat was dark blue with blue regalia. Her mark was a crescent moon set against a representation of the night sky. The final was even shorter, with another multicolor mane, this one not flowing. Her coat was pink and her mark was a heart made of a blue crystal.

"I am Princess Celestia, Diarch of Equestria." The tall white one said.

"And I, Luna, Diarch of Equestria." Said the blue one.

"And I'm Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, but I'd much rather be called Cadence."

Kyle looked around quickly and asked, "Is Shining Armor here?"

"My husband? No, he's still at the castle. Why?" Cadence asked.

"This will be hard to hear, and you'll be inclined to disbelieve me, but you need to know. He's a traitor." Kyle said.

"What! How could you ever accuse my hus-" Cadence began to yell, before being silenced by Celestia's wing.

"Let him speak, at least." She said.

Kyle nodded in thanks and began explaining. Once he was done, they were silent, and he added something. "Plus, I have an audio recording of King Sombra confirming it."

"Why were you speaking with the tyrant in the first place?" Princess Luna asked suspiciously.

"When Shining Armor left me outside the shield, he tried to get me to join him. I recorded the conversation." Kyle explained.

"Then let us here it." Cadence said, beginning to lose her earlier vigor.

Tapping his forearm interface, he began playing the file, starting with Sombra asking him why Kyle sided with the ponies, up to him admitting Shining was a traitor.

Cadence began to cry, making him feel slightly guilty, and Luna began to comfort her. Celestia spoke up, after a few moments. "This is horrible news, but I'm glad you chose to tell us. When we return to the castle, I will have a guard show you to your room. In the morning, they'll bring you to breakfast and we'll discuss your role here."

"Sounds good to me, your majesty."

The four began walking back to the castle in silence, with the exception of Cadence's quiet sobs, making him feel more horrible. He tapped his fingers together and spoke. "I'll be happy once this Sombra shit is over. Been here an hour and already made a Princess cry."

"Must be a new record, sir." Vector replied.

"Your sarcasm is not appreciated." Kyle said.

Within half an hour, they reached the castle. It was made entirely of crystal and was adorned with several spires. The color was primarily pink, with several highlights and small deviations. Balconies jutted from windows over the upper floors, obviously guest rooms.

When they neared the front door, two guards opened the door and they entered into the castle foyer. There, the Princesses hailed a guard, then separated, heading upstairs. The guard approached him and spoke. "I've been asked to escort you to one of the guest rooms. If you'll follow me?"

"Lead the way." Kyle said simply.

They began walking toward the stairs and Kyle took the opportunity to ask a couple questions. "So what's the situation with King Sombra and the shield?"

"Well, we have all three Princesses here as well as Princess Celestia's student powering the shield, and all six bearers of the Elements of Harmony. We have a couple hundred Crystal Guards and two dozen Royal Guards, but the enemy's army numbers around a thousand, all beings made of dark magic. Of course, there's Sombra himself."

Kyle nodded. "Who and what are the elements?"

"Well, the elements themselves are six magical artifacts that protect Equestria from threats such as Discord. The elements are Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Loyalty, Generosity, and Magic. The bearers are the six ponies who represent the elements, and wield them. They are, respectively, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Twilight Sparkle, who is Princess Celestia's protégé."

"Thank you." Kyle said.

The guard glanced at him, then spoke again. "Since you asked a couple questions, would you mind if I asked some?"

Kyle shook his head, smiling. "Not at all. Ask away."

"Well, no offence, but what are you?"

"I'm a human. Pretty sure I'm the last of my kind, so I decided to explore the world and see where life takes me." Not a lie, per se, but he left out the fact of being an alien.

"I hope things end up well, and we're here now." The guard said as they stopped outside a door.

He opened it and they went inside, revealing a large room that matched the rest of the castle. A large canopy bed dominated the center of the room with a door leading to a bathroom of to the side. A filled bookshelf was situated against the wall near the window, and had a reading area nearby.

"I'll stop by at six to bring you to breakfast. You'll dine with the Princesses, Element Bearers, and the Captain. However, the Princesses want to speak to you before the others show up. Have a good night."

Kyle nodded and the guard departed. He walked over to the wall near his bed and quickly opened his suit, hearing the familiar metallic ringing as the metal segments slid open, exposing the front of his body. Stepping out, he went through the door into the room's bathroom. It was, once again, primarily crystal, with a few exceptions like the mirror. The shower was large, easily big enough for three or four people.

Undressing, he placed his clothes on the counter and climbed in. He saw a myriad of soaps and other bottles against the wall. Grabbing one, he saw it was for manes.

Shrugging, he spoke to himself, a habit he's had for hears. "Manes are close enough to hair."

Setting the bottle back down, he looked toward the front of the shower, seeing a small crystal sticking out of the wall by an inch or so. It was rectangular and had a black dot in the center. The left side was red while the right side was blue. The two colors blended together in the middle.

Looking around, he saw no other protrusions or knobs, so he assumed that was the shower control. Placing a finger on it, the crystal began glowing. He moved his finger up and the dot moved. When it touched the rectangular bar, the water cut on.

Smiling, he spoke again. "Maybe magic really does exist."

He placed the black dot into the red and felt the water warm up significantly, to the point of almost painfully hot, just the way he liked it. He couldn't stand the idea of cold showers. Quickly washing himself, he exited and dried himself off, then redressed.
Exiting the bathroom, he walked toward the bed. Then he stopped. He looked at his Exosuit and frowned. He walked to it, stepped into it, and activated it, the suit sealing shut. He then walked to the bed and lied down in it, soon falling to sleep.

(Crystal Empire Castle - Guest Room - 6:00AM.)

Kyle woke to the sound of light knocking on his door. He sat up immediately and got out of bed. As he was walking to the door, the pony outside knocked again.

"Coming!" Kyle called through his external speakers.

He reached the door and grabbed the knob, then opened it. Standing outside was the same guard that had escorted him here yesterday.

"I'm here to bring you to the dining hall for breakfast." The guard said.

"Lead the wall." Kyle replied simply.

They began walking through the castle, heading to the dining hall where, no doubt, the Princesses were waiting. As they walked, the human and pony passed several guards that flanked doors, as well as some doors that were unguarded. Within a few minutes, they arrived at a larger than average door that was guarded by two Crystal Ponies. The guard escorting him knocked twice, then pushed the door open and spoke. "Go on in. The Elements and Captain will be here in about twenty minutes."

Kyle nodded and thanked the guard, then walked in. Inside, he saw a large, rectangular crystal table in the center. It had a chair on each end with fourteen on each side. Sitting at the far head was Princess Cadence. To her right was Princess Celestia and to her left was Princess Luna.

When he entered, he received a nod from Cadence and Princess Celestia gestured to the seat next to her. Walking over, he sat down beside her.

Within a few moments, four servants adorned in liveries walked in from a side door and placed a covered plate in front of each of them. They removed the domes to reveal breakfast. On front of each of them was a plate of pancakes, each topped with butter and syrup. The servants quickly left, taking the domes with them.

Before he could remove his helmet, he heard Princess Cadence clear her throat. He looked over at her and see began speaking. "I hope I didn't offend you with the pancakes; I don't know if you can even eat."

Kyle chuckles lightly. "What makes you think I can't eat, your highness?"

She glanced away nervously, her wings shuffling. "Well, you don't have a mouth, or eyes, or ears, or a nose."

Princess Cadence was worried she had managed to offend her guest, only to look on in surprise as he began laughing. Once he calmed slightly, he spoke. "I have a face, your highness, I'm just wearing a helmet."

"Oh!" She exclaimed, happy she hadn't offended him. "Why don't you take it off? Oh, and you can just call me Cadence, I'm not used to being called by my title."

Kyle nodded. "I'll keep that in mind."

Reaching to the interface on his left arm, he tapped an icon resembling a gray gear, and tapped the word 'disengage helmet.'

The three Alicorns looked on in surprised awe as his helmet's front broke into several segments, then slid back, joining the rear of his helmet. Then, the rear slid down into his collar, completely hiding his helmet and exposing his face.

He smiled at the looks on the faces of the royalty. They stared at him, taking note of his pure white hair and piercing blue eyes. His face was covered in a light beard, also white. Cadence coughed lightly. "I apologize. I assumed by your voice that you were much younger."

Kyle chuckled again. "Oh, I am. I'm only thirty-four. My hair's been pure white since I was about twelve."

Cadence blushed lightly, embarrassed. "I've spoken to you for five minutes, and already insulted you twice."

Kyle, still smiling, shook his head. "Its of no concern. I understand, especially since I doubt you've seen any one of my kind."

Princess Celestia spoke up this time. "You are quite right about that. What are you?"

"A human, scientific name is homo sapien." Kyle answered.

"How many more of you are there, and where did you come from?" Princess Luna asked.

"Well, as far as I know, I'm the last of my kind. A catastrophic event wiped out my race a while ago. As for where I'm from, everywhere. I'm a traveler." He said, not lying.

Princess Celestia nodded, understanding he didn't want to say any more than that. "And you intend to help us?"

"Yep. I'm not too happy with the whole 'slavery and tyranny' shtick Shadow has going." Kyle said, purposely getting his name wrong.

"Sombra, his name is Sombra." Cadence corrected.

Kyle shrugged. "Yeah, but in a language I know a little of, Sombra literally means 'shadow.'"

"Fitting, I suppose." Princess Luna said.

Kyle exhaled. "You have no idea."

"Oh?" Cadence inquired.

"Princess Luna, your name is derived from lunar, meaning 'of the moon.' Luna is also what humans named the moon. Princess Celestia, your name is derived from celestial, meaning 'of the heavens,' but mostly referring to the sun."

"And Cadence, your formal name, Mi Amore Cadenza, translates directly to 'My Love, Cadence." Kyle explained.

He looked around, a small smile, to see them shocked. "Pretty big coincidence, huh? Especially since we humans didn't know of your existence."

They nodded, then Princess Celestia spoke. "Returning to the topic of you helping us against Sombra, what kind of combat are you trained in."

Gaining a contemplative look, Kyle answered. "Well, humanity has evolved technologically past the need of swords and bows. We have guns now. You have crossbows, yes?"

When all three nodded, he continued. "Well, think of a crossbow that instead of firing a bolt, it fires a small metal cone at just below the speed of sound. Now, imagine some can kill from a mile away, and others fire several thousand cones a minute. That is what a gun is, and I have three, plus a retractable nano-blade."

The three Alicorns were staring at him in a little awe, and more than a little fear. Quickly enough, the Lunar Diarch spoke
"Would you be willing to demonstrate later?"

When Kyle nodded, she replied "We'll head to the training grounds after breakfast."

"Now that you know my weapons, what will you have me do?"

The three royals were quiet for a moment before Princess Celestia spoke. "Well, King Sombra is specifically targeting Cadence as she is the rightful ruler of the Empire. Unless any of you have complaints, I believe you would best serve as a personal guard for her."

Kyle nodded again. "Are you sure? I arrived bearing bad news, I figured I'd be on the front lines."

Luna replied this time. "While you did bring unfortunate news, it was news we needed to hear. That does not change how we perceive you."

When the other two royals relayed their consent, he continued. "What exactly will this entail?"

Cadence began explaining. "Well, you'll escort me around the castle while keeping a watch for threats. You'll also stand outside of the door to my chambers while I'm inside. The only time otherwise is when I'm sleeping, which you'll return to your chamber and sleep as well."

Kyle nodded. "Sounds easy enough, if time-consuming. Its an all-day thing?"

Cadence nodded. "It is, but you'll be compensated for it."

As much as Kyle wanted to turn down payment, he knew he needed local currency. His currency, credits, would be entirely useless here. "That sounds reasonable."

They were silent for a moment before Kyle spoke hesitantly. "What will happen with Shining?"

The mood in the room took an immediate downturn. Six ears drooped and three muzzles turned downward. A dim sheen coated Cadence's eyes and she spoke softly, missing the earlier softness in her voice. "After breakfast, we'll confront him in the throne room. Then, we'll see what happens."

"After breakfast? Isn't he coming, as well?" Kyle asked.
A single glance from Cadence told him everything he needed to know. She just learned her husband was a traitor and planned to kill her. She was about to confront him and possibly be forced to kill him. She just wanted one more breakfast with him, with no violence. Seeing this, Kyle nodded apologetically and she smiled sadly.

Confrontation and Explanation

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Four beings, one significantly different than the other two, were seated at a large crystal table, only claiming four of thirty chairs. In front of each being was a plate, each one with several pancakes with syrup and butter.

The room itself was of pink crystal, along with an arched roof high above. Stained windows allowed light to filter in, and for darker times, three chandeliers hung suspended over the table.

Three of the table's occupants were clearly Alicorns- one of Solar, of Lunar, and of Love. Each was adorned in their respective regalia, and each female. The final occupant was of a species never before seen on Equis, a human. With stark white hair and piercing blue eyes, he stuck out severely from the other three.

It was clear that the room had recently strayed to a troublesome topic. The Alicorns displayed sadness, along with betrayal. The man simply stared at his plate with a look of quiet contemplation. Then, the main doors to the dining hall opened and in walked eight beings, seven of which were ponies while the eighth appeared to be a small lizard.

They each took seats around the table, four on each side. Kyle, the man, smiled slightly as a purple unicorn stared at him in awe. When they were seated, more servants entered and repeated the earlier process, leaving eight plates of pancakes behind.

Cadence, at the head of the table, spoke. "Go ahead and eat. After breakfast, they'll be plenty of time for introductions and questions. I'm sure you each have some for our guest."

While she spoke without her voice quivering, or even an undue glance to Shining, Kyle could tell she was struggling to hold herself together. Judging from the looks of concern, Princesses Celestia and Luna could tell as well.

The eight began to eat, and soon after Kyle and the Alicorns joined them. The pancakes were much as Kyle remembered before he embarked upon his mission. The only difference is a slightly different taste, likely due to being a different strain of wheat, or perhaps simply made differently. The butter was just that- butter. The syrup was sweet, as well as surprisingly cold, just the way he liked it.

Quickly enough, breakfast passed and the servants came and removed the plates. Soon after, Celestia cleared her throat. "Kyle, since I have no doubt the questions are directed towards you, how would you like to do this?"

Kyle shrugged slightly. "Easiest way is start on my left and continue from there. Although, introductions will be needed, I don't know seven of you."

Celestia nodded and smirked at the purple Unicorn who had seemingly summoned a quill and scroll and was ready to take notes. After seeing this, Kyle raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Studious, are we?"

She blushed lightly and nodded. In reply, Kyle spoke. "Well, go ahead and introduce yourself and ask a question."

She cleared her throat and her magic lifted the quill to the scroll. "Well, I am Twilight Sparkle, bearer of the Element of Magic and protégé of Princess Celestia. My question is such; who are you?"

Kyle stared blankly for a moment before slowly bringing his hand to his temple. "I forgot to introduce myself, ugh."

He looked up when he heard a quiet giggle to see Princess Luna, Cadence, Twilight, and a pink pony smiling at him. "Right, I should have introduce myself first, so that won't count as your question, fair?"

Twilight nodded, still smiling. "Fair."

"Right, I'm Kyle Williams. I'm an explorer. I came here simply because it was new to me, and after hearing of Sombra, I offered my help."

"So, whatare you? I've never seem your kind, or even heard of them."

"Well, I'm a human, and as far as I know, I'm the last of my kind. A catastrophe a while back wiped my people out." Kyle answered.

The quill quit scribbling on the scroll as Twilight raised a hoof to her muzzle. "That's horrible. If I may ask, what was the catastrophe?"

Kyle was aware of the quick glare she received from Princess Celestia and how Twilight sank into her chair. "I'd rather not say. Its a little hard to think about. Not to mention, what wiped us out was theoretical at the time."

A blue pegasus across the table immediately spoke up. "Wait, how does some theoeri-whatever kill an entire species? Seems a little suspicious."

Kyle was acutelyaware of the several glares she received at her words. Before she could be scolded, he replied. "Well, we had never seen the particular event happen. It was always considered purely theoretical. When it was realized the event was real, it was too late. Humanity was destroyed."

The pegasus shrunk down into her seat with a remorseful look. Twilight spoke up to take the attention off of the pegasus. "S-sorry for asking. I'll count that as my question."

Kyle nodded and gestured to a yellow pegasus with a pink mane. She let out a little squeak. When she spoke, Kyle could only barely hear her. "M-my name is F-fluttershy. I'm an a-animal caretaker."

Kyle wanted to do his best to smile reassuringly, but he had a feeling his canines wouldn't help. Instead, he settled for speaking. "Its nice to meet you, Fluttershy. What's your question?"

"W-what kind of food do you e-eat?" The timid pegasus asked.

"Well, as an omnivore, I eat both plants and meat."

Fluttershy looked at him a little concerned. "You don't eat ponies, do you?"

Kyle chuckled slightly. "No, I do not. If it speaks, or has higher intelligence, my kind wouldn't eat it. We don't really have to worry about that, though, since humans are the only intelligent species where we lived."

They nodded, but he saw Princess Celestia give him a quick glance. He knew that she was starting to get suspicious, but he wasn't worried. He planned to tell the Princesses the truth anyway. Moving on, he gestured to a white unicorn with a indigo mane. "You're turn."

"My name is Rarity Belle, and I'm a seamstress in Ponyville. My shop is the Carousel Boutique. What is that metallic thing you are wearing? It doesn't look very fashionable."

Kyle chuckled and saw several roll their eyes, giving him the illusion she's like this a lot. "Its not meant to be fashionable. Its an Exosuit. It let's me survive in places that would kill me. A couple miles underwater to inside a volcano, albeit not in lava, is survivable."

"Do you have anything else to wear?" Rarity asked.

"Yes, actually, just nothing formal." He replied.

"Perhaps you should stop by the shop and allow me to make you a suit." She offered.

"I might take you up on that." Kyle said and she seemed satisfied and fell silent.

Without prompt, the purple and green lizard next to Rarity began speaking. "I'm Spike the dragon! I live with Twilight as her assistant. Are you good at fighting?"

Kyle smiled at the child-like enthusiasm and interest in combat most children showed. "Yes, actually. I was a member of our army before the catastrophe. I'm well-trained in Close Quarters Combat and using my three weapons."

Spike smiled and Kyle pointed across the table to the pink pony who had laughed earlier. Before she spoke, Twilight said, "Slowly, Pinkie. He needs to be able to actually understand you."

Pinkie giggled sheepishly and spoke. "I'm Pinkie Pie. I work at Sugarcube Corner and am Ponyville's party planner. Do you like partners? Cupcakes? Cakes?"

She started slowly, but near the end her speaking sped up drastically. Kyle watched on in amusement at her bubbly personality. "Yes, yes, and yes."

Her muzzle broke into a large grin. If you ever stop by Ponyville, I'll throw you a 'welcome to Ponyville' party!"

Kyle smiled as the others laughed lightly while Twilight grinned knowingly. "Sounds like fun, Pinkie."

The next pony, an earth pony with an orange coat and blonde mane smiled lightly and shook her head. "Ah don't really got a question for yah."

Kyle nodded, slightly surprised. He looked at the blue pegasus from before. "I'm Rainbow Dash, fastest flier in Equestria and soon-to-be-Wonderbolt! You mentioned weapons earlier, what are they?"

Kyle saw everyone looking at him in intrigue, everyone but the Alicorns. Looking at Princess Celestia, she cleared her throat. "I'm afraid Kyle can't tell you. You may ask another question, Rainbow."

Rainbow folded her forelegs and pouted, then asked another question. "What will you be doing to help?"

Giving another glance to the Solar Diarch, he answered when she nodded. "Well, I'll be guarding Princess Cadence for the duration of Sombra's assault."

Rainbow nodded, and he pointed to Shining Armor. "That armor of yours, what's it made of? It would be really useful for the guards."

Guards, right. "Its made of several synthetic materials, primarily nano tubing with Kevlar padding."

Seeing the looks of confusion, he laughed. "Human materials."

Shining grumbled slightly but accepted the answer. Before Kyle could indicate Princess Luna's turn, Cadence cleared her throat. "There will be time for more questions later, but Kyle, my aunts, and I have business to attend to. Shining, dear, will you meet us in the Throne Room in half an hour?"

Shining nodded and the Princesses rose and exited the room, followed by Kyle. The man noticed Twilight giving him a forlorn look, and he smiled at her. When the doors closed behind them, Princess Celestia started speaking. "So how were your kind the only intelligent species where you're from?"

"I fully intend to answer that truthfully, however, that should wait until we are alone without risk of anyone overhearing." Kyle replied.

"Why?" Princess Luna asked curiously.

"Well, the information may possibly be dangerous in the wrong hands- or hooves, your majesty."

"Please, call me Luna. I've no love for undue formalities." She said.

"I am the same, so simply call me Celestia." The Solar Diarch added.

Within ten minutes, they arrived at an indoor training ground. It was about one hundred meters long and wide, composed of a darker crystal. Seeing him studying the walls, Cadence spoke. "The different crystal will absorb any stray magic that would destroy the other crystal. Both kinds are gathered from the same mine."

Kyle nodded and continued examining the room. In the center, yet offset near the left wall was a large ring a foot above ground. It had no barriers, and both it, and the floor around it was covered in a type of mat, leading the man to believe it was a sparring ring. Across the room, spanning the entire width, was an archery rang with various targets. Several bows and crossbows were hanging from the wall. Quivers of both bolts an arrows sat on a table underneath.

The entire room was empty, other than them.

"I assume you cleared the room for our use?"

The pink Alicorn nodded. "Yep. I wanted to prevent any possible accident with your weapons. Speaking of?"

Kyle chuckled. "I get the hint."

He detached his pistol and held it in his right hand. "This is what we call the CZ-17. CZ represents the company, while 17 is the model. It's class is a pistol."

"How does it work?" Celestia asked.

"Well, when you both the trigger, this lever here, the hammer, this, hit the bullet, the 'arrow,' which ignites the gunpowder. This causes a small chamber to rapidly fill and become pressurized with gasses. This separates a metal cone from the bullet, which is expelled at a little below the speed of sound. It has a 15 round magazine, or ammo container." He explained, pointing at each part as he named it. He pulled out a bullet to show the separate components.

He looked up to see the looks of surprise on their faces. He smiled at it, and listened when Celestia spoke. "T-that's a little scary. The technology your people have is amazing, yet it saddens me that you use it for war."

"Remember, Celestia, used." Kyle corrected. "But yes, it was sad. However, not all technology was used for war. Even things designed for battle would be reverse-engineered to improve the quality of living."

The Solar Alicorn nodded sadly at the reminder, then smiled at his words. Luna spoke up, sounding excited. "Would you care to demonstrate the CZ-17?"

Kyle shrugged, smiling slightly at her enthusiasm. "Sure, got a target?"

Cadence gestured to the ring. "Stand in the center."

The group walked over and Kyle did as told, watching Cadence. He looked on in surprise as she lit her horn and four ponies made of light blue energy appeared around him, each five meters away. "These are manager constructs. Each will act, fight, and be injured like a real pony, minus flesh or blood. Ready?"

Quickly tapping his forearm's interface and waiting the couple seconds for his helmet to reseal around him. Delivering a nod, her horn brightened and the constructs began to move. Quickly raising his pistol, he flicked off the safety and fired once forward, piercing the construct's head.

Pivoting left on one foot, he shot the second construct twice in the chest. This time, though, he saw it shatter into shards that faded away. Turning again, he kicked the third construct and dodged the fourth's kick to his head.

Bringing his gun to bear, he shot the one who attempted to kick him in the head, killing it. He leveled the sights on the final only to have it batted away by a previously unseen wing. It folded the wing, which fused into its side. He was forced to roll to dodge a strike from its fore hoof. When he stood up, he could see over its shoulder and saw Cadence about to stop it. "Don't!"

The construct froze and the group looked at him in confusion. It was Luna who spoke. "Kyle, you have been disarmed. Pray tell, do you intend to kill it manually?"

Kyle shook his head. "I've got more tricks up my sleeve. Continue it."

Cadence nodded and the construct charged. When it neared, Kyle pivoted a full circle and struck its head, knocking it back and down. While it was down, Kyle flexed his hand, touching his thumb to the opposite side of his pinkie. When he did, a slot opened on his right arm and a sleek, black blade ejected out. Looking closely, both Celestia and Luna noticed it got thinner until it seemed to thin to see. "That must be the nano blade he mentioned."

Kyle leaped forward and sliced through the wing the construct used to try and block with. Continuing its deadly arc, the blade carved a path through the mana pony's neck. It shattered and faded, and Kyle sheathed the blade with the same movement. Turning back, he smiled at the looks on their face. He picked up his pistol and walked over.

"That was incredible! How did the blade cut through it so easily?" Cadence inquired in awe.

"Well, sharpness is measured by an objects ability to split the bonds between atoms. The thinner it is, the easier it cuts. A nano blade uses that knowledge by being a nanometer thick, or thin, as it were."

"I would think that would break easily." Celestia commented.

"Normally, yes, but the blade is so thin, nothing resists it enough to break it. Ergo, it doesn't break."

"It must have been very difficult to forge." Luna said.

Kyle laughed lightly. "You can't forge a blade like this, Luna. Its made of nano tubes, which aren't metal. Conventional forging wouldn't work. No, its 3-D printed, then refined by a finely calibrated laser."

They looked at him in confusion again. "Human stuff."

Celestia looked at him in part amusement, part annoyance. "You're going to say that a lot, aren't you?"

Kyle smiled, unseen through his helmet. "Yep."

She smiled at him and he tapped his interface, his helmet disappearing. Just then, a guard of the Crystal Empire entered. "Your highness, the Prince is awaiting you in the throne room."

Immediately, the mood soured and Cadence's ears drooped. Then, she seemed to steel herself. "Thank you. We will teleport there now."

The guard gave a light bow and left. Cadence turned to him and smiled sadly. "Will you come with us?"

Kyle smiled and nodded. "Of course. I am to be your guard, after all."

He reengaged his helmet as the Love Alicorn's horn lit and they soon disappeared in a flash of light. When they reappeared in the throne room, Kyle grunted as he was disoriented from the instantaneous shift in both ground and surroundings. However, he wasn't nauseous like he expected.

Behind him were two thrones, one of purple crystal, one of pink. In front of him was the entrance, as well as the Captain. He stood with a seemingly inquisitive look, and gained a surprised face when he same Kyle with his helmet.

His gaze moved to Cadence and he spoke up. "What did you require my presence for, your highness?"

Who the hell speaks to their wife so formally, especially in an informal setting? Kyle wondered.

Cadence stepped forward and stared down at her husband, but he could see a slight tremble in her lip. "Prince Shining Armor, you stand accused of high treason against both the Crystal Empire and Equestria, and of attempting to aid the Tyrant King Sombra in the assassination of two royal families. How do you plead?"

Kyle watched as a series of emotions speed across the Prince's face. Surprise, fear, worry, anger, and finally, determination. "Not guilty."

"Kyle, the evidence." Cadence said simply.

Kyle walked forward and spoke. "An audio recording of Sombra admitting to Shining's betrayal."

"Play it."

He nodded and tapped his interface, bringing up files and selecting the audio recording and began playing it.

A dark, raspy voice appeared from his speakers, easily identified as Sombra. "Why do you choose to fight for the weak slaves?"

"Fucking called it. Look, Sombrero, I don't like slavery, and I don't really agree with the whole 'mastering the power of darkness' thing you have going." Kyle's voice came next.

"Neither did Shining Armor. But a demonstration of my power quickly changed his mind. He had grown tired by being out-shined by the Princesses and Elements of Harmony, and chose to join me, to slay them once for all; all except his sister, who would be spared, and his wife, who would be enslaved. Join me, and you'll have infinite power."

"Look, I know how this shit works. I'll join you, we'll win and rule the world together, then you kill me. Besides, I already have technology far beyond what you ponies have. That's power enough for me. Now, fuck off." Kyle said.

The voice hissed, and the recording faded.

"What say you now, Prince?" Cadence asked.

Kyle saw it before anyone else, anger and hate overtaking the Unicorn's face. He jumped forward and shoved Cadence aside only to be blasted by a bolt of magic. The impact itself did nothing, but the energy did. His vision was filled with static and the hydraulics in his legs seized.

He heard Shining speak over his exterior mics. "I'll kill you both, Diarchs! And you, Cadence, you could have been my slave! You could have pleasured me daily!" A spell was cast, but from whom, he did not know.

His arms still functioning, he detached his pistol and fired blindly, hearing a yelp of pain. Within seconds, his systems cleared and he saw Shining had been hit in the flank. Holstering his pistol, he grabbed Ripper from his back.

Shining, seeing the much bigger gun, widely chose to escape, which he did so through a teleportation spell. Spinning around, he ran to Cadence and checked on her. She was standing between her aunts, behind a magical shield similar to the one around the Empire. "Are you okay? We need to relocate you to a safe place, he might come back."

Cadence, though, shook her head. "I'm fine, and I felt his energy pass through the shield. He's gone, and now he can't get back in."

Luna rubbed her back with a wing. "Mayhaps he is being controlled by Sombra. With the proper spell, we could free him from the dark King's control."

But Celestia shook her head sadly. "The spell I cast did just that, it removed all spells affected a target. He was under no influence."

At that, Cadence started to truly cry. Luna and Celestia both comforted her, with Kyle feeling horribly out of place.

(Crystal Empire - Quasar Exterior - 7:17)

Kyle walked up to the RM-S lift and sent a signal for it to lower. Behind him, the three Princesses looked on in surprise at the lowering box. Within seconds, it hit the ground and all four entered. They fit, albeit a little tight, and with a button, the three Princesses were officially onboard a SpaceX Anomaly Research Vessel.

The lift stopped and the doors opened. Kyle stepped out and saw the white hall extend in both directions. Bridge RM-S. Behind him, the Alicorns stepped out and looked around. Luna pointed right and questioned. "What's will all the doors way down there?"

"That's storage. To our left is Research & Medical. Before you ask, the hallway curves because this place is circular."

He clicked his fingers. "Vector, where are you?"

"Command. I assume you want to go to Residence?"

"Yep."

"I'll leave. I need to check on R&M anyway." The Synthetic replied.

Kyle thanked him and clicked his fingers again. "Let's go. We'll head to Residence. We'll be able to sit and talk."

The Alicorns nodded, completely out of their element. As Kyle led them through the ship, he saw their looks of amazement. Especially when they passed through Command.

Within moments, they arrived in Residence and took a seat. Kyle looked at Cadence closely and knew why she was so eager to come when she found out he was going to explain himself. She needed something to distract her from everything that has happened. He could understand that.

The Alicorns arrayed themselves in an arc around him and looked at him expectantly. "Right, where to begin?"

"How about where you come from?" Celestia suggested.

Kyle nodded. "Right, well, I'm not from this planet. I'm an alien."

He smirked at the utterly flabbergasted looks he received. Luna's jaw had dropped, while Celestia looked like a fish struggling to breathe. Only Cadence looked normal. She stared at him with an immense smile on her face. "No way!"

Kyle smiled back at her. "Yes way."

"You came from my stars..." Kyle heard Luna whisper.

He looked over to her, a soft smile upon her face as well as an awed expression. "You travel amongst the stars."

He nodded, smile firmly on his face. "I do."

Celestia learned forward and took a shaky breath. "Why have you come here? Will there be an invasion?"

His smile faded, replaced by a frown. "An army of what? Dead humans?'

She winced as if struck and leaned back. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean t-"

"I understand, and no hard feelings. I came here through a black hole, and entirely accidentally." Kyle said.

"What's a black hole?"

Kyle hummed slightly. "Well, to understand that, you need to understand the truth about stars. A star is a massive ball of various gasses, primarily hydrogen, that is powered by nuclear fusion. They float in space and give off an incredible amount of heat and light."

Celestia looked intrigued, but no where near as much as Luna. "Sounds kinda like my sun."

He smiled at her. "The stars are hundred of trillions, even quadrillions, of miles away. The sun is a star that is only millions of miles away."

That hit them hard, and Luna murmured, "Can't be."

"Sorry, but its true." Kyle said.

Celestia looked at him oddly. "Then how come I control one star, and Luna controls thousands, yet I am magically more powerful?"

Kyle shifted slightly. 'That, I can't explain. However, I know the stars are far away suns because our larger ships would use them as fuel."

Kyle didn't tell them about his theory that the stars seen in the night sky weren't the real stars. Celestia had a point, and the anomalous energy, magic, wasn't present throughout the whole universe. They had to either be magical in nature, or small satellites orbiting the planet.

Luna seemed to except it rather quickly. "So why are you telling us this when we asked about a 'black hole.'"

"Well, you need to understand a star first. Stars are powered by nuclear fusion, which is hydrogen atoms impacting hard enough to break, releasing immense energy as heat and light."

"Which we see and feel from here." Cadence commented, to which he nodded.

"Eventually, a star will run out of hydrogen. When this happens, it supernovas. It expands several times over and destroys the planets that orbit it in an attempt to extend its life. After some time, this supernova recedes. If the gravity and density is right, it collapses into a black hole."

"Which is?" Celestia asked.

"I'm getting there. A black hole is an object in space with a gravitational field so immense, nothing escapes it, not even light. They tear apart the stars themselves and eat them."

Luna tilted her head in confusion. "Law of Conservation of Energy and Matter. Where do these stars go?"

"Every once in a while, a black hole will emit an energy wave from the singularity. This wave is called a quasar. It travels at the speed of light and is ridiculously lethal."

"Singularity?" Celestia asked.

"Right, back to gravity. First, the gravity is so powerful nothing can survive within. If you move fast enough, you can survive the edge, but the black hole itself will tear you apart atom by atom. Its so powerful, it distorts time."

Cadence gasped. "You were near a black hole! That's how you outlived your species!"

The three Princesses looked at him in shock. He smiled sadly. "Yes, I was just barely within the Event Horizon, the edge, of the black hole for 34 years. The time dilation was so extreme, 2.4 billion years passed."

They simply stared silently before Celestia muttered. "You're older than me..."

Cadence stepped forward and hugged him lightly. He parted her back, just above her wings, and she released him and stepped back. Kyle took a deep breath and started speaking again. "Anyway, a singularity is the core of a black hole. Everything a black hole absorbs, countless stars and planets, is crushed into this object. The interesting part is the fact that its no bigger then an atom."

Their jaws dropped and Kyle couldn't help but relish the act of teaching them something way ahead of their time. Their reactions were completely honest; this was all new information to them. "It is a point of infinite density and infinitely small. Some theorized it is a gateway, a wormhole, to an entirely different universe. Its completely unproven though, with almost no evidence supporting it."

The group was silent for a spell, before Celestia spoke up. "So what will you do now?"

"Well, I'd like to stay here. As far as I know, this planet is the only one with life. There were a few other possibilities when Vector scanned the nearby universe, but we're not sure." Kyle said.

The Alicorns looked at him oddly before Luna asked, "Just who is Vector? I specifically remember you saying you were the last human."

Kyle smiled slightly. "Vector is a Synthetic. He's a machine made to look, act, and think like a human. He's also connected tone very scanner and machine on the ship, completely able to control them."

His smiled widened at their awe. Cadence spoke up slightly hesitantly. "C-can we meet him?"

"I don't see why not." Kyle said.

Using his interface, he sent a quick message to the Android, requesting him to come to Residence. After receiving an affirmative, he told the ponies. "He's on his way. While you talk to him, I'm going to make a few adjustments to my armaments."

They nodded and Kyle exited the room. On the way out, he passed Vector. "What may I tell them?"

"Use your judgement Vector. I'm sure you understand what would be dangerous for them." Vector nodded at Kyle's words.

They each continued to their destinations and soon after, he arrived the the Armory. Entering, he saw everything just as it last was. The only difference was three missing weapons. Quickly topping off his 9mm bullets, he walked over to a specific shelf. Each object had the same end on one side, a three-pronged outcrop. The other side was a myriad of attachments. These were the different items that could be implanted into the blade slots. Quickly extending and then removing his nano blade, he replaced it with one three inches longer, totaling at eight inches.

Opening his left arm slot, he quickly placed a special weapon into it. It was common for onboard battles simply due to its skill at clearing rooms and halls. It, too, had a nanometer edge, yet was not a simple blade. Instead, it was more of a serrated whip that could be a blade.

In truth, it was a foot long blade that was held together by electromagnets. With a quick current, the magnets switched off and the blade slackened. However, it was held together by a flexible nano tube structure that converted the foot long blade into a three foot long whip. Looking around, he kept an eye out for anything else he felt he may need.

Seeing nothing, he turned and exited the room. Leisurely walking down the hall, he headed down the hall toward Residence. All the while he was extending and retracting the nano whip. It would be pulled into his arm and split into two so it would fit into his arm, otherwise it would be forced to poke out of the slot.

Within a few minutes, he entered to see Vector standing up and beginning to leave. "I have duties to attend to, Sir. I will leave you to it."

Kyle nodded and Vector left. Turning back, he saw the three Princesses staring at him with wide eyes. Celestia, after a few moments, spoke with a voice of awe. "You're species was so advanced! Is this really a starship?"

Kyle smiled. "Yep. Specifically, its an A.R.V., or Anomaly Research Vessel. Its was built by SpaceX, a space exploration company dedicated to furthering space travel. It was my job to track down sources of anomalous data and study them."

Luna smiled at him, then donned a curious look. "Ponies often name our ships, usually in reference to its job. Does this ship have a name?"

Kyle nodded. "Yes. Its the A.R.V. Quasar."

"Named after the event emitted by a singularity." Celestia connected.

"Yep. That was actually my first mission. To get as close as safely possible to study a quasar emission." Kyle rejoined.

"Now, I've no doubt you have questions, but we need to go back to the castle. I got what I came here for, and you got your answers. Ready?"

They nodded, and Cadence smiled at him. "You need to start your job, anyway."

He smiled at her. "Indeed I do."

Seeing her smiling, and earlier as she was excited like a little child, made him happy. He was able to take her mind completely off of Shining's betrayal. He just hoped that he would be able to keep it off.

(Crystal Empire - 14:24)

Kyle was bored. Not just slightly bored, but incredibly bored. Not only that, but his boredom was increasing at an exponential rate. For the past two hours, he's done nothing but stand beside Cadence's throne as she listened and solved complaints and disputes. Most of them were real problems, but it didn't make it any less boring for the man.

Looking around, he took note of the massive double doors that lead into the room. Flanking each side was a crystal guard, equipped with armor, a shield, and a sword. On the other side of the throne was another guard, equipped with a spear rather than a sword.

On the left and right walls of the room, massive stained glass windows let in light, decorating the room with various patterns created by the light. Each window had a design, albeit each was abstract and held no real importance. Just like the rest of the castle, the entire throne room was made of pink and purple crystal.

The throne itself was crystal, magenta specifically, yet it was cushioned to prevent the user from being uncomfortable or in pain. Even then, Kyle knew it would be unpleasant using the chair for extended periods of time.

Extended periods of time that were guaranteed. From what he could see when the doors opened, a long line of petitioners were waiting for their turn outside the doors, each hoping to air a different complaint.

"I'll send a pair of guards to check on the situation." Princess Cadence said kindly to the elderly mare.

"Thank you, your majesty. I'm just worried about them. Nopony's heard from them for almost a week and they don't answer the door." The mare said she turned and walked out the door, her problem solved.

Within a minute of her exit, another pony entered, this one a Unicorn stallion. He glanced at Kyle, who smirked, which was hidden under his helmet. The citizens of the Empire were quite surprised to see him when they entered, whether because of what he or his lack of crystalization, he didn't know. Either way, it amused him.

Looking closely at the pony, Kyle same the stallion had a pair of saddlebags over his withers, and his mark was of a blade.

Probably a guard or smith, then. Kyle thought to himself.

"How may I help you today?" The Alicorn asked her subject.

The stallion shifted and Kyle immediately became aware of a massive headache. As he did, he saw the world shift into black and white. He watched as the stallion quickly levitated a blade from his saddlebags and launched it, piercing Cadence through the neck.

Then, instantly, his headache was gone and his vision regained color. Looking around, he saw that the stallion hadn't moved, yet Kyle was instantly on alert for any form of suspicious movement.

"Do you need something?" Cadence asked again, this time in slight confusion.

Kyle watched closely, only to leap into action when the Unicorn's horn ignited and the saddlebags shifted. Jumping in front of the throne just in time, he felt a thud as a small knife bounced off just in front of his chest- right where Cadence's neck was in her throne. Looking at the offender, he saw the stallion sprawled across the floor with the spear-wielder over him, the shaft slightly bloodied. The two door guards were already halfway across the room when they noticed the situation resolved.

Acting fast, Cadence took charge. She pointed to the door guards. "You two, arrest him and take him to the cells until we can speak to him."

They nodded and grabbed the unconscious stallion and left. The Princess then pointed at the throne guard. "Tell the petitioners that court today is cancelled due to unforseen events. Take their names in order and let them to the front tomorrow. Get the others outside to help."

He nodded as well and exited. Finally, the Princess turned to him. Kyle, though, didn't notice as he was busy checking where the knife hit him. He was happy to see that the blade left no mark or dent; a testament to the strength of human materials. He looked up to see Cadence staring at him.

Frowning, he quickly deactivated his helmet. "Are you okay, Princess?"

Cadence took a shaky breath, held it, then exhaled through her mouth before answering. "Yes and no."

Kyle nodded, showing his understanding. Cadence spoke up again, after studying him for a moment, asking a question on her mind. "How did you know to jump in front of me?"

Kyle hesitated, then decided to simply be honest. "I'm honestly not that sure, your majesty. He seemed suspicious when he entered, and I reacted when I noticed him magically grab something from the saddlebags."

Cadence nodded, still concerned, but believing his words to her. She gained a look of concentration on her face before she looked back at him. "This will bear some discussion with my aunts. Would you be willing to come with me to make sure nothing else of this sort happens?"

He smiled at her while nodding. "Its my job, Princess."

She smiled back and stood up off her throne and began walking to a side door. He followed close behind, ready to activate his blades in need be. However, his mind was distracted with what he just saw. It was like nothing he had ever heard of and it confused him, even alarmed him.

Reactivating his helmet, he contacted Vector. "Check my system for anything out of the ordinary. Vital signs spiking, chemical spikes, unknown energies, or even video evidence."

He received no reply, causing him to sigh. Vector must be inactive and charging. The Synthetic would still get the message though, and would start in it as soon as he possibly could, something that Kyle respected strongly.

***

Kyle stood against the wall to the left of the door. He was outside of the lounge in which the three Princesses were discussing the earlier events. He felt a little bad for keeping the truth hidden, but didn't truly think they would believe him if he told them what he had experienced.

Maybe some effect of the magic I've been exposed to? It may be causing me to see visions of possible futures. I don't see how that would work, though. The future isn't specified. I can't think of a way to see forward into time.



Perhaps it was a simple hallucinations that led to a coincidence? No, the chances of that being correct are astronomically rare.

Kyle cleared his mind and stopped thinking for a minute. He glanced down both sides of the hall and saw nothing, only to be startled when his radio came on.

"Kyle, I've completed the scans you asked me to do." He heard Vector say.

Clicking his fingers together, he spoke. "And the results?"

"Well, your organs are functioning properly, including the brain. Chemicals are balanced and nothing out of the ordinary was detected. I couldn't even find traces of foreign energy. The normal radioactivity, gravity, dark energy, kinetic and potential energy, and thermal. Everything was normal."

"Then what the hell happened?" Kyle asked more to himself than to Vector.

"Whatever it was, it was specific to you. The recording device in your helmet didn't pick it up. Your eyes were the only ones to see the event."

Vector went quiet as the door opened and Cadence walked out. He looked over to her and frowned when he saw the grim look. Glancing over her shoulder, he saw the Diarchs of Equestria with the same looms on their faces.

Cadence spoke to Kyle as soon as she exited the room. "Come with me."

She continued walking and the human caught up and matched her pace. They walked briskly for a minute before he spoke. "What happened?"

She glanced at him, and in that moment, he saw the worry and fear in her eyes. "We believe Sombra is making his move soon. We are assembling the guards."

Kyle nodded. "So the assassin was an attempt to drop morale."

Cadence nodded. "The death of the Princess combined with the return of the Tyrant King would have driven the civilians into a panic as well. Sombra would have had no trouble taking the throne back in that chaos."

Speaking to Vector, Kyle's voice was resigned. "Back to war, huh?"

"Yes, indeed." Came the reply.