Twilight works to cure the Destiny’s crew of Poison Joke as an imaginary friend makes her next move. Meanwhile, Celestia plans Equestria’s future.
Hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and other trace elements flowed over the hull of the Destiny, as it cut through the bright blue gasses surrounding it.
Twilight sat on a bench in the middle of the observation deck, marvelling at the view before her.
It was only yesterday Twilight managed to identify their location: The Blue Phoenix Nebula. Easily visible from Equestria, and 700 light years away. She had travelled 700 light years in an instant.
And she didn’t fully understand how.
None of it made complete sense. Part of her thought this might be some sort of strange dream. But after three days, it finally sunk in. She was very far away from home, but thanks to the Stargate, so very, very close. It was almost paradoxical.
She turned to look at the voice beside her.
“Finally separate yourself from the console?” Eli asked.
The young mare giggled.
He wasn’t really there, she knew that. As Brody explained it, Eli’s body was just a hallucination the ship implanted in her mind. But it was real enough for her.
“I needed a break,” she explained. “There’s so much information, it’s overwhelming. Medical technology, ship schematics, scientific research… I never thought I’d be able to see something so…”
She responded with a laugh. “I guess so.”
Eli sat on the bench beside her. “You know, when I first arrived, I found it a bit overwhelming too,” he explained. “The day before I was just playing video games. I was just a slacker, an MIT dropout with no real plans. Then this army general appears on my doorstep and beams me up to a spaceship.” He laughed at the absurdity of it all. “And now… it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I couldn’t have imagined any of it.”
She stared at him.
“I told you that story before didn’t I?”
She nodded and laughed, before turning back to admire the view. “You know, it is pretty amazing,” she said. “I… I kinda wish I could stay, but…”
“The Colonel probably wouldn’t let you.”
“Well, I’ll also miss my friends. How do you handle it?”
“Being away from your friends!”
He paused for a millisecond. “You know, I never really had any friends,” he explained. “I made more friends on the Destiny, and… Well, I left my mom behind.”
She pivoted in her seat, facing the illusion. “Do you miss her?”
Eli hesitated for a second. “Yeah. You know, when we first got here, I… eventually I got the chance to see her with the stones, and… You know, I knew she wouldn’t believe me if I told her who I was.”
Twilight nodded in comprehension.
“It was fine at first, but… she didn’t know what happened to me, she thought I was dead. Started getting depressed, wouldn’t take her pills…”
The young math nerd paused, realizing how few people he actually told. “My mom is… HIV positive, it’s a… disease that can kill, pretty slowly if it’s not treated.”
The unicorn turned again, as the ship’s commander entered the observation deck. “Colonel!” she cried, bringing a hoof to her forehead.
“Twilight, you don’t have to do that.”
She suddenly felt flushed as she nervously brought her hoof down. “Sorry,” she said with a smile.
“Why’s your radio off?”
She looked across the room, at the table off to the side. Slowly levitating the rectangular device over to her, she noticed it was silenced. Twilight forgot about that. “Sorry.”
“Doesn’t matter. Shining Armor’s back, they want to talk to you.”
She passed the Colonel, and started trotting down the hall. Pushing her conversation with Eli into the back of her mind.
In the tiny village of Sugar Cove, the pier was the most hopping part of town. But as the sun began to set, the various storefronts had already started closing up. Which mean’t two young earth ponies had very little time to have as much fun as they could.
Running down the streets, with cotton candy in hoof, the curly-maned duo quickly found a small establishment, sitting on a corner, still surprisingly open.
“OOO! That’s a pretty big arcade! Let’s go there!” Pinkie screamed.
“Yeah! Sure!” Fizzypop replied, unwilling to let another moment of fun pass her by.
As Pinkie ran into the establishment, Fizzypop stopped dead in her tracks. Down one of the side streets, she spotted an orange pegasus, with a bright purple mane, staring at her, stoically.
The mare twitched her hoof, indicating a request for the earth pony to follow, before trotting down one of the many alleyways.
Pinkie Pie had already entered the building, and didn’t notice Fizzypop’s absence. So, she trotted down the street, following her imaginary friend.
The alley was dark, dirty and cold. It was also empty.
She sighed with dejection, and turned around; only to find herself face to face with Island Rainbow.
“AHH!” Fizzypop screamed. Falling flat on her rump.
“Sorry,” the pegasus responded. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
She got to her hooves and asked a simple question. “What do you want?”
Island was taken aback. “Are you angry at me?”
Fizzypop didn’t think she had to respond. But did anyway. “Yes,” she replied, slightly incensed. “You abandoned me.”
“I thought you were better off this way. And once Pinkie Pie left Ponyville, I knew you’d be okay.”
“Fizzypop, I’m still your friend, and I will always be your friend. But now I need you to be my friend. I need your help.”
“Something big is happening, and it could…” she stopped suddenly, unsure of how to continue. “Sorry, I don’t want to put too much pressure on you. I just have a simple request.”
“Island,” the earth pony replied. “You’re scaring me.”
She smiled sweetly. “You don’t need to be, all you need to do, is go back to Pinkie Pie, and ask her a few simple questions…”
The front entrance to Ponyville’s number one blacksmithing emporium swung open, and a young pink filly trotted in, with her head held high.
“So, I assume they’re here, as you said,” Diamond Tiara said, announcing her presence, in her predictable manner.
The filly opened her eyes, and found herself taken slightly aback by the presence of a mint green unicorn named Heartstrings, standing behind the counter, magazine in hoof.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she continued.
“Where’s Caramel?” She asked, slightly confused.
“He’s at Sweet Apple Acres.”
“What? Are you kidding me!? I come all the way down here, and he’s not even here!?”
“Cool it, Diamond Tiara,” said her dark gray companion. “You live just down the block.”
“It’s the principle of the matter,” she said, through gritted teeth.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and an earth pony stallion entered the shop.
“DT,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh,” she said, clearing her throat. “I have come for the materials you offered.”
“Oh great, not you two.”
Following in Caramel’s wake were three small fillies. All of whom noticed the young earth pony’s presence. But only Scootaloo felt fit to react to it.
“Oh, this is just great! Why are the blank flanks with you?” Tiara asked.
“What is that?” Caramel asked, rhetorically. “They volunteered to help with the mine.”
“Yeah,” Apple Bloom spoke up. “We’re gonna get mining cutie marks! Whadda ya think of that!?”
Diamond paused for several seconds before bursting into hysterics. “That’s great! Cutie marks of pickaxes and coal! It’ll fit!”
“Diamond,” Caramel interjected. “You should know, it’s only thanks to them I was able to get those gemstones you wanted so badly.”
“Why do you want gemstones?” Sweetie Belle asked, genuinely curious.
“What?” the pink filly responded, suddenly getting nervous. “Umm… I have my reasons. What’s it to you!?”
“They’re in the back room,” Caramel said, before things got out of control.
As she darted into the back of the shop, followed closely by her best friend, the store keep got to work. He pulled a book off a shelf, and quickly began flipping through the tome.
“So, what was that?” Apple Bloom asked.
“What was what?”
“With Diamond Tiara. Why does she need gemstones.”
“Why do you think?” he asked rhetorically.
The three fillies looked at each other. Coming up blank.
“Wait… you don’t know? What do you think her special talent is?”
Scootaloo put a hoof to her chin. “Being born rich?”
Heartstrings lowered her book. “You can get a cutie mark in that?” she asked.
Caramel glanced at his flank before responding, “What do you think?” He turned back to the trio. “So, you really don’t know?”
They shook their heads.
“You’ll have to ask her.” The stallion then decided to drop the subject, and focus on the more important issue. “So, If we’re gonna try to create some kind of dome underground, it won’t be easy,” he explained. “Due to the nature of local magic, we might have to design some new spells.”
“Really?” Heartstrings asked.
“Sadly, yes. At least, that’s what Paradigm told me. Something about the geology in the area effects magic differently.”
“It’s slightly outside her area of expertise.”
“That’s what I said!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed. “We need an expert in magic!”
“Don’t say ‘Rarity,'” Scootaloo interjected.
The young unicorn was not amused. “Twilight… Twilight Sparkle! It has to be her!”
“But she’s still in Canterlot.”
“We can send her a letter!” Apple Bloom interjected.
“Yeah, we’ll have Spike do it,” Scootaloo stated, smiling, and staring at the young earth pony.
She started to lean back. “Scootaloo, what are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing.” the pegasus responded, turning away.
“Didn’t Rainbow Dash go with her?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Yeah,” the pegasus responded. “I also hear Pinkie’s pretty broken up about it since the two of them had a pretty nasty fight before she left.”
Just then, Heartstrings slowly looked up from her reading, and said, “What?”
“They had a pretty nasty fight. At least, that’s what I heard.”
She just stared forward.
Caramel looked upon his best friend with concern. “What is it, Heartstrings?”
“Uh… Pinkie Pie. I was… I was supposed to have a date with her two days ago… and I completely forgot!” she screamed, nearly ripping out her mane.
“Wait,” Apple Bloom asked, turning to the stallion. “Diamond Tiara’s your sister?”
Pinkie Pie found herself lost in the game. A surfing simulator, which allowed her to hang ten on a plastic board, while her on-screen self flew across a blue background.
She was loving it.
The party pony snapped her head in her friend’s direction, before snapping back to the game. “Hey Fizzypop, where’d you go?”
“Oh, um… I saw a balloon salesman, but he was sold out by the time I got there.”
“Awww…” she cried, as her avatar looped in the air three times before making a perfect landing. “Woohoo!” she screamed.
“So, um… Having fun?”
“Yep, you can play next.”
“Okay, umm…” Fizzypop found herself lost in thought before continuing. “So, I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s Ponyville like?”
“Oh, it’s nice, I have a lot of friends there. Everypony in town is my friend!”
“Oh, okay, um… what are they like?”
“Everypony?” Pinkie asked. “Well, there’s Mr. Cake, and Mrs. Cake. They’re bakers, and my bosses. There’s also Big Macintosh, huge stallion with-”
“No, no, no, um…” Fizzypop tried to find the best way to word her question. “What about Rainbow Dash?”
“Rainbow Dash? Did I mention her before?”
“Um…” she suddenly got scared.
“Oh, of course I did!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Well, she’s great, fun to be around, an all-around jokester, and the most amazing mare in Equestria.”
“But… well… several weeks ago, we had a bit of a fight, and we never got the chance to make up. I’m a bit worried about that.”
“What did you fight about?”
As the board tipped back and forth, Pinkie hung her head. “I told her I loved her,” she explained.
Fizzypop’s eyes widened, as she quietly said, to herself, “So that’s what she meant by that.”
“She turned me down, but I didn’t take it well and…” she turned to look at her friend. “Promise you won’t tell anypony?”
The young mare nodded.
“Well, I got a bit aggressive, and… I guess she did it in self defense and… she socked me in the eye.”
Pinkie sighed as she turned back to the game. Her score kept growing. “I overreacted. I was scared. I shouldn’t have been. I just wish she’d forgive me.”
“Maybe you should forgive her first.”
“For hitting you. She shouldn’t have reacted that way.”
Pinkie turned back to her friend. “You are smart.”
As the party mare turned back to her game, again. Fizzypop asked her final question: “So, besides Rainbow Dash, any other romance in your life.”
“Well, there’s Heartstrings, she-”
The game’s avatar wiped out on the waves. The words ‘Game Over’ began flashing on the screen.
“Oh… oh no…” Pinkie said.
“What?” Fizzypop asked, with genuine concern.
“I was supposed to have a date with her two days ago… and I completely forgot!” she screamed, tugging at her mane.
“Oh, no! I’m a terrible girlfriend!”
“Hey, it’s okay, I’m sure she’d understand!”
“We only started, and I already screwed up! I’m gonna be alone forever!” she cried, collapsing on the ground.
Pinkie sprung to her hooves. “I have to head back! Now! Oh, I’m so sorry Fizzypop, I’ll miss you so much.”
“Let me come with you,” Fizzypop replied.
The young mare was taken aback. “What?”
“I have no reason to stay here. I…” She started to feel conflicted. She knew she wanted to do this. But was it for the right reasons, and not just because Island Rainbow asked her to?
“Can I come with you?”
Pinkie Pie smiled.
Twilight trotted down the dark corridors of the Destiny.
When she first arrived on the ship, the dark lighting and monochromatic colour scheme surprised her. She simply was not used to such depressing environments.
But over time, she grew to appreciate it. She grew to enjoy the atmosphere of the ancient structure. And learning more about the ship itself, and its history, made her love it even more.
Trotting into the makeshift treatment room, she found herself quite happy to see a familiar face. “B.B.B.F.F.!”
“Twilie,” he said, rather curtly. “I got bad news.”
She saw a giant furball, standing in the large tank of water. Shining Armor didn’t need to say a word. “It still didn’t work?”
“Are you sure it worked before?” TJ asked.
“I’m sure it did! We were infected with Poison Joke, and this is the cure that cured us,” she trotted up to the tank. “Are you absolutely sure you got the right ingredients.”
“I grabbed them myself, Twilie,” her brother exclaimed. “And yes, I’m sure I got them from the Ponyville region, just like you did.”
“Twilight, we followed the instructions to the letter,” Chloe explained, leaning over a copy of Supernaturals. “Even the water didn’t change anything.”
“Yeah,” Volker responded. “About that, I’m not too excited about bathing in pond water.”
“Yeah, you can get out.” TJ said, dejected.
Brody, who was sitting in a chair on the far end of the room, finally spoke up. “There’s still plan A.”
“What’s ‘plan A’?” Twilight asked.
“‘Plan A’ doesn’t work,” Young explained as he entered the room. “You said so yourself.”
“What is it?”
Chloe explained. “When they noticed the unusual energy field, Brody started working on a way to… neutralize it?”
He nodded in confirmation.
“But when they tested it, it turned the Poison Joke plant into ash.”
“Neutralize? You tried to destroy it’s inherent magical energy?”
“Pretty much,” Brody explained.
Twilight was in shock. “You created an anti-magic ray? That wouldn’t cure anything. Every living creature needs it’s inherent magical energy. If you destroy it, it would die!”
“But… we don’t need that.” TJ explained.
“Humans don’t need an ‘inherent magical energy.'”
“That’s right,” she said in realization. “You’ve never encountered magic before. So, in that case, removing it from a human shouldn’t kill them!”
“You sure about that?” the Colonel asked.
She turned her head. “I think so… yes, I’m absolutely positive. An anti-magic ray should be perfectly safe… on humans!” she added. “Should probably make that clear.”
Young stood there, deep in thought, as he considered this new information.
“Twilie,” Shining Armor responded. “I think they’re gonna need proof of that.”
The Colonel was glad he didn’t need to say it.
Twilight brought a hoof to her chin. “Do you have any alien fruits on board?”
Fluttershy’s tears fell on the bathroom floor, as she clutched her stomach in fear. Curled up on the floor, all she did was wallow in her own despair.
She had lain there for nearly an hour. Not knowing what to do, or understanding what everything meant.
The young pegasus had many frightful moments in her lifetime, but none compared to her current situation.
A knock came at the front door. Fluttershy got to her hooves, and turned to the bathroom mirror. She quickly straightened her mane, and wiped the tears from her eyes, before running to answer her front door.
Standing in the doorframe, before a slowly darkening sky, was Fluttershy’s best friend, Rarity.
“Fluttershy, how are you?” the unicorn asked.
“Oh, I’m fine Rarity,” she lied. “What brings you out here?”
“Well, I brought you a surprise,” she replied. Stepping to the side, another mare was revealed, hiding behind her. A mare with an orange coat.
“Hey, Fluttershy,” Applejack said.
She just stood there, in stunned silence.
“Um…” the earth pony shuffled her hooves. “Listen, I… I’m sorry for… yelling at you that day… I really feel bad about that–I mean, I was under a lot of stress, and I was worried about Scootaloo, and the farm, and… anyhoof, I’m sorry.”
“Aaaaaand?” Rarity said, egging the earth pony on.
“And nothing,” she replied.
“Alright, fine,” she turned back to her pegasus friend. “And Fluttershy. I don’t regret a thing I said.”
“Applejack!” Rarity responded, incensed.
She held up a hoof. “But, I could have said it in a nicer way. I shouldn’t have yelled at you, and for that, I’m sorry.”
Rarity brought a hoof to her face, before peeking over it to see Fluttershy’s reaction.
Tears bubbled in her eyes, and her lips quivered, before she suddenly burst out screaming, quickly grabbing Applejack in a firm embrace.
The two visitors merely shared a look as Rarity shrugged in confusion.
Eventually, the sobs ebbed, and she finally spoke. “Oh, thank you, so much Applejack,” she said, between tears. “You’re such a good friend!”
“Really?” Rarity replied.
“That’s great, Fluttershy,” Applejack strained to say. “Could you let go of me now, please.”
“Oh!” the pegasus exclaimed, releasing her friend. “I’m sorry.”
As the farmer caught her breath, she eventually replied, “It’s alright, Fluttershy. I didn’t know you had it in ya.”
“Um… I guess I do,” she replied. “Would you like to come in for tea?”
“I’d love to, but I really have to get goin’, turns out I have to find an expert in rock farmin’. Soon.”
“Oh… alright,” she replied, slightly dejected.
“I’d love some tea, Fluttershy,” Rarity responded. “That is, if you don’t mind extending that invitation.”
“Oh, no, come in!”
“Well, I’ll leave you two to it,” Applejack said, trotting away. “See ya.”
“Bye Applejack,” the yellow mare responded, with much enthusiasm, and an energetic wave.
Rarity observed all of this, slightly concerned.
A small dish containing nothing but a bright red apple slowly levitated into the testing area.
“Okay,” Twilight declared from the opposite end of the room. “Do it… I guess.”
The shield rose, and the primary emitter glowed with an orange light. The energy released, and the apple suddenly liquified in the bowl.
As the energy dissipated, and the shield lowered, Twilight and Brody inspected the result. Sitting in the bowl was a type of stew. Exactly as Twilight expected.
Brody picked up the bowl, and examined it. He walked over to his console, and grabbed a spoon to taste the substance.
“Well?” Young asked.
He shrugged. “Tastes the same as the other canned crap.”
The colonel nodded. “Alright, how soon can we do this?”
“Shouldn’t take long,” the engineer explained. “Though we still don’t know if it’ll work.”
“It’ll work,” Twilight said with confidence.
“Good, get it ready,” the commander ordered. “Twilight,” he said, turning to walk away.
The unicorn followed him, and started to speak. “Colonel, I-”
“This is a weapon of mass destruction isn’t it?”
His question silenced the young unicorn. Eventually she spoke up. “Um… yeah, it is.”
“I want you to inform Celestia of this, and tell her we’ll have it destroyed as soon as possible.”
Twilight was in shock. “Colonel, I-”
Stopping in his tracks, he explained, “I don’t want a weapon of mass destruction on this ship, especially if it could only be used it against an ally. There’s too much risk involved.”
As they continued walking through the halls of the Destiny, Twilight responded, “That’s very generous of you, Colonel.”
“I wouldn’t call it that.”
They walked in silence for a few seconds, before he decided broach the next subject. “Twilight, I have to ask: Is your princess stalling?”
She bit her lower lip in thought. It had been three days since the Destiny arrived, and so far, only Doctor Rush and Lieutenant Scott have been allowed in Equestria. Even though Doctor Rush never left the royal library.
Chloe and Sergeant Greer were allowed out of quarantine the day after they returned to the ship. But Celestia still didn’t allow any human to come to Equestria. Twilight still didn’t quite understand why.
“I don’t know,” Twilight explained. “I think she’s just… preparing…”
Luna examined the document before her. The one her sister only recently prepared. It was not a long document, but it meant so much.
“Are you sure about this?” The lunar princess asked.
Her sister nodded. “Do you have your doubts?” She asked.
“On the contrary. I’m just wondering if you fully thought this through.”
Celestia nodded. “I have.”
“Are you certain?”
“Luna,” the solar princess inquired. “Why are you so reluctant?”
She averted her gaze. “It’s not that I’m reluctant, so to speak, so much as ‘concerned.'”
“You don’t trust her abilities.”
“It is not that… HALT!” she screamed.
Flying across the room, the younger princess landed before one of the royal porters, a pink unicorn stallion with a violet mane. He stood there, stunned.
“That statue is not to be moved.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” he replied with a bow. “But, I thought we were supposed to clear the gate room of all artifacts.”
“You may levitate it to the end opposite the Stargate, but the stability of this artifact is too fragile to risk teleportation.”
As he levitated the statue away, Luna took in her surroundings. Once loaded with sensitive artifacts, the new Royal Stargate Facility was slowly being transformed into something completely different.
“I’m curious about the logistics, sister,” Luna inquired.
Celestia paused. “I have thought about that. We may need to have a second entrance built. Among other things.”
“A new secure storage facility.”
She nodded. “I have thought of that, but it is a lower priority.”
“This is an opportunity we cannot miss, sister. I thought you agreed.”
“Oh, I do. I just wonder… if you’re hiding something from me.”
Celestia was taken aback. “Whatever do you mean?”
“You have been acting strangely since the visitors arrived. I am wondering if there is a reason for it.”
“Luna, there is nothing I’m hiding from you.”
Her sister was skeptical, but decided to let it go. As Luna looked around the room, she watched the numerous servants bustling about, preparing the area for dignitaries, diplomats, and explorers.
“I remember, there was a time when nopony, only our most trusted valets, and our most senior guards, were granted knowledge of this room.”
“Priorities change, sister.”
“I agree, however, I just wonder: Did you ever really trust Twilight?”
“Of course. I never told her about this because she never needed to know. I understand that you felt the need to tell Rainbow Dash, but Twilight never had a reason… until now. It doesn’t mean I don’t trust her. I always trusted her.”
Luna unfurled the scroll, and added her signature. “I can only assume her judgement will remain more sound than it has in the past.”
“It will,” Celestia responded bitterly. “And thank you.”
“I was only doing my duty, sister,” the younger princess explained, as she trotted away.
As the princess rolled up the scroll once again, she levitated the Kino remote off a nearby table.
The Stargate came to life.
Twilight sat in the control interface room, enthralled. Page after page scrolled past her eyes. As quickly as she read them, they were gone. But she still wasn’t sure if she understood it all.
So many concepts she didn’t fully comprehend. The unicorn could only hope that more research would explain it, but she was unsure.
She turned her gaze, as Shining Armor entered the room. “Oh, hey B.B.B.F.F.!”
“Hey…” he responded nervously. “How you doing?”
“Great!” She responded with a smile. “There’s so much to learn, I may stay here all week.”
“Yeah, about that. You haven’t left this ship in days.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Colonel Young gave me one of the empty rooms to sleep in. The beds here are so comfortable, it’s amazing. I mean, you wouldn’t think…”
Her gaze snapped back, as he continued.
“Are you going to talk to Moonlight again?” He asked. “Or are you gonna avoid him by hiding on a ship a million light years away?”
“Ah, 700 light years,” she responded smugly.
Shining stared her down.
She cowered slightly. “I’m not avoiding him.”
“Yeah, you’re just burying yourself in work.”
“After I destroyed his.”
She spotted the Kino across the room.
“Uh… wasn’t eavesdropping,” the machine responded.
“I thought that’s all you did,” she responded, coyly.
“I’m gonna go,” Shining continued. “Remember what I said.”
He left the room, as Eli floated toward the young unicorn. “Soooo… What was that about?” the Kino asked.
She brushed her mane aside, as she began to explain. “My younger brother, Moonlight. I destroyed some of his work.”
Twilight quickly ran the numbers in her head. “About a week’s worth of filming.”
He floated in silence.
“It was an accident! I didn’t mean to!”
“I know,” came a voice to her right.
Twilight turned, and on a stool next to her, sat a beige pegasus stallion, with a short cropped manestyle.
Her eyes widened.
“So,” he asked, smiling. “Whadda think?”
“I’m just a computer program Twilight,” he explained with a laugh. “I can look like anything, thought I’d try a pony.”
A redness appeared on her face.
“I-I’m fine,” she quickly turned back to her work.
“So, whadda think?”
“Um… it’s nice,” she said, suddenly reminding herself of Fluttershy.
Eli suddenly got really proud of his craftsmanship.
Twilight looked over the database. Pulses of magic danced over the controls.
“So…” the stallion continued. “How’d you destroy some of his work?”
“Can we talk about this later?”
“Okay,” he replied. The two of them sat there in silence, before Eli suddenly remembered. “I didn’t finish telling you about my mother.”
“Yeah, she was really depressed. She thought I was dead. You know how horrible it is to look your mother in the eye, and have her not believe you’re you?”
She paused in thought. “No.” Twilight tried returning to her work, but curiosity wouldn’t let her. “How did you fix it?” the unicorn asked.
“Well, actually, it was Camille, she fixed it.”
She turned to look at him.
“She was able to pull some strings, let my mom use the stones. Doctor Park switched with her. She saw me, saw what I was doing. She was happy.” His heart welled. “You know, I never thought she’d actually be proud of me, but… to see her… it was…” Eli smiled as he was caught in a nostalgic haze.
“You had the help of your friends.”
“Twilight,” the radio crackled.
The device levitated upward in a reddish glow, as the unicorn responded. “Yes?”
“We need you in the gate room,” asked Doctor Boone.
“I’ll be right there,” she replied, leaping off the stool.
The stars twinkled over the city of Canterlot. Shining with an unmistakable radiance, as it was accompanied by the slowly rising lunar surface.
The clouds above the city were scattered and numerous. And their presence helped the newly-christened pegasus navigate the otherwise uniform skyscape.
The wind danced past his feathers, with a force to rival the recoil of an M16, as he kept the target in his sights.
Even though Scott only started flying yesterday, he’d already taken to it like a dragon to gemstones.
It helped that he had a great teacher.
The wind rusted across the tips of his ears, and flowed through his mane. His tail twitched slightly, and his wings angled upward, as he circled above and around his target. Quickly shifting his wings again, he came to a stop over one of the many clouds, and froze.
It went against everything he learned as both a child, and adult.
He slowly lowered himself, and as a hind leg touched the surface of the formation, it found purchase. He slowly lowered his front hooves.
It felt soft, but solid, like a fuzzy blanket.
His wings folded up, and he lowered his body to the surface of the cloud.
He took a sniff. It smelled like water, if water had a smell. Refreshing, and a bit comforting.
He looked forward, and saw a blue pegasus pass through his field of vision.
The weathermare circled around the soldier. “Why’d we stop?” she asked, slightly impatent.
He looked up, and smiled. “Sometimes you gotta smell the roses, Rainbow Dash.”
Her gaze swept the area, and she asked, “What roses?”
He didn’t know how to answer, so he just looked at the substance below.
As she landed before him, Scott gathered a tuft of cloud in his hoof. He blew ever so gently on it. The wisps of vapour swirled around in a spiral, and slowly settled into a shape resembling a dense flower.
Rainbow scoffed. “That’s nothing! Watch this!” She reached both hooves into the cloud, and after a bit of shuffling, pulled out a fully formed model of a kitty cat. She smiled with pride.
“Um… yeah,” he responded. “That’s pretty nice.”
“Nice?” she replied. “That’s it?” She turned the object around, and examined it. “Eh, whatever. Cloud sculptures were never really my thing anyway!”
“You know, for somepony who’s never flown before, you caught on pretty quickly.”
“Well, I trained from the best back on Earth,” the pilot explained. “Learned how to fly a 302. It’s different not being in a cockpit, though.”
“What’s a cockpit?”
“Uh…” He never had to explain it before. “It’s where you sit when you fly it.”
“Er… kay… and the 302, that’s those tiny ships you have back home right?”
“Yeah,” he replied, quite glad she remembered.
“Okay, this has been bugging me. You couldn’t come up with a better name?”
Scott wanted to explain why the US Air Force designated the various models of aircraft with numbers. But the truth was, he forgot. Instead he just said, “Well, what would you call it?”
She paused for a second. “Flying Speed Bird of Metal… Dash!”
Suddenly, Rainbow raised a hoof in the air, and started waving furiously.
Scott followed the mare’s gaze.
A dark red pegasus started flying toward the duo.
“Friend of yours?” he asked.
Twilight trotted into the gate room, curious, and slightly enthusiastic.
The gate snapped closed, and jets of CO2 shot out the sides.
“Princess!” Twilight cried, as she spotted Equestria’s ruler, apparently socializing with Doctor Boone.
“Twilight,” she replied, as her student trotted up to her.
They nuzzled briefly, before Celestia quickly got to business. “Come with me, I believe we need to discuss something privately. Doctor Boone, could you please inform the Colonel that we request his presence on the observation deck in a few minutes.”
She turned her attention to an unarmed Lieutenant James. “I assume you’ll still be watching us.”
“I’m sure I can just wait outside,” she explained.
The two of them smiled, and the princess wasted no time in trotting toward the best view on the ship.
The three of them walked in silence. Not a word was said. And it made Twilight slightly worried.
They arrived without a word, and Celestia closed the door behind her student.
The two of them looked out into the depths of the Blue Phoenix Nebula, a sight that the unicorn was already familiar with.
“Twilight,” the princess finally spoke. “I wish to show you something.”
From behind her back, the princess revealed a scroll.
Twilight grabbed it in her magic, and unfurled it, before reading it over.
A few seconds later, she finally commented, slightly confused. “Royal Equestrian Stargate Administration…” She looked up in inquiry. “RESA?”
“Yes, Twilight. I think it would be a fantastic idea. The truth is, this discovery will mean a lot more than might be apparent at the moment. We must think long-term. My sister and I have agreed that this is the best approach to dealing with future issues related to both the Stargate, and off-world exploration.”
“You didn’t think we would just stop with the Destiny, did you?”
“I see,” the unicorn replied. “Well, anything I can do to help, Your Highness. Count me in.”
Celestia smiled. “I’m glad you said that, Twilight. Because RESA will need an administrator.”
“What?” the unicorn asked.
The door at the opposite end of the room opened and Colonel Young entered. “Princess Celestia,” he said, greeting the ruler.
“One moment, Colonel,” she replied.
The silence only confused him.
Eventually, she reacted. “Me?”
“Yes, Twilight. I can think of nopony better.”
The young mare was aghast. “But, what about my studies!? Will I no longer be your student!?”
“Twilight, I’m sure you’ve realized that you should have graduated a long time ago. And I’m sure your new role as my most trusted advisor will suit you well.”
She thought about it for several seconds, before making her decision. “Thank you, Your Highness. I graciously accept.”
“I knew you would.”
Twilight’s eyes drifted slowly to the right. “Oh, hi Colonel,” she replied, suddenly realizing he likely didn’t enjoy being the only one in the room who didn’t know what was being discussed. “Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” he replied.
“Colonel, I believe it’s time for us to discuss a few things,” the princess gestured toward the nearby table.
As the three of them sat down, Twilight still not certain of her exact role in these proceedings, Celestia quickly initiated the discussions.
“Colonel, I’ve looked into it, and there is much we can offer you. You said your crew needs a chance to stretch their legs.”
“Honestly, it’s getting kinda cramped on this ship.”
The three of them shared a small laugh.
“Well, that won’t be an issue. But it will require the use of the transformation spell.”
“You sure that’s really necessary?”
“I’m afraid so. I’m sure your crew might be reluctant, but we can assure you it’s perfectly safe. I had several of my best magematicians go over it, they can’t find a single flaw in the structure.”
Twilight’s head snapped toward the princess.
“I see… Well I’d like some of my own people to go over it as well.”
She nodded. “Of course. I’m sure Twilight can provide it to you. Now, there’s also food, raw materials. I’ve even decided to offer you the services of anypony you wish to help rebuild your garden, as well as conduct any repairs to your ship. I understand it’s not exactly in perfect working order.”
He laughed slightly. “We make do.”
“Of course. But with the use of unicorn magic, we might be able to make this ship as good as new again.”
“Well, you’re very generous, Your Highness. I’ll take that into consideration.”
She merely nodded, stoically.
Young smiled. “I assume you’re not gonna give us this stuff for free.”
“I would. A group stranded so far from home, in need of assistance, it would be wrong to take advantage of your desperation. But there is something I would like to ask for in return.”
“And what’s that?”
“A ship, Colonel. We want a ship.”