TIMELINE - 2155 CE
"Alert. Alert. System malfunction detected. Suit depressurization in progress. Please repair your suit and seek immediate, airtight refuge."
Chelsea awoke to absolute silence, broken only by the occasional burst of noise from her suit frantically trying to warn her of an air leak in her suit. She winced as it pierced through the haze around her mind, bringing her back to reality.
"The hell..." She muttered, groaning. She was lying down on something, and even through her suit she could tell that whatever it was, it was incredibly soft. That instantly set off alarm bells in her mind, but Chelsea's struggling mind couldn't quite make ends match up. Shrugging, she took a deep breath, one of her last, then opened her eyes.
It was dark, and the stars trailed out into seeming infinity before her. It was immediately unfamiliar, and she had to take a moment to try and work out why. The answer when it came to her hit her hard. She wasn't looking at the Milky Way galaxy, and the stars above her were completely different.
Looking a little to her left, she saw something that instantly confirmed that theory of hers.
A bright moon hung high in the night sky.
The moon shone defiantly at her.
Chelsea blinked again.
The moon was still there, along with everything that Chelsea thought she knew about her situation. Where the Dyson Sphere went and where she was now she did not know, but she had a feeling that things were going to be a lot of headaches in her future.
Holding up her arm, Chelsea studied what the suits omni-tool was sensing. Once again, she found herself incredulous and stared at the sensor in disbelief. "What..."
Despite the fact that space filled the entirety of her view, the sensor was telling her that she was surrounded by an atmosphere that was composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and in every sense of the way identical to Earth. That was a rarity as far as she knew. Every planet that she knew of was close, but not to such exact amounts.
As her senses slowly returned to her, Chelsea realized that she wasn't floating in the vacuum of space. Instead, she was laying on something hard and rather rocky. Looking past the moon, she found that she wasn't surprised to find that she could see mountains in the far off distance, behind a massive forest surrounding her that she had somehow missed until that moment.
"Alert. Alert. System malfunction detected. Suit depressurization in progress. Please repair your suit and seek immediate, airtight refuge."
Chelsea's mind raced as a thousand questions tried to burst from her mind, and all she could do was reach up and unlock the seal of her helmet. Taking a deep breath and clenching her eyes shut, she pulled the helmet off. Instead of being met with instantaneous decompression (which she knew was ridiculous because she obviously wasn't in space anymore), she tasted the cleanest air that she had ever breathed.
Shaking her head, she forced her mind onto its next task. Activating her comm-link, she tried her best to contact her ship. "Easton, are you there?"
She got only silence in reply.
"MSV Rusty Bob, this is Chelsea, please answer," she tried again. With a growl of frustration, she set her omni-tool to cycle through every frequency. Maybe Easton had switched the damn thing without telling her. A moment later, she got her answer. Her omni-tool wasn't picking up anything on any frequency, and the silence was getting to her.
Looking up from her omni-tool, she looked at the forest around her and noticed that it was completely silent too. Not silent in the wilderness type of way, with the wind and every creature rustling through the underbrush, but the silence that she had only ever experienced when floating in the void. She found that she wished she was carrying a sidearm suddenly, the feeling that something was watching her filling her.
Activating her omni-tool's flashlight, Chelsea took a good look at the forest she had found herself in for the first time. She quickly realized that she had been lying on a rather well maintained dirt path.
"Okay," Chelsea murmured. "That's... encouraging."
She wasn't really sure about that. A path such as the one she was standing on had to be carefully maintained to keep it in such pristine conditions. There were no weeds, and it was as smooth as a dirt road could possibly be. With a moment of thought, she picked a direction and started to walk. One way or another, she was hoping that if she just kept walking she would find civilization eventually.
She walked for hours, her mind trying to figure out how she could have possibly found herself on the surface of a planet. It simply made no sense. Well, nothing about her situation made any sense. One moment she had been leaving Arcturus, the next her ship's FTL failed and she had found the ship landed on the largest constructed object that humanity had ever discovered, and the moment after that, she found herself on a planet.
Whatever planet this was, it wasn't Earth. The moon was far too different from Earth's own companion, and the deathly still was different from absolutely every planet that she had ever stepped foot on. It wasn't natural and it was giving her the chills.
Turning a bend in the road, Chelsea froze at the sight that greeted her.
A massive city sprawled out before her. No, not sprawled she quickly realized. It was far too organized for that, laid out in a way that she could quickly see how its population would carry about during the day. Right now though, it's streets were deserted, though the lamps lining the roads were lit and she could see lights on inside the buildings and houses.
The strange thing about the city was the moment she realized it was hanging off the side of a mountain. A rather impressive mountain actually, that towered straight up into the sky, strong and powerful. The planet was definitely inhabited, and its populace was advanced enough to build a city that hung from the cliffs with a grace and beauty that Chelsea had not often seen, even in the carefully structured skyscrapers and parks of Earth. It had an effortless artistry and she wanted to do nothing more than explore every nook and cranny of it.
She saw all of this through an absolutely massive gate, its doors opened wide and inset into the massive marble walls that surrounded the city. The doors towered up at least three stories above her, made of oxidized bronze, instantly recognizable from their pale green color. Carvings of horses were forged into the door, surrounded by filigree wrapping up delicately in ornate patterns around the ponies
"What the hell..." She murmured, stepping closer to study the door. It didn't look like the architecture that some alien society would create. It looked like something that humanity would have created at the height of renaissance. Instead of knights and nobles in armor though, there were horses and ponies in the same with faces that held a surprising amount of emotion and expression.
Looking past the doors to the city beyond, she saw an absolutely breathtaking city laid out before her. Tall buildings rose up to the night sky, each a masterpiece in their own right. It looked to her like something straight out of a fantasy holo-film, at once reminding her of a thousand different things and nothing at all, both at the same time.
The one truly worrying thing that stood out immediately was the cities inhabitants.
Chelsea didn't know what she had been expecting, but whatever that was, she found herself taken aback. Humanity had long dreamed of little grey men with bulbous black eyes and spindly limbs. What she saw before her was both familiar, and completely alien. Equine like beings were frozen in place. They were short, only coming up to about Chelsea's mid-thigh, with four legs, a tail, and two ears that sat on the top of their heads. Some of them were frozen still in the middle of walking, others looked like they were in the middle of a conversation.
Despite all of the signs of life, there was absolutely no movement in the city. It was as still as death.
Stepping forward past the gate, Chelsea placed her hand on the nearest creature. To her great surprise, they were warm, though their hearts don't beat and their lungs didn't breath. She pulled her hand away quickly, startled. She stared at the little alien for a moment before backing away.
Chelsea wandered through the streets of the city. Through the windows of the buildings she could see that they were restaurants, shops, homes, and businesses. Everywhere she looked there were little equines everywhere, ponies she realized. Even if that wasn't what they called themselves, they looked almost exactly like ponies she had seen growing up.
Unlike the rest of the city, a large, circular building sat near the edge of one of the walls, away from the dim lights of the streets. Chelsea couldn't help but think that it looked familiar. It took her a moment to realize it looked like an observatory.
Stepping inside, she found her guess to be correct. Chelsea saw a group of ponies sitting around a massive telescope. Nearest the lens, she saw two ponies locked in a kiss, one dark blue and the other grey with a violet and white striped mane, and she wondered how long they had been stuck like that.
Something about that image made a ball of sadness grow in her stomach and she fled from the building. Chelsea continued back outside of the observatory, taking a deep breath as the sadness disappeared nearly as quickly as it had come.
Looking down the road, she found herself looking up at the massive castle that rested at the end. She felt drawn towards it, like there was a force pulling her along. She wondered how advanced these ponies were, to have built this castle hanging out over the side of the mountain. It was a feat that she knew human engineers would struggle to replicate.
It didn't take her long to reach the entrance of the castle. She was able to walk right past the guards and through the open gate. The guards were frozen in place, forever guarding their post.
Pushing open the front doors, Chelsea found that everyone inside was in the same state as the rest of the city. There were maids and butlers working hard at cleaning the castle from the activities of the day. In a great dining hall, nobles were eating their dinners and sharing drinks.
Chelsea walked through the castle, and stumbles across the throne room.
Unlike the rest of the world that she had seen, the throne room seemed to be almost alive. There was something about it that seemed to breath with life, even though it was just as still as everything else.
Two thrones sat at the other end of the throne room, at the top of a pair of staircases. One was made of what looked like gold, with a sun at the top made of yellow jewels. Its opposite looked like it was made of obsidian, with a silvery crescent moon at the top.
Behind the two thrones, Chelsea blinked as she saw a sight unlike anything she had ever imagined seeing. Unlike the rest of the ponies she had seen, the two were massive, taller than her even. They sat on a small bridge that connected the thrones, leaning against each other as they looked up at the moon through the great window behind and between the thrones.
The biggest had a pure white coat, with a flowing mane that looked like it was made of a sparkling aurora. A spiraling horn rose from her head, and two great, feathery wings were folded against her sides. Chelsea didn't know how she knew the ponies were female, but she had a sense about it.
The one standing next to her was smaller, but only by a bit. She was a dark blue, nearly black, with an ethereal mane that looked like it was made of stars and galaxies. She also had a horn and wings, though she was far slimmer than her companion.
Taking a step into the throne room, Chelsea jumped back in surprise when with a whir, a pedestal rose up from the center of the room, flashing a soft, yellow light.
Chelsea waited a moment to see if anything bad was going to happen, staring at the pedestal like it was about to sprout a turret and open fire on her. After a minute, after nothing had happened, she walked up to the pedestal to find that an ornate golden button in the center.
Chelsea jumped back as a hologram of a grotesque creature appeared, seeming to have been cobbled together from spare pieces of animal parts. It appeared floating above the pedestal, grinning down at her as it glowed a translucent blue. It followed her movements with its eyes, an unnaturally wide grin on its face.
"What..." Chelsea gulped, feeling the urge to run. " What are you?"
"Why I'm a Draconequus." The creature bowed, sweeping one arm forward. "Though you can just call me Discord."
"What?" Chelsea blinked, any terror she had disappearing at the strangeness of the answer.
"It doesn't really matter." The hologram, Discord, sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"What's happening here?" Chelsea had to crane her neck up to meet Discord's eyes. "Why is everyone frozen? Where did the dyson sphere come from?"
"Better!" Discord waved his arms around, motioning at everything around them.
"It doesn't matter where the sphere came from. It's here. It's not going anywhere." Discord rolled his eyes, crossing his arms. "The question you really want answered is why everyone is frozen."
"... Well?" Chelsea finally asked after Discord didn't respond to her.
"I'm getting to that." Holding up a hand to her, Discord sighed. "Mortals are always so rushed. Cut me a little slack. I'm only a recording after all."
"A recording?" Chelsea's brow scrunched in confusion. "Then how are you talking to me?"
Chelsea blinked and Discord waved that away.
"It doesn't matter." Discord straightened, his tail whipping around behind him. "Don't think about it. It'll make your little mortal head hurt."
"Now, these These poor souls have been stuck like this for a very, very long time. They've been waiting for someone just like you to come along." Discord pointed down at the button on the pedestal below him. "To wake them up, all you need to do is press that button."
"Wake them up? Why would I want to do that?" Chelsea had seen enough holofilms to know that waking aliens was never a good idea. "What if they just want to eat my face off? I don't want to die."
"They're ponies." Discord rolled his eyes, scoffing. "They're far more likely to offer you a salad."
"Alright..." Chelsea was silent for a long moment, watching Discord carefully. "I just... press this button?"
"That's all you need to do." The hologram disappeared, and once again everything was silent.
Chelsea looked at the button for what felt like an eternity, wondering just what pressing it would do. Shutting her eyes, wincing, and looking away she finally gathered her courage and slammed her fist down onto the button.
At once, the air begins to move, as if released from its prison.
There were two great gasps from above the throne. Chelsea looked up just in time to see the two giant ponies collapse to the ground, their chests heaving.