By: Muppetz (!Gsih3Wfnlk)
Celestia paced back and forth in her chamber, reviewing the chart levitating a few inches from her nose. Her brow furrowed,unsatisfied with its contents. Exasperated, she threw the clipboard down on her desk, more forcefully than she had intended, accidentally knocking over a folder labeled "TOP SECRET- TIER 1." It fell to the floor and spilled several photographs. Celestia let out a tired sigh and her shoulders sagged. She was grateful for the privacy she enjoyed in her quarters, it allowed her to loosen up a bit, or in this case, vent her obvious frustration. She began to telekinetically scoop up the pictures one by one, taking another hard look at each image of twisted, burning metal and scorched earth before placing them back in their folder. One specific photo confused Celestia. It was of a large charred piece of steel with the markings, "R-V38-X-540" and the flag of a nation that never existed. She contemplated it a bit before it floated past her and settled itself in its place back in the folder. More photos floated past her eyes, some even she had difficulty looking at. Images littered with torn flesh, eyes staring lifelessly into the distance, limbs jutting out in skewed angles. She desired to simply hide those photos away but she forced herself to examine them, scouring them for any sign of what could have caused this. Another photo raised floated by. Almost a dozen corpses: all stretched out in a row, covered by white, bloodstained sheets. She placed the rest of the photos in the folder, save for one, and set the file back on her desk. She let out an exhausted sigh. She technically didn't need sleep, but she often found it helped her function more efficiently, and she had gone without it for almost a week. She re-examined the chart for the tenth time hoping that there was something, anything, she may have missed. "No notable progress." She stared at the words, wishing they would change, but they remained quite the same. She raised the one remaining photograph, arguably the most important photograph, and inspected it. It was a hospital room. The patient in the bed was covered in tubes and wires, hardly identifiable underneath all the bandages that encased it. Celestia did not know what to make of it; she only knew one thing for sure…It wasn'tfrom here.
Twilight hustled about her library late at night, darting from shelf to shelf in a near-panicked fervor. She plucked random books from shelves before dropping them into a large luggage case. A young purple dragon tried desperately to calm the young mare, but she disregarded him, continuing to dash about the building.
"Twilight you have to chill out! You're going to give yourself an aneurysm. I mean it's probably nothing, maybe she just wants to talk or catch up or something." He said, trying to block the pony from her bookshelves. She wrapped him in an aura of purple magic and whisked him out of the way, as if he were nothing more than a cobweb.
"Spike! You read the letter. You know the Princess wouldn't ask something like this unless it was an absolute emergency!" She replied, still bolting about gathering books, carefully selecting which could be most useful given the Princess' rather vague letter.
"It might just be a casual visit." Said Spike, still trying in vain to get Twilight to calm herself. She shot him a narrow gaze before whipping out a letter marked with the royal seal.
"My dearest and most faithful student Twilight," She began as Spike rolled his eyes. "It is with a heavy heart that I write at this time, for I fear that, once again, Equestria is in dire need of your assistance. I'm afraid that I must ask you and the other Elements to please join me in the capital. I understand that this is quite a lot to ask of you and your friends, but I am afraid that I am left with little choice. I apologize, but I am unable to tell you why you must make this trip. However I assure you, it is a delicate matter which requires the up-most secrecy. It was my wish not to entangle you or your friends in such affairs but I have run out of options. I am sending my own elite personal guard to come collect you and your friends in the morning. Please be ready, as your expediency in this matter is paramount. Signed, Princess Celestia of Equestria." She finished, and turned to Spike. "Does that sound like a casualvisit to you?"
"…no." Spike knew he had been beat. "but you still need to slow down. You only have a few hours before sunrise, and exhausting yourself doesn't do you OR the princess any good." This line of reasoning had more effect.
"Uhg! I know!" Twilight cried, as she plopped herself down in the middle of the room. "But what am I supposed to do? She didn't tell me what she needs us for. We could be doing anything, so I need to be ready for anything."
"Twilight, You and I both know you have read and re-read every book in this library at least three times. You're the most powerful and talented unicorn I have ever met in my entire life," Twilight brightened a bit. "And you have the most dedicated friends in all of Equestria backing you up. If anypony can handle Celestia's problem, it's you." Twilight smiled and picked herself up, walking over to Spike.
"Thanks Spike," She said, wrapping a foreleg around him in a tight hug. "You really are my number one assistant."
"That's what I'm here for sister." He said confidently. "Now go get some sleep. I'll clean up this mess."
"Thanks Spike, I don't know what I'd do without you." She made her way to the stairs which led to her bedroom, and Spike began picking up books off the floor and tossing them up towards the ceiling, where they were snatched mid air by a large brown barn owl, who then deposited them on their proper shelves.
Twilight settled down into her bed, but as hard as she tried, she couldn't seem to keep her eyes closed. Too many unanswered questions floated around her head. She hoped that she wasn't the only one having trouble sleeping. Most of her friends had been present when the letter arrived, and they seemed just as confused and frightened by the implications as she was. Applejack had been the first to excuse herself, saying she needed to alert her family and make preparations for her absence from the farm, which, not surprisingly, seemed to be her biggest concern, along with the need to inform Fluttershy who would, undoubtedly, be mortified at the prospect. Rarity quickly followed suit, musing aloud about what in the world she was going to wear, whether or not to pack this or that, if she would get the opportunity to mingle with the royals and if so which formal dress she should pack. Rainbow Dash seemed all too excited about the "mission" as she kept calling it. She kept raving, "This is so AWESOME! I'll bet the princess is going to send us on some super dangerous deadly covert operation, where we'll hold the fate of the world in our hooves! SpecialAgentDash," She repeated to herself a few times. "Man that sounds SO COOL! I wonder if we'll get to go undercover. Maybe were going to Stalliongrad! You know? To like, be spies?" Dash kept on for a good 5 minutes, imagining every possible, albeit improbable, scenario that her polychromatic head could envision. She eventually sped off for her cloud home, realizing she needed to get ready. Pinkie Pie followed suit, all too concerned about which particular brand of sweets would be the most well received in Canterlot.
Twilight lay in her bed, desperately wishing for sleep. She let her eyes wander out her window. Luna's namesake hung high in the night sky. The moon always calmed Twilight. It cast its soft glow on the trees and roof tops, giving everything a silver-blue highlight. The stars twinkled around the moon, accenting its orb perfectly. A beam of moonlight from the window cast itself on Twilight's bed, and her lids soon grew heavy. Eventually the yawns got the best of her and she drifted into a deep sleep.
Twilight paced back and forth in front of her library, occasionally pausing to open up a large piece of luggage to double check its contents and make sure they hadn't disappeared. Rainbow dash napped on the grass, her colorful head resting on the rather small bag she had packed for the trip. Applejack had a similar idea; the rim of her down-turned Stetson covered most of her face, although it wasn't really clear whether or not she was actually asleep. Pinkie pie rummaged about in her pink luggage case, and from the sound of it, she was already busy devouring whatever snacks she had packed for the trip. Rarity absentmindedly read a magazine while running a small file over her already-perfect white hooves. Fluttershy entertained herself by playing with, and occasionally talking to, a small ladybug, which crawled around on one of her butter yellow hooves. The sun hadn't yet breached the horizon, but it was light enough to see clearly. As if on cue, the sun peeked above the horizon and beamed rays upon the trees.
"Anymomentnow"Twilight thought, eyes glued skyward towards Canterlot. A few minutes later she noticed six black dots heading from the direction of the capital city towards Ponyville. After a moment she identified the objects as six golden chariots, each pulled by four stallions, resplendent in golden armor. Twilight alerted her friends, earning a whiny moan from Rainbow Dash about "five more minutes!" The unicorn levitated the pegasus to her feet, and the six mares readied themselves. A few moments later, the chariots landed in the street in front of the group. They lined up in a long row as an impressive (but Twilight felt unnecessary) show of force. Luckily most local ponies weren't up this early, so the display went unnoticed by the town. The stallions in the front right of each chariot formation detached from their group and approached the girls. One stepped forward and bowed slightly.
"Ms. Sparkle?" He asked in a gruff voice.
"Yes?" She replied.
"My name is Lieutenant Silver. I am under orders to escort you and the other Elements of Harmony to Canterlot. Do you require time to prepare yourselves or are you ready to depart?" Twilight looked back at her friends who all gave their nod of approval.
"We're ready." She said with a sense of finality.
"Excellent." The Lieutenant motioned with a hoof and the other guards began to load the girls' luggage on to every other chariot. Twilight watched for a while, slightly confused by the unnecessarily large number of chariots the princess had sent.
"Excuse me sir?" Twilight asked the unicorn timidly. The lieutenant ceased directing his guards to look at her.
"Yes ma'am, Is there anything you need?"
"Oh, no, I was just wondering…why the princess went through all this," She gestured toward the convoy of chariots and war horses. "…all just to pick us up for a ride to Canterlot." The stallion seemed to grow wary at the question, as if something about it had frightened him.
"I'm afraid that information is slightly above my pay grade ma'am. This pick up was orchestrated by Princess Celestia herself." Twilight was expecting a bit more of an answer than that.
"But why? What's going on that has the Princess in such a twist?" The tall pony seemed to relent a bit, his demeanor becoming even more uncomfortable.
"If I knew the answer to that, I'm sure I wouldn't be allowed to tell you. The palace has been a bit hecticlately. I haven't seen her majesty this unsettled in a very long time. Whatever she's up to, she's playing it VERY close to the chest." This didn't alleviate Twilight's fears. She occupied herself by chewing on the end of a lock of her purple mane.
"I'm tellin' ya ah can get it mahself!" Applejack interjected from over by her luggage case, where she was giving two guards a rough time.
"Please just let us do our jobs Ms. Applejack," one tried to reason.
"Ahm perfectly capable of pickin' up mah own things, thank you very much!"
Rarity stepped forward and placed a hoof on Applejack's shoulder. "Darling, they're just trying to help. We all know you're more than able to handle yourself, but these ponies have a job to do. Just let them take the suitcase dear." Applejack didn't respond but she unhappily sidestepped and allowed the guards access to her luggage. Pinkie insisted on grabbing an armful of cookies from her case before surrendering it to the guards. She then insisted they each have one for their "super duper good jobs loading all that super heavy stuff." The guards each politely refused, but Pinkie was rather…persistent, and before long each of them were nibbling on a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Despite the circumstances, the scene was quite humorous.
As soon as the last of the girls' belongings were loaded the Lieutenant ordered the soldier ponies back to their stations pulling the chariots. He directed Twilight and Rainbow Dash to the chariot second in line and they entered and seated themselves. Applejack and Fluttershy were directed to the fourth, Pinkie Pie and Rarity to the sixth. Twilight was, once again, concerned by the odd behavior of the guards.
"Umm…Lieutenant?" She called from her spot in the chariot. He trotted over to her.
"Yes Ms. Sparkle?"
"I'm sorry to keep pestering you, but why exactly are half of these chariots empty? I mean the one up front could easily hold all six of us. Why not just send us all in that one?"
"In the event of an ambush the lead vehicle is always the first to be attacked, and have you ever heard the expression 'don't put all your eggs in one basket'?" She had gone a bit pale, but nodded, wondering if the situation was really that bad. The guard pony picked up on her reaction. "I wouldn't worry about it Ms. Twilight, there hasn't been any sign of direct aggression toward the crown in over 600 years. I'm sure the princess is merely being overly protective of her most prized student and her friends." He finished with what an attempt at a reassuring smile. It didn't help much. He took his place on the lead team, and motioned for them to take off. The first chariot left empty, followed shortly by the second, and so on. Soon the entire convoy had left Ponyville long behind. An aerial trip from Canterlot to Ponyville usually took only 15 to 20 minutes. The prominent mountainside capital was visible from Ponyville. It was truly a sight to behold; a magnificent feat of construction, a seamless synthesis of unicorn magic and architectural ingenuity. With their destination rapidly approaching, Twilight felt her gut twist in anticipation. Rainbow Dash was all too eager to get to the city.
"I could have flown there twice by now!" She sighed as she impatiently tapped a hoof. Twilight wished she shared Rainbow's confidence, but she felt a lead weight in her stomach that gave her a rotten feeling about this whole situation.
They landed in a large courtyard directly behind the palace of the royal sisters. Rarity stepped down from the golden chariot, and drank in the view of the castle. It was a marvelous sight; it shined like a diamond in the sun's morning rays. Now this was the kind of place a lady truly belonged. She moved to join the others, walking as gracefully and dignified as possible. The girls were then escorted inside the castle and led to a spacious lounge where they were told to wait. They sat for about 15 minutes before Celestia finally walked in, with Luna in tow. The girls all scrambled to bow before the monarchs, and Celestia motioned for them to rise. She looked tired. Her normally flowing flawless mane was a bit less shiny and not nearly as wavy, as if the invisible breeze that seemed to constantly follow her had died to a whisper. Still she managed to smile brightly and she went to nuzzle Twilight, which Twilight returned with enthusiasm.
"Hello my faithful student."
"Hello Princess." She spoke with poorly suppressed relief. Now that Celestia was here, she felt the tightness in her gut loosen; the presence of the sun goddess assuaged the dread accumulating in her heart. Luna then interjected.
"I hate to break this up, Tia, but I'm sure they are all quite curious as to why we have plucked them from their homes and brought them here."
"Of course, my apologies," She took a moment to compose herself. "Girls, what I am about to tell you is currently the most closely guarded secret in the Equestrian government. Barely a handful of ponies outside my sister and I have been briefed on it, and even fewer have been given a full report. It was against my wishes to do this, and it breaks my heart to ask it of you, but before we can proceed any further," She let out a deep sigh, clearly uncomfortable with the track the conversation was on. "…I'm afraid I must ask you all to submit yourselves to a spell which would render you incapable of repeating any of this information, whether by accident or by force, to any who may misuse it." The girls were taken aback. What the princesses were asking for was in no way, a small favor. Rarity spoke, "Is that really necessary your majesty? Do you not trust us?" Celestia's face seemed to drain itself of happiness. Her head lowered slightly. This was exactly what she had hoped to avoid implying.
"It's not a matter of trust girls. It's a matter of safety. I trust you all with my very life, but this is far more delicate a matter than you can imagine. This revelation could very well upset the entire balance of our world." A sliver of steel entered her voice. "I'm sorry girls, I truly am, but this is how it has to be. If you elect against the spell, I would not blame you for even a moment. I understand it is a lot to ask of you, but should you decide against it, I will thank you for your time and you may simply return to the courtyard and the guards will take you anywhere you would like to go." The girls remained silent for a moment, each grappling with the infinite implications. They were at a crossroads; their decision would forever change their lives, and it could not be made lightly. Twilight stood up to her full height and boldly approached the Princesses. Her face bore hard determination.
"I'll do it; I trust you, your majesties. I understand you would not ask this unless it was absolutely necessary."
"I'll do it too." came a diminutive voice from the back of the group. All were surprised to see that it came from Fluttershy. However, the more they thought about it, the more it made sense. Fluttershy always helped anypony in need, and the Princesses clearly needed her help. With that, each of the other girls quickly followed suit, nodding in approval to the goddesses. Celestia's horn glowed white hot, and so did each of the six mares. A strange tingling sensation enveloped their throats. The sensation reverberated through their vocal chords as it worked its way up to their tongues. When the spell was finished, each of the girls sat dazed, chewing the strange feeling out of their jaws.
"Excellent," Celestia said with an obvious air of relief. "Now, Luna if you would so kindly…" The dark blue alicorn nodded and her horn glowed softly as the doors and windows all shimmered in a protective sound proofing spell.
"Now, if you girls would like to make yourselves comfortable this may take a while to explain." Princess Luna suggested, and the mares found cushions and armchairs to rest on. They formed a semicircle around the two princesses. Luna continued, "Six days ago, at approximately 0200 hours, I spotted an unidentified object descending through the upper atmosphere at an alarming rate. My first reaction was that it was merely a larger meteorite or some other space debris, but upon closer inspection it became evident that this was not the case." Luna's horn lit up and an image projected into the center of the circle: A large bright ball falling through the night sky, surrounded by a cone of fire. "As it came closer, it was clear that the object was mechanical. And it was NOT one of ours." The girls were captivated and amazed, minds boggled by the implications. "The craft was apparently somehow damaged and could no longer maintain altitude. It crashed roughly 65 clicks south of Manehatten." Luna then projected a picture of the crash site, flaming piles of wreckage scattered around a smoking crater. "I was one of the first to arrive on the scene. We were able to shield it from the eyes of the general public. The craft was irreparably damaged. There were no survivors. The entire crew of the vessel, maybe a dozen or so, were D.O.A."
"That's terrible." Fluttershy squeaked, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Even Rarity had a hoof placed over her mouth in shock.
"Yes…" Luna continued, "but I am afraid that is not where the story ends. The bodies and wreckage were moved here to Canterlot and placed in a secure facility. Some of our top scientists and mechanics examined the wreckage. The vessel was obviously no longer functional, but they were able to glean a few of its secrets. We still aren't clear to its exact purpose, but we do know that it is a highly advanced piece of machinery most likely designed for voyages into deep space. It was powered by engines more advanced than any we have ever been able to produce, and capable of generating staggering amounts of power. It uses technologies that are still in the theoretic phase of our most advanced science research. Our best medical professionals and healers studied the bodies, which were most likely the most important facet of this whole catastrophe."
"Ah don't mean ta sound insenitive," Applejack spoke up. "…but why exactly are the bodies of some poor ponies so important, when ya have some sorta super advanced flyin' machine ta worry about? Ah mean, shouldn't ya be focusin' on which country this thing came from, and maybe askin' them about it rather then bein' all secretive and sneaky?" The princesses exchanged an uneasy look. Celestia finally answered her.
"Because Applejack…they…weren't ponies." Applejack's mouth worked for a moment as if trying to form words, but she instead settled on a very confused look, and kept her mouth shut.
"As my sister said, these creatures are not equine in nature. Nor are they any other species we have a classification for." Luna stopped to take a deep breath. "At this time we believe that these beings are extra terrestrial lifeforms."
"Wait wait wait wait wait…Let me get this straight." Rainbow Dash stood up and interrupted. "Are you trying to tell me, that aliens crashed here in Equestria?" She finished with a sarcastic laugh.
Dash's face lost all traces of humor and she plopped back down on her haunches, a bit paler than before.
"Excuse me, your majesty?" Twilight spoke up. "This is all very fascinating and terrifying, but I still don't understand why you need us here."
"Well…" Luna replied. "…do you remember when I told you there were no survivors?"
"…yes." Twilight's eyes narrowed in slight confusion.
The girls all sat in a semi circle around the Goddesses of the sun and the moon, jaws agape. Rarity was the first to regain her composure.
"So you actually…have one of them, alive?"
"Long story short, yes." Celestia answered. Dash shook herself free of the shocked daze she was in.
"Really? That…is so…AWESOME! Can we see it! Please!"
"That was actually our next stop. If you girls are ready we can go now." The girls all scrambled to their feet, eager to get a look at the creature.
They followed the Princesses deep into the castle, walking for almost twenty minutes following corridor after corridor. They finally reached a set of double doors guarded by six soldier ponies all in full armor. The guards allowed them to pass only after Celestia gave specific orders to allow the girls through as well. Soon, they came to the castle's medical wing. The door bore a menacing looking "QUARANTINE" sign, along with "DO NOT ENTER" and several other scary warnings. Another group of guards stood at this door allowing nopony to pass; the doors opened only for Celestia, Luna, and a chosen few other individuals. Once beyond this portal Twilight noticed a distinct lack of ponies. It seemed the princess had commandeered the entire medical wing. A handful of ponies darted here or there scurrying about with charts, x-rays, and the like. The princess led the girls to a large steel door. She stopped before entering and turned to face the girls.
"Now, it isn't a pretty sight. It was injured very badly in the crash, so I will urge anypony with a weak stomach to remain here." When none of the girls spoke up Celestia opened the door. It led to an empty room with a large window in the far wall. Visible through the window in a room beyond was a hospital bed. On the bed lay a mass of wires and tubes so thick it was difficult to decipher the figure that lay beneath them. It was somewhat similar anatomically to a pony. It had four legs, the two closest to its head were considerably smaller, but still appeared well muscled and more importantly ended with dragon-like hands, rather than hooves. It's head was misshapen: It had no snout to speak of other than a slight protrusion below its eyes with two small holes, and these were plugged with clear tubing. Twilight assumed that was the creature's nose. It had a mouth, but this was occupied by a larger plastic tube which pumped gas into the creature. Its chest rose and fell rhythmically. Its mane was cropped to a very thin buzz and ended short at the base of its neck. The creature had hair only on its head, and it had some light fur on its chest and arms but other than that, it was mostly skin.
Celestia hadn't exaggerated. The alien was covered in burns and bruises. Most of its chest was plastered in gauze which Twilight assumed covered more severe burns. Its face had been cut and beaten. The left arm was covered in bandages from shoulder to finger. Its lower half was covered in a white sheet. Any skin that wasn't severely injured was connected to some wire or monitor, keeping track of its vital signs. Celestia began to speak.
"It is actually quite fascinating. He has essentially the same vital organs as any pony; heart, lungs, stomach, liver. If it were any different I'm sure we wouldn't have been able to keep him alive this long."
"…Him?" Twilight asked.
"Oh my yes. It's a male. It seems our anatomy was quite similar indeed." Twilight blushed slightly. "We aren't quite certain of his age. We think he is still fairly young. He is fully matured but we can't be certain how old they live to be exactly. Based solely on his cell growth, we estimated him to be anywhere from twenty to forty. Of course without knowing how old they can get, this is all just speculation and guesswork. For all we really know, in his own species eyes, he may still be a newborn, ." They stood and gawked for another few minutes. "Would you like to get a closer look?" Celestia actually sounded a bit excited, as if she were happy to finally have somepony to share the discovery with. The mares nodded enthusiastically and Luna directed them to an unnoticed door in the side of the room. The door led to another empty room. It was stark white and covered in strange nozzles. The door sealed behind the group and a white disinfectant gas began pouring out of the nozzles. Once the ponies were all effectively sterile, a light on the ceiling flickered green and a second door opened, leading to the room which housed the alien. The girls all warily trotted over to get a better look, while Celestia and Luna busied themselves with the machines that were keeping it alive. Luna eventually trotted over to the group of mares ogling the alien. She then smiled and said,
"Look at this." She placed a hoof on the creatures face and pulled back on its upper lip, revealing a set of white teeth. "Notice anything?" She asked. Applejack spoke, "Its teeth are…sharp. 'Specialy them four." She indicated the four canine teeth jutting from its gums. "That means it's a carnivore don't it? It eats meat." Luna smiled, "Very good, that's what we assumed at first too, but look." She pulled back further revealing the teeth in the back of its mouth. They were much more flat, designed to chew both plants and animals. "Omnivore!" She said, a little too excitedly.
"What's wrong with it? Why won't it wake up?" Fluttershy spoke at a barely audible level. Celestia answered. "Well, by all means he should be long dead, and if anyone other than Luna or I had arrived when we did, he likely would have been. He was trying his hardest to cling to life but he had sustained injuries that no living thing should have been able to survive." Then, as if to emphasize Celestia's point Luna began reading from a chart.
"Skull fractures, severe concussions, left foreleg shattered. Six broken ribs, left lung punctured, spinal fracture, right hip broken, several organs bleeding internally, right rear leg broken in two places, and burns covering almost 20% of his body. He's had a bad week." She bluntly summarized.
"So why can't you just, you know, heal him with magic?" Dash asked.
"We tried," Celestia answered. "We received…mixed results. We were able to reset most of his bones, and stop the internal bleeding, but it's strange. He seems…resistant to magic. When we try to heal a cut, sometimes it works, other times his own cells turn on the magically healed area, they seem to reject the healed tissue and it kills off its own cells. He seems to mostly reject minor healing spells. We have been slightly more successful with the more complex spells, but we, more than once, have inadvertently almost killed him. You must understand that no creature should have survived such wounds, magic or no. We debated for a long time simply allowing the poor thing to die, but we decided there was a chance we could save it and possibly learn more about it. That's where you girls come in." The mares all stopped and gave her their full attention. "We have exhausted every avenue we could, yet he still hasn't shown any sign of waking out of this comatose state. It seems that the joint power of both Luna and I just isn't enough. The combined Elements of Harmony are one of the most powerful and ancient magics in existence. Luna and I were hoping to tap that power and combine it with our own. Then perhaps we'll have a shot at saving him."
"When exactly are you planning on trying this?" Twilight asked, eager to get started.
"Tomorrow," Luna answered. "You girls are surely quite tired from today's excitement, and the spell is by no means an easy one. We want you all to be well rested before we attempt it."
Satisfied with finally having a solid plan, the girls returned to inspecting the alien.
"Do ya think we oughta try and learn a bit more about it before we go wakin' it up?" AJ asked. "Ah mean, how do we know he's gonna be friendly?"
"We don't really," Celestia answered. "but we have actually learned a surprising amount about it. It's a carbon based bipedal, highly dexterous creature. It breathes oxygen; it's comprised mostly of water, all very similar to a pony. The only real difference is its shape."
"What's all this?" Pinkie said, her lower half sticking out the top of a large metal crate.
"That's everything the alien had in its possession, when we first brought it here." Pinkie began digging through the box. She picked out a large pair of tan boots, and some rather strange looking clothes. The other girls soon joined her in examining the creature's odd possessions. They found a pair of pants, with matching blouse that made Rarity gag. They were both made of a durable material, on which was printed several thousand tiny squares, each a slightly different color of tan or brown, in strange, seemingly erratic grouping patterns. The effect created a camouflaged look. A gold leaf was stitched into the garment. The pants had several pockets both in the front, back, and down the legs. The blouse had two pockets on the breast of the garment. Dash slipped her forelegs in the arm holes and stood on her hind legs. She admired herself in the alien clothing.
"I kinda like it." She announced. "It's very intimidating." She chuckled and Twilight noticed some text sewn on top of either pocket. She questioned Celestia about it.
"We think that's his name, maybe the name of his family or clan. We can't really be sure."
Twilight read the letters. "DORAN" was stitched above the right pocket. "U.S. MARINES" was stitched above the other. She found more clothes, a tan shirt, a pair of shorts, even socks. She placed his clothes aside and continued digging. Something shiny caught her eye. She pulled out a long silver chain on which were two metal tags. Both engraved with the same message.
SHANE, T. O-NEG
540 33 6010
"What about these?" Twilight asked holding them up.
"Again, we can't say for sure but we think it's a form of identification tag."
Twilight then came upon a heavier piece of metal. It was L shaped with a molded handle which would have fit his hand perfectly. The long end of the L ended with a steel tube which ran the length of the piece, and a small lever protected by a band of steel which joined at either arm of the L. Twilight held it up to Celestia.
"Any idea what this is?"
"We assumed it to be some type of weapon." She said, "I'd be careful with it if I were you. We studied it a bit and it seems that it harnesses a combustible powder, to send metal slugs out of that barrel at incredible speeds. It's either a weapon or it fulfills some other use we couldn't think of." Another item caught Twilight's eye: a mess of buckles and straps all connected to a sort of rectangular tube made of tough canvas. Twilight slid the metal device into the tube experimentally and it fit perfectly. Another strap wrapped around the base of the L and snapped onto the other side of the tube, securing it in place. Twilight gently set the device back down in its box. Most of the girls had gone back to staring at the sleeping alien. Pinkie scrutinized it with one bright blue eye.
"You say it's a he huh?" She examined his face. It certainly appeared masculine. He had a strong jaw, heavily muscled, but it was tough to tell with a creature she had never encountered before, let alone one this extensively bandaged. Pinkie began to lift the sheet of its waist before her hoof was brushed away by Rarity who was giving her a clearly disapproving look. The girls all chuckled.
"Alright, have you girls seen enough?" Luna asked. Despite their curiosity they realized how tired and hungry they were. They all nodded an affirmative, and the group left the creature to sleep in peace.
The Princesses treated the girls to a royal dinner before they were shown their rooms. Celestia announced they would have free reign of the castle but they were urged to get some rest. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day. Most of the girls went to explore the castle, however Twilight went to explore the library. She sat in front of a stack of medical tomes, healing spells, and anatomy. She strove to learn as much as she could about tomorrow's procedure before she attempted it.
Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash went back to the medical wing to get another look at the alien. They entered the facility and passed the quarantine doors. They stepped through the sanitizing spray and once again were back in the hospital room. Pinkie Pie took full advantage of their lack of supervision and climbed right up onto the bed with the alien. Legs on either side of it, she scrutinized it up close, face to face. She lifted and eyelid with her hoof. The pupil contracted inside a blue/green iris, but otherwise he kept staring off into nowhere.
"Helllloooooooo? Wake up Mr. sleepy bones!" She gently tapped him on the forehead. "Anypony home?" She waited a moment for a response but the only answer she received was the mechanical whir of the breathing machines. She hopped down and placed a cupcake on the bedside table.
"What's that for?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Duh, silly. He's been asleep for almost a week. He's gonna be hungry!"
"How do you even know it likes cupcakes? For all we know it's going to try and eat one of us." Dash seemed to realize what she had just said. She and Pinkie Pie shared a nervous look, both realizing that actuallywas a very likely possibility. Suddenly neither of them harbored any desire to be alone in the room with a potentially pony eating alien, and they began a not-so-casual sprint for the exit. They practically ran back through the castle. The met up with Rarity and Applejack who were exploring other mysteries of the castle grounds. After the girls had their fill of shenanigans, they retired to their respective rooms. Twilight remained nose deep in her books until she realized how late it was getting. She reluctantly retired as well.
The girls woke extra early, eager for the day to begin. They were served a large breakfast in the main lounge. They chatted non-stop about the alien, and whether or not they thought they could successfully wake it. The door creaked open and a few palace servants came to clean up after the girl's breakfast. The six mare's mouths were immediately forced shut. That strange tingle once again echoed through their vocal chords, rendering them speechless. The princesses' spell definitely worked although it startled them a bit, reminding them that this was no trivial matter. After the servants left, the mood in the room became more somber. The girls' thoughts began to drift toward some of the negatives of the situation.
"Ahm still not sure wakin' this thing up is such a great idea. Ah mean, we got no clue as ta what it's gonna do once it wakes up," AJ pointed out.
"…Well…um…we don't know that he's necessarily bad either. He may be very friendly, I'm sure he will be thankful for us saving him," Fluttershy replied.
"Maybe…" AJ sighed, "but how friendly do ya think it'll be when it finds all its friends are dead. No matter how friendly it is, it will still look mighty suspicious ta see almost a dozen of your kind all dead and in Equestrian custody." Fluttershy hid behind her own pink mane. She had to admit it was going to be an awkward conversation. Twilight spoke up.
"I think all we can do is try our best and hope that he is a reasonable being." She spoke with assurance. But deep down she felt just as wary as the others. Ironically, Fluttershy seemed to be the most confident about the creature. It was her nature to help nurse animals back to health, and this was simply a…big, alien, animal.
"Don't worry AJ, Let's say he does turn out to be some sorta pony-eating monster. He won't be able to do anything with BOTH the princesses there. I'm telling ya, we got nothing to worry about." Dash said, hovering around the ceiling.
"I'm quite certain Rainbow is right." Rarity spoke up. "But I simply can not help but agree with Applejack to a degree. I mean, let's say you are right Fluttershy and he turns out to be the most friendly gentlecolt one can imagine, but what do you think would happen if more of them show up here looking for their missing, and find them dead in an Equestrian facility….I doubt they would stop to ask our side of the story before they begin exacting their revenge." This line of reasoning hit the group hard. None of them had anticipated the possibility of more of these things showing up. The more they thought about it, the more nervous they got about the fast approaching procedure. As if on cue, Luna walked through the door followed closely by Celestia, who was looking much more like herself today. It appeared that she had finally gotten a good night's sleep. She spoke to the group in a chipper voice.
"Are you ready?" Her smile betrayed her obvious and contagious excitement. Now that the two goddesses were here, the mares felt as though nothing could ever go wrong. The girls all nodded enthusiastically and the group began the trek to the medical wing. The trip felt like it took ages. Each step carried weight. Every hoof fall brought them closer to the room where all their questions would be answered. They finally reached the door that lead to the observation room, but before entering, Celestia turned to the group.
"This is it girls, last chance. If any of you want out, I suggest you get out now."
"What? You expect us to quit now? HA! As if. Let's do this!" Dash said doing a little flip in the air.
"We're staying. We're in it till the end, princess." said Twilight with resolve. The princess nodded and moved through the door. The rest followed her though and into the sanitizing chamber. The stark white room once again filled with the sterilizing smoke, and once the girls no longer harbored any risk of infection the light flicked green and the second door unsealed and inched open. The princesses positioned themselves on either side of the bed. The girls took places in a semi circle ending with the two goddesses.
"Take a few deep breaths girls." Celestia said as she closed her eyes. Her brow lowered in deep concentration. The princesses' horns glowed, softly at first, but it quickly became brighter. Soon it flared so the girls could barely see. The bright aura of magic was blinding. The air grew hot and thick. Everything vibrated with energy. A thick copper taste covered their tongues. An arc of wild electricity connected the sun and moon goddesses. The lights in the room flickered and dimmed. Erratic flashes of lightning zapped to and from the princesses. Occasionally a bolt would arc away and dissipate against the walls or floor. Soon one string of electric fire linked itself from Celestia to Twilight, it then spread from Twilight to Rarity. The bolt followed the circuit joining each of the girls consecutively, until it reached back to Luna. It didn't hurt like an arc of electricity should, but it made Twilight's insides flash from hot to cold, and her heart beat furiously. She could feel the spell probing her entire being, searching for magical energies to absorb. She felt the spell tap in to her magic, but it also went deeper, commandeering some of the very depths of her soul. Twilight couldn't hear any more. Only an ear splitting ringing could be distinguished from the show of light and fire. Twilight managed to look up to Celestia, her eyes were wide, they glowed white hot, and sweat beaded her forehead. Her jaw was clenched under obvious strain. Twilight shifted her gaze to Luna, who seemed to be under similar tension. Her own eyes did not glow white, but rather deep blue, almost black. Twilight looked to her friends who were also squinting and dealing with similar afflictions, with the exception of Pinkie Pie who wore a pair of sunglasses and a wide, excited smile.
A bolt shot forward from each pony, and struck the alien in the chest. A vibrant spray of sparks and energy shot in all directions. The machines monitoring the creature went haywire. The heart monitor sounded alarms as his heart rate skyrocketed to almost 300 beats per minute. His blood pressure increased beyond dangerous levels, and his entire body seized. His muscles clenched and his entire mass spasmed violently. His face however gave no indication of cognizance. He still appeared fast asleep. He glistened as sweat poured through his skin. His temperature reached 101 degrees, and was continuing to inch higher. Sparks flew off the respirators as they stuttered to keep up with the oxygen his body was consuming. The entire creature began to glow. Soon Twilight couldn't see it beyond the cocoon of magic wrapping around it. The noise reached an unbearable level. Twilight's ears pressed down as hard as possible, attempting to block it, but she soon realized the noise was coming from inside her head. The cocoon grew brighter until she saw nothing else. The magic that enveloped the creature shattered with a thunderous crack and shot a shock wave in all directions, throwing the girls against the walls. The room dimmed to pitch black. Red light barely filled the void as emergency running board lights lit the floor. The girls staggered to their feet. Even Princess Celestia was knocked back on her haunches. Luna lowered her wings, which she had raised to protect herself. She hurried over to Rarity and Pinkie Pie who were in a tangled mess in the corner. The overhead lights slowly flickered into existence. Celestia helped Twilight to her hooves, before addressing the group.
"Everypony all right?" They groggily sounded off their affirmations. Dash sat on her rump, head held between her hooves.
"Barely." She complained.
"I'm sorry girls." Celestia said in a voice laced with regret. "I didn't know the reaction would be so…unstable." Her head lowered. "I should have done more research, but I cut corners and you girls paid the price for it. I'm sorry." Luna trotted over to her and lifted Celestia's head with a nuzzle.
"You did the best you could sister. You know we could have never predicted this. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before, especiallywith something from another planet." Celestia raised her head, and gave Luna a small smile, which quickly disappeared.
"Thank you, but it doesn't change the fact that this was still my fault. There were too many variables with this spell. I shouldn't have attempted it. And now any hope of solving this mystery died with him." She gestured back to the alien. The girls forgot about it in the explosion. The wires that connected it to the machines had been severed. The clear tube that had pushed air into its lungs was gone. Following the tube from the machine, Applejack held up the other end which had been melted off. The alien lay there, oblivious. Its cuts, bruises, and burns had all healed, but it showed no signs of life. It lay perfectly still. If anypony got a quick glance they may have assumed it was sleeping. Pinkie Pie fearlessly trotted up to the bed and rested her head on its sternum. She sat there for a moment.
"He's not dead." She stated matter-of-factly.
"What?" Celestia and Luna exclaimed in perfect unison. They both dashed over and pressed an ear to its chest. They could hear the distinct, ThumpThump,ThumpThump,of a beating heart. Suddenly it drew in a long breath, which caused all of them to take a step back. It began to take steady deep breaths.
"Dear me, …It is alive." Luna said in a clearly shocked voice. She then let out an amazed laugh. "It's alive! It worked!" Celestia didn't celebrate, however. She actually looked a bit concerned. She raised a hoof to his head and lifted an eyelid. The pupil contracted, but remained staring off into space. Celestia's horn lit up again. A beam of green light encased the creature and scanned it.
"I don't understand," she said. "Biologically it's perfectly healthy…but why hasn't it woken up?" She then telekinetically picked a machine off the floor and flicked a switch experimentally. The tiny screen flickered to life. Satisfied with the device, she grabbed two wires that protruded from the back and attached them to the patient's temples. The machine began to display an erratic looking string of green.
"What is that, exactly, Princess?" Rarity inquired.
"This," Celestia answered. "…is a machine that allows me to see somepony's brainwaves."
"What's it sayin' about his?" AJ piped up from across the room. Celestia turned the machine so that they all could see. She pointed with a hoof to the screen
"These, are his brain waves. More specifically Delta Waves, 2.11 Hz of them."
"Umm…one more time, in Equestrian this time maybe?" Dash said slightly aggravated. Luna spoke up.
"It means he is still verymuch asleep." She shifted her speech to her sister. "Maybe we underestimated the extent of brain damage. He has sustained injuries that no amount of magic should have been able to fix. There is no precedent to draw from here. I think we threw out the rule book a long time ago with this one, Tia." Celestia had to admit the truth in her sister's words.
"So what happens now?" Dash asked from her hovering spot above the alien.
"I… don't know." Celestia answered. "I suppose we'll just have to wait for a change. It's out of my hooves now. He's on his own."
The group left the room, defeated. Celestia stopped at the nurse's station and alerted them of the failed spell. She instructed them to keep an extra sharp watch on the creature and immediately inform her of any change, no matter how minor. The princesses led the group back to the study. The royals couldn't linger, as they each had royal duties to attend to. They told the mares they were welcome to stay as long as they liked, but if they chose to return home, a chariot would be available to escort them tomorrow morning. Twilight announced she would stay as long as the princess had need of her, the others heartily agreed.
Relatively free, they wandered for a bit, unsure what to do with themselves. Rarity immediately seized the opportunity to acquaint herself with the nobility of the capital city. She spent two hours in her room preparing herself before stepping out in a glimmering blue formal dress. Fluttershy went to relish in the royal gardens, Rainbow Dash went to go stretch her wings, and Applejack went to find some way to contact her family and alert them of her extended stay. Pinkie Pie was already gone; she had disappeared, seemingly into thin air. Twilight, not surprisingly, made her way back to the library. She didn't have a specific research goal, so she grabbed a few books on medicine and anatomy, and made her way back to the medical wing. She set up shop in the observation room and began taking notes. She documented everything from the creature itself, to the care that the princesses had administered so far. She entered the examination room with an anatomy book. Her horn glowed as she attempted to duplicate the scanning spell she had seen Celestia use earlier. She was met with limited success. The message was fuzzy, but she could identify the alien's presence. She fine tuned her spell a bit and the connection became much clearer. She scanned for any lingering injuries, but found none. The creature was as healthy as it had ever been, maybe more so.
"Sowhywon'tyouwakeup?" she thought.
Twilight had a new idea. She probed the alien's mind with her magic, scouring for any signs of consciousness, but she found no indications. Twilight returned to making notes of her findings. She wrote down everything she discovered about the creature. The alien had a few scars that were fully healed, implying they had been received well before the crash. It also gave her an idea of how their society functioned. They seemed to be far too advanced to still compete for mates, but she didn't rule that out entirely. They were obviously not a magic using species. It would explain why the wounds were not healed immediately, but rather healed over time. It also may have explained their far superior technology.
"Inventionisbornofnecessity,"Twilight mused to herself. "Perhapsifwedidn'thavemagicwetoowouldhavebeenforcedtoadaptmuchmorequickly."
She trotted over to the box which housed his belongings. She pulled out his metal tags. She copied their information down in her notes. She looked over to the alien. She looked back at the tags, and re read them. "Doran, Shane T." A thought crept into her head. She approached the creature and placed her mouth close to its ear.
A small beep rang from a machine behind her. It startled her slightly. But excited she smiled and tried again a little louder. "Shane?" The brainwave monitor beeped, and the green line jumped slightly. It was a small spike, but it excited her like a foal on her birthday. She almost shouted now. "Shane! Can you hear me?" The line jumped again. He was responsive! "Wake up Shane!" The line made a barely visible spike. "Wake up Shane T. Doran!" She looked desperately at the screen. It didn't even move this time. Her heart sank, She was losing him. "NO! Don't go back to sleep! WAKE UP! …SHANE!" She shouted at the comatose alien, visibly irritated at its fading cooperation. The line continued the pattern she now recognized as Delta waves. "Shane?" Nothing happened. "Helloooo!" Still nothing. She went sat back down at her temporary desk, highly disappointed, but she didn't let it mar the fact that for one brief moment he responded to an outside stimuli. She avidly recorded the event, making a note of telling the princess the very next chance she got. Hours passed as Twilight scribbled diligently, occasionally stopping to go check his heart rate or blood pressure. Once or twice she saw a female pony with a red cross for a cutie mark change out its IV. Each time the pony gave her a happy smile, but never exchanged more than a few pleasantries.
The sound of a few hoof beats roused Twilight out of her book, a textbook on modern medical practices. She turned around to see AJ and Rainbow Dash enter the room.
"Anythin' yet there Twi?" AJ asked.
"Not really, A few blips on the monitors but other than that…not a thing."
"C'mon sugarcube. We're gonna get ourselves some dinner and hit the hay." Twilight stood and stretched her legs. She followed them out, but first took one last look through the observation window. She sighed and followed her friends. While they were walking Dash hovered circles around them. She began to speak,
"Ya know. I've been thinkin'… What if this guy never wakes up?" Neither AJ or Twilight had an answer. "I think we aught to start selling tickets to get your picture taken with it." The girls all shared a laugh, thankful for the levity Dash brought to the group.
"I mean…what else are we gonna do, besides sit on our hooves and grow old waiting for this thing to finish napping?" Dash did bring up a good point. They didn't really have a game plan anymore. Twilight wasn't comfortable with just "playing it by ear". Still, they didn't have a choice in the matter. Resigned to wait, Twilight returned with her friends. None of the girls really noticed how much the day had taken out of them. They all yawned their way through dinner, and fell asleep almost the second their heads hit the pillow.
The girls were invited to have breakfast with the princesses, an offer which they heartily accepted. They discussed a few trivial matters but were unable to broach the topic which they all so desired. For they were, unfortunately, joined by a few members of the court. Twilight recognized a few of them. There was the current commander of the guard, who gave Twilight a wave and a happy smile. There was also numerous diplomats and government officials, most of whom Twilight could not identify. Luna was there as well. She sat next to Celestia doing a very poor job of concealing her boredom with the proceedings. Rarity was all in a fluster. She had not been told that this meal would take place in the presence of some of Canterlot's most notable ponies. She insisted she had a gown that would have been simply perfect for the setting, yet she had left it in her room. Despite her fussing she still managed to hit it off with the nobles; she schmoozed like a well oiled machine. When she wasn't busy making a name for herself, she kept busy pestering Applejack and Rainbow Dash about their horrid table manners. Fluttershy was, as usual, hiding behind a lock of her luxurious pink mane. She occasionally poked her head out to nibble at her meal. Pinkie Pie somehow managed to shovel staggering amounts of food into her tiny body. It didn't seem physically possible for all that food to fit inside the petite pink filly, but wise ponies had long since learned not to seek logical answers when Pinkie Pie was involved. After the meal, the group broke from the table and did their best to mingle with the princesses' guests. The commander of the guard approached Twilight.
"Hello Miss Sparkle!"
"Hello Commander, it's been too long." She gave the tall pony a friendly hug. She had met the colt numerous times during her tutelage under Celestia. She had grown accustomed to his presence, and he had become fond of her. He had no children of his own, and given his almost constant contact with Celestia, he had watched her grow up. Once or twice Celestia had even left Twilight in his care, when her duties forced her away.
"So! What is it that has Celestia in such strange mood lately?" Twilight panicked a bit. They hadn't yet thought of a cover story in the event somepony started asking questions. "I mean, if she were to confide in anyone, I just as well assume it would be you."
"Oh…um..yes, the princess, well, I …uh…" She stammered desperately grasping for any excuse that came to mind. But he cut her off.
"…and not to mention, it being important enough to recall her most faithful student AND the other Elements of Harmony. It doesn't seem like Celestia to go through all this trouble for a mere visit."
"Oh well, you know how the princess can get…" She chuckled nervously. He leaned intimidatingly closer and continued.
"Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd say Celestia was trying to hide something." Beads of sweat began forming on Twilight's forehead, and her fake smile grew to an arguably creepy level. "Perhaps it has something to do with the reports of a strange object crashing outside Manehatten?" He leaned in even closer, noses almost touching. She couldn't escape his piercing gaze. Just then Luna strode past and deadpanned,
"Relax Twilight, he knows everything," And then passed by. Twilight looked back at the commander who was now sporting a huge smile, barely containing his jollity. The look on Twilight's face was enough to send him over the top and he almost fell over from the strength of his boisterous laughing. Twilight let out her breath, which she realized she had been holding, and brought a hoof up to her chest in a futile attempt to get her heart to stop racing. She barely managed to speak.
"…why?" she pleaded, her voice colored with indignation and residual terror. He fought back any additional bursts of merriment and answered her.
"Just testing your mettle kid….Needless to say, you failed. But it's always fun watching you squirm." Twilight stared at him secretly hoping her looks could kill. He reached up a hoof and mussed up her mane. "Aw, don't be mad Sparky it was all in good fun." She stormed off to rejoin her friends leaving the still chuckling stallion behind. It wasn't the first time he had pulled a prank like this at her expense.
The girls left the gathering to return to the lounge. If it weren't for the whole "potential extra terrestrial invasion" thing, the trip would have been a lovely getaway. They didn't get many opportunities to be together for such an extended period of time. It always felt right being together. Life often tried to get in the way, but they knew in their hearts that nothing would or could ever separate them.
Several stories below, a nurse pony sat at her station. She quietly hummed to herself, filling out paperwork. Her ordinary duties consisted of assisting the princesses' royal physician, but Celestia herself had assigned her a special job. She and only a handful of others were given custody of some sort of new species. They hadn't been told where the princess had found the poor thing but it was so near death when they brought it in, she feared it wouldn't survive the night. But the Princesses had seen fit to directly intervene and keep the creature alive. The medical staff were given a rush course in its anatomy, and told to keep it breathing at all costs.
And by no stretch of the imagination had the creature made it easy on them. The first few nights it seemed to crash every other hour or so. Its heart would give out or it would have a nasty reaction to some healing spell. Lately however the beast had finally seemed to find some rest, (she wasn't sure that a coma counted as rest) but it was still a good thing. It was at least staying alive by itself now…for the most part. The Princesses had even recruited the Elements of Harmony for one big shebang of a healing spell, but from she had been told, they had not succeeded in waking the thing from its sleep. Most of the "on call" medical staff elected to return to their usual schedules after learning the animal no longer harbored much chance of waking. She volunteered to stay behind. She was curious to see where this adventure was going to take her…and she had to admit, the increased pay helped a lot.
A shocking sound shattered the silence of the deserted medical wing, a noise she recognized all too clearly. Her heart sank into her stomach.
The mare leapt to her hooves and sprinted towards the only room in the medical wing with a patient. The obnoxious beeping she sought sounded the alert of a patient going into cardiac arrest. She had to stop a moment to grab a crash cart. The rapid beeps of the alarm died for a moment and she slowed to try and hear it. The beeping had stopped, but the noise that replaced it made her insides freeze: the high pitched tone of a flat-lining heart monitor. Every alarm in the room blared. It was a horrible chorus of death, lamenting to whoever was unfortunate enough to hear its music. She raced to the door, barged her way through, and stuffed herself in the sanitizing chamber. If she had only stopped a moment she would have noticed a set of terrified blue green eyes watching her through the observation window. She didn't even wait for the sprays to finish but rather she attempted to pry open the second door and force her way inside.
She stood for a moment, very confused. She was definitely in the right room. All the life support machines were sounding and flashing obnoxiously…but the bed was empty. "…thisisjustlikethebeginningofeveryhorrormovieIhaveeverseen." She heard the door close behind her as whatever had been hiding behind pushed it shut. "Yep,JUSTlikeeveryhorrormovie." Her vision went black as something collided with the back of her head, and she fell to the ground.
Twilight decided to check up on their inter-planetary friend one more time before hitting the town with the girls, who were waiting for her in the castle courtyard. She trotted through the hallways and passages that made up the now-familiar route to the medical wing. She passed the sets of double doors that led to the medical facility itself, and after passing the nurses station, she immediately noticed something was out of place. The friendly nurse who usually sat there was missing. And even more jarring, some almighty racket seemed to be emanating from the room which housed the alien. Dread filled Twilight as she cautiously moved toward the room. She barely took a step before she was stopped dead in her tracks.
She was frozen in terror. A tall, two legged figure stalked out of the room…very much awake. Time seemed to slow down, emphasizing the absolute enormity of the moment. The alien paused as it noticed Twilight shuddering in fear. It met her gaze. Its eyes bored into hers with uncertainty, as if deciding whether or not the small purple mare was a threat. Twilight noticed that it had found its clothes and its weapon, which was strapped to its right thigh. It was much taller than it appeared laying prone in the bed unconscious. Twilight's head only came up to about its stomach. It was probably 9 hands or so taller than she was. How long they stayed there staring in shocked apprehension Twilight had no idea. But the sound of angry shouts and the thunderous pounding of armored hooves snapped them out of their impasse. Twilight saw the guards round a corner much farther down the hallway. They slowed as they beheld the strange creature, but did not halt their charge. The alien looked back and forth between the guards barreling toward him and Twilight a few times before it lowered itself and took off in a dead sprint, directly at Twilight. Every fiber of her being screamed for her to move, but her terror stricken limbs would not budge, despite the monster ahead. It was only fifteen feet away now, still in a full-on sprint. Twilight's hooves finally dislodged and she galloped in the opposite direction. The alien followed her. It was fast but not nearly as fast as a full grown pony—a fact that, Twilight hoped, would allow the guards to catch it before it caught her. Twilight just ran for a few horror filled moments. There was distance between her and the alien, but it was still following. "MaybeitthinksI'llleadittoanexit," she desperately thought. She turned a corner and died inside. It was wrong. She had run into a dead end. The hallway ended with a large window in the far wall and no side hallways to escape down. She pressed herself firmly against the far wall of the hallway and prayed the guards had already subdued the beast. Her prayers failed; she saw it skid to a halt at the other end of the corridor. She was trapped. She tried to be brave, but her impending doom sucked the bravado right out of her. The alien looked at her and then behind at the rapidly approaching shitstorm of guards. It barreled toward Twilight and made it about halfway down the corridor before the guards turned the corner. It exerted an extra burst of speed. It towered above her now. Even worse, he hooked a foreleg under the still petrified Twilight and squeezed her to his chest. His left arm wrapped itself around her ribcage, pinning her forelegs. Her rear legs still touched the ground, but barely. Twilight was in too much shock to register what happened. But that changed when she felt icy metal pressed against her throat. She was a hostage now. The purple mare had never been this scared in her entire life. An alien being now held what felt to be a surgical scalpel to her throat.
The guards stopped in their tracks. A few of the unicorns' horns glowed but from somewhere in the mass of soldier ponies, one said, "Easy boys, she wants it alive." This did not seem to sit well with the alien who hugged Twilight closer and pressed the blade of the scalpel up to the hollow of her neck. Some of the unicorns dimmed the menacing glow of their horns. This Mexican standoff dragged on for several minutes. Twilight could feel the alien's heart hammering in its chest. She decided to make a last ditch effort to save herself.
"Please…" She squeaked out. Its eyes bore into the back of Twilight's head. "Please don't do this. Celestia please don't." It didn't release her. "Shane?" The alien froze at the mention of the name. "Shane please." He felt a hot tear fall onto his arm. He knew that voice. It was the woman's voice that echoed in his dreams. His eyes darted around rapidly as if searching for anyway out of the situation. The guards all reeled back when it spoke.
"I don't want to hurt anyone." The guards were in shock. "But I need to leave, now." One of the guards, an older unicorn, stepped forward.
"We can't let you do that. Now just put the filly down, and we can work this out."
"I don't think you understand," He said with a crack of desperate laughter. "I CAN'Tbe here! And the longer I stay, the worse it will get!"
"Son you just knocked out a royal staff member, and are threatening the life of the princess' personal protege. You aren't going anywhere." The alien did a double take of the purple pony he held in his arms. "Just put her down and come with us, you're only making things worse for yourself."
"I can't!" He said desperately.
"What choice do you have son?"
He murmured to himself something Twilight barely caught.
"There's always a choice."
They had backed a strange wolf into a corner. It did what it thought it must to survive. He shuffled a few small steps back and bumped into the window. He snuck a quick peek out the glass pane, before he returned his sad gaze to the guards. He pressed his head to the back of Twilight's and barely whispered.
"I'm sorry for this."
He threw the scalpel to the ground and unceremoniously launched Twilight into the group of guards. She screamed as she sailed through the air and collided, knocking several off their feet. The alien turned and drew out the metal L from its holster. It pointed it directly at the glass window. Three ear tearing cracks ripped through the hallway, along with the sound of splitting glass. The creature dove through the window, shattering the pane and disappearing out the frame.
It only took a moment for the guards to regain their composure. The pegasi in the group hurled themselves out the broken window and after the thing. Some guards helped Twilight to her hooves and she assured them she was fine. She went to the window and looked down the two story drop. She saw the alien sprinting across the courtyard, desperately trying to escape. Four pegasus guards were quickly closing the gap. It had almost run a hundred yards before one of the pegasi slammed into its back, sending them both rolling in a tangle of limbs.
The pegasus guard had him pinned against the ground, hooves wrapped tightly around its middle. The alien threw an elbow back and it collided with the side of the guard's head, sending his golden helm flying. The pegasus soldiers were a bit closer to the alien's height, but not by much. The stunned pegasus rolled off his back, but by then the other guards had landed and threw themselves into the fray. Two grabbed his arms and pinned them to the ground. A third tried to jump on top of him, but as he was in the air, the alien reared his legs and delivered a buck that would have made Applejack proud, rebounding the guard into the tangled heap of feathers. The alien wormed his right arm free, and slammed a fist into the cheek of the guard pinning his left arm. The guard staggered back. Now with both his arms free he grabbed the remaining guard by the head and crushed his flat forehead against the pegasus' face in a devastating head butt. The guard reeled back holding its face, leaking blood all over the grass.
The alien scrambled to its feet and fled. Several more guards poured out of the castle. The alien continued to run in vain. From the window Twilight admired its resolve. It dashed around a corner as Twilight teleported down to the courtyard. She charged as fast as she could after the guards. She rounded the corner to see the alien running parallel to the base of the castle wall. Several dozen unicorn guards blocked his path. He skidded as he tried to veer away, but he was again obstructed as the pegasus guards landed, cutting off his only escape. He was trapped. His back was against the wall, and guards flanked him on all sides. Twilight ran up and forced her way past the soldiers to get a better look. He paced nervously, like a caged dog. He hyperventalated, and he was covered in small cuts, which oozed blood down his face, neck and arms. He continued to pace, with his weapon dangerously in hand. He was outnumbered, and he knew it. He would die before he could get a shot off. A large flash of light and a sonic pop resolved into Princess Celestia. She stood in the semi circle of guards and stared at the alien, who stopped his pacing to inspect the newest threat. He shifted his head left and right, processing the painful obviousness of his now hopeless escape. He slowed his breathing and composed himself. He silently stood still. His eyes turned skyward. He paused a moment to look at the sun, and admire the beautiful summer day. His gaze came back down. He stared at Celestia a moment, then at Twilight. His gaze went to the horizon, and focused on a distant point. His eyes closed with resolve. He took a deep breathe, and flicked the barrel of the weapon up under his chin.
"NO!" Twilight screamed. Celestia raised a wing and cut off her view, sweeping her into a protective embrace. Twilight winced from the sound of the shot, which echoed of the walls of the palace, followed by the unmistakable sound of a body crumbling to the ground.