"More power to phase engines!" bellowed the Hervoken Commander. "We cannot allow Matron Hydia and her daughters to breach the threshold!"
His large round head swiveled on his thin almost stick-like body. His crew worked frantically, thrusting their eons-old war-cruiser to a situation it was not designed for. The ship groaned as its aging phase drive encapsulated the ship in a blue white glow, pushing through the starless void of the Deep Dark and into a glowing orange portal.
His second in command turned to him. "The Carrionites have created a portal from the Deep Darkness through The Void, they approach the multiversal threshold. We are following in their wake, sire!"
He smiled, revealing rows and rows of sharp triangular teeth. "Activate the Z-Neutrino Focusing Runes, acquire target."
"But sire! If we fire a Z-Neutrino burst powerful enough to destroy them within the portal, we will collapse the entire Deep Dark! Both our species will be wiped out!"
"The threshold is opening," said the third in command.
The Commander brought his fist down hard against the gnarled root-like armrest of his command throne. "So be it! Perhaps The Eternals were right to trap us here with our ancient enemies! If the Coven Matron and her daughters succeed in summoning the monstrosity, with the charms we created no less, then our races are certainly the threat The Eternals perceived us to be! All of reality is at risk! For eons we have been at war, for eons we have justified the actions of our incarcerators, but no more! Let it be known that it was the glorious Hervoken race that saved the multi-verse from certain annihilation! That the Hervoken race stopped the S'Müz!"
His third in command inscribed and activated a series of runes in front of him. "The Z-Neutrino filaments are achieving maximum density. At your command the accelerators will activate, sire."
The Hervoken Commander inhaled deeply, knowing in his ancient heart that this was the way it must be. "Accelerate Z-Neutrino filaments to .99c, acquire target…fire."
A glowing yellow strand of Z-Neutrino Energy arced from the heart-shaped starship, followed by two more. The first one contacted the fleeing starship on the upper port flank, a burst of yellow energy and a portion of the ship disintegrated into nothingness, the charge holding its atoms together neutralized. The second filament impacted on the starboard flank of the ship, again a burst of light and then nothingness. The third and final filament would have been the end of the enemy ship had a tiny blue box not suddenly materialized in its path. The Z-Neutrino filament impacted the blue box directly in the center mass, yellow energy flew out in all directions, arcing out across the surface of the blue box that had somehow survived the impact. The weakened arcs of Z-Neutrino Energy ricocheted around the portal like wild snakes, one shard hitting the crippled ship, one evaporating the forward port section of the Hervoken war-cruiser, and another blasting into the little blue box, this time setting the impact surface ablaze. The threshold broke and all three ships were hurled through it and back into reality.
(Dah-da-da-da/ /dah-da-da-da/ /dah-da-da-da/ /dah-da-da-da etc)
Timelords and Terror: Part 1
The late afternoon sun shone freely from the brilliant blue sky above the small equine village of Ponyville, warming all below with its light. So serene was this sky that it was impossible to imagine that a mere hour ago it had been filled with ominous black clouds and the blurs of Pegasus skyworkers as they frantically tried to break up an unexpected and unusually violent electrical storm. It had roared and thundered as green-blue arcs of lightning streaked and flashed across the heavens in a brilliant lattice of electrical discharge. There had been something unusual and almost unnerving about the way the bolts behaved, they often converged on a single point and exploded into a fiery blue ball that expanded wildly before collapsing in on itself with a terrific yet muted clap more felt than heard. Just when the storm seemed to be winning, defiantly unaffected by the Pegasus team's attempts to disperse it, it suddenly ceased to rumble, clap, or roar and quietly and dismissively evanesced. Baffled, the skyworkers awkwardly attempted to hasten its dispersal and go about their business. With the sky calmed the residents of Ponyville went back about their business, perplexed by the ineffectiveness of what was by now the refined art of sky-keeping; unconsciously growing more and more disturbed by the alien, almost greasy texture of the ozone scented air.
Deep underneath the Ponyville Public Library, a busy and increasingly frantic young mare was pouring over sheets of data. Her various magical machines exhausting their myriad spell subroutines to determine just what had happened over Ponyville that afternoon. Piles of inscribed paper covered the lab floor, each piece overflowing with data that was alternatively inconclusive, indecipherable, or outright contradictory to all known magical laws. The Reactive Amethyst Displays of her Canterlot-Grade computers flickered and pulsed, showing diagrams, diagnostics, and re-creations of the event that either didn't make sense or reached Pinkie-Pie levels of unlogic. The machines whirred and clicked and buzzed as the lavender unicorn pressed her nose against her most recent findings while simultaneously jotting down the appropriate spatial-magic algorithms on her chalkboard on the other side of the room.
"This time…" she said as she turned to her newest computer as it extrapolated upon her newly refined data. "Oooookay…run through aerial mechanics subroutines…yesss…apply Ozone Canter's law of electron flow in relation to media density and composition…calculate for unusually high H2O content aaaaaand…"
There was a 'ding' as the computer completed its task, she smiled and telekinetically tapped the command button of her computer to activate the simulation. She had put a little bit of extra force into the tap to emphasize the finality of her action, because if this worked she would finally have the answer to the bizarre occurrence that had ruined her sunbathing session. The display whirred and began to show multi-spectral displays of the offending storm, it whirled and spun in several different directions at once, she waited in anticipation for this and several other bits of anomalous data to be explained. Her large violet eyes widened as the simulation ran its course, any second now. Her eyes shot over to the several graphics and displays that occupied the right half of the screen, sonic signatures, the entire electromagnetic spectrum, mass readings, and even psychic energy levels were being monitored and quantified. Her heart thundered in her chest as she waited, biting her lower lip in anticipation of the telltale 'ding'.
"Bing?" she said before turning back to the display. What she saw sent a cold pulse of frustrated rage from her tail across her belly and up her spine.
"AAAAAARRRGH!" she bellowed, the echo reverberating off the walls. "What is going on here?! Sonic: barely. EM: gone! Mass: zero?! PKE:…increased…increa…incrrrrrrAAAAARGH!"
The sound of her door being kicked open distracted her from her infuriatingly impossible research. The familiarly boisterous voice of Rainbow Dash sounded, a subdued but clear element of concern behind the bravado. "Twilight! What's with all the screaming? You okay?"
At the sound of her friend's concern Twilight felt the rage quickly ebb to a dull irritating ache in her pride. "Yeah, I'm fine Dash."
"Fine? You call 'AAAAAARRGH' fine?" The aptly named technicolor Pegasus said, effortlessly hovering down to the paper strewn laboratory floor. "What're you doing down here anyway?"
Twilight sighed and looked around her lab, it was a mess, paper literally carpeted the floor and her machines and computers whirred and clicked as they tried in vain to create sensible data from their input. "Well, I was trying to figure out just what was causing that high energy atmospheric disturbance, or in the very least what it's mechanisms were."
Rainbow Dash blinked and said, "The atmo-what-a-huh?"
The purple unicorn smiled, she often spoke aloud the jargon in her head without bothering to translate, much to the chagrin of her friends. "The storm an hour ago. I wanted to figure out why it happened, or at least how it worked."
Dash laughed and rolled onto her back in midair, dismissively waving a hoof while crossing her legs. "Aw, that was just a storm Twilight! Sure, it was a little weird with all that bendy lightning and sky-tornadoes, but nothing my flight team and I couldn't handle!" She rolled back upright, a smile on her face. "Too bad you went inside to turn on all your equipment and stuff, 'cause I really started kickin' cloud! I was all like 'bam! Whoosh!' and I flew around in a whirlwind and broke it up from the inside, like 'swish! Neeeooown! BOOM!' and then I-"
"-And then you got stuck in a lightning eddy and Ditzy Doo had to pull you out by your tail." Twilight said with a grin on her face, always taking gentle pleasure in letting the air out of her rambunctious friend.
Rainbow Dash halted her midair reenactments of her daring deeds, slumping and chuckling bashfully. "Oh…you, uh, you saw that huh?"
Twilight giggled and spun around, gesturing at all her equipment. "What, did you think all this stuff was just decoration to give my basement a 'mad sorceress' vibe?"
"Kinda," she responded, blunt as ever.
"No! …Although it does, doesn't it? Anyway, once activated I can deduce the exact nature of nearly everything within a ten kilometer radius! Sound, electromagnetic radiation, mass readings, spectral signatures, even psychokinetic energy can all be detected, computed, and translated into usable data by my equipment. The nature of the spells put some limitations on what data I receive of course, but those are mostly related to privacy laws and other such things."
Rainbow Dash sighed and rolled her eyes, getting Twilight rolling on anything that interested her was sure to result in such technobabble. "Okay, so you're super magic and data-obsessed! Old news! What does this have to do with the storm, or the 'AAAAAARRRGH'?"
"I think it's better if you see this," Twilight motioned for Dash to come down to look at the computer screen. "Look, when I run this simulation everything goes okay, the wind speed, the wind direction, ionization, electron transfer, it's all in the upper end of the normal spectrum of weather behavior but then…" she telekinetically pressed the command key. "There. Look at the graphs!"
Rainbow Dash looked at the graphs marked Sonic, EM, Mass, and PKE. "Hmmm…kinda bumpy, flat, flat, and super spiky…so?"
Twilight gestured at the graphs. "So? Rainbow, every time the lightning congregated and formed a ball the entire storm cell underwent a total subtraction of absolute mass and emitted absolutely no electromagnetic radiation!"
Rainbow Dash blinked and looked back at the screen, then back to Twilight. "…And that's…weird?"
"Try impossible!" Twilight said as she looked over her research. "There is nothing in all of Equestria to suggest that mass subtraction and EM deletion is even remotely possible, let alone known to occur in natural phenomena! Whatever that thing was over Ponyville, it wasn't a storm!"
"Then what was it?" Dash said, starting to look uneasy.
"I don't know, but here, look at this," she said, gesturing towards the graph marked PKE. "The psychokinetic energy readings are off the charts!"
Dash fluttered excitedly. "Ooh! Ooh! I remember you talking about this thing before! We're supposed to get a huge boost of psy-suh-uh…something-something energy when we use our Elements of Harmony, right?"
Twilight nodded fervently. "Yes, but the thing is, only living creatures give off PKE, or rather the essence of living creatures generates it!"
Rainbow Dash's eyes widened. "That thing was alive?"
"That…" Twilight said, looking at the wild PKE readings. "…Or there was something inside it with PKE greater than half of Equestria combined!"
"It's time for a party!" The computer shrieked in a familiar voice.
Rainbow Dash snapped to look at the screen as a small avatar of Pinkie Pie danced up and down the screen singing. "A horse is a horse is a horse of course, 'cept when it's a scary mean cloud of course!"
Twilight sighed and explained the anticipated question. "That's the computer's way of saying 'this is nonsense'."
"Nonsense is what sense sees when it looks in a mirror!" The Pinkie avatar chirped.
"Why did I even get this App?"
Rainbow rolled her eyes and tapped Twilight's shoulder. "C'mon, you should get out of this basement. It's sunny again and there's a new restaurant open near Rarity's."
Twilight opened her mouth to protest, but a loud and curt bellow from her stomach silenced her, it had been a while since she'd last eaten. "Yeah, what's this place called anyway?"
"The Mercant Loop or something. I hear they make great salads!"
As the two ponies made their way up the steps leading up to the library, Twilight asked. "So, why was Derpy even helping you guys with the storm anyway?"
Rainbow Dash gave an embarrassed giggle. "She wasn't. She just flew in there and pulled me out…you're not going to tell anyone, are you?"
Twilight laughed affectionately, being saved by the resident scatter-mane could stain her reputation as Ponyville's strongest flier. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my-OW!"
Later in the evening and the residents of Ponyville were enjoying the summer twilight, where the night and day met and cast everything in a soothing dim light, dark enough that all the previously visible flaws of the day were obscured, while still being light enough to hush any fears about what may lurk in the shadows. Mares and stallions were taking the time to walk about and enjoy the cooling summer air. Just as the songbird's morning chorus heralded daybreak, the oncoming night was preceded by the calming susurrus of crickets.
Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie all sat around a table on the patio of the new restaurant, The Méchant Loup. Twilight silently gnawed her hayseed and beanstalk salad as Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie voraciously tore into an apple cheesecake.
"So! What's new with you mares?" Pinkie said suddenly through a mouthful of cheesecake. "You all seem so…"
Rainbow Dash and Twilight sat and stared, as Pinkie Pie seemed to lose interest in that line of thought mid-sentence. She began looking up at the purple and pink twilight sky before absently adding. "…Distracted."
Twilight and Rainbow Dash turned their heads up to the sky; there was nothing there.
Rainbow Dash clopped her hoof on the tabletop, getting both of their attention. "You know that storm earlier today?"
"Yeah?" Pinkie answered, still keeping an eye on the sky.
Twilight responded this time, the lunacy of it all still fresh in the back of her mind. "Well, it wasn't a storm. It was…there and not there at the same time. I can't explain it, even all my best computers can't make heads or tales of what happened today!"
"My Pinkie-Sense!" Pinkie exclaimed.
Twilight sighed, yet another nonsensical event she had failed to explain. "Yes Pinkie, just like your-"
Pinkie Pie shot to her hooves and pointed up at the sky, her tail spasmodically jolting up and down, side-to-side. "Twitchy twitchy twitch-ah-twitch!"
Twilight and Rainbow Dash both shot out of their seats ready to dive for cover. They looked up to see three separate balls of fire in the sky, each trailing dark smoke behind them.
"Oh whew!" Twilight exclaimed. "Don't worry Pinkie, they're just a few shooting stars. They probably won't even make it to the ground."
"Uh…Twilight…" Pinkie muttered.
Twilight once again returned to her salad. "I know, I know…sometimes there are things that just don't make sense or they can't be explained, but that doesn't mean blah blah blah. I know," Twilight said as she prepared to continue eating her salad.
"Say Twilight…" Rainbow Dash said, barely covering the waver in her voice. "Wuh-what're shooting stars, exactly?"
Twilight raised an eyebrow turning to face what they and several other ponies were now staring at. "Little bits of rock and ice that fall into the atmosphere and burn…"
She turned around and saw it. All three shooting stars had changed direction. One was hurtling downwards in a tight but unmistakable spiral, another was controlling its plummet to correspond with the spiraling one, and the third one was heading straight for Ponyville.
Twilight sprang to her hooves, her horn glowing; she was using one of her newer spells, enhancing her vision until she could see just what it was that was hurtling towards them. "No…Impossible."
A smoldering blue box spun and tumbled in the air, grey black smoke pouring from one side, encapsulating it as it spun. Hanging from the side of the blue box was a stallion with a rope in his teeth and tied around his front legs. He was obviously trying to steer the box. He was obviously failing.
"Rainbow Dash! There's someone on that thing!"
Without any questions asked the rainbow Pegasus was off like a shot, a trail of rainbow afterimage in her wake. The powerful flier shot upwards at the plummeting box, she stopped, calculating the trajectory in her head and preparing to chase as it passed. The box jumped and tumbled wildly, like it was trying to fly with only one wing. Sure enough, there was a single brown soot-covered stallion hanging out what appeared to be a door, black-gray smoke billowing out of that too. She could see that the stallion was struggling between trying to steer by rope, watering eyes, and fits of coughing. She rocketed towards the box when it entered one of its brief moments of stability and, with a single arcing motion, plucked the stallion from the box. He wasn't particularly heavy, but he was unusually dense for such a slender-built stallion. The two of them watched as the box jerked and spiral downward before crashing into the ground with a muted *thud*.
Rainbow felt a tug on her mane and looked down into the stallion's wild blue eyes. "Down! Down! Take me down!"
Too stupefied by the nonsense of the situation to argue, Rainbow Dash sped down to the crashed box and set the stallion down on the ground.
A sideways utterance of gratitude and the stallion was off, galloping towards his smoldering box. "No! No! No-no-no-no-no-no-no! Aww! My poor baby! What did they do to you?"
Twilight and Pinkie Pie joined a nonplussed Rainbow Dash in staring at the frantic stallion as he bolted around his box that was now embedded in the ground.
"Alright-alright-alright-alright!" he said triumphantly. "Okay! Thinking! Pastel colors *sniff* sweet scented air, artificial lighting despite complete lack of hydrocarbon emissions present in the upper atmosphere! Also talking horses! Different perhaps distant alternate dimension! Yes!"
He bolted over to the three confused ponies with astonishing speed; walking right up close to them he continued his rapid-fire speech, pacing around them. "But what am I doing here? Hmm? No answers? Of course there are! C'mon!"
The three stood there and looked at each other mouths agape, the strange fast-talking stallion only gave an annoyed look and gestured wildly. "C'mon, c'mon! Don't dally! And close your mouths or you'll swallow a bug!"
Simultaneously all three shut their mouths with a *clop* and walked forward, garnering a big radiant grin from the mysterious stallion. "There you go! Come! Look here look here! Something singed my TARDIS! And here! Another something actually damaged it! Oooh! That's fierce weaponry right there! Actually damaging a Type-40 TARDIS!" he made a series of sniffing gestures before running his tongue across the area around the small charred crater in the wood paneling before bolting upright, smacking his lips. "Ah-HAH! Z-Neutrino Energy!"
He spun around to face Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash, a huge jubilant smile on his extremely animated face. "Quiz time! How many races utilize Z-Neutrino Energy as weaponry?"
"Three!" Pinkie Pie shouted excitedly, obviously liking this new stallion's energy.
"Yes that's-what? Wha-how did you…?" he shot Pinkie some curious looks before smiling again and resuming "…Anyway. Yes! Tha-ree! One of which hopefully no longer exists! Leaving only two! The-!"
The energetic stallion was cut off by a lightning fast jab to the side of the face from Rainbow Dash. He stood there for a moment, a dazed look of surprise plastered on his face. "Cheeky little…"
Rainbow Dash stomped the ground with her hoof. "Listen Mr. Blue-Box, you're gonna tell us exactly what's going on or I'm gonna have to get rough!"
The stallion shook his head, blinking for a bit before a smile returned to his face. "Ah yes, of course! Well you see...ahem...I uh...oh dear, I believe I'm losing consciousness." The brown stallion let out s short sputtering cough before collapsing face first into the dirt.
Twilight raced forward and knelt next to him pushing her ear against his rapidly rising flank; her eyes went wide at what she heard. "I think there's something wrong with his heart!"
"There's something wrong with his head!" Dash snorted.
"Rainbow!" Twilight shouted.
"What?" Rainbow Dash said defensively. "He's obviously crazy!"
"He makes sense to me!" Chirped Pinkie.
"I bet he does," Twilight said as she walked around the fallen stallion. "There was a lot of smoke coming off of that thing, he could be suffering from smoke inhalation or some kind of poisoning. We should get him to the hospital."
Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie both took a side and hoisted the stallion off the ground, following Twilight to the hospital after she materialized a cordoning tapeline around the crashed box to keep the other ponies away.
"Um, Twilight?" said Rainbow Dash.
"What just happened?"
Twilight sighed. "I'm trying not to think about it, at least not until he's awake again."
"I wonder…" mused Pinkie. "…If this is what was in our shooting star, what do you suppose are in the other two?"
Rainbow Dash let out an exacerbated sigh. "Aw horse apples, this is gonna be a looooong week."
The severely damaged ship smoldered and sparked in its crater. Nearly half the ship had been dissolved by weapons fire, and the barely controlled plummet through the planet's atmosphere hadn't helped matters. Something stirred in the wreckage, crawling from the rubble. It was large, at least two meters across what could be called shoulders, encased in a ragged opaque miasma that fluttered and shifted like fabric, giving the appearance of a tattered robe. It had no legs to speak of, rather it floated around on a red-black cloud that shifted and glowed. Its head was low set on top of its shoulders, almost extending out of its chest; the top of its head extended out into a point like a birds beak, two red glowing eyes flanking either side, underneath a thin wide-set mouth filled with dozens of pointed teeth flapped open and shut, small chattering squawks emanating each time it opened its mouth.
A twig snapped and the creature turned, there in the forest was a zebra, casting a horrified stare at the hoof that broke the twig. The zebras gaze shot back up and the creature launched itself at her with a hair curling shriek, thin stick-like arms that broadened out into huge meter long hands outstretched and ready, razor claws fixed to rend flesh from bone. The zebra deftly dodged the creature's lunge and jabbed a hardened bamboo pole up into the monsters midsection as it overshot. The creature screeched in pain and began to swipe at the offending zebra, which quickly and effortlessly dodged the monster's inelegant rage fueled swings. The zebra jabbed her staff forward, the tip of which exploded into an iridescent magenta cloud of powder. The creature shrieked and backed away, clawing in vain at its irritated eyes and nostrils. The zebra wasted no time and bolted into the forest, soon out of sight.
"HAW HAW! *Snort* the little critter too much for you Draggle?" said another creature as it rose from the wreckage; it wasn't as long as the other but was much wider across the midsection.
The skinny creature hissed and spat at the rounder one. "Yeah? And why didn't you help me Reeka?!"
The larger one held up the body of a headless pig. "I'm eating!"
"Oh, you're always eating!"
A bloodcurdling howl tore from the wreckage, a blast of red-black smoke and orange lightning spewed from the ship. "SILENCE! YOU ARE BOTH incompetent SCATTER BRAINS!"
The two creatures recoiled from the crater and huddled together. "We're sorry mama! It won't happen again!"
A shape in the cloud glowed red, two bright pinpricks of blood red light flashed even brighter. "What. Did. You. Call. Me?!"
The skinnier one slapped the stouter one and bowed submissively. "Matron! Matron Hydia! Forgive us for our in-compy-tense!"
The largest creature exited the smoke, tendrils of hot gasses streaming from its nostrils and mouth. "That's better. Unfortunately our ship is lost, those Hervoken fools destroyed our signal transmitter and main reactor. We were unable to fully open the threshold and unleash our dearest ally before being crippled."
The skinny creature rose from the ground and shrugged. "Is there any way for us to re-open the threshold?"
"You forget who you are talking to, child! I am a Coven Matron! The ship was merely for convenience. I will need ingredients for the charm and I will require additional life-energy to concoct a spell. Reeka, you go and find three of those four-legged creatures, but be subtle about it! I sense a dangerous amount of magic in this world. Draggle! You scour the forests for mold, slime, and fungus, if you can find anything resembling clover, take it. There will be no one to stop us this time! The Carrionites will reign supreme!"