Source Material. Part 4: Stowaways

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Literature Text

"Well? I'm waiting." The burgundy alicorn's hoof began to tap on the arm of her throne, though her voice stayed calm. "Or would you like some time in the airlock to think on it?"

Though Ink Well and Derpy were stunned by her presence, after a moment of thought The Doctor was ready. "Right, sorry, how rude of us. Our pods opened prematurely and we were a little confused, so we decided to stick together. Now let me see if I have my..." The Doctor fumbled around, making an act out of searching himself with his hooves before reaching one into his collar, pulling his brown leather booklet free and flipping it open. "Ah!" Ink Well caught a glimpse of writing on the paper within before The Doctor spoke, confidently showing the paper to the captain. "I am John Smith, ship engineer, luckily enough, and this," he motioned to Derpy with one hoof while he passed his identification over his back with the other, catching it with the first hoof and bringing it to bear, "is Derpy, my assistant. Our cryopods failed and the emergency protocol woke us up."

The alicorn seemed to appraise the paper suspiciously, carefully weighing their story. With no real indication to her thoughts her gaze shifted from the pair to Ink Well. "And you? What's your story?"

Ink Well felt like a flag flapping in the breeze as he looked over at The Doctor, who once again seemed to have only just realized he was there. The Doctor started to speak, passing his paper behind his back once more, but was stopped by Ink Well taking charge. "I'm Ink... Blot, same boat really, just found myself wandering the room until I ran into those two and they helped me out."

"Really..." The alicorn looked intrigued, stepping down from her throne and examining the parchment furred pegasus. She circled him slowly, trailing thick wires behind her as she looked him over from his burn-darkened hooves to his messy blue-black mane, her scanning ending on his sharp green-trimmed tuxedo jacket and his cutie mark, partially hidden beneath the jacket's tails. Ink Well couldn't help but stare at the wiring following her every step, at least two dozen tendrils that trailed from points inserted in her crest and down her back, humming energetically as they coiled and looped across the ground before traveling through the throne and out into the floor they now stood on. It looked... immensely painful, both the holes drilled into the pony and the weight she dragged around, but it felt like it had a clear purpose. Still, how could any pony stand that sort of treatment? What could it possibly be for?

As he contemplated the body modifications, Nebula returned to her chair, the wires reeling themselves back in as she sat until they were hidden under her mane, the alicorn looking regal once more. At length she spoke, a grin just edging her mouth. "You know, I don't recall meeting with such a well dressed pegasus before the trip began. Didn't you know the cryopod would ruin your suit?"

"Well, yeah, but," Ink Well stalled, trying to figure out a convincing lie while that age-wizened gaze stared through him. After much too long a pause thought failed him, so he went with what he had. "I thought it was such an important journey that I just had to look my best." He glanced over at The Doctor, seeing Derpy looking slightly worried while The Doctor seemed calm, only his eyes betraying his disappointment at Ink Well's shoddy lie.

While the three's focus was all on each other, the captain glanced over to her second in command, the violet pony to the edge of the room. The pony had since turned around, their eyes locking for a moment before the captain shook her head. The pony nodded in return, pivoting back towards the computer while the alicorn's eyes returned to the trio. Not a moment later The Doctor stepped froward. "Now, if I may, Captain, I was wondering about the little jostle just now. Did something impact the ship?"

The alicorn waved the question away. "Do not worry about it at all, Mr. Smith. The turbulence you experienced is being taken care of by our own engineers and then we'll get you three back in your pods."

The olive pony stepped up beside them, rattling off a sharp salute. "Captain Nebula, I believe these saboteurs are responsible for the failure in our sensors! We can't just take their word on being passengers!" Seeing the lack of response from the Captain, the olive pony tried with a slightly modified tact. "At the very least these ponies are stowaways! You can't have them coming along on your ship!"

The Doctor looked from the olive pony to the alicorn, excitement crossing his features. "Nebula? As in 'first-pony-in-space' 'Captain-of-the-NLR..." he looked over at Ink Well, omitting something from his thought before finishing it "...' that Nebula? How exciting! How long have you been flying?"

Nebula ignored him, causing him to look slightly insulted as she instead addressed the uniformed pony flatly, like she was about to explain something to a young foal. "Lieutenant Fire, it is not good to go throwing words like saboteur around. Let's just think this through for a minute. If they are saboteurs, then you'd think they'd have made their move before now, and you'd doubly think they'd have done so here, in the bridge, where the crew was, or in the engines, the one thing it would have been difficult to replace. They certainly wouldn't target the Colony Sectors, for those are primarily empty space and hardened cryopods, one of which is nearly impossible to destroy and neither of which are integral to the ship. Now if they are merely stowaways, then they have done a good job of hiding from your daily patrols for ten years, haven't they Head-of-Security Rapid Fire?"

The Lieutenant flustered for a moment, pride injured at being called out, but not willing to back down on her point yet. "If they have then they are truly crafty, and who knows what they could be capable of! Just their being here is a danger! We must punish them before they can act!"

Nebula just kept going, a faint smirk showing from her little victory. "I have yet to see them be more than helpful and confused, but if what you say is true, then they will be punished accordingly. For all we know these three may be telling the truth and were released in a pod failure, and Warrant Officer Starcall is looking into that possibility. Right Officer?"

"Right Captain. Now if you three could just look in my direction for a moment." The voice that sounded matched the one that had broadcast in the terrarium, belonging to the violet pony at the edge of the room, who turned from the banks of monitors to face the newcomers. She smiled kindly from a strangely angular face, which began at her nose and seemed to swoop back to two large rubbery quills stabbing rearwards from her cheeks. A long cobalt blue mane swirled in front of her, balancing her face and matched in length by her thin, tall ears. The backs of her hooves came to points from the legs, one of which was raised to touch a headset on the right side of her face that covered one of her eyes with a small glowing round screen. But her other eye was visible, a dazzling sapphire shining on her features. Yet, there was something intrinsically wrong with it, and it took a second glance to spot: the pupil of her eye was the colored portion while the iris was pitch black, contracting to better see them in the light. To Ink Well it was an unsettling effect, thankfully ended after just an instant as the display on her monocle changed and she nodded to them, turning back to the wall with a "Thank you!"

The trio then turned back to Nebula, receiving a smile born of a calmness in power as they did so. However the Captain's gaze was focused on Rapid Fire. "There. No difficulty at all. But since you are so eager to accuse them, you can be the one to make sure they stay here while Starcall works. Now go set up a containment in the corner while the ship gets back to landing."

Lieutenant Rapid Fire was rather unenthusiastic about the arrangement, mostly because of the extensive belittling she'd just undergone, but she still rattled off a sharp salute to the Captain before herding The Doctor to the side near the yellow unicorn and a much younger muted-blue pegasus, both of whom seemed quite engaged by a display in the wall. After the trio was far enough out of the way Rapid Fire stopped them with a "Halt!" before pacing back and forth, guarding their exit with her body.

Great, thought Ink Well as the olive pony marched before him. In lock down like some criminal. Real smooth up there by the way, really showed them all of those acting skills. Your father would be proud. You were running better cons with the Equirer you stupid... Frustrated, he paced his own smaller circuit, silently berating himself. You just had to go running off with The Doctor, didn't you? Trapped in the future for being a stowaway, nopony's ever going to believe that anymore than they'll think I met some bunny/pony hybrid with crazy eyes. If you didn't have that flower Rose wouldn't... He sighed, sitting down on the spot and feeling the weight of the crystal jacket in his pocket. You can't end this here, Inky. If not for you, you've got to get out of here for her. He looked over at The Doctor and Ditzy, neither of which were happy with the current situation either, though they didn't look nearly as confused as he was. They were probably used to this kind of thing. Maybe they'd have insight as to the best use of time in this scenario. "Doc-"

"Doctor?" Chimed in Ditzy, cutting Ink Well off. "I thought you said you'd met the last of the lunar ponies in Ponyville just before meeting me. If that's the case, how can there be one here?"

The Doctor smiled, looking at his companion warmly. "You know, I was just thinking the same thing. I thought the Vashta Nerada had managed to wipe them out when I visited the moon, but I suppose there must have been some other than Viva that managed to survive, hiding away somewhere. And since that whole incident, while just a year or two ago for you my dear Derpy, was nearly sixteen hundred years ago if we're on the ship I think we are on they've probably had a long time to reemerge and even integrate with society. The moon was first visited by none other than our captain fifteen hundred years ago, so it would come as no surprise if she was the first to established contact."

"Wait." Ink Well cut in, brain failing to catch any of the statements that had just come from The Doctor's mouth. While he had quite a few questions, he decided going in order would be appropriate. "I'm sorry, I think I missed a future history lesson or two and I may be behind. What is a lunar pony?"

"Starcall is." The Doctor pointed to the violet pony on the opposite side of the room who had returned her attentions to the panel before her. "They were created by Nightmare Moon while she was banished to the moon to keep her company and be her loyal subjects. I had thought they were all wiped out, but if there's one there must be more." He smiled brightly as he continued. "That's really good news, and oddly enough explains why there was a shift in telescope design after visiting the moon and not before. Matches their eyes."

"You mean how they're all w-" Ink Well stopped himself, mindful of the swiveling of the large ears across the room, "err, reversed?"

"Yes, you see, these ponies originated in the low atmosphere of the moon which, among many other things, is a perfect place from which to observe the stars without anything getting in the way. I think they probably have a connection to the stars the same way pegasi are connected to the sky or earth ponies are connected to the ground, and since they were created by the magic of Nightmare Moon, their eyes were formed for best viewing ability of their element, though it really isn't too good for close-up viewing, but there's always sacrifices. Besides, it's made up in style points in the ears and the leg spines. Anyway, since they were probably met on the first expedition to the moon, the fact that a telescope with similar principles to their eyes appeared in Equestria a few years later suddenly makes a lot more sense from a timeline perspective, though I do sometimes have trouble with those. You still fascinate me with the way your technology is developed, such an odd cadence to the findings. I believe you might be the only race I've ever come across to figure out space travel before the automobile."

Ditzy looked at him, confusion in her skewed eyes. "The what?"

Quickly The Doctor shook his head. "Nothing. Nothing. Just a rambling thought."

Ink Well was starting to get the edges of a concept there, but niggling details were sticking out all over the place. "Earlier you said something about Nebula being the first pony in space. Is that true? Is she really fifteen hundred years old?"

The Doctor jabbed a hoof forward again, punctuating the point. "Indeed! Little more than that, actually, but she is an alicorn. So far as any record shows alicorns are immortal. Both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna remain alive to this day and they're both over four thousand, with who knows how long still stretching out ahead of them."

"But there were only ever the two Princess alicorns, how could another show up?"

The Doctor shrugged, something he seemed to be little-practiced in as the move came off awkwardly. "It's unknown just how, but occasionally an alicorn is just born to a normal family of ponies, though of course the rare blessing is often made into a leader or spiritual guide of ponies near their birthplace. Just off the top of my head Princess Cadence comes to mind as another one you had in your time, but there were more later on. Nebula was born less than a decade after the end of the Civil War, a time still rife with possibilities for leadership, so the fact that she is a Captain under Princess Luna is... well, noble in a way, keeping the alliance intact and all."

"But are the other Princesses modified like that? What are all of those wires coming off of her?"

The Doctor moved his hoof, about to speak when another voice cut him off. "Oh! I think I know!" said Ditzy, letting her brain run as The Doctor gave the floor to her. "I think those wires that connect her brain to the ship, letting her look through it's 'eyes'. However, I think they also might have been using her as some sort of power source. There was the sound of humming energy coming off of her, like it was tapping into her magic, and the monitor in the main window was glowing the same color her horn was when we walked in. I only noticed it though because the whole machine has felt like it's been running off of more than electricity since we got here."

The Doctor looked skeptical. "Oh, I don't know about that. I don't think that ponies would ever submit another to..." He stopped, face growing serious as a thought occurred. "No, wait, that's... that's brilliant! The technology on this ship isn't ready for anything more strenuous than a quick intra-galactic hop, but if the extra energies from her magics were to be channeled correctly... Unicorn magic has been a known power source for years, with magic-infused hextech the basics of everyday life, so having an alicorn at hoof, she could probably run the entire ship by herself!"

Ink Well was distressed by the idea. "But to do that to another pony! The connection points looked so harsh, tapping into her spine... The pain must have been intense! To do that against her will..."

"How do you know it was against my will?" The three ponies turned around, only noticing the alicorn behind them when she spoke. Immediately both Ink Well and Ditzy bowed, while The Doctor simply nodded professionally. Nebula nodded back, smirking at the others as she continued. "Oh, stop grovelling. I'm a Captain, not a Princess, look me in the eye and salute like a good soldier." The two pegasi stood once more, both looking slightly sheepish for their reactions as they saluted her. Nebula carried on, seeming not to notice their discomfort. "I couldn't help but overhear your little conversation, and while the gaps in your knowledge are... interesting to say the least, I would like to clarify one thing: I authorized the implants myself, many ages ago, for exactly the reasons you mentioned Derpy. They were done centuries ago as the only means to power the first intergalactic hoppers, but much of the same principle were used for this intragalactic beauty. Real leaps and bounds from the prototype combustion engine that sent me into orbit that first time..."

Ditzy tilted her head at the alicorn, brow furrowed as she thought about something. "Wouldn't the ride over have been more efficient if you didn't have a crew? You're connected into all of the systems, you could run everything on your own."

Nebula nodded. "You're right, I could, and yes, I could've saved a lot of energy letting the crew sleep, but I could've also saved a lot of energy by keeping all the books in data form rather than book, and I didn't do that either. Leaving me alone on this ship I could have run everything, read the entire library through, sat alone in the darkness feeling the seconds slowly slip by, and that was the original plan, but then came Spanner over there," she pointed to the young muted-blue pegasus, not even eighteen by the look of his still gangly form. "He remembered an elementary school story about another alicorn who spent a long period of time alone and how it effected her both times it happened, and he didn't want anypony feeling that way. And then I needed a pony to train him, so Fusebox came on board, and then Chip and Edge wanted along, and then a few more wanted in and by that point a doctor was necessary so Steelheart joined and, look at that, now I'm anything but lonely. And I still finished every book in the library even with the distraction." She shrugged. "Well, all but one, but I'm fairly near the end on that. And I even gained a few more friends for the final landing sequence! But just think for a moment what a mess I'd be in now if we'd been hit with no crew. Doesn't seem like such an odd idea anymore, does it?"

Ditzy shook her head, suddenly feeling very silly for bringing it up. Nebula just smiled at her. "Hey, don't worry about it. Honest mistake. The way I see it, with all of space to travel and all the time we have at our hooves, why would we ever want to travel alone?" With that the alicorn walked back to her chair, swiveling it back towards the main monitor and leaving the trio to their silent guard.

Yet the pegasi in the group were distracted by her last words. Ink Well once more felt the weight of the flower in his pocket, a sadness welling in his chest at the foolish choices that got him to this point. Ditzy on the other hoof had sidled slightly closer to The Doctor, a sad look in her mismatched eyes as she looked to the floor.


Chip walked into the Colony Sector A second, the orange earth pony with lime green hair and circuit board cutie mark chatting brightly to her zebra friend who seemed to be getting more and more agitated with each aisle they passed. "You know, I was almost thinking we were going to spend the whole time without a major technical problem! So much of that time was spent on the little wiring glitches or maintenance, and Spanner was the only one ever sent to those! I thought we'd get nothing done! And then why would we have been awake the entire time if we weren't needed? I mean, keeping Nebby company was fun and all, but it's been sooooooo long I barely remember how to use a volt gauge!"

Straight Edge turned around sharply, cutting off the earth pony's chatter with a hoof held to her mouth. "Chip! Please, pay a little attention! I haven't been able to hear our directions at all thanks to your constant talking!" Straight Edge removed her hoof from Chip's mouth, bringing it up to her earpiece and leaning over to hear better. "I'm sorry Fi, where was it?"

The voice of the yellow unicorn back in the control room sounded in her ear, calm and collected in the situation. "Upper story, exterior wall, aisle forty-seven." The duo began walking again, Straight Edge listening carefully to the continued instruction while Chip's gaze darted around the room, excitement barely contained despite the familiar surroundings. The unicorn continued, "The asteroid seems to have dislodged itself from the hull, so all you have to do is repair the breach. There don't seem to be any problems with wiring and the shield is still holding atmosphere, so it should come down to a fairly simple welding job. Chip pay attention."

Chip's step stuttered as she climbed the stairs, looking with amazement into the confused eyes of the zebra before her, who'd turned at her stumbling. Silently she mouthed 'How did she know?' which caused Edge to shake her head and start walking again. Meanwhile, Fi's instructions continued. "You're going to be on support. Make sure nothing goes wrong, alright?"

Chip nodded to nopony in particular. "Alrighty!"

"Good. I'll be in radio contact in case of an emergency. Fi out." The radio cut out, leaving the two mares to continue their journey in what would have been silence had Chip not maintained her enthusiasm.

"Wow! How do you think she knew I wasn't paying attention? She must be psychic or something!" The pony gasped, flitting around the zebra as she started to unravel the mystery of the psychic pony. "Did you know she was psychic? Does she read minds with her horn? Can all unicorns do that? Or maybe it's just something everypony can do! Am I the only one who can't read minds?!" Chip leaped in front of Straight Edge, grabbing onto her shoulders with both hooves and looking awestruck into her eyes. "What am I thinking right now?"

"You are wondering if I can read your mind."

The orange earth pony gasped in shock before squeeing in delight, tittering in place excitedly. "You all CAN read minds! Oh my goodness, what thoughts have ponies been getting into? I sure hope Steelheart wasn't paying listening in last week when I glanced over in the shower and saw his-"

Straight Edge grabbed onto her excited friend and slapped a hoof across her mouth. "Chip, stop right there! I can't read minds, it was a lucky guess. And as for how Fi knew, well, you're never paying attention. So you don't have to worry about Steelheart being offended by anything, I'm sure he didn't even notice." Relief shined in the earth pony's eyes and muffled sounds fought around the hoof on her face. Calmly, Edge continued. "Instead of whatever you were about to talk about, could you please focus on the task at hoof? We can talk more when the ship isn't in danger."

Chip gave her friend a salute and a nod, which was enough to convince the zebra to lower her hoof. Mouth free, Chip spoke eagerly, but restrained herself from her rant. "Okie Doki Loki! You got it Edge, I'll be focused the rest of the time!"

Edge nodded, smiling at her serious-faced friend. "Good. Thank you." They turned down the next hall, coming to the large gash in the ship's exterior wall. Between two lines of pods was torn metal, bending inwards at the edges, framing a gentle green shimmer through which the infinite depths of space could be seen.

Chip ran forward, sticking her head through the rend so that her hat crumpled itself on the exterior shields. "Ooh. Spacey!"

Edge ran up behind her, pulling her back in. "What do you think you're... never mind. Just don't do anything stupid while I set up the welding gear, alright?"

"Okay!" Chip walked down the row a little, looking in on the passengers on the ship in their icy sleep while Edge began to empty her toolbag of the welding lance, the masks, and the fuel cells. While she began the delicate task of putting all the pieces together, Chip reached the end of the row, turning smartly and trotting merrily back down the aisle.

A moment later her head peeked around the last pod once more, frowning as she caught another fleeting glimpse of a glinting shadow moving further down the main hall. It was barely at the edge of her vision, almost not noticeable as a movement, but she was sure she'd –

"Chip! Come back, I'm about to start!" Chip glanced at the zebra before returning to searching for the source of the movement, but it was nowhere to be found. Puzzled, she shrugged, writing it off as her mind playing tricks on her as she got ready to work.


Fusebox sat at her post, earpiece turned up to maximum volume in an irritated attempt to drown out the interloper who continued to lean over her shoulder. The brown earth pony was far too close for comfort, obviously leaning in in an attempt to overhear something. Every time the yellow unicorn with the golden mane with electric blue swirls shot him an angry look, however, he was nonchalantly looking away, the very picture of innocence. After the fourth time the unicorn snapped, whirling around to confront her irritant. "What? What do you want?"

The Doctor took a step back, looking shocked by her anger, though he recovered quickly. "Oh, just wondering if I could help. I am an engineer after all."

Fusebox fumed at him, flashing a glare at the muted blue pegasus that stood sheepishly beside her as though it were his fault for the pony vexing her. "No, you can't help out. We have this all well under control, and we really don't need a possible saboteur on the repair."

The Doctor looked injured at the statement, clutching a hoof to his chest. "Why must you insist that I am a saboteur? I'll have you know that before I came on this ship I was known as The Doctor for the magic I could do with machines, yet you act like I'm going to blow up the ship beneath you!" He pulled out his metal pen with his teeth as he took a step towards Fusebox's monitor panel. "If 'ou 'ould 'ust 'ive me a 'oment I'm 'ure –"

Fusebox stepped in front of him, pushing him bodily away from the panel. "No! Spanner, take him over to Rapid Fire and tell her to keep better watch of him. This is too delicate to-" Fusebox winced as the turned up volume on her earpiece screamed in her ear, silently cursing her previous actions as she turned down the volume, returned to her post, and responded. "Don't worry about her, I'm sure she just got distracted again. You can finish it without her, right? Good, keep me posted. Chip, where are you?"

Meanwhile, the muted-blue pegasus with the grey mane stepped in front of The Doctor, gesturing to the others with his wing. He wore a similar outfit to Fusebox's, a soft navy hat and tie and a toolbag strapped to his back. "Please go back with your friends, Mr. Smith. I'm sure this will all blow over soon and then the others can be a bit nicer."

"Ah, 'ood lad. Al'ight, I'll 'ive it a 'ait." The Doctor meandered back towards Derpy and Ink Well, nonchalantly moving the pen around his mouth as all of them waited for something to happen.

Ink Well watched the blue tip swivel back and forth, curiosity and boredom getting the best of him. "Say Doctor, what is that thing? You keep using it for everything."

The Doctor looked confused for a moment, then seemed to notice the pen in his mouth for the first time. "'at? 'if? If's 'y 'onic 'ewdiver."

"Your what?"

The Doctor spit the pen into his hoof, offering it to Ink Well. "It's my Sonic Screwdriver. It drives screws sonically." Ink Well raised an eyebrow at the small smooth aluminum and blue baton held before him. He certainly hadn't seen it used on any screws in his time with it. Seeing his disbelief, The Doctor twirled it in his hoof, elaborating. "Well, it has a few other functions, like scanning and mending wires and hacking circuitry and burning rope and sending out signals and just about anything a good tool would be useful for, really! It's absolutely rubbish with wood, but you learn to get around that."

"So you closed a lock, opened all those doors, disarmed a metal assailant, removed its faceplate, and learned about how it was made all with a screwdriver?"

The Doctor thought for a moment, as if going over a mental checklist, then frowned. "Yes, though," he hooked the sonic back to his collar before reaching into it and pulling out his small leather booklet, "I opened most of the doors with this, just the one at the start was the sonic." He flipped open the book, which seemed to turn before Ink Well's eyes to a pamphlet for his play, his own name omitted from the playwright slot, replaced with a credit to all who supported him. They'd refused that change every time he'd asked for it... How did he get one?

Ink Well's brow furrowed. "Where did you get that? What happened to your booklet."

The Doctor flipped the pamphlet shut, the leather binding appearing again as the booklet took shape. "I didn't." He leaned in close, whispering conspiratorially in Ink Well's ear. "Psychic paper, shows anypony exactly what they want to see, though in a pinch you can make them see what you want them too." He flipped the paper open again, frowning at it as though it had just done something wrong. "Though it normally isn't effective against stronger minds, come to think of it, but you can't rely on tricks for everything and you certainly should never look a gift horse in the mouth."

Ink Well looked at the paper in the other pony's hoof, mind flicking through all the times he'd had to make due with cons and tricks while he'd been writing for the Equirer. If I just had one of those I could go anywhere I'd like. Think of the things I could uncover. He shook his head, stopping himself. No, you're past that. Journalism isn't your field anymore. Besides, Rose wouldn't be too happy with you running off like that.

He was snapped out of his thoughts by The Doctor putting the paper away and reaching for his sonic again, a mischievous smile on his face as he looked over at Ditzy. "Say Derpy, aren't you a little curious as to what's going on?"

Derpy looked back, a sly smile crossing her face. "A little bit Doctor. Why?"

He waved the hoof with the sonic in it around aimlessly. "Oh, no reason. Though it's a bit rude to keep guests out of the loop on such an important conversation as the one going on behind us. They really should be more considerate." He then brought it down like he forgot he was holding it, stepping on the screwdriver and setting it off. It whined, tip lighting up blue and pointed back towards the panel where Fusebox sat intently, a grave look on her face and a hoof up to her earpiece.

The pen's whirring stopped, followed not a moment later a shrill scream punctuating the entire bridge.


She hadn't even hardly noticed Chip had left, sending the message in to Fi but finishing the repairs anyway. The hull seemed to have been twisted in, wrenched aside rather than smashed in by the rock, which had left a cleaner rift and thankfully made the repairs that much smoother. But then there was the aftermath.

It wasn't supposed to be anything odd, it made no sense how it could happen, but there was the proof before her, Chip lay unconscious in the main hall, the normally energetic earth pony completely inert in the middle of the cold metal walkway. And, like a real rookie, what had Straight Edge done? Scream, like that was going to help. If anything, it had just scared Fi on the other end... and given away her position to whatever had attacked her friend. "Edge, what's wrong?" Suddenly she realized that the feeling she'd had the last few minutes was that of being watched, and that knowledge brought her adrenaline charged blood to a chill. She ducked into the nearest row of pods, jumping slightly as her earpiece sounded again. "Edge, speak to me, what happened?"

Straight Edge whispered into her microphone, trying to make as little sound as possible as she peeked around the row to her friend's prone form. The orange earth pony's chest was rising and falling at a normal pace, so she was alright, whatever had happened to her. "Chip has been attacked, she's unconscious on the upper level of Section A. She's-" The zebra stopped, eyes darting to a row further down as she could have sworn something moved. It was fast a shadowy bronze blur, only visible for a second. Hadn't Chip mentioned something like that before she left? Oh, why hadn't she paid more attention?

"Edge, what's wrong? Report!" Fi's worried voice sounded in her ear, reminding her that there was a procedure to follow.

"Unknown assailant is present within Section A, requesting medical evacuation, get Steeheart up here to-" There it was again, that blur, but this time so much closer. Far too close for comfort. Taking a deep breath Edge shot up and into the main hall, pounding her hooves along the ground as she continued her report and began her retreat. "Unknown tango in the room. It's fast and chasing. I'm making an exit, hoping to rendezvous at the main exit. Requesting fire assistance upon arrival."

Clanking sounded behind her, every one of her hooffalls matched twofold by a heavy metallic clang that followed her down the hall, steadily growing louder. Yet every time she looked back there was nothing, a hint of motion at most. Yet she couldn't shake the feeling of eyes on her, staring, evaluating, closing in...

"Rapid Fire is on her way already, just get out of there!" Edge doubled her pace, hooves sliding on the metal flooring as she turned sharply into the stairwell, bounding down the flight and onto the main floor. Even as she did so there was another clang, this time just at the top of the stairs, far too heavy to mistake for anything else. Looking back that time was the first glimpse she got of the attacker. A glint of brass, hints of rubber and a pony shaped form, and then it was gone, jumping nimbly out of sight with a lightness completely incongruous with the thud of its landing, disappearing with only the sound of heavy hooves telling it had ever been.

Edge's own hooves clattered against the flooring as she made a bee-line for the exit, sweat beading at her brow despite the chill canned air of the ship. Risking a glance behind, she saw another motion blur, heart faltering briefly as pitch black eyes glared directly at her, not more than a meter away. Then it was gone, shooting off to the side and untraceable at its pace. Using every bit of energy in her being she took the last few rows at a break neck gallop, skittering across the ground as she tried to grind to a halt before the shut door.

The light above was a resolute red, condemning her to the mercies of the attacker as she thumped heartily against it, unable to stop in time. Her first breath went straight into her mic as she whirled around, pressing her back against the door. "Fi! Get me out of here! It's not reading me!" This door had already done this to Rapid Fire more than once before, leaving her stuck for fifteen minutes on one of her night patrols. She'd been asked to fix it then, but had opted not to because it was amusing whenever Rapid got stuck.

As she saw the brass blur whiz by she vowed never to mess with karma again. She pounded on the door with her hoof. "Fi! What's the ETA?"

"Under five! We're almost there, just hold on!" CLANG! Four heavy hooves landed simultaneously, making the floor almost reverberate with their weight. Straight Edge turned slowly, eyes wide and heart racing as she was cornered by her pursuer.

It was smaller than she would have thought, a full head shorter than her, a body of riveted brass with black rubber connecting all of the joints. But she was sucked into the eyes, deep black soulless abysses, analyzing her, searching her through and through and going deeper than any scan ever could. It's gaze continued to pierce her as a soft whir sounded, followed by a click and a cold, mechanical metallic voice. "Prepare for removal."

She didn't even have time to scream as it shot forward, the sound in her throat cut off by the brass hoof rapidly approaching her face, followed by the sickening thud of bone colliding with metal.


Lieutenant Rapid Fire galloped down the main corridor of the ship, tailed closely behind by the walleyed pegasus and further behind by her other two captives, Spanner, and Fi. As soon as the shriek had sounded she had started running, not a single thought or order needed. Somewhere in the back of her mind it registered that leaving the Captain with three possible saboteurs had not been a good idea, but she was the ship's defender, and right now somepony on the ship needed defending. Why her captives were coming along as well was anypony's guess.

The chatter between Fi and Edge was unsettling. How had somepony infiltrated the ship? It had to be some present left by the three following her, she just knew it. If she aimed now she could- "Fi! What's the ETA?" "Under five! We're almost there, just hold on!" No time. Save Edge, then court martial. She passed by the doors to the terrarium, sprinting at full pace and starting to fall behind the pegasus flying down the hall beside her. Why was the interloper so worried for Edge? This was her trick, wasn't it? What kind of pony doesn't remember their own trap? She picked up her pace, not wanting to be outdone by a civilian, friendly or otherwise.

"CLANG!" rang the radio, setting a weight in the Lieutenant's stomach. She was running out of time. "Prepare for removal." The metallic voice sent a chill down her spine as she banked around the corner, running full tilt towards the door at the end of the corridor. Then came the thud, a sickening smack that shut down Edge's radio and reverberated down the hall. The grey pegasus was already at the door, hovering nervously by the small window set in is as she tried to see to what was going on inside, only barely managing to glimpse the brass beast even after arriving seconds after the thud. The radio crackled again, Fi's voice laced with worry. "Edge! Come in! Are you okay? Edge!"

Rapid pulled her key card lanyard from her neck with her teeth, whipping it above her head and sending it down the hall in a motion practiced and repracticed for just this occasion. It flew quickly, card rotating perfectly before slotting itself in the slider and falling through. The light above the door turned green, the door itself sliding open just as she reached it, running into the room beyond and checking both access lines for contacts. They were clear. Just behind her came the pegasus, who immediately landed by the crumpled zebra laying just out of the door frame. Not ready to trust her yet, Rapid challenged her action. "Hey! Don't touch her! I did not open that door just so that you can kill my friend in front of me!"

"I'm not going to kill her, I'm making sure she is okay!" The grey pegasus made another move forward, only to be stopped by Rapid Fire spinning on her, weapons shining menacingly in the light. The pegasus held up her hooves, backing away from the heap of a figure. "If you don't let me check her she could die before she can get help. Will you please aim away?" Grudgingly Rapid obliged, turning back to halls of pods in search of the mystery attacker.

The pegasus turned again to the zebra, nimbly doing the proper medical checks despite not looking the part of any physician. She spoke quickly, knowledgeably in a low, learned tone. "Still breathing, heart rate slightly high, blood is from the head injury, high likelihood of a concussion. She needs to be moved carefully if we are to-"

It happened in the blink of an eye, but Rapid was already on it. The brass pony appeared from nowhere, landing in front of the pegasus and bringing down one of its hooves in a powerful hammer blow. Rapid twisted on a dime and fired, the heat of the lasers at her sides coursing past her face and straight at the attacker's body. Before even the light could collide though the pony had moved, sliding out of the way to dodge one shot and reflect the other off of its metallic side. The second laser's trajectory altered, landing where the first one had on the door frame at precisely the same moment. While the weapon had been tuned not to possibly go through the ship, the combined energy of both lasers so perfectly aimed melted clean through, causing the four ponies rushing down the corridor beyond to duck and dodge the oncoming blast.

The light above gleamed red, the door slamming shut just as the others arrived, separating the group. The brass pony moved with its dodge, disappearing from view amidst the pods. Rapid's attention returned to the door, where the blonde pegasus was hovering, looking through the window to her companions. Though Rapid Fire couldn't have guessed it at the time, there were not two targets for the pegasus' plea, just one.

For a brief moment both of her golden eyes aligned on him and she mouthed the words she knew would never be heard through the soundproof door. "Save me, Ink Well."
First: [link]
Previous: [link]
Next: 5: [link]

Part four of Source Material, after it's loooooooong hiatus.

The heroes are introduced to the denizens of the ship, and Ink Well gets an impromptu lesson on upcoming events that happened hundreds of years ago. That is, of course, until the threat makes itself known.

Unfortunately, this is a talky bit, one of those things I am horrible at, which is what delayed it so much, and I'm sure somepony's not in character, but at this point I am just happy to be moving on to more interesting pastures.

MLP:FiM (c) Hasbro
Doctor Who (c) BBC
Ink Well (c) nopony, but I did make him up, so ask before stealing him, wouldya?

MY GOODNESS EDIT: I have completely forgotten a very important credit: the concept of lunar ponies was wholeheartedly 'borrowed' from :iconcybertoaster:'s lunar shadow comic series (first link: [link] ). Give much love to their creator! (and yes, I did ask first, but I spaced credit at 4am and feel horrible for it...)
© 2012 - 2022 Medicshy
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Hmmm, I recognize the story Whooves is referencing about the lunar ponies... :)

Alright, the main thing I'd have to bring up is that it takes a second to realize which lines are being spoken by the character visible, and which are coming through the radio. The usual standby is to italicize comms, which would go a long way toward making that segment at the end that much clearer without actually having to add prose.