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Fanfic: Eclipse

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Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:11 pm

As is rather common for authors frequenting this forum, I'll be posting a little thread for discussion of my story currently in progress, Eclipse, which you can find here. Also, you can find it on Equestria Daily here.

It concerns, if you are unaware, a human colony ship dispatched to establish a human population on a distant habitable world. Obviously, as this is a FiM fanfic, the planet is inhabited by ponies, zebras, griffons, et cetera, and the humans find themselves in a tough spot when things begin to go a little awry.

There is no grand adventure here, mostly human and pony interaction and exploration on the parts of both.

An attempt at using medium-hard science fiction elements and simulating a realistic response to the impossible land of Equestria from the perspective of humans accustomed to the mundane and possible. Don't expect brilliance, though, I'll warn you. This has been some shameless self-promotion. Chapter links will be updated as they come out. Enjoy!

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six


Last edited by IncoherentOrange on Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:52 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:18 pm

For some unfathomable reason, this story occupied slot #12 in popularity for the better part of today. 104 favorites, current rating 57:1...

Since when did I deserve such attention? What did I do? I blame stringtheory.

...I know none of you guys really read this or anythin', but I'm working on the third chapter.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by AwesomeOemosewA on Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:54 pm

I love stringtheory
I just freaking love stringtheory
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Kippershy on Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:04 pm

If I get bored at some point and don't feel like doing anything in particular, I'll be sure to give it a shot.
Sorry I haven't read it sooner / promised to read it tomorrow, I'm just awfully picky at times and though I have no issue with your idea, I just haven't felt like reading anything new in a little while.

/sense, make none.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:11 pm

Bah. Do as you wish and only read it if it interests you, don't feel pressed.

Yes, Stringtheory is quite awesome. When I sent it to him for pre-reading, he consulted me on terminology for a spacecraft appearing in the story. I'd called it a 'spaceplane', but since 'shuttle' invariably sounds better, I changed it.

As for the story... 81:1, 137 favorites, and 500 views. It doesn't feel right, like it's too much for what it is.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:05 pm

Well, I posted chapter three...

The story is in the featured box, slot third from right.

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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by CamoBadger on Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:29 pm

Dang, congrats man!

I normally don't read HumanxEquestria stories, but I may just have to read this one.

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My stories: Cold as Ice   |   Fallout Equestria: All That Remains FiMFic Page   |   Fallout Equestria: All That Remains Hub Page
Thanks if you read any of them.

If you have a complaint of any kind, a question or a suggestion, please PM me about it and I will respond as quickly as I can.  


Last wrote:((Camo just likes to kill happiness.))

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Until next time, hugs and kisses.


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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:43 pm

Story's not in the feature box anymore, but the fact that it was is pretty cool, I think.

As of now, the story's rating is 117:3 (39:1 ratio), has 211 favorites, and 787 views.

Edit: Since last night, it's come to 151:3, has 249 favorites, and 918 views.

I am also getting minor occasional flak for my logical inadequacies, but it's all been constructive and friendly, if not neutral.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:45 pm

A person by the name of Milo E-mailed me a list of excellent advice to improve the story, and has accepted an offer to become a pre-reader for the story. I believe his input will assist me greatly. Also, the story has reached 1K views, passing my seven-month-old first story.

Anyway, what grinds my gears is when people leave a dislike and don't explain why. I've got five of them now, (to 164, with 275 favorites. I'm not really complaining about the ratio here, which is totally unfair and unjustified and all that in that it's too damn high for being a story filled with things people often are turned off by, like humans and a mostly-OC cast, not to mention the quality of the work itself) and really wonder why people leave them. If it's not what you expected, sure, downvote it. If it's not your cup of tea, leave it alone. If you like it, upvote it. I suppose that's how it works. Still, I wonder why it's too hard to leave some sort of elaboration.

And, to end, a rather irrelevant (to most of you, I figure) status update: I'm beginning work on chapter four sometime this weekend. In relation to that, does anyone know how to write Princess Celestia? I never really could pull her off well.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:29 pm

Well, good news, the wall at the back of the room! I've sent off chapter four to my new pre-reader, Milo. At long last, I'm back on track. Now, to reward myself by watching the new episode.

As for current statistics, it has three hundred and one favorites, one hundred and eighty-five upvotes, and six downvotes. I still don't know what went right.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:31 am

Well, since Tylertoon requested that I do so, I'll post the contents of the fourth chapter here before I post it on FiMFiction (which I will do NOT in the middle of the night, for obvious reasons).

Also, String, I didn't contact you this time around because I didn't want to put more reading on you, especially some of poorer quality. I don't think this chapter was really all that good, but it's a means to an end, the end being advancement of the story.

Anyway, 'ere you go, chapter four. The text formatting and such might be off, but whatever. It'll look better in FiMFic's word processor.

here be chapter four:


Chapter Four: Redefine Possible


The regal alien had disembarked from her... chariot, for lack of a better term, and was speaking to the lavender unicorn. Quietly, the Skipper watched the exchange unfold. Perhaps, from the other aliens' demeanor around this larger alien, he could determine just who she really was to them, and who she would be to his crew.

-----



"What is happening, Twilight?" the Princess asked, trotting slowly to the side of the unicorn, her gaze transfixed on the leading helmeted figure.

"Have you seen them before? Do you know where they come from?"

The Princess looked to the unicorn. "Twilight, I don't. These beings..." She paused to examine one. "Whoever they may be, are not from Equestria, or any of its surrounding lands nor lands of its allies. This, I am sure. Though, judging from the earth pony that stands among them, they couldn't be--"

"The earth pony isn't from here either," Twilight began, then continued hesitantly, "they're... from space."

The winged unicorn's expression momentarily morphed into a frown. "You are certain of this?" With such a thing staring her in the face--anxiously and confused, from the look of it--she couldn't possibly deny their looking distinctly alien.

Twilight summarized in her mind the events of the day, before saying, "I-I think so, Princess. This pony used to be one of them, but was exposed to poison joke somehow, and turned into a pony. Another one has been turned to stone by a cockatrice, so this leads me to assume that they were in the Everfree Forest and ran into trouble there. They can't understand our language, and I can't understand theirs. We've been... trying to communicate with gestures. That's how I know that they came from space, and also how I know that that pony isn't a pony at all."

The Princess nodded slowly, her insightful eyes combing each of the helmeted figures in turn. As she did so, they frequently looked at one another. Nervous, she thought. "I see."

"How should we..."

"Proceed?" The Princess' expression faded into a more serious one, as it often did when she was deep in thought.


"We have to find out as much as we can. Find out what kind of weapons they bear, if any, and what magic they can use, again, if they have any. If Equestria is in danger, we must know the full extent of their abilities as soon as possible. If they are from space, as you say, then we can assume that their power is great, and never should we underestimate them. Though, perhaps more important than all that, we must determine why they have come here. When travelling through the gulfs between stars, things like this probably do not happen accidentally. They're here for a reason, and I doubt just this many have come."

"But... what could they want, Princess? Maybe they just stopped to... do something, and ran into trouble, and they're here to ask for help. Besides, if they wanted to fight, they would be a little more threatening, don't you think?"

"Twilight, have I ever told you what it's like to deal with foreign powers? In the many thousands of years I've been alive, I've come to know that almost nothing is ever exactly as simple as it seems. It's either even simpler... or much more complex. We shall get to the bottom of this, Twilight, and you," she looked at the unicorn at her side, "will play a key part in it."

"So... we'll be working together on this?"

"In a way. I must manage Equestria from Canterlot, make announcements on these new arrivals, make sure no panic arises." The diarch chuckled, "After all, spaceponies doesn't sound like especially good news, especially from word of mouth. Twilight, I am allowing you to make the decisions here."

Twilight was taken aback. This was serious; they'd need the most experienced ponies Equestria had on this, and Celestia most likely topped the list. She, on the other hoof, didn't even near the top hundred, or perhaps even thousand. "I... don't know, Princess. Really, you know what to do better than I do."

"Twilight, I'm asking you to do this because I know I can count on you. I've taught you much, you've learned more on your own, and I trust that you will make the right choices using what you've learned. You're a smart pony, Twilight, you can deal with this in my stead, I'm sure of it."

"But... what if they want to speak to you? Surely it's obvious that they know you're our leader, and what if they want something big and I don't know-"

The Princess interrupted, "I am willing to provide whatever aid they need, Twilight, within reasonable bounds, of course. This matter is quite important and is undoubtedly delicate. Twilight, you... are inquisitive, curious, intelligent, and most of all, dedicated. I couldn't ask for a better ambassador for Equestria."

"So... I'll make all of the calls, handle all of the relations..." She stopped. "Is this another test?"

"A rather unexpected one, I suppose," the Princess replied in an amused tone. "You've proven yourself very capable of making new friends throughout your stay in Ponyville, Twilight."

Fluttershy spoke up. "If you don't mind me interrupting, Princess..."

The winged unicorn looked at the pegasus. "Do you have a suggestion, Fluttershy?"

"Yes... I do." She pointed at the stoned alien. "Can you cure him? I don't think these, uh... aliens know how."

"An excellent suggestion, Fluttershy. Twilight, do you have a solution you can apply to this situation?"

Twilight cleared her throat, "Yes, Princess, I think so. After I had a close call with a cockatrice, myself, I looked into finding a cure. As it turns out, I do have one, an herbal remedy, from my copy of Supernaturals. Zecora would know how to make it. Fluttershy, can you go to Zecora's and tell her?" The zebra would certainly be busy today.

"T-Through the Everfree Forest?"

The Princess smiled lightly. "Rest assured, Fluttershy; you will be well-protected." With a nod, two golden-armored pegasi from the diarch's personal entourage moved to the pegasus mare's side.

"Oh... alright, then."

With that, she and her escort were off. The aliens had begun to murmur amongst themselves for a moment, before the lead figure hushed them. It could only be confusing to be on a world on which they didn't speak the language. They were going to have to learn it if they were intending on staying here. Did they intend on staying here? What now?

-----



Silence reigned. The baffling winged unicorn was staring at the purple unicorn, who appeared to be in thought. She didn't know what to do, the Skipper thought, but we don't, either. Someone here had to think of something. The situation hadn't gotten any simpler since the arrival of the larger alien, and he hadn't yet pieced much together from her exchange with the others. His mind wandered to the purpose of Eclipse.

Earth had been a cradle of sorts, humanity being the baby within. As was the case with many children, humanity had a tendency to be tactile in their learnings and, again like children, have broken some things along the way, made mistakes, picked fights, spilled things, and eventually learned from these things, but left their cradle a mess.

Throughout the twenty-second century especially, many things resultant of humanity's stumblings, like the world's population and the displacement of inhabitants due to increasing water levels, came to a peak. It had been a costly endeavour to make efforts to correct the damages over the next century, and a significant number of people did not live through it, and the world still bore many of the scars.

Eclipse's main purpose was to put the lessons learned from those times into practice, on a planet like Earth. In theory, the availability of all of this planet's resources to the unified colony would deter the development of any conflict over resources, and the usage of more efficient and safer power production methods, mostly in the form of the nuclear reactors that powered Eclipse, the waste from which was just a point-to-point FTL jump away from disposal. However, the colony's role may just have changed with the discovery of the sentient species living on this planet. How it would change, the Skipper thought, may well depend on what he and his crew did today, in this field, as well as what sort of technology--how else would one explain a teleporting unicorn?--was involved in this scenario. According to the physics labs' reports, the scientists couldn't tell any more than they could from Earth about the impossible gravitational forces of this system, and the biology department had been more than a little bit frightened when they found no reason for Powell to have turned to stone from the cockatrice's gaze. He could add teleportation to the tally of unexplainables, unless something proves otherwise, which didn't seem too likely.

Before he could piece together much from the conversation he'd just witnessed, another alien arrived, one with an orange coat, wearing a hat over blond hair and bearing a mark of three fruit-like objects, aesthetically resembling apples, on its flanks, as all natives--and Killian--had displayed. It didn't look like a tattoo--and certainly hadn't been in Killian's case--nor did it appear to be part of the coat. The one of the purple unicorn--several stars surrounding a larger central one--didn't appear to represent anything--teleportation, maybe?--whereas Killian's apparently represented his talent of stellar navigation, a hypothesis Kathy shared with the navigator. A farmer of the red fruits they'd seen from orbit? The arriving alien looked puzzled, and upon getting closer, bowed slightly before beginning to speak.

-----



"Hey Princess, howdy Twi', Pinkie. If y'all don't mind me askin', what's going on here? This thing certainly wasn't here yesterday. Who are... they?" Applejack came to stand at Twilight's side.

"Applejack, these..." Twilight replied, gesturing a hoof toward them, "are aliens, from another planet. We don't know why they're here, but they need our help." She specifically indicated the stoned alien, and the earth pony mare brought a hoof to her chin in thought.

"Oh, I see," she eventually replied, "I'd reckon that other planets are far away, and I'd also reckon that they'd be tired from all of that travellin'. I think it'd be a good idea to show them some Ponyville hospitality, regardless of where they're from. They don't look like the kind that'd bite'cha."

"But, Applejack, we can't even speak to them, they can't understand us and we can't understand them," Twilight explained.

Waving a hoof dismissively, Applejack replied, "Oh, don't you worry, Twi'; food is a universal negotiator. Trust me; we've had foreign folks 'round Sweet Apple Acres before. 'Sides, aliens from another world ain't somethin' that come to Ponyville every day now, this is a special occasion."

Before the unicorn could reply, Pinkie blurted, "So we're going to have a party? ...Why didn't I think of that?"

"Maybe because it's not a very good idea. Applejack, Pinkie, we don't even know if they have the concept of a party where they're from. Too much excitement might make them nervous, or scared, or even hostile. We can't take the risk of giving them the wrong impression!"

"N-no parties? Is that even... possible?" The pink pony seemed almost faint.

"Then we'll just feed 'em. They definitely know what food is. I mean, they've got mouths, or at least, I think they do. Speaking of that, why do you figure they're wearin' those things on their heads?"

"I don't understand their purpose, to be honest." Twilight had seen diving equipment, which usually involved tanks of air and a helmet or snorkel of sorts, but these appeared to be lacking any sort of air supply. Was it some sort of equipment for working in space? If so, why didn't they take them off?

"Ah. Well, I'm off to round up the folks to help us give these travellers a proper reception." With that, the orange pony was off. Pinkie Pie also began to trot away.

"Pinkie, where are you going?" Twilight said, warningly. She'd already ordered no parties.

"Oh, I'm going to plan a party. Not for our new guests, you said not to do that, but I think we should celebrate anyway! They don't have to be there, but it sure would be great if you changed your mind! If they don't know parties, then I'm sure I could teach them parties. Just a suggestion!" Pinkie changed her pace to a bounce, and soon left the scene.

"I hope everything turns out okay," Twilight whispered discreetly to her mentor, whose inactivity stood to show how independant she had to be in her command of this situation.

"Communication, Twilight," the Princess instructed without replying, "is key."

"Yes, right. Back to that." Twilight locked eyes with the lead figure, who'd occupied himself with watching them. His eyes didn't betray any hostility, but hints of what seemed almost like courteousness and most definitely curiosity, to her. Nervousness crept over her once more. What could she say? The Princess brought a piece of paper and a pencil from the chariot with her levitation.

"You should be taking notes, Twilight."

-----



The Skipper's mouth hung open as the lavender unicorn's horn glowed in turn, her own purple glow encapsulating the paper and writing implement. What was..? Slowly, he pulled a handheld combined geiger counter and metal detector from one of his uniform pockets, slowly extending it toward the floating paper. Nothing. He held it closer, and the larger alien lowered her head to nearby the detector, and nodded at it. The Skipper raised an eyebrow, and nodded in return, wondering what she would do. The device was gently taken from his hand, wreathed in the same glow that the paper had been before being passed--in a matter of speaking--to the unicorn. She began to examine the device visually. The horn had to be a power source of some kind, but there was no indication of their being artificial--they sure looked organic in nature. The metal detector portion was still active, and appeared to have detected the larger alien's regalia from the readout. By this point, he was merely a meter away from the pair, though the larger one's armored guards--obviously soldiers, though they carried no noticeable weapons--hadn't moved. The purple alien had been writing with the pencil she was levitating, alternating between looking at the page and at him. Taking notes, he deduced.

Kathy broke the silence, "Anything, Skipper?"

"...No. Nothing. No radiation, no unexpected metal. I can't detect anything out of the ordinary at all," he replied, shaking his head. The geiger counter had apparently been adequately appraised by the winged unicorn, as the device slowly made its way to hover in the air over where his right hand was. He took hold of it, and pocketed the device as the glow around it dissipated. He stared at the alien and received a smile in return.

The Skipper backed up to rejoin his group, turning to face them. "It's just the same as any other thing about this place..." Killian muttered. "Maybe there's some sort of... I don't know... new form of sub-atomic... no. I just don't see how any of this is possible. This place and its people break the rules of physics so often we may need to account for something else, re-make our model... But we can't do that until we can measure whatever it is that's at work here."

-----



"It has a gauge on it. It looks like some sort of measuring implement," the Princess said.

"He... doesn't know what magic is," Twilight said in disbelief.

"This object, it's not magical, or mechanical," the Princess added. "it's electrical."

"Electrical? No magic at all?" Electric power was widespread throughout Equestria, and was mostly used for lighting and heating, though magic could easily replace it in those capacities, making the technology a mere convenience.

"If they did have magic, I could've detected leftover energy. This device," the Princess explained, "bears none of it."

"So... there's no magic where they came from? How did they get here?"

"That's a good question, Twilight. It appears as though they've gotten along without it, since they've managed to get here. Perhaps we should attempt to explain it, as their tools don't appear to be telling them anything about it."

-----



"The purple one is signing something," Sanders pointed out, diverting all of their attentions to the unicorn once again.

Paper and pencil still in her grip, she began making motions with her hooves, tapping her glowing horn, then gesturing toward the paper. The horn was the source of power, yes. What kind of power? How?

"Well, unlike the cockatrice here, it looks like these aliens have at least a possible point from which their... abilities... come from," Kathy noted. "I don't think we can get much more from field investigation."

"We could take one aboard," Killian suggested, "if one of them wants to, and with adequate precautions, of course."

Before the Skipper could reply, the cerulean pegasus alien could be seen flying toward them. She landed and began to speak to the other two. What kind of errand had she just run for the purple one?

-----



"Zecora says she'll have those things ready by this evening. Fluttershy's staying to help her out," Rainbow reported.

"That's great, Rainbow Dash, I think they'll appreciate it."

"I don't think they understand what you meant by your gesture, Twilight. Perhaps you should demonstrate different spells," the Princess suggested.

Why didn't I think of that? she thought. "Yes, of course." She set down the paper and pencil, the glow of her horn fading for a moment before intensifying once again. With a flash, she teleported several meters to the side, the aliens watching in awe. She decided not to perform any projectile spells, lest they consider them a weapon, and continued performing a standard routine she'd devised to strengthen her magical endurance and hone her skills with all sorts of spells. She had to look her best for the Princess.

First, she cast a light spell, a basic one many foals learn early on. Hers had been amply practiced, yet the aliens seemed quite interested even in that. Next, she performed an antigravity spell, followed by a self-levitation spell to mitigate the fall from the other wearing off. Again, the aliens seemed impressed. She plucked a number of blades of grass and began to weave them together, practicing telekinetic dexterity, something that had taken her quite a long time to master. She then shaped the woven grass into a rounded shape, and cast a transmutation spell. The grass became an apple. As she continued her practice, the aliens began to talk amongst themselves.

-----



"That's... quite a show," Kathy muttered, awed by the various feats this unicorn was performing in rapid succession and with practiced fluidity.

"It looks... magical," Sanders added. Indeed, with many of the tricks she performed came glows, flashes, and sparkles. It became evident to the Skipper what this particular alien's mark represented; magic. If the marks were natural--and they evidently were--then this unicorn's ability with these spells--for lack of a better term--was also natural. Or was it? What kind of tool that small could look like an animal's horn, yet be packed with so many impossible features, such as a personal teleporter, personal levitation at will, levitation of other objects, transmutation, and personal antigravity?

"She does... she is," the Skipper replied softly. "The unicorns are magical. I don't believe it, but there it is. And they're not the only thing. Killian, you are no longer human, because a plant turned you into an alien. Sean Powell, as he stands right there, turned to stone. Magically, by this cockatrice, which obviously couldn't have done it by any measurable means. Same with the blue plant. The people, the animals, the plants, probably even the star... all of it."

"So much for things eventually making sense," Killian said dryly. Nobody else spoke as the unicorn finished her demonstration. Something about the large alien caught the Skipper's eye for the first time. What was her mark supposed to mean? Did she..?

-----



"Do you think they understand now?" Twilight asked her mentor, who nodded slowly.

"See for yourself." The lead figure appeared to be deep in thought, staring into space before looking at her again, narrowing his eyes. He pointed at the Sun.

Princess Celestia stepped forward, her horn glowed intensely for a moment. As though not directed toward anyone nearby in particular, the alien said something in his language, then pointed at her, and then at the sun again. The Princess nodded. His eyes widened, as though he'd just made some shocking discovery. It occurred to Twilight; he didn't know that the Princess controlled the Sun.

-----



...She did. This alien controlled the star here with her magic. Or, rather, Eclipse would be able to tell him if this was so, in less than ten minutes, and if this wasn't some sort of facade, and these beings really did have extreme technological abilities that somehow remained undetectable, which seemed unlikely now with the Skipper's deduction that magic was indeed at work here, and that these creatures were incredibly powerful indeed.

"This alien," the Skipper began, taking a deep breath, "controls that star up there. That's why it orbits this planet."

"Excuse me, Skipper, that doesn't make any sense. We're talking something thousands of times the mass of this entier planet, and you say that this being here, this winged unicorn, no bigger than two men, can simply move it?" Killian interjected.

"We'll know in-"

"A few minutes, Skipper, I know. We can't be jumping to conclusions like this all the time. Didn't you say not to jump to conclusions? I know you're not a full scientist, but you couldn't possibly not know what you're implying here."

"I know exactly what I'm implying, and I don't like it any more than you do, but that's what all evidence we currently have points to. What we now know is that this alien is what causes this, she claims it to be so herself. If I were a leader on a first contact mission, I wouldn't lie about that sort of thing. You're right, Killian. It makes no sense at all, but if there's one thing we need to do if we want to survive and live here, it's to learn to adapt to all of these new concepts as they appear, not try to justify them as we know them where we're from, and ignore the evidence. We're not on Earth anymore, we're here, and this place has very different rules. They don't make sense, no, but there they are, right in front of us." The Skipper's speech was delivered in an unflinching, calm, commanding tone, one he very rarely made use of.

Several anxious minutes passed, not a single one of the beings present making a move; the Skipper's stern speech had apparently killed the mood fairly efficiently. The comm circuit in the Skipper's helmet activated, and Marcus' voice came through. "As you said, Skipper, astrometrics lab has reported a major trajectory change. How did you know that would happen? What's going on down there?"

The Skipper replied, "Don't worry about it. I'll explain later." He pointed at the star again, then at the winged unicorn. She'd better change it back, he thought.

-----



With a glow of her horn, the Princess responded to the alien's signal. The Sun would now return to its proper place, or, Twilight assumed that to be the purpose of the spell.

"I do not believe that leaves them any doubt," the Princess stated.

Twilight nodded in return, "I wonder what it's like, to just... discover magic. I can't imagine life without it."

"...And they can hardly comprehend life with it."

The pair of guards that had been sent with Fluttershy returned, bearing the message that Zecora would escort her out of the forest herself, and that Fluttershy had dismissed them.

"Twilight, I leave this matter in your hooves. I must go make announcements about these visitors' arrival."

Having boarded her chariot, the Princess gave the leading figure one last glance before departing for Canterlot.


*****


Many minutes of signed attempted discussion, mostly about magic, had kept Twilight occupied and taking notes when Applejack arrived. Her voice prompted the unicorn to raise her head from the paper. Rainbow Dash had quickly become bored and headed off.

"Hey Twi', the Apple Family and I have put together a little somethin' for our guests. Come on, bring 'em with you."

In a just recently established manner of gesturing and communication, movements and even a few noises to represent various things rather vaguely, Twilight attempted to ask the visitors to follow. Applejack waved a hoof at them and whistled.

-----



The Skipper interpreted the message clearly; to follow. "Cox, Grant, take care of things here, watch the cockatrice, and bring Powell inside the ship. Killian, Kathy, Sanders, let's go. I think they've got something to show us."

Edit: And it's up. Also, I'm sorry I'm kind of posting on this thread as though I expect you guys to read this. Don't bother if you're not interested, I understand completely. The story is in the update queue now, I won't see if it makes the featured box again (which I do not doubt, considering the story made the cut last time, somehow. It's a really mysterious system) for a little while.
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IncoherentOrange
Ursa Major

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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:08 am

I have grounds to believe that FiMFiction will be shut down within the next week or so because it 'harbors clopfics, and those of various unacceptable varieties,' by a division of Anonymous. (I did the math; the site is 3% clopfics, or thereabouts.) As such, I'll be posting the entire story within this thread as a precaution. Basically it's just a dump; I can't say it's fully readable due to formatting issues, but now you can read this all here, if you wish, and I don't have to worry about losing it all.

chapter one:


Chapter One: Standard Operating Procedure


The counter reached zero, indicating arrival at the coordinates designated by the navigator at the start of the voyage. Eclipse slowed to sublight velocities. They had arrived at last, hopefully. "Navigation, check," the Skipper ordered. "Fire boosters, eliminate gravitational spin."

If they had arrived, that would mean they were in high orbit over the planet P-0134-A--or, as some might've called it, New Earth, though a definitive name had yet to be determined--their destination, the planet that would hopefully soon become the home of over seven thousand people. That is, if Eclipse's navigator and computer had made their calculations correctly, two decades ago when the course was first laid.

"Uh huh," Killian acknowledged in an ever-so-slightly jovial tone, "firing boosters... gravity offline. Telemetry coming in. I was off by ten thousand kilometers, but we're here, Skipper." Killian Reynolds was the chief Spacer navigator aboard Eclipse. 'Spacer' was a term that described any individual capable of operating an FTL drive. Understanding the intricacies of faster-than-light travel was reserved for the best and brightest--one couldn't simply pick up a book and read about it, as it was simply too complex for a mere man or woman--be they a physicist or a simpleton with a passion for science--to understand. It took an intellectual gift, a knack for understanding the un-understandable. As the ship became oriented with the planet being 'downward,' the interior of the ship was filled with the distinctive feel of microgravity. Now, the entire crew knew of the conclusion of their journey, if they had not been minding the mission timers positioned in major areas to remind the crew of how long their journey would still last.

"Ventral camera. Let's see our new home." The Skipper could barely keep his voice level. He, along with over seven thousand others, had long awaited this day, the day that they would arrive to stake a claim on the first earthlike planet ever to be visited by mankind. The excitement was likely felt by every man and woman aboard, and seemed to hang heavily in the the sterile, carefully-controlled and filtered air of the Eclipse's vast compartments and modules. Even Killian seemed excited.

"Sure thing, Skipper." The display at the front of the bridge lit up as communications officer Marcus Thorne flipped a switch on his console, which also contained the switches for the PA system, among other things. An all-encompassing view of the lone planet in the system, as blue as Earth was, but with a distinctly alien--though of the same palette of colors one could see on Earth--geography, appeared on the monitor at the front of the bridge.

"Close enough, Killian. Close enough," the Skipper said, beaming.

"No, no, not close enough, Skipper. Had I made that mistake in some other direction, or misplaced a decimal another place-"

"Killian, why does it matter? You won't be plotting another FTL course in your entire life!" Marcus excaimed, then glanced back at his console. "Skipper, Topography A reports that their survey is underway. Launch bay reports that atmospheric analysis drones have been launched..." He spun, strapped down in his chair, to face the Skipper. "Isn't this exciting!?"

The Skipper did not answer the communications officer's question; it was answered well enough by the wide grin on his face. "Sensors, what have we got?"

Life support officer Kathy Wright doubled as sensors officer, and would triple as xenobiologist when they made planetfall, after which her other two functions would become only minutely important. She began to list off the various bits of information displayed by her workstation, as relayed by those manning sensory instruments aboard. "Orbit path is clear. That star is... orbiting around the planet, as I've got it here. Looks like those kooky theories were correct after all. One natural satellite, as probe telemetry has already told us. No other planets, as we already know... oh, preliminary geographical analysis coming in. Three continents, one bigger than the others. Eighty-one percent water coverage, one hundred and one point six percent Earth gravity. No peculiar noise on radio frequencies, radiation levels within acceptable limits..."

The Skipper interrupted her with an order. He didn't need to hear how earthlike this place was another time. All he needed was confirmation from one of his crew instead of those guys sitting on Pluto that spent their days listening for probe telemetry, from the self-replicating probe network that had discovered this planet. "Killian, bring us into geosynchronous orbit with the center of the largest continent. Let's give the boys down in topography something more important than the ocean to look at."

"Um-hm," came the navigator's reply. Formalities of command were very lax aboard Eclipse; it was technically a civilian ship, and on top of that, the crew had taken plenty of time to become well-aquainted with one another during the twenty-year trip; each and every one of the department heads and bridge crew knew each other on a first name basis, except for the Skipper, who was to everyone aboard just that--the Skipper, who preferred the title over 'Commander' or 'Captain,' and never used his name, for reasons not many would know, though many would still refer to him as his formal title of Captain. The ship shuddered slightly as its plasma engines came online, for the first time since Eclipse cleared the shipyard at which she was built, in orbit around Mercury, from which vast amounts of materials that would become the ship were mined.

Several anxious minutes went by. It was established as standard procedure for this type of mission--of which no others had yet been launched, meaning that none of it was field tested--that no action to land would be undertaken until topographical studies were conducted thoroughly enough to find an optimal spot for planetfall. A tone rang out, and Marcus scanned his console. "Skipper," the communications officer began, "urgent from topography A."

The Skipper nodded, and Marcus hit the intercom switch. "Skipper, there's something down here you've got to see!" said the voice from the speaker, with enthusiasm never before expressed by the chief topographer, Micheal LeBlanc.

"Would you mind telling me from there?" the Skipper asked. It was a fairly long trip from the bridge to the topography labs, or really from anything to anything else; Eclipse was just that big. "Or, even better, give us your feed."

"Yes, Skipper, right away--here you are." The monitor at the front of the bridge lit up with a different image, this time from the powerful imaging system used by the topography lab. What it showed was something the Skipper--and the rest of the bridge crew--didn't expect to ever see. Appearing on the monitor was a clear aerial view of a modestly-sized... town.

A town. A town of buildings and movement. Not just life, but civilization. Jaws dropped. "You haven't seen the best of it, yet," said the voice from the intercom. The image enhanced, tracking one moving object. It enhanced further and further, until the alien was clearly visible. A light-blue quadruped with a horn protruding from its forehead, a basket... levitating, as it seemed, immediately in front of it, full of what appeared to be some sort of fruit.

"Are you sure these... life forms are not simply wildlife, Mike?" The creature looked like a horse--no, that was more like a unicorn. Whatever it might have been, it was oddly-coloured, that was certain.

"Positive. There is no indication of any other creatures that might be influencing their movements. Skipper, we're looking at aliens. Sentient... horse aliens. Oh, wait, there's more." The feed from the camera showed Mike adjusting the zoom and aquiring another specimen of this species, this one a shade of yellow. "This one has wings..." He moved it again, to yet a third specimen, burgundy. Each one, as it was easily noted, had some mark on their hindquarters, though none of those could be made out at this altitude, even with such powerful magnification. "This one has neither a horn nor wings..." He panned to a pair of colorful natives. "And these two, Skipper, are talking."

Kathy had been carefully observing the creatures' deliberate movements, and had deduced quickly, that these were no mere animals. They were looking at just what Micheal had said--horse aliens, or, more accurately, horse aliens, pegasus aliens, and unicorn aliens. Remarkable, she thought, that such a species could exist. Herbivores on Earth seemed to lack the capacity in some form or another to develop sapience thus far, the abilty to break the hazy barrier between non-sentience and sentience--one that might soon be much better understood by observing and interacting with these creatures--simply had not appeared in any species other than humans. The unexplainable levitating basket, however, was either evidence of advanced technology in this visually-simple town of theirs, or more evidence that this world did not follow the same rules as the only other life-supporting planet ever observed--Earth. Kathy was currently leaning toward the latter, especially considering how oddly the star was behaving, what with it swinging at an impossible speed around the planet, which doesn't make any sense, and had to be checked, checked again, and again, and again, until it was finally accepted as fact. She let out a thoughtful sigh, but said nothing. She'd wait for hands-on analysis to make heads or tails of these creatures--that is, if the Skipper would let her.

"What are we going to do, Skipper?" the topographer asked through the intercom, "Let the crew know?"

The pressure was on. The previous Earth day the Skipper had gone over standard operating procedure for various scenarios Eclipse was prepared for. This particular one, finding P-0134-A to be inhabited, had been one of those. It specified that the local civilization's level of technological sophistication--military and observational capabilities, along with some semblance of a population count, were defined as most important--and natural demeanor be determined, at which point a course of action would be determined by the CO, the Skipper. He was technically well-qualified to handle the situation, he just hadn't thought it'd ever come to pass; he was never very optimistic about there being intelligent life here, and had thought it too unlikely. Yet, here it was, shown clearly on a monitor in front of him.

He cleared his throat. "Yes, let them know. We're no longer colonists, ladies and gentlemen, we're visitors. It's up to them whether we stay or go." He paused for a moment to gauge the reactions of the bridge crew, who nodded in turn when he looked at each of them, then smiled. "Let's just hope they have room for seven thousand more. Kathy, what have the atmospheric drones uncovered?"

"In short, air's breathable, Skipper. Don't know about local microbial life," the scientist replied.

Alien viruses and bacteria. Human immune systems were completely unprepared to deal with such things, should they find humans to be valid targets, which was unlikely, but possible. It would a dual-edged sword if the biochemistry of Earth life was compatible with this planet's life; if Earth microbes arrived here, it could be just as disastrous. As such, Eclipse was ninety-nine percent sterilized, its crew having taken supplements designed to remove most types of indigeonous microbial life from their bodies and replacing them with genetically-engineered, durable and docile microbes that would not cause nearly as much trouble if they got out and decided to pick fights.

"Alright, come nightfall, we're going down there. Topography, find out all you can before nightfall on this area of the planet. We're looking for signs of technology, population centers, a landing site, and a colony site. Inform Topography B."

Eclipse was built to split into eight parts; a command module and seven colony modules. The colony modules contained everything the colonists needed, and were capable of re-entry and landing on their own, while the command module was the ship's bridge, engines, communication and sensors equipment, space-based research labs, like the topography labs, and emergency supplies.

"Yes, Skipper, right away. We'll take a peek and send our findings your way," came the reply from the intercom. The Skipper gestured at Marcus to toggle the communication line.

"Well, this is unexpected," Killian said. "This place is so... odd, I don't like it."

"What don't you like?" the Skipper prodded. "Alien life, sentient life. It's a discovery to go down in the history books. We're here, we're safe, and we may be welcomed here." The Skipper knew how optimistic he sounded, but when other outcomes soured his mind to believe in their likelihood, he decided it best to project the best possible scenario; that their mission was not compromised by some colorful horse aliens, and that they'd allow the colony to exist peacefully.

"It's just not right, here. The star is not obeying the laws of physics--that I know for sure--this place is so uncannily-earthlike that it seems too good to be true. I just don't like it. All we've learned about this place makes me uneasy, and we just got here."

The Skipper chuckled. "Are you suggesting that this is some sort of trap? A mirage?" he asked, half-jokingly.

"No, Skipper, it's just-"

"For crying out loud, Killian, nothing has gone wrong, and there's no indication that something will," Marcus interrupted. Killian shot him a glare.

"Or that it won't," Kathy interjected. "We should not jump to conclusions about anything out here. Meeting intelligent life is a very delicate matter, one we won't get another shot at until we find another inhabited planet, which may never happen. The star throws all of our rules out the window and blows a raspberry at them, sure, but it hasn't done us any harm, and neither has this planet or its inhabitants. Let's take this slow, wait and see what we can make of all this. As you said, Killian, we've only just arrived. There is much more to this place than meets the eye, I agree with you on that, but we can not let that hold us back."

"Marcus," the Skipper began, changing the subject, "let the crew know."

Marcus nodded, and leaned in to the microphone on his station, then keyed the PA system. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have discovered that there is intelligent life on the surface of the planet. Quadrupedal herbivores, as far as we know. Stay tuned for further announcements, and remember to take your D-vitamin supplements. Review your protocol packets."

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*****


Twilight Sparkle's telescope was a gift from the Princess herself, one of the most powerful ever made, she'd been told. Tonight, she'd so some stargazing, a rather calming activity for the studious mare. Adjusting the instrument with her magic, she aimed the telescope at Luna's moon, to finish her adjustments, and leaned in to gaze through the layers of magnifying glass.

A small, peculiar grey object, apparently too small to be seen with the naked eye, could be seen in front of the moon. It did not move with the stellar object as it went through the sky. Levitating a cloth to the end of the telescope, she wiped it, then looked back through the optic and frowned. The object was still there. She switched lenses and focused it. Again, it was still there.

Upon closer inspection, the object was a long, almost cylindrical--or perhaps rectangular--thing. She'd seen nothing like it before. With no lenses more powerful to see the object through, she noted whatever she could about the object before the enticing notion of sleep overrode her will to learn more about it. For now, at least.

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*****


The Eclipse's launch bay was home to a dozen collapsible Luna-class shuttles, for reconnaissance and transport. Provisions had been made to arm them, should it prove necessary. There had been no telling what kind of creatures Eclipse would find on this planet, and they could well have been much stronger and hardier than those on Earth, for a variety of reasons.

As such, Eclipse had--unusually for a civilian vessel--an armory, a big one. Maintained aboard was a security force of sorts--one thousand of the crew were trained to a varying extent in handling weaponry. The C-40 assault rifle was their standard issue, a weapon that held ninety small armor-piercing projectiles in a magazine and usually fired three-round bursts within a tight spread, to defeat the strongest of body armor--also hopefully creature hide--and inflict maximum damage. Also available were sedation dart rounds, a mere one of which was capable of putting a human under for an hour or two. Three rounds could easily put someone out for the better part of a day. Eclipse carried enough supplies of the weapon and its ammunition for the entire force. Along with it was the main 'armament' of the ship, which consisted of numerous turrets intended for shooting down asteroids, and what SolGov had called 'handling other threats'.

The notion that any of these weapons could be necessary at all worried the Skipper, though he knew them to be justified; Eclipse was made to be equipped for any situation, including armed conflict with mutineers and boarding by hostile entities. Also visible in the launch bay were a dozen all-terrain six-seated vehicles, capable of being stored within a Luna. These vehicles resembled an armored personnel carrier more than a small bus or a van, but were unarmed, again with provisions for arming them. Equipped for anything, the Skipper mused. This may come to be justified; Topography had reported to have seen monolithic creatures with what looked like multiple heads. A few rifle shots were unlikely to be enough to stop such a thing.

"Are you sure we shouldn't wait until the next night to do this? It wouldn't hurt to wait, I don't think," Killian said. As with Kathy and many members of the crew, he had other responsibilities that started after Eclipse arrived at P-0134-A, or in his case, since he plotted the course; he was the chief of security. Along with a deputy, Sean Powell, he'd provide security for the landing party, the rest of which consisted of Kathy, her two assistants, and the Skipper.

"There's no reason to, Killian. The sooner we know more about this place's life forms, the sooner we can make contact and find out if these aliens won't kill us if we land in their backyard more overtly," the Skipper explained, bringing up a map on a nearby monitor. "We'll land on the eastern end of this forest, opposite this town--the one Topography showed us--take a look around, take samples, and take off before daybreak. If we find any of Mr. LeBlanc's monsters, or anything of that sort, we will retreat."

"Once we know how the life here works," Kathy continued, "we can decide what actions to take depending on how compatible the biochemistry here is with ours. Local wildlife will not recognize our scent or appearance, and might be scared away. If they aren't, and decide to attack instead--an equally likely prospect, I'd figure--you're the security chief, you know what to do."

Killian smiled for a moment, but that smile quickly faded into his usual stern expression. He looked at his rifle, the blue-taped box magazine firmly inserted within its receiver, with four more on his vest, two of which bore red tape instead. Most of the crew for this mission wore nothing out of the ordinary--thick jumpsuits, gloves, boots, and dome-like helmets with air filters and built-in lights. The two security personnel had slightly different equipment, consisting of the same jumpsuit but with a body armor vest with markings denoting their status as security--or more popularly among the crew, 'space marines'--a rifle, baton, and fingerless gloves to facilitate their use. The Skipper's gear was normal except for command equipment built into his helmet and communications gear. He, along with each member of the xenobiology team, were armed with a Tranquijolt pistol, which fired ammunition that both incapacitated chemically and applied a long-lasting, non-lethal electrical charge to a target, just in case. Only the fingers of the security team were exposed; the helmets came with an attachment for the neck.

"In the event of contact with hostile sentient inhabitants, we incapacitate them and make sure they're safe before we leave. If they're anything like us, their people will think they're nuts and ignore them, just as they did on Earth." This made the Skipper chuckle a bit as he thought about what he'd just implied, that aliens had indeed visited Earth, but they'd done the same thing they were prepared to do themselves. "We can't be too careful, though. We'll avoid any and all contact, understood?"

Each member of the team nodded at the Skipper before the team boarded the shuttle. It was time for a little bit of field work.

chapter two:


Chapter Two: Impossibilities


A slight shake indicated successful landing of the Luna. The Skipper looked at the pilot. "Hope you don't mind waiting for a while."

"No problem," he said, "don't worry about me."

The ramp opened and the compartment the team stood within began to fill with the air of the alien world. One by one they stepped out of their craft into the night, switching on their headlamps and taking a look around. "Wow," one of the xenobiologists said, capturing fully in one small word the wonder of the moment. They'd made it. Eclipse had made it. There they stood, on the surface of an alien world, the first one of its kind ever to have been set foot upon by man.

"I wonder what the air smells like..." Deputy Powell pondered aloud.

The Skipper turned toward their destination for this mission, a dense forest, as the xenobiologists ran initial tests and took samples of the grass--which looked identical to that found on Earth, from just a glance--and flowers in the field they'd decided to land in. Backpacks for carrying samples adorned each of the scientists' backs, and they soon were to be filled with samples for the labs back aboard Eclipse to analyze, of plants, insects--if there were any, which there clearly was, at least, if the cricket-like noises that punctuated the night came from cricket-like creatures--and the very air itself. Within the forest, however, there would be many more varieties of life, if forests here were like those on Earth, which they appeared to be, from what could be told in orbit. The foliage was a bit too thick to get much information out of it.

"Alright, let's move out," the Skipper ordered, moving slowly toward the forest, feeling every step for the now-unfamiliar and nostalgic feeling of soil beneath his feet through his boots. It felt very good, in a subtle way, to stand on the secure, solid ground under him. He didn't doubt that the rest of the team felt the same way.

Killian swept his helmet lamp across the treeline. "That is one thick forest," he muttered softly, though each member of the team could hear him just fine through the radios in their helmets.

The thick underbrush was quickly found to contain thorn bushes, which thankfully did not cause anything more than some surprise. Injury would necessitate a heavy quarantine and likely an immediate retreat, and nobody wanted to handle that mess. "Powell, Jennings, Markov, you take left. Reynolds, Wright, with me," the Skipper ordered. Covering more ground would produce better and wider results. They had a mission time frame of three Earth hours--around eight minutes shorter than one of this planet's hours, if a scale of twenty-four to a 'day' was used. The star rose and set in a time frame similar to Earth's, but the planet itself spun very slowly.

Their primary objective was to collect any samples they could, to clarify as much as possible about this planet's ecosystem's biochemistry, most importantly, to determine whether local food would be edible, and to determine if local viruses and bacteria were possibly a threat, which would not bode well for the colonists. At the very least, it could be an inconvenience. Eclipse had plenty of respirator helmets--a thousand or so--and the colony modules could remain sealed against the outside air, should the situation call for it.

The pair of teams' headlamps illuminated branches, vines, oddly-shaped logs, and other vegetation, all the while casting fearsome shadows that might have scared them, had they been alone in this dense alien forest. Navigation through it would be merely an inconvenience as long as the Skipper wore his helmet, a special one with a heads-up-display, for commanding missions. With it, he'd been able to make the beacon of the Luna visible from over five kilometers away as a semi-transparent red chevron. Through the rustling of the bushes he treaded through, Killian swore he heard an owl. He swung about to report his discovery, and tripped on a root, landing in a bed of blue flowers.

The navigator struggled to his feet, picking up his rifle and shaking off alien pollen. Kathy's warning voice began to speak, echoed just slightly afterward by the radio as she bent down to carefully collect one of the blue flowers with a skilled hand. "Careful, these plants could have defense mechanisms. Don't let any of that stuff touch your skin." Killian bobbed his head in acknowledgement. They'd all go through quarantine procedures before coming back aboard Eclipse anyway.

Sean Powell felt on-edge, feeling as though the forest had enveloped all six of them, and that there would be no escape. An irrational feeling, he told himself. After all, he had a gun, nothing had gone wrong yet, and the Skipper could lead them back, no problem. He heard a rustling from behind him. Just in front of him were scientists Jennings and Markov, the Skipper and the others somewhere off to the left...

He spun and raised his rifle. Standing, obscured in a bush, was what looked kind of like a chicken. It turned its head and locked bright red eyes with the deputy's, who found it difficult to avert his gaze. "Hey, guys--" Powell began, then found that he could no longer speak. He attempted to scream as he found that he could not move his arms or legs, either. Nothing came out.

The Skipper's heads-up-display issued a warning. The box representing team member six went yellow, representing an irregularity, then to black, which indicated no life signs. His heart skipped a beat. "Powell!" he shouted, "Powell, do you read me!? Jennings, Markov, report!"

Markov drew his pistol and looked about to see that Powell had been standing behind him, stock-still, rifle in hand. He tapped on the deputy's shoulder and looked into his helmet. His face was contorted into a scream, frozen. "S-sir, he's..." An inhuman shriek from beside him drew his attention to a medium-sized creature that had just erupted from the brush. A quickly-aimed shot put a tranquilizer dart into the midsection of the creature, which fell quickly.

What he saw upon inspection of the creature was surprising. Its body was scaled and green, with wings like those of a bat and a head and legs like those of a chicken. Cockatrice, he thought, impossible! He cleared his throat. "Sir, Powell encountered a... cockatrice; he's been turned to stone. I put it to sleep, sir. Did this impossible thing just kill Powell?"

The Skipper didn't answer the question. "Markov, did you just call that thing a cockatrice?"

"Y-yeah, a cockatrice. Body of a... dragon, with the head of a chicken, and it turned him to stone. Is he still alive, sir?"

"Form up, we've got to take Powell and this beast back to the ship," the Skipper ordered, then switched communication channels. "Prep the Luna, we are leaving!"

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*****


The hasty retreat from the planet, and the circumstances surrounding it, had all crew members--excluding the pilot--of the shuttle to be confined inside until it was certain that it was safe to come out, that whatever had befallen Sean Powell would not spread. This particular Luna, along with two others, were specifically outfitted for research tasks. It contained limited lab equipment, bunks, and storage. Working with what could be brought aboard through the craft's airlock, the biologists began their analysis, with focus on the cockatrice they'd brought aboard and kept sedated. The Skipper had ordered that the cause of Powell's impossible stoning be determined immediately. He could not rest; the very prospect that he'd already lost a crewman, to a supernatural being, no less, worried him to no end. He was going to have to deal with the repercussions, inform his sister, who was also aboard, the rest of the crew, and mark his loss as that of the first person ever lost in the exploration of an inhabited alien world. He stared at the standing statue that was Powell. Maybe he isn't totally gone yet, he thought, again entertaining his optimistic side and blocking souring notions. The natives might be able to help...

The Skipper was not the only one dealing with a loss. Killian had chosen Powell for this mission. A smart fellow, quick to learn, ordered, and obedient. Perfect for a sensitive mission such as this. Now, he stood immobile in the lab, for all intents and purposes, dead. The scientists had no idea how to approach the statue-corpse, whether he was really still alive or not. Regardless, the Skipper did not allow any cutting, just a small carefully-extracted sample from the hair on top of his head. The weight upon his mind tired him, and he soon retired to his bunk. He would be the only one of the team to get any sleep that night.


*****


Killian opened his eyes to see the dull interior of the Luna craft. He noticed something wrong with his vision, as though his eyes were in different positions, closer together--or perhaps farther apart. He extended a hand to rub his eyes, only to see that he no longer had hands. A dark blue appendage instead extended itself toward his eyes. Startled, he flailed his new limbs and sent himself off of his bunk and floated in the microgravity of the ship, for the first time realizing just what had happened to him. Killian Reynolds screamed as he realized the nightmarish situation he now found himself in. He was no longer human, but one of the native creatures he'd seen on the monitor hours ago on the bridge. Four legs, no horn or wings, a mark on his hindquarters of a number of four-pointed, variably-sized stars in blue, red, orange, white, and yellow. Tumbling helpless in the air, unable to determine what to do, Killian wailed until the Skipper came into the bunk area.

"Killian!? Are you alright!?" The captain rushed into the room, and found himself speechless at the sight of what sounded like his navigator, but looked like a navy-blue quadrupedal alien, floating, flailing its limbs about. Grabbing hold of the afflicted navigator, he dragged it and himself into the lab compartment, where he was met with gasps.

"Where did that come from?" Kathy asked, dumbfounded.

"That's Killian."


*****


"C-can't you do something?!" Killian yelled. The biologists had confirmed that nothing contagious had been brought aboard, and all samples were contained. Now, in the gravity cylinder of the ship module's main clinic, Killian sat along with the--for lack of a better term--statue of Sean Powell. The Skipper had returned to the bridge.

"No, not yet at least," Kathy replied, comparing a slide of Killian's new skin to skin cells collected from his clothing, obviously also Killian's.

"Isn't this... impossible? Have I really turned into a talking horse!? Do you have any idea whether it's permanent or not!?"

"Not yet. Relax, Killian, you'll be okay." She glanced at Powell, as Killian had been doing uneasily since they'd been moved there. She smiled, attempting to be at least a little reassuring to the navigator. "And, hopefully, so will he. The Skipper will come up with something."

"You mean, you've got no idea what to do? Wonderful, wonderful. The Skipper will just, make all of these problems disappear, won't he? I suppose we'd better hope so." He continued pace around the room, practicing the four-legged gait of his new form. He didn't relish the concept of having to get used to being like this on a permanent basis, specifically, but what worried him more was just how implausible it was that he was spontaneously turned into an alien with no explanation. It seemed almost like some sick joke.

"Y'know, I always wanted a pony when I was little," Kathy said, non-chalantly. "But we could never get one." Killian glared back at her with his alien eyes, which she had just noticed to be very large. "Sorry." Kathy wasn't the kind of doctor that had a practiced bedside manner; she was a scientist. The situation had called not for a medical doctor, but a scientific one.

The reason for this was that, incredibly, Killian appeared to be completely healthy. The real ailment here was what he now was. This was something, Kathy assumed, raw science would be able to explain. Maybe the natives here were all like them once, but one by one, they'd turned into what they were now from some parasite, or some form of disease. Or maybe it was--she remembered the plant. Killian had fallen on a group of plants, odd blue flowers, if she remembered correctly. Yet, she'd already examined those plants and their pollen, only to find that they had no detectable gimmick to them.

As it turned out, despite the life here having evolved coded on a biomolecule that was not deoxyribonucleic acid, but something just about as complex yet also somewhat different, many processes observed so far were functionally identical to those found in Earth-bound organisms. Pollinators existed here, as did the other roles in Earth's ecosystem. Scavengers, predators--as poor Powell had been unfortunate enough to encounter--producers, decomposers, all of it. Very much earthlike. Viruses discovered here were not found to be capable of attacking human cells, not finding them viable targets, it seemed. Typical antibiotics were effective against the control samples, but much more extensive tests were needed to be absolutely sure. So it wasn't a virus or chemical that caused Killian's transformation. What was it? she wondered.

"Don't humans and... horses have different numbers of chromosomes? Even if I were actually an Earth pony, wouldn't turning me from a human into one of them be completely impossible? Aren't hybrids like ligers and mules only possible because of a similar number of chromosomes? I mean, we've got what, forty-six, and... what do horses have?"

"You're absolutely right, Killian, that isn't really possible, at least not conventionally-"

Killian stomped a hoof and looked at it, shuddering. "What is it then? Tell me you aren't proposing that it 'simply is that way', because that's what we said about the star, and I'm tired of hearing that! Look at Powell. Powell is made of stone now, because of a mythological cockatrice! Is that normal? No, it's not. We've arrived in a land out of a fairy tale, or a children's cartoon, a place of mythology!"

"I can't explain that, Killian. Nobody can, not yet. We'll get to the bottom of this eventually, don't worry. Such extreme changes don't just happen. Something causes them, we'll find out what." Kathy was beginning to doubt the validity of standard scientific methodology in determining the cause of all this. The natives quite possibly had the answers, but there was no way to communicate with them, as they obviously spoke a language no human had ever heard or seen written before--if they wrote.

The navigator sighed deeply and sat, shifting uncomfortably in his unnatural skin. "I sure hope so."

Kathy moved to the motionless, restrained cockatrice. "This creature has no detectable gland, or other weapons of any sort, that could afflict Powell with this condition. For that matter, there is no compound known to science that can simply convert flesh into stone, or, a material quite much like stone. It just simply doesn't seem to work."

"Doesn't 'work,'" Killian spat. "But what does around here? There's got to be a force that we can identify that explains this." He stood up again, and trotted to Kathy's side. "Can we even kill these things?"

"Not this one. The Skipper wants it alive. But... yes, we are most certainly capable of killing them. They bleed and have vital organs just like us." She patted him on the head, then realized what she was doing and stopped. Killian wasn't an animal. "Well, that's one thing that makes sense," she said, awkwardly. "And... perhaps we now know what those marks on the aliens' hindquarters mean. Roughly." Killian sighed again.


*****


Killian, the Skipper, Kathy, the statue that was Sean Powell, the sedated cockatrice, and three of Eclipse's language professors--whose purpose on board was to assist crew members in communication, as the crew had been drawn from all over Earth and the Sol system, and spoke a wide variety of dialects between them, which, for some, did not include English at the start of the voyage--prepared to embark on another landing expedition, this time to make contact with an alien race, face-to-face. There was no telling what to expect of the natives' language, and something had to be done about that as soon as possible in order to establish communications that would be prequisite for establishment of their colony. Additionally, if anyone could help the two afflicted crewmen of the Eclipse, it was them.

The Skipper had a plan. First, they would land within sight of the settlement closest to the forest they'd explored the other day, and approach on foot. No small arms would be worn; it could only be speculated upon, but they appeared to be largely peaceful creatures, at least on this part of the planet. Topography had reported sightings of beings that resembled zebras and other peculiar life, and some sort of griffon-like creature. Just in case, however, the Luna they were taking was to have arms aboard. In case of what, one might ask. In case of anything. The Skipper did not plan to lose more crew members to carelessness of his own, as he had that night in that dense forest.

Eclipse's journey had been punctuated with a--relative to the number of humans aboard, seven thousand one hundred and three--few deaths. Forty-six, to count over many years, forty-seven with Powell, whose state of life had yet to really be decided. Almost all of those had been from unexpected medical troubles, except for a single murder and two suicides. Out of a crew of over seven thousand, however, the mission could have gone on even if an entire colony module had failed and its complement perished. Or two, or even three, but mission parameters had clearly stated that in the case of the loss of over half of the crew en route to their destination, they would have to turn back. What could have conceivably caused this was never really quantified, as equipment on Eclipse, like the ship itself, was designed by the best, built by the best, and often had triple back-ups and safety procautions.

Today, the Skipper decided, the next step of their journey would really begin; negotiations with the natives.

Post is getting too long, splitting.


Last edited by IncoherentOrange on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:13 am; edited 3 times in total
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IncoherentOrange
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:10 am

chapter three:


Chapter Three: Charades and a Handshake


The Luna swooped in to land on a field just west of the settlement. To the team's moderate surprise, it was clearly visible through the shuttle's several windows that one of the flying natives--a pegasus--was flying alongside the shuttle, somehow. Kathy was amazed by the fact that these creatures could fly at all; their shape, and likely their weight, were clearly not suitable for flight. Thinking logically, they appeared to be less aerodynamic than a man in a wingsuit, and yet, they could--if this one was any indication--fly at speeds in excess of seven hundred kilometers an hour--low altitude cruising speed for a Luna. It was a light blue color, with an unusually-colored mane and tail, striped with colors of the rainbow. The creature looked toward the windows, cracked what could only be a smile, and began to move faster than the shuttle. Whatever competition it was wanting to have would have to wait, as the shuttle landed several seconds later. The alien flew into the town immediately after they did so, without stopping so much as to look back. Several more of the flying creatures began to gather in the space surrounding the craft, taking care to stay at a healthy distance.

"Looks like we've been noticed," Killian deadpanned.

"That's the point," the Skipper said, "pilot, open the ramp."

With an electronic noise, the pilot complied. Moving slowly and deliberately, the three linguists and the Skipper disembarked. The large eyes of the multitude of pegasi watched them from all directions except just in front and beside them--none had landed. The Skipper swallowed. This is it. Such an immediate interception was not quite planned for, but what could he expect? Approximately a third of the population seen here thus far could fly, which was expected, and at a high speed, which had not been expected.

For several seconds, the field was in silence. Visible in the distance were ground-bound aliens, beginning to close the distance between the town and the landed shuttle. Killian began to roll out the statue that was Sean Powell, and Kathy rolled out the cockatrice, strapped to a gurney and sedated. She carried a sample backpack containing various samples of plant life that had been discovered here, including the blue plant that seemed to have caused Killian's transformation, but could not be definitively linked with the navigator's incredible ailment, along with around two dozen other samples.

The pegasi began to chat amongst themselves, in a language nobody on the team had any knowledge of, for obvious reasons. The linguists began to take notes on small wrist-mounted computers and switched on recording devices. The Skipper decided to step forward, and raised both of his hands slowly. "We come in peace," he said, in a level, loud voice. The chatter was squelched. Your move, the Skipper mused, swallowing. It was clear what advantage the natives had over them, in both speed and numbers. If they so chose, they could likely attack and incapacitate--or kill--the team before a retreat could be made. The Skipper dismissed the notion as a product more of nervousness and imagination than a plausible outcome.

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Twilight Sparkle fixed her gaze on the mysterious object, the one outside Ponyville that, according to Rainbow Dash, had someone inside. It had accumulated quite a crowd of pegasi about it. They had been the ones to notice it first, and had gotten there first. She could see its upper portions, but there was more below what she could see, obscured by the ground.

"Twilight!" Rainbow had said. "You've got to see this! A giant metal thing swooped down really fast--but not as fast as me--from the sky! It had someone inside--not ponies or griffons or anything like that, I don't think. It landed..." She'd pointed a hoof out the window, roughly to the east. "Over there! C'mon!"

That was all the explanation that had been given before Rainbow had left and sped off, saying something about informing the others. It was all Twilight would need. If this was what she thought it was, this was something big. Getting closer, it was evident that the object was, as Rainbow said, a metallic construct, and a large one. It had wings--if they could be called that--large, flat ones in a long triangular shape. It obviously didn't float, as anything that big and made of metal couldn't possibly fly as fast as Rainbow had described and be powered by hot air. Such a thing would be preposterous. The thing had to have some sort of engine. Maybe it was steam powered, or magic powered, but even then, it didn't look like those wings flapped; there were no feathers on them that she could see from this distance.

Cresting a small hill, she stopped to catch her breath, but instead gasped. Now in sight of the ground the ship had landed on, she saw them. Standing, on two legs, in front of the ship, were an earth pony and what appeared to be six creatures she had never seen before. They looked like they were wearing domed clear helmets and were clad, neck to foot, in what had to be clothing of mostly a dark blue color, which was also very close to the color of the earth pony, though he appeared to be wearing nothing at this distance. In the front of the group, one of the unknown creatures had both of its upper limbs in the air. What was it doing? Did it come from... Twilight shook the thought; the object she'd seen the other night through her telescope was nothing like this one, except for its color, a grayish-silver. It was, however, clearly some sort of foreign flying machine, though its occupants, she'd never seen before, and she had--or at least, she thought she had--extensive knowledge of the world's various nations, none of which were inhabited by such creatures as these. Nagging thoughts wrestled with her reasoning mind. The concept that these beings might be from space was almost overwhelmingly tantalizing, but too fantastic to believe just yet. There'd have to be more proof before she could safely reach that conclusion.

Twilight teleported to the immediate front of the group. Somepony--perhaps the stallion--would know what was going on here. The entire group that had, she presumed, came from the ship jumped as though surprised, letting out startled noises and holding up their upper--or forward, in the stallion's case--limbs in shielding postures for a moment, before slowly lowering them again. Checking her own posture, nervous now, she examined the closest unknown visually.

Through its helmet, it clearly had a flat face, with no snout to speak of, and a protruding nose. Instead of the top sides of the head, its ears were situated closer to the middle, on the sides. She peered into its small brown eyes, which stared, intelligently, right back at her. It didn't have a coat of substance that she could see, just a group of black hairs surrounding its mouth--of which there had been more of in the past. A mustache by any other name--which matched the very short mane atop its head in color. Both had more than the slightest flecks of gray in them. Did this indicate age, somehow? Its skin was a somewhat darker shade than the light pink of bare pony skin, and slightly yellowish and wrinkled. From the look of it, this one was male, but she couldn't reliably tell through all of its clothing, the purpose of which was also uncertain, but may have had something to do with their relative hairlessness.

"Hello, my name is Twilight Sparkle. What are you doing here in Ponyville? What is this... machine, if you don't mind me asking?" she questioned, in an inquisitive, friendly tone. The creature in front of her turned to face the earth pony, who said nothing, and let out a sigh.

A closer look at the rest of the group revealed one much more horrifying element; one of the creatures had--though it had been hard to tell from a distance--been stoned by a cockatrice, one of which--likely the perpetrator--lay motionless, strapped to a gurney of sorts. Were they asking for help? Twilight opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the dark blue stallion, whose cutie mark, she had discerned, was a number of stars of several different colors. Was he some sort of astronomer? Was this some sort of... spacepony? The signs for that being the likely scenario increased by the second, but, again, remained uncomfirmed. Until then, she would consider the prospect folly. However, evidence was building. The peculiar object in front of the moon, the peculiar object that landed and disgorged these peculiar passengers, and these passengers' odd behavior and physiology.

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"I can't understand her, Skipper," Killian said to the stares of his colleagues. Kathy made a remark about Killian's ease in recognizing the species' females. He glared at the biologist. Killian wore no helmet, and thus, had no identification signal and radio on him. Nothing they had fit the human-turned-alien-stallion-equivalent, so he just walked around naked, to Killian's mild distaste; at least he had a coat of hair.

"Kathy, can it. Recorder is going, right?" the Skipper asked the nearest newly-appointed xenolinguist, then spun to face the lavender unicorn again, the one that had somehow just teleported in front of them, and talked to them.

He nodded in response.

"It sounded like she was asking us a question," Killian said. "Probably something along the lines of 'What the hell is this giant metal thing?' or, 'What and who the hell are you?'. Probably both, I'd wager. That's what I'd ask, before asking 'What do you want?'."

The Skipper sighed deeply. This was going nowhere fast, though he'd hardly expected it to. The only thing they could do was make these creatures speak more. The inquiring unicorn began to speak again.

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"Can I help you with..." she waved a hoof in the direction of the petrified biped, "this? I have just the thing at home." The copy of Supernaturals she possessed contained a remedy for stoning, if she recalled correctly, amongst other things, and if needed, Fluttershy could 'coerce' a cockatrice into undoing the spell. Nearly immediately, she realized the futility of her attempts at communication; they evidently did not speak Equestrian.

Without a word from its companions, one of the vessel's former occupants took what looked like a bag of sorts from its back and set it on the ground. From the looks of things, this one was female; its mane was longer, like a mare's compared to a stallion's, and it had no facial hair whatsoever, and its skin was of a similar--but not identical--shade to that of the other one she'd examined. Twilight watched intently as she pulled a glass jar from it, containing a familiar blue plant--poison joke. She walked deliberately over to the stallion, and gently tapped the jar against his head, and gestured at the jar, then at him. The stallion facehoofed, and put on an annoyed expression. What was she trying to say? Twilight cocked her head and made an exaggerated motion, attempting to indicate that she was confused.

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"And it'll go down in history that first contact was a game of charades," Killian deadpanned.

"Do you have a better idea?" Kathy replied.

The Skipper turned around to face them. "It's progress. At least we know now that-" He was interrupted by the arrival of two more pegasus aliens, one of them was unmistakably the one that had followed them in, and another a yellow color, with a pink mane and tail. It humored the starship commander that such colorfulness existed in such a wide spectrum here, where it clearly did not help with camouflage. Blues to browns, purples to whites, it didn't matter, there was at least one alien in any color imaginable, and even then, in different combinations. The two pegasi began to talk amongst themselves, but the yellow one was not hearing the blue one, and closed with the statue of Powell.

In what could only be a concerned tone, the alien looked at Killian and said something, then stared intently at the cockatrice, fluttering over it and apparently examine it. It did not awaken, and the alien touched it with a hoof, then said something to it cautiously, as though testing the deepness of its slumber. It would not wake up, of course; Kathy had loaded it with enough sedatives for another hour at least. They could revive it if they so chose, but what would that accomplish? Kathy once again tried to explain through motions to the purple one that Killian was not a small pony, but a human, and that this plant might've turned him into one.

The Skipper instead decided to make a show of his own. "Hey!" his voice boomed. All went quiet once again. The blue pegasus attempting to talk to the yellow one, the murmurs of the growing crowd, everything. The Skipper was front and center. He pointed at the Luna, then at the sky. He pointed at himself, then at the Luna. He repeated the motions until one of the aliens said something. One of them will eventually get it, the Skipper thought.

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"Sweet Celestia..." Twilight muttered under her breath. "They're from space! They landed in this... spaceship! And that one came from a bigger one I saw last night in my telescope! That pony isn't really a pony, he's one of them, but he somehow came into contact with poison joke, and turned into one of us! It's all so clear now!" It simply could not be denied any further; now they were telling them that they were from space, or at least, it looked like they were. What else could it mean? They couldn't fly, so they couldn't have come from the clouds.

Total silence reigned. All eyes were on Twilight as she made a step toward the alien... captain, it would seem, and raised a hoof to shake. Slowly, with a gloved hand, he took it and shook firmly and... smiled. She spun about, and began to issue orders, as she had a knack for doing when the situation called for order. "Rainbow, ask Zecora to prepare a bath of poison joke antidote, and tell her it's an emergency, please. Fluttershy, you stay here with the cockatrice, see if you can make it free the... alien when it wakes up. If you can't, I'll check the library for cures. Everypony else... don't you think we should give our guests some space? I don't think they appreciate us gawking at them like this."

In turn, each party obeyed her command without question. The fact that Twilight was a well-respected figure throughout much of Equestria gave her word considerable weight. The three-time savior of Equestria and her friends were among the highest in status, and well-regarded by most all ponies who knew them, and by now, that was the vast majority of Ponyville. The mare let out a relieved sigh, and suddenly remembered who was missing from this picture. Spike was still in the library. Perhaps it was for the best; the baby dragon's imagination was sometimes overactive, he might've done something to offend the... Twilight spun around.

The aliens were still there, watching either her or Fluttershy, who did not appear to want the attention.

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The Skipper was impressed by how the unicorn took control of the situation. The actions that she took appeared to be those of an authority figure. She was the only unicorn they had seen so far, and she had been at least partially in charge. Were the unicorns some sort of ruler caste? Was racism an issue here? What in the world had caused that creature to teleport in front of them? Perhaps this civilization had greater depth than once anticipated. Were the unicorns puppeteering the other races for resources while hoarding advanced technology--like the as-of-yet-unseen teleportation device and the levitating basket they'd seen from orbit, and framing themselves as gods to the others to get what they needed? Questions like these would be answered with study, the Skipper concluded. He strained to think of their next course of action. What if the aliens had sent for some sort of security force--police, perhaps?--to deal with them? There were simply too many questions.

"What now, Cap'n?" a linguist asked.

"We wait, see what they do. We're guests here, gentlemen. Let's see how they treat guests."

A hot pink alien came into view, and upon noticing their group, rushed toward them. Within seconds she was on them, spouting words at a rate usually associated with madmen. She poked and prodded, inquired and sized up, before turning to the purple unicorn and asking her a question.

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"What are these things? They look kind of funny! Why do they seem so serious?"

Twilight facehoofed. "Pinkie, these are aliens! You have to be careful not to do anything that they might think of as a threat! If they can get here from who knows how far away, they could probably do terrible things to Ponyville if they wanted to!" Twilight knew all about interstellar distances; the Princess had explained it in great detail to her, mostly to clarify why she could not move the stars in the night sky as she could the star of the day. The truth of the matter was easily summarized in one word, and that word was far. Farther than any pony had ever ventured, combined, she had said, and that would only be a teensy tiny fraction. If these spacepeople could get here, they would have to be extremely powerful in magic or technology. Though, none of them thus far had used any magic of any sort she'd ever seen before, nor did this species appear to have sub-species as ponies did, but that was a unique trait among ponies, as far as could be told.

"Oh, wow, aliens! I got'cha, Twilight!" With that, the party pony bounced over to stand at her side, away from the alien whose helmet she had been knocking on gently, to an annoyed gaze from the alien inside.

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"I've got to wonder; do they fear us? The purple one looks like she's trying to deal with this tactfully and with discretion," Killian observed. "She probably doesn't want to piss us off. I know I wouldn't. Fortunately, we're not the ones who should be worried. After all, we don't bear them any ill will. At least, none that I know of. It's the same with you, Skipper?"

The Skipper frowned. These aliens had no reason not to fear them, if only just a little bit. Though the aliens had no way of telling, Eclipse was capable of inflicting terrible damage to a terrestrial body's surface; it bore numerous large-caliber defensive cannons, which fired ordinance at incredibly high velocities by means of heavy magnets. The ordinance it fired was no pushover, either; two varieties were kept aboard, standard and nuclear. The nuclear round was made for longer-range attacks against dangerous contacts, like asteroids... or unidentified space-borne objects, often called 'USOs'. The other variety was for more general and closer applications, when the ship was within the minimum safe distance for their nuclear warheads or in other scenarios in which more or less power were required, as the guns boasted a variable projectile velocity setting. Both types could cause great devastation if fired at a ground-based target--the rounds were designed to re-enter in most any atmosphere with their payload systems intact. A well-placed standard round, fired at this town, would easily level it. After all, any asteroid big enough and/or fast enough to harm Eclipse was no pushover, and would have to be met with extreme and immediate force if evasion was impossible. It dawned on the Skipper for about the fifth time that asteroid defense was not the only purpose of the guns, not even close. SolGov was, rather overtly, taking every conceivable measure to protect Eclipse from external threats; its hull was also of unparalleled strength, and its modular design was very strong.

"They've got no reason not to fear us," he said in response. "I know we would in their place, but you're right, we don't have any good reason to do anything to hurt them."

"Perhaps aliens are not as ingrained into their popular culture as they are in ours," Kathy suggested, "or perhaps they have less of a perception of the possible threat we pose to them, or simply do not believe that we could possibly have come here with malevolent intentions, which would be correct. If this were to happen on Earth, popular culture would probably have instigated some of the populace's reactions." Many forms of media and media playback devices had been loaded on Eclipse for the crew's use. Hundreds of thousands of books, television broadcasts and entertainment, even video games, all in digital form. It took up only a marginal portion of Eclipse's computer capacity to access and archive these pieces, so the cost was minimal, and the effect was downright necessary for such a long trip, one from which those undertaking it would not return. The crew couldn't simply leave their culture behind, after all. Kathy had personally enjoyed many tales about alien life, but had never fancied it realistically being sentient.

"Perhaps our culture is affecting our actions," one of the linguists wondered aloud.

"Yeah," Killian said, snickering, "after all, you did say 'We come in peace,' Skipper."

"We're making shots in the dark here; we've only scratched the surface of how they think, and what their culture is like. We could have just offended them and their families, or we could have just shown submission, or fear. We wouldn't know," the linguist added. "What's most puzzling is how the alien responded when you shook her... hoof, Captain. That was a proper reaction; she just shook your hand. What's puzzling about it is that it seems to be analogous to our handshake; a meeting gesture. This is a friendly encounter thus far, not any variation of 'Get off my lawn.'"

The Skipper looked at the vibrant pink alien standing beside the unicorn and rattling off whispered questions, to which the other whispered short, identical responses to each. 'I don't know', perhaps? He turned to face the linguist. "Well..." he read his nameplate as displayed on his helmet's HUD, "Sanders, what do you think we should do now?"

The linguist swallowed. Never had he been asked to make a decision before. After all, the Captain was the one who issued the orders. His role as a language teacher aboard Eclipse was not much more functional than a standard colonist; he'd teach crew members how to speak various languages, specifically English, French, Latin, and German. It was a sort of pastime for most of his students, especially after a third of their voyage was completed. At that point, everyone aboard had at least learned English, a standard language. Other standard languages were Japanese, Korean, and Russian, but priority had been placed on English because the largest portion of the ship's selected crew knew it than any of the others. With a role as unimportant as his, he never suspected for a moment that the Captain would ask him for advice on this matter, and yet, now he was. "Uh... We try to communicate with motions, see what other gestures we share."

The Skipper nodded. "Cox, Grant, what do you think?" he asked, looking at each of the other linguists in turn. Both shrugged. "We need someone to head our xenolinguistics department, which will consist of you three along with whoever the head of this department sees fit. Any takers? We need these aliens' language deciphered as soon as possible if we plan to make this place our permanent residence, and since we don't want to have made this long trip for nothing..."

"I'll do it, Captain," Sanders said. "How hard could it be?" In his mind, however, it was already clear just how hard it would be. It would be a big task, for sure. "All we've got to do is formulate a pidgin of some kind, but we don't exactly have a lot of time..."

"Do your best." The Skipper looked toward the yellow pegasus alien, standing near the sedated cockatrice. Killian and Kathy were staring at it. "I wonder what she's doing here."

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The nagging matter was the alien that stood motionless nearby, likely stoned by the very cockatrice that lay on this table, which was in a very deep sleep, as it appeared from where Fluttershy now stood. She decided to wait until it woke up to take further action. If she did now, she might startle the new arrivals.

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"Good question," Killian said, "Maybe she knows something about this cockatrice. Should we wake it up?"

"No," the Skipper replied. "What if it attacks one of us? We don't know how it did what it did to Powell. It might do it again."

"Yes, good point, Skipper."

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"I'll just wait until it wakes up, then I'll talk to it," Fluttershy said softly, "maybe I can convince it to help us, but I don't really know for sure..."

"Thanks, Fluttershy. If we help them out, they'll probably trust us more. And if we're going to cure that pony over there of poison joke, we're going to need his cooperation," Twilight said.

Twilight noticed something in her peripheral vision and looked up to see what it was. Unmistakably, it was Princess Celestia's sky chariot that was approaching their location. She pointed at it. "Look!"

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The communications circuit in the Skipper's helmet activated. "Captain," the pilot said, "we have a contact closing fast with this landing site. No detectable power source." The Skipper looked to the sky, noticing a flying object, a vehicle of some kind, evidently propelled by numerous pegasus aliens, clad in gold-colored armor. More impressive, however, was what the vehicle carried as a passenger. An alien, larger than any yet seen, rode in the back. It had a horn and wings, a property as of yet unobserved. Its coat was white, and its mane appeared to shimmer prismatically. From this distance, it was evident that this creature was of a wholly different variety than those that stood in front of them now. Its craft was moving rather quickly, and soon landed nearby. As it disembarked, the three aliens standing in front of them did a sort of kneel. A leader figure? A monarch? the Skipper thought. The societal structure here was becoming visibly more complex--or perhaps less complex--as time went on. A closer inspection revealed this alien to be wearing particularly ornate accessories of gold and gemstones. It was clear that interactions with this particular alien could likely decide the success or failure of Eclipse's mission, or, at least, their hopes of landing the colony modules within this nation's boundaries.

chapter four:


Chapter Four: Redefine Possible


The regal alien had disembarked from her... chariot, for lack of a better term, and was speaking to the lavender unicorn. Quietly, the Skipper watched the exchange unfold. Perhaps, from the other aliens' demeanor around this larger alien, he could determine just who she really was to them, and who she would be to his crew.

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"What is happening, Twilight?" the Princess asked, trotting slowly to the side of the unicorn, her gaze transfixed on the leading helmeted figure.

"Have you seen them before? Do you know where they come from?"

The Princess looked to the unicorn. "Twilight, I don't. These beings..." She paused to examine one. "Whoever they may be, are not from Equestria, or any of its surrounding lands nor lands of its allies. This, I am sure. Though, judging from the earth pony that stands among them, they couldn't be-"

"The earth pony isn't from here either," Twilight began, then continued hesitantly, "they're... from space."

The winged unicorn's expression momentarily morphed into a frown. "You are certain of this?" With such a thing staring her in the face--anxiously and confused, from the look of it--she couldn't possibly deny their looking distinctly alien.

Twilight summarized in her mind the events of the day, before saying, "I-I think so, Princess. This pony used to be one of them, but was exposed to poison joke somehow, and turned into a pony. Another one has been turned to stone by a cockatrice, so this leads me to assume that they were in the Everfree Forest and ran into trouble there. They can't understand our language, and I can't understand theirs. We've been... trying to communicate with gestures. That's how I know that they came from space, and also how I know that that pony isn't a pony at all."

The Princess nodded slowly, her insightful eyes combing each of the helmeted figures in turn. As she did so, they frequently looked at one another. Nervous, she thought. "I see."

"How should we..."

"Proceed?" The Princess' expression faded into a more serious one, as it often did when she was deep in thought.


"We have to find out as much as we can. Find out what kind of weapons they bear, if any, and what magic they can use, again, if they have any. If Equestria is in danger, we must know the full extent of their abilities as soon as possible. If they are from space, as you say, then we can assume that their power is great, and never should we underestimate them. Though, perhaps more important than all that, we must determine why they have come here. When travelling through the gulfs between stars, things like this probably do not happen accidentally. They're here for a reason, and I doubt just this many have come."

"But... what could they want, Princess? Maybe they just stopped to... do something, and ran into trouble, and they're here to ask for help. Besides, if they wanted to fight, they would be a little more threatening, don't you think?"

"Twilight, have I ever told you what it's like to deal with foreign powers? In the many thousands of years I've been alive, I've come to know that almost nothing is ever exactly as simple as it seems. It's either even simpler... or much more complex. We shall get to the bottom of this, Twilight, and you," she looked at the unicorn at her side, "will play a key part in it."

"So... we'll be working together on this?"

"In a way. I must manage Equestria from Canterlot, make announcements on these new arrivals, make sure no panic arises." The diarch chuckled, "After all, spaceponies doesn't sound like especially good news, especially from word of mouth. Twilight, I am allowing you to make the decisions here."

Twilight was taken aback. This was serious; they'd need the most experienced ponies Equestria had on this, and Celestia most likely topped the list. She, on the other hoof, didn't even near the top hundred, or perhaps even thousand. "I... don't know, Princess. Really, you know what to do better than I do."

"Twilight, I'm asking you to do this because I know I can count on you. I've taught you much, you've learned more on your own, and I trust that you will make the right choices using what you've learned. You're a smart pony, Twilight, you can deal with this in my stead, I'm sure of it."

"But... what if they want to speak to you? Surely it's obvious that they know you're our leader, and what if they want something big and I don't know-"

The Princess interrupted, "I am willing to provide whatever aid they need, Twilight, within reasonable bounds, of course. This matter is quite important and is undoubtedly delicate. Twilight, you... are inquisitive, curious, intelligent, and most of all, dedicated. I couldn't ask for a better ambassador for Equestria."

"So... I'll make all of the calls, handle all of the relations..." She stopped. "Is this another test?"

"A rather unexpected one, I suppose," the Princess replied in an amused tone. "You've proven yourself very capable of making new friends throughout your stay in Ponyville, Twilight."

Fluttershy spoke up. "If you don't mind me interrupting, Princess..."

The winged unicorn looked at the pegasus. "Do you have a suggestion, Fluttershy?"

"Yes... I do." She pointed at the stoned alien. "Can you cure him? I don't think these, uh... aliens know how."

"An excellent suggestion, Fluttershy. Twilight, do you have a solution you can apply to this situation?"

Twilight cleared her throat, "Yes, Princess, I think so. After I had a close call with a cockatrice, myself, I looked into finding a cure. As it turns out, I do have one, an herbal remedy, from my copy of Supernaturals. Zecora would know how to make it. Fluttershy, can you go to Zecora's and tell her?" The zebra would certainly be busy today.

"T-Through the Everfree Forest?"

The Princess smiled lightly. "Rest assured, Fluttershy; you will be well-protected." With a nod, two golden-armored pegasi from the diarch's personal entourage moved to the pegasus mare's side.

"Oh... alright, then."

With that, she and her escort were off. The aliens had begun to murmur amongst themselves for a moment, before the lead figure hushed them. It could only be confusing to be on a world on which they didn't speak the language. They were going to have to learn it if they were intending on staying here. Did they intend on staying here? What now?

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Silence reigned. The baffling winged unicorn was staring at the purple unicorn, who appeared to be in thought. She didn't know what to do, the Skipper thought, but we don't, either. Someone here had to think of something. The situation hadn't gotten any simpler since the arrival of the larger alien, and he hadn't yet pieced much together from her exchange with the others. His mind wandered to the purpose of Eclipse.

Earth had been a cradle of sorts, humanity being the baby within. As was the case with many children, humanity had a tendency to be tactile in their learnings and, again like children, have broken some things along the way, made mistakes, picked fights, spilled things, and eventually learned from these things, but left their cradle a mess.

Throughout the twenty-second century especially, many things resultant of humanity's stumblings, like the world's population and the displacement of inhabitants due to increasing water levels, came to a peak. It had been a costly endeavour to make efforts to correct the damages over the next century, and a significant number of people did not live through it, and the world still bore many of the scars.

Eclipse's main purpose was to put the lessons learned from those times into practice, on a planet like Earth. In theory, the availability of all of this planet's resources to the unified colony would deter the development of any conflict over resources, and the usage of more efficient and safer power production methods, mostly in the form of the nuclear reactors that powered Eclipse, the waste from which was just a point-to-point FTL jump away from disposal. However, the colony's role may just have changed with the discovery of the sentient species living on this planet. How it would change, the Skipper thought, may well depend on what he and his crew did today, in this field, as well as what sort of technology--how else would one explain a teleporting unicorn?--was involved in this scenario. According to the physics labs' reports, the scientists couldn't tell any more than they could from Earth about the impossible gravitational forces of this system, and the biology department had been more than a little bit frightened when they found no reason for Powell to have turned to stone from the cockatrice's gaze. He could add teleportation to the tally of unexplainables, unless something proves otherwise, which didn't seem too likely.

Before he could piece together much from the conversation he'd just witnessed, another alien arrived, one with an orange coat, wearing a hat over blond hair and bearing a mark of three fruit-like objects, aesthetically resembling apples, on its flanks, as all natives--and Killian--had displayed. It didn't look like a tattoo--and certainly hadn't been in Killian's case--nor did it appear to be part of the coat. The one of the purple unicorn--several stars surrounding a larger central one--didn't appear to represent anything--teleportation, maybe?--whereas Killian's apparently represented his talent of stellar navigation, a hypothesis Kathy shared with the navigator. A farmer of the red fruits they'd seen from orbit? The arriving alien looked puzzled, and upon getting closer, bowed slightly before beginning to speak.

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"Hey Princess, howdy Twi', Pinkie. If y'all don't mind me askin', what's going on here? This thing certainly wasn't here yesterday. Who are... they?" Applejack came to stand at Twilight's side.

"Applejack, these..." Twilight replied, gesturing a hoof toward them, "are aliens, from another planet. We don't know why they're here, but they need our help." She specifically indicated the stoned alien, and the earth pony mare brought a hoof to her chin in thought.

"Oh, I see," she eventually replied, "I'd reckon that other planets are far away, and I'd also reckon that they'd be tired from all of that travellin'. I think it'd be a good idea to show them some Ponyville hospitality, regardless of where they're from. They don't look like the kind that'd bite'cha."

"But, Applejack, we can't even speak to them, they can't understand us and we can't understand them," Twilight explained.

Waving a hoof dismissively, Applejack replied, "Oh, don't you worry, Twi'; food is a universal negotiator. Trust me; we've had foreign folks 'round Sweet Apple Acres before. 'Sides, aliens from another world ain't somethin' that come to Ponyville every day now, this is a special occasion."

Before the unicorn could reply, Pinkie blurted, "So we're going to have a party? ...Why didn't I think of that?"

"Maybe because it's not a very good idea. Applejack, Pinkie, we don't even know if they have the concept of a party where they're from. Too much excitement might make them nervous, or scared, or even hostile. We can't take the risk of giving them the wrong impression!"

"N-no parties? Is that even... possible?" The pink pony seemed almost faint.

"Then we'll just feed 'em. They definitely know what food is. I mean, they've got mouths, or at least, I think they do. Speaking of that, why do you figure they're wearin' those things on their heads?"

"I don't understand their purpose, to be honest." Twilight had seen diving equipment, which usually involved tanks of air and a helmet or snorkel of sorts, but these appeared to be lacking any sort of air supply. Was it some sort of equipment for working in space? If so, why didn't they take them off?

"Ah. Well, I'm off to round up the folks to help us give these travellers a proper reception." With that, the orange pony was off. Pinkie Pie also began to trot away.

"Pinkie, where are you going?" Twilight said, warningly. She'd already ordered no parties.

"Oh, I'm going to plan a party. Not for our new guests, you said not to do that, but I think we should celebrate anyway! They don't have to be there, but it sure would be great if you changed your mind! If they don't know parties, then I'm sure I could teach them parties. Just a suggestion!" Pinkie changed her pace to a bounce, and soon left the scene.

"I hope everything turns out okay," Twilight whispered discreetly to her mentor, whose inactivity stood to show how independant she had to be in her command of this situation.

"Communication, Twilight," the Princess instructed without replying, "is key."

"Yes, right. Back to that." Twilight locked eyes with the lead figure, who'd occupied himself with watching them. His eyes didn't betray any hostility, but hints of what seemed almost like courteousness and most definitely curiosity, to her. Nervousness crept over her once more. What could she say? The Princess brought a piece of paper and a pencil from the chariot with her levitation.

"You should be taking notes, Twilight."

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The Skipper's mouth hung open as the lavender unicorn's horn glowed in turn, her own purple glow encapsulating the paper and writing implement. What was..? Slowly, he pulled a handheld combined geiger counter and metal detector from one of his uniform pockets, slowly extending it toward the floating paper. Nothing. He held it closer, and the larger alien lowered her head to nearby the detector, and nodded at it. The Skipper raised an eyebrow, and nodded in return, wondering what she would do. The device was gently taken from his hand, wreathed in the same glow that the paper had been before being passed--in a matter of speaking--to the unicorn. She began to examine the device visually. The horn had to be a power source of some kind, but there was no indication of their being artificial--they sure looked organic in nature. The metal detector portion was still active, and appeared to have detected the larger alien's regalia from the readout. By this point, he was merely a meter away from the pair, though the larger one's armored guards--obviously soldiers, though they carried no noticeable weapons--hadn't moved. The purple alien had been writing with the pencil she was levitating, alternating between looking at the page and at him. Taking notes, he deduced.

Kathy broke the silence, "Anything, Skipper?"

"...No. Nothing. No radiation, no unexpected metal. I can't detect anything out of the ordinary at all," he replied, shaking his head. The geiger counter had apparently been adequately appraised by the winged unicorn, as the device slowly made its way to hover in the air over where his right hand was. He took hold of it, and pocketed the device as the glow around it dissipated. He stared at the alien and received a smile in return.

The Skipper backed up to rejoin his group, turning to face them. "It's just the same as any other thing about this place..." Killian muttered. "Maybe there's some sort of... I don't know... new form of sub-atomic... no. I just don't see how any of this is possible. This place and its people break the rules of physics so often we may need to account for something else, re-make our model... But we can't do that until we can measure whatever it is that's at work here."

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"It has a gauge on it. It looks like some sort of measuring implement," the Princess said.

"He... doesn't know what magic is," Twilight said in disbelief.

"This object, it's not magical, or mechanical," the Princess added. "it's electrical."

"Electrical? No magic at all?" Electric power was widespread throughout Equestria, and was mostly used for lighting and heating, though magic could easily replace it in those capacities, making the technology a mere convenience.

"If they did have magic, I could've detected leftover energy. This device," the Princess explained, "bears none of it."

"So... there's no magic where they came from? How did they get here?"

"That's a good question, Twilight. It appears as though they've gotten along without it, since they've managed to get here. Perhaps we should attempt to explain it, as their tools don't appear to be telling them anything about it."

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"The purple one is signing something," Sanders pointed out, diverting all of their attentions to the unicorn once again.

Paper and pencil still in her grip, she began making motions with her hooves, tapping her glowing horn, then gesturing toward the paper. The horn was the source of power, yes. What kind of power? How?

"Well, unlike the cockatrice here, it looks like these aliens have at least a possible point from which their... abilities... come from," Kathy noted. "I don't think we can get much more from field investigation."

"We could take one aboard," Killian suggested, "if one of them wants to, and with adequate precautions, of course."

Before the Skipper could reply, the cerulean pegasus alien could be seen flying toward them. She landed and began to speak to the other two. What kind of errand had she just run for the purple one?

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"Zecora says she'll have those things ready by this evening. Fluttershy's staying to help her out," Rainbow reported.

"That's great, Rainbow Dash, I think they'll appreciate it."

"I don't think they understand what you meant by your gesture, Twilight. Perhaps you should demonstrate different spells," the Princess suggested.

Why didn't I think of that? she thought. "Yes, of course." She set down the paper and pencil, the glow of her horn fading for a moment before intensifying once again. With a flash, she teleported several meters to the side, the aliens watching in awe. She decided not to perform any projectile spells, lest they consider them a weapon, and continued performing a standard routine she'd devised to strengthen her magical endurance and hone her skills with all sorts of spells. She had to look her best for the Princess.

First, she cast a light spell, a basic one many foals learn early on. Hers had been amply practiced, yet the aliens seemed quite interested even in that. Next, she performed an antigravity spell, followed by a self-levitation spell to mitigate the fall from the other wearing off. Again, the aliens seemed impressed. She plucked a number of blades of grass and began to weave them together, practicing telekinetic dexterity, something that had taken her quite a long time to master. She then shaped the woven grass into a rounded shape, and cast a transmutation spell. The grass became an apple. As she continued her practice, the aliens began to talk amongst themselves.

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"That's... quite a show," Kathy muttered, awed by the various feats this unicorn was performing in rapid succession and with practiced fluidity.

"It looks... magical," Sanders added. Indeed, with many of the tricks she performed came glows, flashes, and sparkles. It became evident to the Skipper what this particular alien's mark represented; magic. If the marks were natural--and they evidently were--then this unicorn's ability with these spells--for lack of a better term--was also natural. Or was it? What kind of tool that small could look like an animal's horn, yet be packed with so many impossible features, such as a personal teleporter, personal levitation at will, levitation of other objects, transmutation, and personal antigravity?

"She does... she is," the Skipper replied softly. "The unicorns are magical. I don't believe it, but there it is. And they're not the only thing. Killian, you are no longer human, because a plant turned you into an alien. Sean Powell, as he stands right there, turned to stone. Magically, by this cockatrice, which obviously couldn't have done it by any measurable means. Same with the blue plant. The people, the animals, the plants, probably even the star... all of it."

"So much for things eventually making sense," Killian said dryly. Nobody else spoke as the unicorn finished her demonstration. Something about the large alien caught the Skipper's eye for the first time. What was her mark supposed to mean? Did she..?

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"Do you think they understand now?" Twilight asked her mentor, who nodded slowly.

"See for yourself." The lead figure appeared to be deep in thought, staring into space before looking at her again, narrowing his eyes. He pointed at the Sun.

Princess Celestia stepped forward, her horn glowed intensely for a moment. As though not directed toward anyone nearby in particular, the alien said something in his language, then pointed at her, and then at the sun again. The Princess nodded. His eyes widened, as though he'd just made some shocking discovery. It occurred to Twilight; he didn't know that the Princess controlled the Sun.

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...She did. This alien controlled the star here with her magic. Or, rather, Eclipse would be able to tell him if this was so, in less than ten minutes, and if this wasn't some sort of facade, and these beings really did have extreme technological abilities that somehow remained undetectable, which seemed unlikely now with the Skipper's deduction that magic was indeed at work here, and that these creatures were incredibly powerful indeed.

"This alien," the Skipper began, taking a deep breath, "controls that star up there. That's why it orbits this planet."

"Excuse me, Skipper, that doesn't make any sense. We're talking something thousands of times the mass of this entier planet, and you say that this being here, this winged unicorn, no bigger than two men, can simply move it?" Killian interjected.

"We'll know in-"

"A few minutes, Skipper, I know. We can't be jumping to conclusions like this all the time. Didn't you say not to jump to conclusions? I know you're not a full scientist, but you couldn't possibly not know what you're implying here."

"I know exactly what I'm implying, and I don't like it any more than you do, but that's what all evidence we currently have points to. What we now know is that this alien is what causes this, she claims it to be so herself. If I were a leader on a first contact mission, I wouldn't lie about that sort of thing. You're right, Killian. It makes no sense at all, but if there's one thing we need to do if we want to survive and live here, it's to learn to adapt to all of these new concepts as they appear, not try to justify them as we know them where we're from, and ignore the evidence. We're not on Earth anymore, we're here, and this place has very different rules. They don't make sense, no, but there they are, right in front of us." The Skipper's speech was delivered in an unflinching, calm, commanding tone, one he very rarely made use of.

Several anxious minutes passed, not a single one of the beings present making a move; the Skipper's stern speech had apparently killed the mood fairly efficiently. The comm circuit in the Skipper's helmet activated, and Marcus' voice came through. "As you said, Skipper, astrometrics lab has reported a major trajectory change. How did you know that would happen? What's going on down there?"

The Skipper replied, "Don't worry about it. I'll explain later." He pointed at the star again, then at the winged unicorn. She'd better change it back, he thought.

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With a glow of her horn, the Princess responded to the alien's signal. The Sun would now return to its proper place, or, Twilight assumed that to be the purpose of the spell.

"I do not believe that leaves them any doubt," the Princess stated.

Twilight nodded in return, "I wonder what it's like, to just... discover magic. I can't imagine life without it."

"...And they can hardly comprehend life with it."

The pair of guards that had been sent with Fluttershy returned, bearing the message that Zecora would escort her out of the forest herself, and that Fluttershy had dismissed them.

"Twilight, I leave this matter in your hooves. I must go make announcements about these visitors' arrival."

Having boarded her chariot, the Princess gave the leading figure one last glance before departing for Canterlot.

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Many minutes of signed attempted discussion, mostly about magic, had kept Twilight occupied and taking notes when Applejack arrived. Her voice prompted the unicorn to raise her head from the paper. Rainbow Dash had quickly become bored and headed off.

"Hey Twi', the Apple Family and I have put together a little somethin' for our guests. Come on, bring 'em with you."

In a just recently established manner of gesturing and communication, movements and even a few noises to represent various things rather vaguely, Twilight attempted to ask the visitors to follow. Applejack waved a hoof at them and whistled.

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The Skipper interpreted the message clearly; to follow. "Cox, Grant, take care of things here, watch the cockatrice, and bring Powell inside the ship. Killian, Kathy, Sanders, let's go. I think they've got something to show us."

chapter five--work in progress:


Chapter Five: Reception


A number of picnic tables marked the area the orange pony had led them, with a barn-like structure and an orchard nearby, most definitely of the red fruit. On each were what could only be foodstuffs. The striking similarity in these pastries' appearance to those found in Earth cuisine, such as round pies, what appeared to be fritters, and more as part of the assortment, puzzled the Skipper. His mouth watered slightly, though he kept it shut and was happy to be unable to smell the visually tempting treats; undoubtedly, they couldn't eat this food, as Kathy had quickly determined that there were elements of the cellular structure of organisms here that were incompatible with human digestive systems, though more samples had to be taken to be absolutely sure, according to her. Each of the present farmers bore marks on their rears that indicated methods of preparing the red fruit--though it apparently also came in green varieties--and other farming-related imagery. Orchard workers, the Skipper thought.

"Have they laid this out for us?" Kathy asked, evidently to nobody in particular; the answer was unclear to each of the humans, and Killian, technically the only non-human of the group, appeared to be gazing into space. "Killian, something wrong?"

"I haven't smelled pie in almost twenty years, that's all," Killian replied, inciting a chuckle from the biologist.

"Oh. What's it smell like? Any particular kind?"

"Kind of like cinnamon," Killian continued, before correcting himself, "apples, I smell prepared apples."

"That's not the only thing apple-like about these fruits. I never would've figured that we'd find something so closely analogous on this planet as to smell like it and look like it, to a tee."

The diet of crew members of Eclipse was similar every day. Energy was hardly ever spent to cook the various genetically-engineered fruits and vegetables from the ship's vast hydroponics operations, which also supplied a significant portion of the oxygen supply aboard. Often, it was mostly corn, with variety in tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peas, and lettuce in a rotation which differed with each module. These plants were more filling, larger, grew faster, and were more nutritious than their natural counterparts, but it was repetitive, only partially mitigated by seasoning packets, issued scarcely on occasions such as Earth holidays and journey milestones. More plant seeds had been brought along for use after landing, such as those of various fruit trees.

The orange pony had apparently waited for them to stop talking before turning to the lavender unicorn beside her.

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"I'd figure we'd better show 'em what we mean, they look kind of nervous," Applejack whispered, to which Twilight nodded.

"You've explained things here?"

"As best I could. The folks were glad to help out with this. It ain't every day you get to meet aliens and hold a little bit of a welcome for 'em, after all." Twilight nodded again at the response, and Applejack turned to face the numerous ponies standing in groups nearby the tables. "Alright everypony, don't be shy! Make sure they feel welcome!"

The silence broken, small conversations sprang up amongst the ponies, as they began to make picks of the refreshments laid out. Nervousness was easily seen in them. Applejack looked back at the aliens, who themselves were surveying the scene. With a gesture, she asked them to follow.

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The orange alien led them to the nearest table, and with surprising ease, managed to pick up with one of her front hooves a... fritter, from the look of it, from the table. Making sure she'd shown it to all involved, she swiftly put it in her mouth, then pointed at them, and again at the table, nodding.

"That answers that question," the Skipper said, "Killian-" Killian's digestive system was known to accept the local variety of plant life, and had subsisted on a paste derived from the samples recovered since his transformation. Needless to say, he wasn't overly happy about eating plant mush.

"I know, I know. I've got to eat some, because you guys can't." He smiled, "I'm not complaining." In an attempt to imitate the orange pony, he tried to pick up, but ended up sending it to the ground. He sighed as the purple alien whispered something to the other, inciting a nod and a smile, in response to which Killian rolled his eyes. Deciding better of the matter, he decided to pick another one up in his mouth, and this time, succeeded in securing his prize. The Skipper was now beset by the orange alien's expectant gaze.

"In offering us food, we have further evidence that these aliens mean us no harm, unless, of course, we have misjudged their way of thinking in some way. This is encouraging," Sanders said into his recorder.

Slowly, the Skipper motioned at the treats, then at himself, then shook his head. In response the alien only turned her head, so he elaborated further. Motioning again at the treats, and mocking a motion of putting things in his mouth, he ran a finger in a horizontal line across the neck protector of his helmet.

The lavender unicorn reciprocated with her standard motion for asking why. Kathy intervened, "I'll handle this." She opened her sample backpack, kneeled, and pulled a sample of ship-grown corn and one of a local plant, holding one in each hand, allowing the unicorn to examine each before setting them down. Next, she pointed at one, the corn, pointed at the sky, and nodded. Then she pointed at the other plant, pointed at the ground, and shook her head.

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"What's that mean? They won't eat the food from here?" Applejack asked, flabbergasted. "They grow that corn wherever they come from?"

"I think they mean to say that our food is toxic to them," Twilight explained, "but the earth pony there seems to be just fine eating it. I'd assume that's because he's a pony right now." She paused, then continued, alarmed, "There's food from here in his stomach! When we change him back, it could kill him! Oh, no, we haven't even told them about our plan to do that! How am I going to-" The unicorn stopped as she realized that everyone present, aliens and ponies, were staring at her.

"Don't worry, Twi'; we'll just tell Zecora to hold off on the cure, for now. We should try and get that stone fellow out of that fix as soon as we can," Applejack said, before saying again, "Don't worry, it'll all be fine. Now, let's focus on lettin' these folks know that they're welcome." Welcome, Twilight thought, but what do they want?

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The unicorn nodded at the farmer. It occurred to the Skipper yet again that this unicorn's specific occupation was unknown to him, as had been the two pegasi's. Given the apparent disposition of the leader figure to her, did she hold a public office of some sort? What of the pegasi? Butterflies didn't appear to signify an occupation or talent, and a rainbow-colored lightning bolt? Magic may have been the new catch-all term for all of the unexplainable happenings here, but how did these marks relate to the individual? How were they formed? Killian had finished the first of his treats, and, apparently deciding to break the tension, grabbed another one in his mouth. "Good move," he whispered to the navigator, who nodded in return, chewing slowly, as though savoring the treat, which was undoubtedly the likely scenario.

"The lead native seemed to be concerned greatly about something," Sanders said to his recorder, "this indicates that they are not taking our arrival lightly. Their capacity and usage of inflection appears to be extremely similar to our own, something that I've only now taken notice of. With so many ways these people mirror our mannerisms, we should be cautious, and determine what we do not share to avoid miscommunication."

"I wonder what that over there tastes like," Killian said, almost excitedly, "Skipper?" The Skipper nodded in approval, and the group followed several meters behind as he proceeded to another table, which already had a group of natives around it, who regarded Killian with curious glances and appraising looks. He'd never taken the navigator for one to particularly enjoy food, or anything, for that matter, though this was the first prepared food he'd eaten in years, and it could stand to reason that it might not matter what he thought of food in general. He may have been an odd case, rarely pleased and often cynical, but his course-laying skills and position as security chief had certainly served them well, getting Eclipse from Earth to here without any major incidents. Although, he never could take praise, insisting that he'd done his duty sloppily, that the three non-accidental deaths on the way could be blamed on the incompetence of the organization within the ship's security force, which meant that it was his failure and his alone. Whenever it was brought up, he'd lament that he should've done more to spot the murder coming, or the two suicides that followed immediately after. He never seemed to get over it, and now he'd lost Powell to something he did not expect. It couldn't have been easy to be Killian Reynolds at this moment.

"Oh, they taste like apples, too, more or less. Or maybe it's just me," he said, taking from the table he now stood nearby another treat in the way he'd formulated for doing so. It was a tad messy, but he did not complain about the method. However it was that the aliens had learned to grasp things well enough to build tools, and apparently to write, Killian had no such skill, at least not yet.

"So similar, but so far apart... it's uncanny," Kathy said, picking up an specimen of the apple-like fruit from the nearest table in her hand. Kathy's motto was 'Science for fun and insight!', and the exclamation point is necessary. She loved her work, everything about it. This was especially so now, since they'd arrived and she'd had plenty of things to look at even if though it had been less than three days. Numerous times already she'd brought up the idea of just taking one of the shuttles and going to the surface for a few days, and they'd just gotten there and had two crew members afflicted by strange ailments courtesy of local flora and fauna. However, she knew the implications here fully, and had exhibited restraint in her curious spirit, at least, so far. "I really should take one of these back, we found none of these in the forest."

Killian swallowed. "Pack a few for the road."

"What, did you not like your alien plant paste?" She chuckled, placing several of the apple-like fruits in sample containers and into her backpack.

Can't be too careful, now.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:21 am

Chapter five released, adding to OP.

Story's in the featured box again.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:25 pm

Those EQD guys got back to me, and this is what I got.

Spoiler:
Response:



Hello IncoherentOrange, Noble Cause of Equestria Daily at your service today. I apologize for the incredibly long wait on your fic, our queue has gotten amazingly huge. That being said, I have good news for you. Your fic is conditionally accepted for posting. The only issues I found were mostly a few stray typos, the rare missing punctuation, and some odd grammar. You might also want to expand on the military terminology a bit (for example, while the title 'CO' is common, not everypony may know that it's short form for a Commanding Officer). Beyond that, I've seen little issue with your work, and have found it a fascinating read. This may be a "Human in Equestria" fic, but the first contact aspect is something not done too often, moreover done well. As it stands with your initial five chapters, I for one am excited to see where else it will go in this tale you've begun to spin. Merely take your fic over to Ponychan or MLPChan's fic boards and have them help you with the editing, and then it's more than ready to go up once it's fixed. Well done, and welcome to Equestria Daily.


- Noble Cause, EqD pre-reader


P.S., the running thread of Equestrian and Human diets being incompatible? A stroke of genius. I don't believe I've ever seen that before. Bonus points!

...
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:10 pm

EqD got 'round to posting my story.

Pretty psyched for the feedback.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by RoboRed on Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:58 pm

Congrats. Twilight Sparkle

------------------
Aonee wrote:
jacky2734 wrote:((Aonee, don't make me invent a way to punch you over the internet.))
((If you do, I will invent a Korean technique to block it with someone else's face. And, construct more pylons.))

CamoBadger wrote:((Wow, zebra incest is powerful shit))

Mister Frost's friend, "Darren" wrote:"I'm scared to break up with her, though. Her dad's an ex-marine; if I make her cry he'll club me over the head with a pillowcase full of doorknobs and Tom Clancy novels."

Sindri wrote:This is a thread for fans of a fanfiction of a fanfiction about murderous miniature pastel equines in a grimdark post-apocalyptic future.
If you wanted to stay anywhere near socially acceptable, you should have taken a left turn about three layers of WTF back.

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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by tylertoon2 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:06 am

IncoherentOrange wrote:EqD got 'round to posting my story.

Pretty psyched for the feedback.

Big congrats Orange!


Unfortunately, as pointed out by one of your fellow write members, once again I see you struggling with characterization and your things over people approach. This is an issue. Now I'm no writer but I may be able to help some. Get on the Teamspeak sometime!
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Necr0maNceR on Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:40 am

Congrats, man! This is a large step forward.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Downloaded Skill on Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:18 am

Congrats Orange! If you need anyone to bounce some ideas off of or discuss things let me know. I'll be happy to help.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:35 pm

So I've achieved five hundred votes on my story, netting 485:15, exactly 97% approval from voted viewers. There are many (~300) that have favorited the story but not voted yet.

I've actually gotten some work done on my next chapter, and think I can get it out by Tuesday if all goes well, but I could use a little feedback on an idea I'd discussed with another circle for chapter seven. This is my present planned course of action.

Spoiler:
Before or after the ship lands, a large threat appears (most likely a hydra), and as the ponies are preparing their method to deal with it, it comes a bit too close to Ponyville for the humans' liking, and they kill it (with either an airstrike, low-yield shot from ship-bound weapons, or ground-based munitions, something the ponies could see and identify as the humans' doing) because they cannot see any means available to the ponies to do so themselves.

This causes fear amonst the ponies at the display of such power used in such a way, and they begin to doubt both whether it was a good idea to let them stay and if their intentions are as benign as they claim them to be.

So whaddaya think of that?
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Harmony Ltd. on Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:20 pm

I think it depend on where you want to take the story.

That may be a good way to introduce a legitimate reason for the ponies to worry if you need your story to have one, outside of the obvious "they're freaking aliens !" "xenophobic" gut-reaction they could have (and have already).

In itself, it's a good plot device that doesn't seem too far fetched, using elements that have been introduced in the FiM canon. You'd just need to make sure to execute it so it doesn't seem like an ass-pull born of plot-convenience :

Spoiler:
Why would an Hydra suddenly decide to attack Ponyville at the worst possible time ? Would have it been attracted by the activity born of the recent human arrivals ?
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:00 am

The ponies will be wary of the aliens, of course. The intent of this incident is to show them the destructive ability of those they've allowed to stay, give them some knowledge of how direct in their methods, as well as advanced, humans tend to be.

Of course it'd need to be set up reasonably, and I've been thinking about how to do that, but I really kinda need a source of conflict before people realize I ain't got one. This won't be the climax or main incident, but a plot progression and trigger.

Spoiler:
Alternatively, it could be an Ursa Major, should the humans decide to launch another sortie into the Everfree and happen upon its cave, which I find not exactly unlikely (their lead biologist will want more samples). What could explain it is, they find it, make it angry, bug the hell out, and it goes on a warpath that brings it into Ponyville. Cue panic and plan formulation on the part of the main six. All for naught as the humans figure out just what went wrong, and send one of their armed shuttles (which they will have on stand-by) down to take care of it. Efficient and pragmatic, but violent and hardly harmonious. Later on they might bring up the issue of such a dangerous forest's existence in the first place.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Harmony Ltd. on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:42 am

IncoherentOrange wrote:
Spoiler:
Efficient and pragmatic, but violent and hardly harmonious. Later on they might bring up the issue of such a dangerous forest's existence in the first place.
Spoiler:
It's Avatar all over again Applebloom

Seriously though, that sounds like a good plan to me.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Downloaded Skill on Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:57 pm

I'd like to post a little input on that idea if I may.

Spoiler:


From what I remember from the Boast Busters episode the Ursa Major had ursa minor cubs. If you want to inspire a warpath kind of reaction maybe you could have the team come across an Ursa Minor that is in its earliest stages of development. This was never elaborated on in canon so you should have leeway. It could be as big as an earth bear, but still a baby by Ursa Major standard, meaning it really isn't capable of defending itself and relies entirely on its mother. Once the mother sees the team getting samples from the cub the Major could go on the warpath trying to defend its cub.

As for the reaction of the Ponies they only ever fought a minor and the major was only seen in books from what I remember. If you can really capture the fear of the normal ponies who need to fight something that was considered a legend or something to scare children with I think it would really improve your story. The Mane 6 would probably be fearless though, your call.

As for the humans dealing with it, I don't think it should die instantly from aerial bombardment. I think it should take a few seconds of sustained fire since it is incredibly large and doesn't have organs or anything to puncture. I think it would need to be dispersed. The ponies should have some skittishness around the humans seeing as how they effortlessly killed or fended off a legendary creature, which probably caused collateral damage and started a few fires, using technology that replicates, (in their eyes), high level magic. Twilight would probably take a very keen interest in the machines / shuttles and want to read the repair / operations manual while Rainbow Dash would likely be very impressed.


I plan to read your story, but I've been busy lately. I hope my input is useful.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Frost on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:29 pm

I can't believe I never found this thread before
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:25 pm

OK. I have finally finished chapter six.

Whoever wants to pre-read it for me can find it here: http://www.fimfiction.net/chapter/222978

Password is 'inco'.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Downloaded Skill on Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:05 am

I'm doing a pre read of the chapter now. Will edit this post when I get a critique together.

*edit* Critique spoilered below.

Spoiler:




In the beginning of the chapter I really don't know where
the people are in the ship. I know they are on a ship, but I don't know if they
are in the cockpit, the engine room, or
the clinic. As it stands it just seems like a featureless plane of dialogue.






One of the early paragraphs switches from past to present
tense part way through


"The unicorn had seated herself in front of one of the Luna's
viewports, the clear visor of her protective gear betraying a wide-eyed
expression to the Skipper. Perhaps the realization that they were really going
to space was the cause, or maybe that she hadn't been in a flying machine
before. He frowned. Had they discovered flight? What was their real level of
technological sophistication?"


Shouldn't that be betrayed instead of betraying?





One sentence a bit later uses keeping twice in quick
succession which doesn't sound quite right.


"The lack of gravity on the inside of the Luna was
keeping the unicorn busy keeping her various bits of gear in place inside her
bag telekinetically."





On a side note Twilight noted that the contents of her bag
were squished against her back, wouldn't this prevent the gear from floating
out of the bag since the bags have buckles to keep them closed? Unless Twilight's bag is different from the show's saddlebag






Is there a reason that Twilight knows that there are seven
thousand humans in orbit around Equestria when she can't understand them?





In the decontamination chamber Twilight can understand the
numerals used by humans. She does note some similarities between hers and
theirs, but I don't think she would actually recognize the numerals we use.





After the decontamination / stall scene the first sentence
seems kind of off


" In the next chamber was what had been taken of their
gear."


Does this mean the next chamber contains their gear? It just
seems a bit unusually written.





After that though based on the writing it seems like
Twilight is just walking around by herself, which doesn't seem like a good idea
at all given the first contact nature of their meeting. What are the humans
doing at this point? It seems like the Captain would be pretty keen on keeping
her in sight and following him.





The comma in this sentence, " but with preparations for
the great unpacking going on, there were many roaming the corridors with
various agendas" seems unnecessary.





After the holomap sequence this sentence comes up


" the unicorn telekinetically produced a piece of paper
and writing implement from her bags, and jotted something down and put it away,
along with her book."


When did Twilight produce the book? I never read her pulling
it out, just the paper and pencil.





When the captain is on the bridge with Marcus and Twilight
how does he motion a request to use magic? How does Twilight indicate her
confusion with gestures? A shrug? A single uplifted hoof? The Quirky Curls
TvTropes page, link, has a picture of what I mean. The sentence, " He held out his hand,
and she moved it back to him, and signed to him her confusion." could be
re written to use "and" a bit less. Having it more than once in the
same sentence seems a bit weird to me.





After that the captain notes that Twilight had a very
productive meeting with Sanders. I'm guessing that Sanders is in charge of
deciphering the Equestrian language, but I don't have an idea of how much time
has passed during that meeting.





During the last part with Celestia and Twilight, Twilight
mentions a microphone. Would Twilight know what a microphone is? I figured she
would use a term like " a method of non personal communication" Twilight
also knows a precise count of how many humans are on the ship. She has been
guided everywhere so shouldn't she only have seen a handful at most? It seems
like she would understate it as hundreds or so.


Characterization between of some of the staff seems kind of sparse. The Captain and Kathy are getting their own quirks, but the rest of the crew seems interchangeable.


I'm not English major so use your own judgment when it comes to my grammatical suggestions. I hope this is helpful to you, let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by IncoherentOrange on Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:02 am

Hey, thanks man! That's really helpful. I'll be making some changes tomorrow. Read the rest of the fic yet? Might settle a few (but not many, you've pointed out plenty of real flaws, I really appreciate it!) of your concerns.
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

Post by Downloaded Skill on Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:29 am

I haven't read the entire fic yet, school is really starting to pick up, but pre-reading this really piqued my interest. I'm saving it to read later. I'd like to play a part in the development of the story, if you don't mind. I'll pre-read and offer input on your ideas. I really do want your fic to be successful so let's work together. What did you think of the last input, about the Ursa?
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Re: Fanfic: Eclipse

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