The dark blue Pegasus mare beamed as she looked out across the space dock at the massive ship that was being constructed there. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and it was all going to be hers soon. Her head turned slightly when she heard her name being called out from the other side of the recreation room of Spacedock 16. She raised a hoof to signal the pony, but never took her eyes off the ship for more than a moment. A large metal arm descended from a housing above the saucer section of the ship, spray painting something on the bow before making its way along and adding all of the other details to the hull, along with a twin stripes on each of the cylindrical ney-cells that protruded from the ship’s stern.
“So CAPTAIN Star Shot, what do you think?” asked the pony that had been calling her name; a white unicorn mare with a purple mane and tail. Her chief engineer, Rarity. Named for the fabled element of generosity who had lived over four hundred years ago.
“Oh Rare, she’s so stunningly beautiful. I can’t wait until I’m sitting on the bridge and setting out for the next galaxy over,” Star Shot told her as she ran her hoof through her light blue mane. Rarity let out a light chuckle.
“Don’t get too ahead of yourself Star, we’re just going to Aquestria Prime remember? To take the sea pony ambassador home.”
“I know this is just a test flight for her, but still…” she smiled, turning to face her friend. Rarity gave her a sly wink and gestured toward the bar with her head. Star nodded once and started walking. The launch of the ship would be taking place in another two hours, leaving Star and her crew some downtime before they disembarked. At the bar, the two mares met up with the stallion who was to be their tactical officer. His name was Swift, and he was a former royal guard for Princess Celestia.
“So Swift, any news on whether our beloved ruler will show up to this little shindig? Or is she going to hole up in her castle again?” Rarity asked the white earth pony, who smiled in between sips of his synthohol.
“I’m already here, commander Rarity,” said a voice from behind them. Star Shot struggled to stifle her laughter as her friend tensed up and turned around to greet the alicorn Princess.
“Heads up,” whispered Swift, eliciting a sharp look from Rarity.
“Hello your majesty, I’m glad you could be here to witness the launch of our institute’s first warp five starship,” said Star as she bowed to Celestia. She remembered seeing pictures of Celestia from a few hundred years ago, and it always surprised her how she had barely aged a day, with the only indicator being a streak of grey in her gravity defying mane.
“Glad to be here Captain, I trust you are prepared for this mission,” said Celestia sweetly, seemingly forgetting about Rarity’s little comment.
“This and any others you think we would be ready for.”
“I may take you up on that. Hello again Swift, are you enjoying your time in the Luna institute?” Celestia enquired, turning to her former guard, how nodded happily.
“I am indeed your majesty, it’s nice to be doing some work that will benefit everypony,” Swift replied.
“And am I right in understanding that your wife is also going with you?”
“Yes ma’am. Heartstrings is the ships physician, working alongside chief medical officer Neuron.”
“She’ll learn a lot from him. Doctor Neuron has a tendency to get the job done, albeit a little… Unorthodoxly,” Celestia told him as she levitated a drink off the bar and took a long swig.
“So I’ve heard,” Swift replied flatly. Celestia laughed, ordering another drink and finishing it in one gulp.
“I’d best mingle. Those hyper logical Pinto’s must be suffering amongst all of this emotion,” she told them, rolling her eyes at the thought of interacting with the aliens.
The Pinto’s were a highly advanced race of ponies that seemed to take pride in meddling with other cultures as soon as they developed warp drive. Incredibly intelligent, they had, in the past, abandoned all emotion in the sake of logic, and as a result, thought themselves above other species. Star thought they were nice enough, but wished they hadn’t been so opposed to her being posted as captain of the new starship. When she confronted the Pinto ambassador, she was simply told that choosing somepony else was ‘the logical choice.’
“I have nothing but pity for Celestia right now,” said a new voice from behind Star, but it was one she was expecting; her science officer and second in command, Time Turner. The light brown stallion was very popular with the mares, mainly because of the rumour that he was a thousand year old time travelling alien. He loved to perpetuate it by showing them photos of his ancestor’s, all of which looked very similar to him and had the same name. Technically he was Time Turner the four hundred and fifth, but he joked around by saying that it was too hard to say in conversation.
“Well she can soon just forget all about them and go back to Canterlot castle, where I’m certain she’ll be much happier,” said Rarity, making the others laugh. Rarity was renowned for being born into the New Lunar Republic, and was never afraid to voice it.
Her bridge crew began to talk amongst themselves, but Star soon drifted away as her eyes were drawn to the ship outside. In just under two hours, she would make history.
Launch time had come, and Princess Celestia had gathered Star and her entire crew in the airdock in order to make a speech.
“Space… The final frontier. This is the beginning of the voyage for the starship Twilight. It’s mission; to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no pony has gone before,” she said proudly, beaming as the whole fifty pony crew started to cheer. “And now, I officially christen the TS-01… the Twilight!” With a small burst of magic from her horn, Celestia manipulated one of the spacedock’s arms into smashing a bottle of champagne over the bow, releasing a glob of gravity independent liquid into space. With another cheer and a round of applause, the ceremony was completed and the crew began to enter the airlock, eager to begin their journey.
As her crew started to get settled into their quarters, Star Shot headed for her own at the top of the saucer section. From there, she had an almost three hundred and sixty degree view of space around her, which she knew would come in handy later on. Laying her suitcase and trunk on her bed, she had a quick look around to make sure that it was as she pictured it. Spotting something on her desk, she walked over to find a rectangular package wrapped in brown paper. When she opened it, she was surprised to find a data pad with a note stuck to the screen that simply said; ‘play me.’ Star’s curiosity got the better of her and she immediately pressed the play button. The screen came to life, revealing the face of Princess Celestia.
“Hello Captain, I have something I needed to discuss with you but I never got the chance at the party,” Celestia said, waiting for her to respond. When she didn’t, Celestia kept speaking. “Star Shot? This is a video phone, not a recording.”
“Oh! I’m sorry Princess, I was confused for a second,” she said, embarrassed.
“It’s okay. Now like I said, I have something very important to tell you. It is a secret, but I will allow you to discuss it with your senior staff,” continued Celestia, giving Star a serious look.
“Whatever you need ma’am, I’m all ears,” she replied happily.
“Star, what do you know of Discord?” Celestia asked, prompting a puzzled look from the Pegasus.
“Only what the legends say I’m afraid.”
“Then you know the story of his last escape?”
“I think so. It was about one hundred and fifty years ago right?” she asked and Celestia nodded. “You and your sister Luna fought him off, accessing the elements of harmony for the first time in millennia. Unfortunately, both Discord and Luna were killed in the final battle over old Canterlot.”
“Very good, but I’m afraid that you don’t know the whole story. Luna wasn’t killed. Discord, being a creature of chaos, played with her mind until she reverted back into Nightmare Moon, but with my meagre control of the elements, I was able to free her slightly. She took off into the stars because she was afraid to hurt anypony ever again,” explained Celestia sadly. Star’s mouth was agape in shock. It was a huge blow to her ego to discover that the stories she had been told since she was a foal weren’t true.
“So what does this have to do with the Twilight?” Star asked finally, making the princess smile.
“About six months ago I received a subspace message that was half a set of coordinates as well a single sentence that said ‘I’m ready to come home Tia.’ I have no doubt that it came from Luna and so I am sending you to retrieve my sister.”
“I’ll do my best your majesty,” promised Star, giving the alicorn a quick salute before her face was replaced with a white screen with the half set of coordinates.
‘Looks like the mission to Aquestria Prime just got a whole lot more interesting,’ she thought, getting up from her chair and starting to unpack as thoughts of the moon princess danced in her mind.
“Are you bloody kidding me?” exclaimed Rarity, making Time Turner and the other senior staff jump. Star had gathered them all into her ready room, a small office that was attached to the bridge.
“Calm down, there’s no use getting worked up over nothing. For all we know it could be a hoax,” said Swift, the voice of reason. “Celestia is a renowned prankster.”
“I’m not too sure of that, she sounded very sincere,” Star told him, looking at all of the others for suggestions. The Twilight had long since left Spacedock 16, but as per regulations, they had to remain at impulse until they cleared the asteroid belt, which was going to take them five hours. Star had decided to try and brainstorm some ideas for find Luna while they were waiting.
“What I’m curious to know is why the princess didn’t go and find Luna herself? She obviously has enough magical power,” asked the brown maned grey Unicorn, Doctor Neuron.
“It’s quite simple really. Without Princess Celestia rotating the planet, everything would be dead within days,” Time Turner explained, which made sense. Due to the fact that the Earth’s core had solidified, the planet was no longer rotating under its own power, and required the immense magical power of an alicorn to keep everything going. In the past it was thought that the two princesses made the sun or moon move in the sky, but as science tends to do, that theory was debunked by the first orbital satellite.
The ponies all sat in silence for a while before Rarity raised her hoof into the air, much like a school filly.
“I know that this is a bad time captain, but I was wondering if you had chosen a comms officer or a helmspony?” she asked, the thought of rescuing Luna apparently gone from her mind, which was very surprising to Star.
“Uh… I have the helmspony, and I think you in particular will like her Rarity, but as for the comms officer I have no idea,” Star responded, once again opening the floor up for suggestions.
“How about ensign PrimProse? She’s phenomenal when it comes to languages, and I have a feeling that she really wants to get out of the xeno-biology lab,” suggested Heartstrings, Swift’s mint green Pegasus wife. Star nodded as she recalled reading PrimProse’s file before she got on board.
“Make it so. And as for the matter of Luna, why don’t we just wait until we drop off the sea pony ambassador?” Star asked and the others all nodded their acceptance. “Right, everypony to your stations, we should be past the asteroid belt by now… time to test out the new warp engine.”
Star Shot had to cover her ears as Rarity exited the ready room and squealed loudly with delight. Sitting at the helm was a young white unicorn with a pink and light purple mane; Rarity’s little sister, Sweetie Belle. Star had always found it curious how enamoured Rarity’s family was with the Element of Generosity, even going so far as to name any foal with the barest hint of resemblance after the famed pony. Sweetie Belle was no different.
Star had been Sweetie’s mentor throughout her time at the Luna institute, a fact that even Rearity wasn’t aware of. Sweetie Belle had proved herself to be an exemplary pilot and it was for only for that reason that she was chosen as helmspony.
Star could see that Rarity was utterly shocked to see her little sister at the controls of the very starship that she helped design.
“Oh my Celestia! Sweetie, what are you doing here?” she exclaimed happily, drawing her sister in for a tight hug.
“I’m surprised Star Shot didn’t tell you; I’m the helmspony,” Sweetie Belle said smugly as she gave Star a wink. Rarity burst out laughing and continued to hug her sister.
“Come, come. Now is not the time for a family reunion. We have a planet to get to,” laughed Star as she sat down in her chair that was situated in the centre of the bridge. “Ensign Belle. Set a course for Aquestria Prime, warp four. Let’s not go crazy with her just yet.” Sweetie Belle released her sister and began to press buttons all over her console, inputting all of the information that the captain wanted.
“Ready Captain,” she said as she finished, holding her hoof right over the warp button. Star took a deep breath and looked around the circular bridge at all of the ponies she would be spending the next few months, or even years with.
“Engage,” she said finally and Sweetie Belle lightly pressed the button. All over the Twilight, massive amounts of power were collected, all of them being channelled into the warp reactor. Matter and anti-matter collided, creating a warp field and sending the necessary energies surging into each of the ney-cells, which started to glow blue as they charged. The Twilight suddenly shot forward at an incredible speed and continued to accelerate until it settled at four times the speed of light.
The Twilight was away.