Why No One Messes With Celestia

Ponies have spread to the stars thanks to advances in technology. In the advanced and luxurious Solar Explorer, Celestia travels to the first extra-solar colony world set up by her little ponies. Unfortunately, events elsewhere in the galaxy, unknown to them, have set in motion a cycle that has been repeated for countless eons… the reaping of sentient races. A Reaper dreadnought confronts the Solar Explorer, intent upon indoctrinating the leadership of the ponies and bringing them to heel.
Said Reaper quickly learns exactly why Celestia has earned the title Unconquered.
A Mass Effect crossover oneshot.

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1. Behold, the Bringer of Light

The Solar Explorer was the first and only of its kind. Painted a marble white with golden trim laid throughout, made with the most cutting edge technology Equestria had, it was the largest, fastest, and most luxurious ship in the entirety of the Royal Navy. No expense had been spared; the greatest artists of the time had competed to decorate the interior, producing a work of art fit for divinity; the inertial dampers could turn the most turbulent of conditions into a mere thump beneath the hooves; the drive core was the largest ever created by Equestrian hooves, pushing the half-kilometer long vessel through outer space at a rate that was unheard of mere decades ago. The ponies of Equestria would have settled for no less, for this was the transport of Her Majesty Celestia, Diarch of the Day, leader and ruler of Equestria since its formation millennia ago.

Inside the Royal Suite, Celestia lounged upon the silk throw pillows, sipping her favorite blend of herbal tea as she stared out into the starry depths of space. It was truly amazing just how far her little ponies had come under her rule; she remembered, long ago, when ponies still lived in thatched huts, and it was the height of finery to own a single piece of clothes. Now, here she was, traversing stars that were far beyond Luna's night, to visit the first colony world ever attempted.

Mareius was its name, and when initial exploration had found the planet, Celestia and her sister had immediately seen the possibilities. A day cycle slightly longer than the standard that she and Luna kept to; gravity of 0.98 Equus; a thriving native biosphere, with great amounts of plant and animal life, though nothing yet of high intelligence; and, perhaps most startling of all, a natural orbital pattern that meant that no effort was required to maintain the day/night cycle. A world capable of being completely independent from Equus, with no want for food, or need for the power of the Royal Sisters to maintain the day/night cycle. Truly it was an ideal colony world where those who wished to find their fortunes or those who wished to start their lives over could go and strike out for themselves, and blaze their own trail. Celestia had signed the colonization documents presented to her nearly fifty years ago now without a second thought.

This would be their first visit to the colony since its founding. It had been agreed in a private deal between her and her sister that the ruler with the first ship would get to go first, the other of course having to remain behind to maintain the solar cycle on Equus. Celestia's Solar Explorer had been finished on schedule; Luna, who had dabbled in the design of her own ship, Veil of the Night, had learned that there were certain things that shouldn't be done when designing spaceships, and as such it was Celestia who had the privilege of visiting Mareius on the maiden voyage.

Celestia took a sip of tea, enjoying the calming flavor. Inwardly, she was quite excited to be visiting the new colony. She had seen photos, and illusions of course, but it never quite compared to the real feeling of grass under your hooves. She was looking forward to seeing a sunrise on the colony, compare it to her own works, and she was quite sure Luna was excited to see what the realm of the night looked like without her personal touch. Would they be as beautiful? Would they be different? Could they incorporate such things into their own personal domains?

Perhaps the most exciting prospect of this whole affair was not that it was beautiful, but that it existed at all. If Equestria had stumbled upon this perfect, life bearing world in their own infant attempts at exploration, what else lay out there, in the stars? Immortality had a tendency to give one the long view on life, and what Celestia saw upon the horizon took her breath away. The sheer number of possibilities to be contemplated were astounding; perhaps, even, there was other life out there in the cosmos?

She took another sip of tea. The possibilities were endless. And life, in her experience, was hardy, and always found a way. Personally, she had no doubt that life existed, somewhere, out there. Now, with the faster than light travel possibilities afforded by the discovery of Element Zero, as it had become known over the past century, there was a real possibility that she would one day meet a creature not of Equestria.

What would they be like? she idly wondered. Perhaps quadrupeds, like her ponies, and most of the species on Equus? Could they fly, like pegasi? Would they instead stand upright like the Minotaurs, muscular and bold? Would they be a proud warrior race, much like the Griffons? Or would they be social, desiring friendship like her little ponies? She was content to wait and find out. The present was exciting enough as it was. The future... well...

Celestia allowed fantasized possibilities to play out in her mind as she took another sip of-

The ship shook ever so slightly.

Celestia frowned.

She wasn't able to do more than that because in the next moment, metal shutters shot across the windows at astonishing speed. Another slight tremor ran through the room.

Celestia set down her tea.

"Epona, what is going on?" she asked.

The form of a pony appeared, a magi-tech illusion of a pony with a white mane and chestnut coat. She was Epona, the ship's Arcane Intelligence, a fusion of magical come-to-life spells combined with the processing power available in the latest computers. The pony bowed low before the princess.

"A small situation has come up, Your Highness. Nothing important. The Admiral respectfully requests that you remain here until it is resolved," the pony stated, rising back to her hooves.

Celestia's eyes narrowed. Arcane intelligences were smart, Epona doubly so being that she had more processing power than any computer besides the supercomputer in her School for Gifted Unicorns. But the magic of the come-to-life spell meant that they had personality, emotions, tics, and cues just as any other living pony did. And right now, several lifetimes of politics and practice at reading ponies was telling her that Epona was lying. The folded ears and uneasy smile that the illusionary pony gave her as the silence dragged on only confirmed her thoughts.

Celestia spread her wings majestically in a stretch before standing to her hooves, not staring the illusion of the ships' computer down, but never letting the mare leave her sight. She furled her wings slightly before advancing towards the poor AI, making her dissatisfaction and disappointment with her answer clear without even saying a word. She stopped a comfortable distance away with a neutral expression on her face, towering over the AI without even trying. Epona wilted before her, unable to meet her eyes.

"Epona, what is happening? Why is the ship on lockdown?" Celestia asked evenly. She may have been more hooves off than her sister, but Celestia knew more about her own ship than many suspected... especially the emergency procedures.

"Uuhhh... heh..." Epona said nervously.

Celestia rolled her eyes and sighed. Very well, if Epona would not tell her, she would find another way.

A tremor jolted her slightly as she began to head for the door.

"W-wait! Princess! Please, the Admiral has the situation under control!" Epona protested, stepping in front of her princess.

Celestia continued through the illusionary pony without slowing.

"Then when I arrive on the bridge I will witness his skills in action," Celestia replied. She pressed her hoof against the door control. It turned red and did not open.

"Please, Princess, this is an emergency," Epona begged on her knees. "We need you to be safe! You must remain here!"

The Royal Suite was the most well protected location on the ship, despite having a three hundred and sixty degree dome window. Fully sealable, ejectable, with separate dedicated arcane and element zero generators for shields, dedicated environmental systems, even a separate propulsion system and communications. As with everything else on the ship, no expense had been spared to protect the Diarach of the Day.

Celestia had no intention of staying there. The very fact that they were attempting to keep her there meant that there was far more to the emergency situation than Epona was letting on. And she had no intention of sitting this one out.

"Epona, open the door," Celestia commanded.

She could see the desperation in Epona's illusionary eyes. A moment later, that turned to defeat. Epona bowed her head and faded out as the hoof panel turned green and the door opened.

Celestia strode out at a quick walk, forcing her guards into a trot as they fell in behind her. Down this corridor, through this one, make a left, right, left, down this elevator...

Epona's illusionary self sat before the final door to the bridge, desperation and despair in equal measure written on her face.

"Princess, please..." she began.

"It shall be alright, Epona," she replied kindly, giving the poor AI a reassuring smile. "Now please, open the door."

Epona sighed before flickering out. The door to the bridge opened.

It was utter chaos. Ponies banged their hooves on consoles, shouting advice and suggestions and epithets and even a few prayers to Celestia. Everypony was rushing about, shouting about something. So much so that there was only one pony that really noticed the Princess’ arrival.

“Princess Celestia, it would have been better if you had stayed in the Royal Suite,” Admiral Water Hammer remarked, turning towards the Princess. The pegasus general had a distinguished record despite Equestria’s relatively peaceful near past, and had been chosen to captain her personal flagship.

“I have no intention of sitting by the side as you and your mares put yourselves at risk for me,” Celestia replied, sitting down.

The Admiral gave a chuckle devoid of mirth. “I know. Who do you think prevented Epona from locking you in your suite?” he asked.

“What is the situation, Admiral?” she asked softly.

Hammer studied her for a moment, then gestured to the back of the bridge, where a tactical illusion table was set up. A few quick commands, and the table showed the space around them.

“We’ve been ambushed, Princess. By our own ponies. Two freighters from Mareius came to greet us, and once they got close enough, they used their lasers and arcane cannons to disable our thrusters. Everyone immediately went to alert, but the damage was done. Then this… thing… showed up, and began to destroy our escorts,” he said, pointing to the ship in question.

Celestia studied the image. It was black, and reminded her of a squid, a thick middle that tapered to a point one way and split into several tentacle-looking things the other. As she watched, the illusion raised a tentacle, and a stream of… something came out, spearing another illusionary ship. Celestia recognized it as one of the six escort ships that had been accompanying the Explorer.

Hammer winced. “The Honeydew. That just leaves the Brightwing.”

Celestia immediately caught onto the implication. Scanning the illusion, she saw four other debris markers… each with life-pod markers surrounding them.

“We… never really stood a chance, Princess. With us disabled, we had no choice but to stand and fight. Worse, they jammed our comm frequencies the moment it arrived, I haven’t been able to coordinate a defense at all. The freighters were easily disabled but, well… whatever that ship is, it is far beyond any technology or magic that we have today. Our weapons haven’t even made a dent in its barriers. Whatever this thing is, whatever it wants… we have no way to stop it.”

Admiral Hammer bowed. “My apologies, Princess. I fear I have failed you and doomed us all.”

“We are yet alive, Admiral, and where there is life, there is still hope,” Celestia responded calmly. She was no stranger to violent first contacts; the gryphons had started a war with theirs, and relations with the Yaks and Minotaurs were both rocky at the start.

A spear of light pierced the Brightwing on the table, leaving just the mysterious ship, two freighters, and the disabled Solar Explorer.

“Admiral! The freighters are moving to dock!” one of the consolemares shouted.

Hammer leapt into action, flying over the command console towards communications. “All hooves, prepare to repel boarders!” he announced over the ship wide intercom.

Celestia, however, was distracted, and barely noted the whirlwind efforts in front of her. Her attention was captured by the illusionary model of the ship… which had turned to look at her.

You are Celestia, ruler of these creatures,” a deep voice said. It was powerful, like a dragon, though without the normal rumble that a creature of such size produced.

Celestia’s eyes darted towards the Admiral- he, and the rest of the bridge crew, had seen and heard nothing, instead more focused upon the impending docking. Her horn lit golden as she quickly cast a few spells to keep it that way. Negotiations had just started.

“I am. And to whom am I speaking?”

The tentacles moved, twitched. “My name is irrelevant. It is beyond your comprehension.”

Bit of an ego. Definitely reminds me of a number of dragons. “Then how am I to refer to you during these negotiations?” Celestia asked.

There is no negotiation. Your purpose is already determined and cannot be avoided,” it replied.

Celestia ignored the ego for now. Despite not saying anything of importance, the creature was already revealing its intents. It believed itself the superior here, that it could take what it wanted and that Celestia could do nothing to stop it. She decided to humor it for now, and see what other information she could get out of it. “And what purpose is that?”

Your species is unique. The talents your ponies possess were unforeseen. But your talents are inferior to the Ascended. Your species will bend to our will so that you might better serve this cycle and the next. You, Celestia, will be my harbinger to your subjects. Through you, your species shall be ascended.”

Celestia mulled that carefully. The words this creature used made it clear that it had no intention to negotiate, and it was clear that it intended to subjugate her ponies. Somehow, this would happen through her. It somehow believed that she would either go along with this, or had some means of forcing her cooperation.

“And if I refuse?”

Your cooperation is not required. You cannot escape your fate. The Indoctrination has proven effective against your species. The servants will bring you to me, and I shall see to your Indoctrination myself. Your position as spiritual leader and monarch shall cause others to follow into Indoctrination, submitting themselves before us. The ascension will be swift. The race of ponies will be unified into one single body, ascending to the stars to join with us. Those left behind will serve during the next cycle. Your fate is decided.”

Slavery, in other words. There were many spells that Celestia knew of, dark spells that could bend the minds of ponies against their will, and it appeared that this creature intended to use one upon her. Had already used one upon the ponies on those freighters that were even now docking with her ship. And she, as one of the Diararchs of Equestria, was perfectly placed to spread the spell further, through her influence and power. It would be chaos, and likely not the kind that Discord liked. It would be the end of all pony life, all life period, if she was interpreting correctly.

Celestia would not stand for it.

“No. I will not allow it.”

A tentacle twitched… amused. “You are insignificant. Your purpose now is only to further your species ascension, and then to be improved for the next cycle. You cannot stop this.”

Anger was building in Celestia now, anger at what had been done to her charges, and anger for what it intended to do to her, anger at the sheer hubris this creature had. Celestia had bent knee to precious, precious few in her long life, and never to any who had demanded it or threatened her.

Still, she kept her face calm, her voice level. Last chance.

“I will not allow you to enslave me, or my ponies. You will stand down and release those under your control or you will die,” she delivered levelly.

A tentacle twitched. “Threats. Amusing. Countless species across millions of cycles have thought as you do. All have fallen, and risen again as Ascended. Your species will be no different.”

“So you think,” Celestia replied, eyes narrowed, voice hard. She dropped the privacy spells she had erected around the tactical table and herself before closing her eyes. Her horn lit again as she began casting safety spells.

Precious few knew just how powerful Celestia was. Yes, she raised the Sun every day and set it every night, but the unicorns had once done that too. Her power, it appeared, was not infinite. Indeed, some even argued that she was not as powerful as she seemed, pointing to her defeat at the hooves of the changeling Queen Chrysalis as proof that she was capable of being beaten. After all, either changeling Queens were powerful enough to best the strongest of alicorns at the height of their power, a scary thought, or Celestia was perhaps not as powerful as she seemed, and the ability to perform the magic of hundreds of unicorns was more a relic of her special talent and not her magical power.

In truth, Chrysalis had not matched Celestia for power; there were only two creatures in the universe that could even think of matching her for power. No, Chrysalis had merely escalated their duel to the point where Celestia was forced to make a choice. Lose, and hope that the situation could be recovered by other means, either through her faithful student, Cadence, or her dear sister Luna…

Or turn Canterlot Castle and every creature in it into a puddle of molten slag as she unleashed her true, full power.

Needless to say, she had opted for the first option that day. Her pride and reputation did not matter nearly so much as the lives of her little ponies. So she had lost, and to her relief Cadence and Shining Armor themselves had stopped the invasion. But this day, this creature, this monster…

It took forty-five seconds for her to cast the necessary spells for what she was about to do next. After that, her concentration and her power were focused on one, singular strike of unparalleled proportions.

It was known by many names; the ponies called it Celestia's Hammer, for all who found themselves in its path were shattered and broken; to the dragons, she was the White Diamond, and what she summoned, the Unquenchable Fire. A griffon general who had watched it burn his army from the face of Equus had coined the term Heaven's Fury, and never again had a Griffon army attacked Equestria. The Minotaurs had named it Judgement and had ever since confined themselves to the letter and spirit of the law she had laid down. To them, and other armies of the ancient and even the more modern world, it was a feat of unparalleled magic, a towering pillar of fire and flame that stretched from the object of Celestia’s wrath all the way to the heavens, burning everything in its path.

Science, and a better understanding of the world, made the feat of arcane power no less awe-inspiring. It was a cylinder of solar plasma, drawn directly from her charge, Sol Equus. The outside of the beam was the coolest, at a mere five thousand degrees centigrade; in the center, the core of the beam, plasma drawn from the inner core of Her Sun reached upwards of millions of degrees; no pony knew how hot it was for certain, they could only guess the true temperature.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of solar plasma slammed into the Ascended, a cylinder of fire with a diameter even greater than the two-kilometer length of the creature. The signature blue of element zero barriers flared, then almost immediately collapsed under the onslaught of plasma. The ship disappeared into white-hot beam of light.

Five seconds later, the ship burst through the side of the beam of destruction. It, all two kilometers of squid-like ship, was not not in good shape. The black ceramic armor hull glowed white with heat even as puddles of molten armor began to drift off into space. The underside glowed a slightly duller yellow, having been shielded from some of the heat by the upper side of the ship. The ship itself was beginning to deform, the pointed tip almost drooping and the main body warping underneath the boiled armor. The squid-like appendages seemed almost organic now, the molten armor flowing around now-broken joints, just beginning to solidify in the absolute cold of space. On one of them, the tip lit up a dull red as the creature tried to fire one of the weapons embedded within.

Celestia adjusted her aim.

The tactical table showed the ship spasm and writhe as the solar plasma engulfed it again. This time, there would be no escape. Unseen within the depths of five thousand centigrade and up matter, armor boiled, metal melted, and within no more than a dozen seconds two kilometers of materials and intelligence never before seen by Equestrian eyes was reduced to plasmic atoms.

Almost as an afterthought, a golden force rippled through the void of space as the beam of fire died, forcing the freighters attempting to dock away from the Solar Explorer. They drifted, their arcane generators disabled, their mass effect generators unable to compensate for the loss. Simultaneously, pinpricks of golden light appeared in the debris field of the battle, accelerating towards the ship; the lifepods were being drawn in.

Celestia allowed her power to wane before shutting it off, returning to herself. A few bracing, slow breaths steadied her temperament before she opened her eyes.

Everypony on the bridge was staring at her.

She raised a hoof to try to soothe them, but found her hoof stuck to the floor. A quick look at her hooves found that her golden shoes had melted into the deck and re-solidified.

Celestia gave an internal sigh. She had, in the name of time, skimped on some of the protective spells. It appeared that most had done her job, but a closer internal examination of one of her heat protection spells showed a mis-cast. Not too surprising, considering her last casting of this particular sequence had been… was it really seventeen hundred years ago now? Fortunately, it was not the only heat protection spell she had cast, and the others had done their work, but still, she was literally stuck to her shoes, that were melted into the floor.

And her peytral had melted and hardened around her neck and chest, preventing her from moving her front legs and neck. And the tactical table was warped from the heat of having been so near her. And there was a very interesting pattern of melted glass, plastics, and metal from where her tail had casually brushed across the screens behind her at some point during the confrontation. And the ceiling was now burnt and slightly warped from her mane. All re-solidified, thankfully that spell was working, but still...

On the other hoof, nopony was hurt, and the ship hadn’t been melted to slag around her, so Celestia counted it as a net win. A few quick applications of heat and her hooves popped free of their stuck shoes. Another quick application re-melted the deformed and warped peytral, allowing the molten gold to flow and drip off her fur until she was naked before the bridge. Freed now from her bindings, Celestia walked over to the stunned Admiral.

“Admiral, begin the recovery of the escape pods of our escorts. Turn none away, I offer my own accommodations if we need the space. Then make what repairs are needed to return us to Equus. I must discuss this situation with my sister.”

Celestia turned and walked to the door, ignoring the buzz that erupted at her departure. The two guards fell in behind her as she headed back to her cabin, trusting Admiral Hammer and his crew to the recovery of the survivors. For now, she needed a cup of tea as she pondered the measures she needed to take. The colony, and those on the freighters, would need aid to recover and to remove the dark taint from their minds. Preparations would need to be started to address the possibility of more of these ‘Ascended’ attacks. Information would need to be turned over to the various other governments of Equus, diplomacy used to prepare them as well for the potential threat… so much to do.

Perhaps she would add a bit of brandy to her tea. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Author's Note:

Inspired by a now defunct Mass Effect/MLP crossover thread on Spacebattles. That, and I wanted to see someone wreck a Reaper.

Just for reference, Celestia has a safety spell that re-solidifies things because the first time she channeled her power, when she stopped she found herself at the bottom of a ten-foot deep pool of lava and doesn't want a repeat.

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