Why No One Messes With Luna

This story is a sequel to Why No One Messes With Celestia In the wake of Celestia's return to Equus, the ponies have worked tirelessly to prepare for the arrival of the Ascended. Defenses have been set up, weapons prepared, allies warned, but most important of all in the minds of both Diarchs, a cure for the Indoctrination has been pursued. The Ascended, or the Reapers as they are known to the rest of the galaxy, are not amused. They attack in force, unwilling to stand by and let this small, barely space-worthy race of unascended quadrupeds neutralize their most effective weapon in their march towards galactic cleansing. Now they too shall learn to fear the dark, and the Princess who controls it.

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1. Demon of the Night

Threat Analysis

Species 3145- ‘Ponies’

Mammalian quadrupedal hooved species of below average sapient size. Species divided into three distinct sub-species: unicorn, pegasus, and earth. All subspecies possess unique abilities, known as ‘magic’. A fourth subspecies, alicorn, is believed to possess the traits of all three known subspecies, and be significantly stronger with ‘magic’ than any other subspecies; only two known ‘alicorns’ exist. Species is typically docile and conflict-averse, though when pressed will utilize primitive weaponry, crude mass accelerators, or ‘magic’ to defend themselves.

‘Magic’ does not appear to be an element zero based adaptation and is therefore dangerous to the cycle. Species must be studied and new adaptation must be dissected to learn of its cause so that further occurrences may be prevented. Genetic sequence will likely require multiple cycles of study to fully comprehend, detect, and eradicate, making the acquisition of species 3145 as cycle custodians a high priority for experimentation purposes.

The technological level of species 3145 is lower than standard Citadel species of this cycle. However, the use of ‘magic’ to augment ship capabilities gives species 3145 higher than level damage, maneuverability, and armor, though all are still inferior to that of the Ascended. Of greater concern, species 3145 ships of ‘capital’ class appear to possess a superweapon of ‘magic’ origin capable of destroying any Ascended in under 1 standard millicycle. Capital ships should be destroyed immediately upon entrance into battle to prevent unnecessary losses.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Begin indoctrination by all means. Species 3145 should be kept from contacting other cycle species at all costs to prevent contamination of the Citadel species this cycle. Containment will not be challenging, as Species 3145 currently only controls their homeworld and one colony world.

UPDATE

Species 3145 has used ‘magic’ to successfully de-indoctrinate members of the indoctrinated colony. Loyal servants report small scale ‘curing’ has begun, with large scale de-indoctrination promised within months.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Species 3145 cannot be allowed to undo the indoctrination, or be allowed the chance to spread this to the Citadel species of this cycle. Species 3145 must be indoctrinated and ascended immediately with overwhelming force. If Species 3145 cannot be controlled, planetary bombardment and total destruction is necessary. The contamination cannot be allowed to spread.

 

 

“Message for you, Commander. Admiral Hackett wishes to speak to you on the QEC,” Samantha Traynor called out to Shepard.

“Thank you, Ms. Traynor,” Shepard replied. Deciding that sooner would be better than later, Shepard headed towards the QEC.

Past the security checkpoint, tucked into a small back corner of the war room, the Quantum Entanglement Communicator was one of the greatest technological advancements to have been stolen from Cerberus, allowing instantaneous communication across galactic distances. Shepard stood to parade rest as the blue holographic form of Admiral Hackett came into view.

“Commander,” he greeted with a tired voice. It was doubtful at this point that there was a single Admiral in the entire galaxy that was getting enough sleep at night.

“Sir.”

“Our intelligence services have been scouring Reaper fleet movements for some time now, to try to predict what planets might get hit next. So far there hasn’t been much success, but recent collaboration between the STG and our own specialists have revealed some disturbing fleet movements. Fifteen dreadnaught-class Reapers and one hundred destroyers have been pulled out of the action from various campaigns over the last few days, with another five dreadnoughts and hundred destroyers on the way. Cloaked STG intelligence ships found them massing near Relay 784, a dark relay that only re-activated a few centuries ago.”

Hackett paused to look Shepard square in the eye.

“This is a major fleet movement, Shepard. The Reapers invaded Earth with that number of dreadnoughts. This fleet could break our lines on any given battlefield, or it could be the opening salvo in the invasion of Sur’Kesh. We need you to find out where the fleet is going and what it is intended for as soon as possible. Tail the fleet and let us know whatever you find.”

Shepard considered for a moment.

“What do we know about the relay?”

“It was dark no more than two centuries ago,” Hackett supplied. “As such, exploration once it reactivated on its own was banned by Citadel convention. The linking system for it is completely unknown. It could lead anywhere, from dark space to the Salarian homeworld. That’s what has us so worried, this could be a backdoor to any of the defenses we’ve mounted so far.”

Shepard paused another moment, before saluting. “We’ll get it done, Admiral.”

“Good hunting out there, Shepard. Hackett out.”

 

 

The relay was empty by the time the Normandy got there, but that didn’t mean that the mission was a failure. Far from it. Another five Reaper dreadnoughts and fifty Reaper destroyers had been diverted from the front lines by the time the Normandy arrived. Owing to the significantly faster drive systems of the Reaper warships, the ship made it to Relay 784 just as this last group was using it.

Shepard watched from the cockpit behind Joker as the final Reaper destroyer made the transition. They’d come in cloaked, true, but even the Normandy’s cloaking system wouldn’t fool that many ships for that long if they were looking. And the Reapers were always looking… except now, for some reason. With twenty-five dreadnoughts and two hundred and fifty destroyers now, this fleet was large enough to take on any given fleet or invade any given planet. Yet something was causing them to be preoccupied.

Something strange was going on, and Shepard intended to find out what it was.

“Do we have the relay?” Shepard asked.

From the auxiliary station to the right, the android that was EDI’s platform answered.

“Yes, Shepard,” she replied. She was an Artificial Intelligence, true, but had identified herself with a feminine voice and body so much so that it simply felt wrong to call her a male, or an it. “This relay appears to be linked only to one other. The matching relay does not register in our known relay database; it is a new secondary relay pair.”

“Well, Hackett will be relieved to hear that,” Shepard mused. “Joker, are we ready to jump?”

“Getting data from EDI now,” Joker replied easily. “Thermal cloaking engaged, drive core charge at manageable levels. Ready to jump on your command.”

“Engage.”

Transportation through the Reaper-constructed relay system was nearly instantaneous across galactic distances, taking only so long as a ship took to approach the relay in question. So it was that it was only a few seconds, and a complete change of scenery, before the entire sensor and drive haptic consoles lit up red with warnings.

Joker’s eyes went wide.

“Holy shi-”

 

 

Luna, Guardian of the Night and Princess of Equestria, frowned as her proximity detection stars pinged. Another ship, or group of ships, had just used the relay.

She was not concerned about the extra firepower. These Ascended could bring all the ships they wished; with Celestia powering the massive barrier that protected the planet, no amount of brute force would ever touch the surface nor break her sister’s shield. No, Luna was more concerned that the Ascended had brought more troop transports or other methods of transferring troops the the surface. Celestia’s barrier was impregnable to the largest and toughest opponents and the strongest of shots, but smaller vessels could pass through without harm.

It was the way of things, when it came to Celestia. Her power was mighty but very simple and her magic easily dodged, avoided, or bypassed by those who knew how to get around such things. Or by those who lucked into a loophole, as the Ascended drop pods had done.

The last reports she had heard through her communication crystal from Canterlot had the city being slowly overrun. With Celestia maintaining the shield, and Discord preventing her from being disrupted (how he was not distracting her himself, she did not know), the cities and towns across the globe were forced to rely upon their own hooves to defend themselves. The Royal Guard, along with the various armies that Equestria fielded, and the militias that had been called up by herself in preparation, were bearing the brunt of the attack well but until the enemy was stymied in orbit they would continue to bombard the surface with indoctrinated slaves.

She headed towards the latest signature to investigate. It was holding agreeably still.

 

 

“That’s impossible EDI, check again,” Joker told his AI copilot.

“I have already run two diagnostics on the sensors and one self-diagnostic. The data is real,” EDI replied in a measured voice.

“And I’m telling you there’s no way those readings are right, check again!” Joker insisted.

Shepard stepped in before the two could get any further. “What is impossible?”

“Everything!” Joker threw up his hands.

Shepard looked in askance at EDI.

“Initial scans of the system revealed what my algorithms initially believed to be a gravatic minefield with more than three thousand mines. Though the majority are quite distant, three are within standard detonation range around the relay, and tripped the proximity alarms,” EDI supplied.

“So, if we’re in a minefield, why haven’t they detonated yet?” Shepard asked.

“Because they are not mines,” EDI replied.

“According to the revised scans that EDI ran, what we initially identified as mines are actually tiny stars,” Joker supplied.

Shepard stared. “What?”

“Exactly my point,” Joker stared accusingly at the AI.

“I have just finished my fourth diagnostic of the system, Commander. All readings are accurate,” EDI replied. “What my algorithms initially mistook for gravatic mines due to the size of the mass readings are in fact main-sequence G-type stars of varying luminosity, if said stars were approximately ten centimeters in diameter.”

“And I’m saying that literally can’t happen! There is absolutely no way that is possible! C’mon, Shepard, there’s gotta be something wrong with the sensors- Shepard?”

Joker and EDI both turned to face Shepard, who had gone strangely still.

“As impossible as seeing a winged unicorn staring in at you through your spaceship’s windows?” Shepard asked quietly.

“Uhhh….” Joker raised an eyebrow. Then, following Shepard’s gaze, he very slowly turned to face the upper left viewport. At first he didn’t see anything, but after a moment, a pair of eyes made themselves known.

Joker recoiled in surprise.

“What the sh-”

 

 

They were not Ascended. Nor were they indoctrinated, her spell had come back positive. But they were strange. Alien.

They reminded her most of minotaurs, standing upright on two legs. Though, obviously, as aliens, they were quite different from the tauren of the empire next door. They bore no muzzle, nor obvious fur, though it was hard to tell with the uniform the seated one was wearing and the armor the standing bore. The third was not even alive, but appeared to be some form of golem made to the same species as the other two.

Luna put further observations on hold as the three noticed her. The armored one had done so some seconds before, but now all three appeared to be gaping at her.

Luna and her sister had discussed the possibilities of alien life once it had become clear that there was more to the universe than their little bubble of space. They had both agreed that peaceful contact was ideal and that all efforts should be made to establish a good relationship with the new specie(s). Now, with Equestria invaded, Luna added one more objective: obtain aid from any friendly species willing to aid them against a common foe.

She was fortunate that there was a spell to translate. And that she had done this before. Once. With the griffons. Which had ended in a war.

Luna forced the butterflies from her stomach. She was Luna, Princess of the Night, Mistress of Dreams and the Stars. There was nothing that she could not do.

She lit her horn with a teleport spell before she could think further on the matter. The next moment she was within the ship, a comfortably safe distance behind the armored creature and away from any other. She cast the translation spell, hoping that it would work on the alien language, then spoke.

Identify yourselves,” she said forcefully. Internally, she winced. It may have been many centuries since her exile to her celestial body, but she still had a bad habit of slipping into more formal speech patterns and louder voices when she was nervous. At least she had not used the full Royal Canterlot Voice. That had been one of her many, many mistakes with the griffons. Still, she kept her face neutral and held her head high and…

Hmm… they were tall. Her head came up to the bottom of the armored one’s chest, and-

“Commander Shepard, Systems Alliance Navy, Captain of the Normandy,” the armored one identified. Calm, cool, collected, professional. “But I’m afraid you have us at a disadvantage, Miss…?”

“Luna, Princess of Equestria,” Luna replied. They were not reacting as much to her as she thought… perhaps….

She raised an eyebrow artfully. “You do not seem troubled to see an alien up close.”

The one known as Shepard shrugged, a gesture she only recognized due to her dealings with minotaurs. “There’s a lot of different aliens out there in the universe.”

Indeed. Luna filed that information away for later.

“And what are your intentions here?” Luna asked neutrally. She doubted that they were servants of the Ascended, given their stated intentions to subjugate all life and make them into more Ascended, but it was better to be careful than to be sorry.

“Our orders were to tail this group of Reapers and see where they were going,” Shepard replied. “Uhh, how are we…?”

“I have cast a translation spell to allow us to understand each other,” Luna dismissed easily. “These ‘Reapers’ are the squid-like ships bent upon galactic slavery and extermination, correct?”

Shepard nodded.

“Then it would appear that we have a common foe,” Luna stated. “What do you intend to do now?”

“Citadel First Contact guidelines state that your world would be quarantined until it was deemed safe by the Citadel Disease Control Center. In this case, diplomats would then be sent to your world for negotiations and possible inclusion into the Citadel Conventions,” the golem responded. Luna admired the craftsmanship of the golem, the physical body the intelligence was in was a masterpiece of sculpting and cogwork that far surpassed what Equestria was capable of technologically- and she did not detect a single mote of mana within, a great achievement indeed.

“They’re being invaded by the Reapers, EDI,” the male seated alien protested. “They need a fleet, not an application form.”

“Agreed,” Shepard said. “We need to report this to Alliance Command and the Citadel.” Luna took note about how Shepard made a distinction between the two. “Then maybe we can gather a fleet to liberate your world.”

“Maybe?” Luna latched on suspiciously. “And how long would this take?”

Shepard looked sheepish and nervous. “Well… our forces are all hard pressed right now. You aren’t the only species with a homeworld under attack. It might take months before we manage to gather enough ships to face the kind of fleet the Reapers have here and liberate your world.”

Unacceptable.

“We do not have months, Commander Shepard,” Luna replied, wings twitching as she resisted the urge to spread them to their full span. Subconscious intimidation instincts would not be welcome here, where one never knew what custom or gesture or word would offend the other party. Another lesson from the griffons.

“I’m sorry, Princess,” Shepard said regretfully. “But we are only one ship, and a stealth ship at that. We’re more set up for dropping fireteams behind enemy lines than we are for ship to ship combat. I’m not sure what we can do to help here.”

Dropping fireteams behind enemy lines…

Luna evaluated Shepard again in a new light. The armor was thick, no doubt meant to shrug off enemy fire and spells, but more importantly, Shepard wore it as though it was a second skin. This was a warrior before her, not a mere ship captain.

Perhaps…

“You are a soldier, yes?” Luna asked. Shepard nodded cautiously. “Then perhaps you may still be of assistance. My sister holds the shield that prevents the Ascended from attacking our planet directly, but a large contingent of Ascended ground forces have made it to the surface, including, according to the reports I have received, a general of sorts. If your fireteam could eliminate that general figure, the defense of our world would be significantly easier, and we would be in your debt.”  

Shepard thought for a moment on that, then shrugged. “Joker, think you can slip past the Reapers and get us to the planet?”

“I dunno. EDI?”

“One moment Shepard. Scanning…” the golem replied. A moment later, it looked up. “I cannot advise this course of action, Shepard. No less than three dreadnoughts and twenty destroyers stand directly between us and the planet, and they appear to be scanning heavily for any thermal signatures they can find. The Normandy cloak will not be enough to see us safely to the planet.”

The three organics in the cockpit frowned.

“No offense, Shep, but I’m not keen to lose another Normandy,” Joker said after a moment.

Shepard sighed heavily, armored shoulders slumping. “I’m sorry, Princess…”

“What if I could guarantee your safety to the planet?” Luna asked.

“How-” Joker began

“Does it matter?” Luna interrupted the seated pilot. She turned her gaze back to Shepard, the one whose decision mattered. “If I could guarantee the safety of this entire vessel to Equus, would you be willing to aid us?”

Shepard’s expression was inscrutable. Luna felt as though her soul was being weighed in that gaze, a talent that Luna had thought only belonged to her sister. Her wings twitched as she fought the urge to step back under the gaze that made her feel like a little filly again.

“Alright, Princess. If you can get us to your world, unharmed, we will take out this ‘general’ for you,” Shepard said after a long moment.

Luna smiled and managed to successfully resist the urge to clap her hooves together in glee. Excelsior! First contact with a new alien species and they had not only not declared war on Equus but had agreed to help! Perhaps she could get the hang of this ‘first contact’ business after all!

“Not to rain on everyone’s parade,” Joker cut in, “but, how are we getting past an entire fleet of Reapers?”

Luna stepped forward, the tentative alliance now in place between them giving her confidence that they would not attack, and took a position just behind the pilot's’ seat.

“Leave that to me,” she told them. “You shall not have to do anything.”

Luna closed her eyes and lit her horn. While some of her battle plans were subtle things, this one was not; she intended to blast her way through the Ascended line, carving a path for this ship to go through. It would not last, not with the Ascended numbers, so she would be propelling the ship directly, rather than allowing the pilot of the vessel to do so. More taxing on her, and likely more stressful for the pilot and Shepard, but it would guarantee their safety.

She felt the ship with her magic, anchoring herself to the ship around her through her shoes. It became a part of her, an extension of her hooves, like her armor. Now, when she moved, it would move. When it was attacked, she would know, she would feel it.

Luna’s eyes shot open. It was time. Her wings spread wide, nearly touching the sides of the cockpit, and beat. They pushed not against the air, but against the aether, the very fabric of the universe itself.

The Normandy shot forward.

“What the hell just-”

“Shepard, the planet’s moon has begun to move towards us at five percent the speed of light-”

Luna ignored them as she brought her celestial body to bear. She was vaguely aware that Shepard had stepped in to calm the two of them down. Perhaps she had not thought this course of action through well enough; their panic could undo their tentative agreements, and while it seemed unlikely to end in a war like the griffon first contact such panic could have jeopardized their offer for aid and their fragile alliance. Still, it appeared that Shepard had faith in her, a show of trust that Luna was honored to receive.

The Moon approached, her celestial body responding to her magic touch, and slowed to a stop. It disgusted her that she was forced to do this to her beloved Moon, marring the surface in such a way, but sacrifices must be made in times of war. It would take a great amount of pain and effort to return her Moon to its full splendor once this was over, but until then, the Moon served one great purpose:

A battering ram of immense proportions.

A significant part of the Ascended fleet already lay broken upon its surface, a few more vessels added in its movement towards theNormandy. Now it would serve to scatter or to crush those who dared stand between her and Equus.

Her horn blazed, sending the two-thousand mile diameter Moon blasting forward at a speed normally reserved for fighter-class ships. The Ascended scattered before it like chaff in the wind… well, those that could did. Even the ‘superior’ Ascended ships could not hope to accelerate fast enough to clear the hundreds of miles it took to get out of the path of the celestial body before it cleaved through their formation like a freight train, leaving behind only the token hoofful that had been near enough to the edges to get away.

But the ships were only one facet of the danger of the Ascended.

Beam fire screamed through the vacuum of space, splashing off the Normandy’s shields. Five spherical Ascended about twice the size of a carriage (Oculi, as she understood they were called) screamed through space after the ship, unleashing their golden particle beams as they went. Luna felt their impacts, the same way one feels a hit through armor. She reached out with her magic, preparing to destroy them-

“Engaging Reaper fighters,” the golem announced.

Laser turrets spun around, targeting two of the Oculi and destroying them over the course of a few seconds. Luna noted their destruction; it should be no surprise that these creature’s lasers were more advanced than their own, and it would take an arcane cannon of twice the power to destroy one that quickly.

But they did not drop fast enough for her satisfaction, not when she had promised the safety of all those on board this vessel.

Of the remaining three, one was seized in her magical grip before being promptly crushed to the size of a tin can, the purest application of telekinetic force applied inwards from all directions.

The second encountered one of Luna’s favored weapons; a spear, made from darkness and the shadows themselves, compressed and given form before being shot at the Oculi. The dark spear plunged into the beam ‘eye’ of the Oculi and passed through without resistance, leaving a gaping hole straight through the center. The sphere sparked as it began to tumble, all control and intelligence lost.

As for the last…

Unlike her sister, who had gathered a plethora of names over her centuries of life, Luna’s enemies had generally coalesced into one:Nightmare. Oh, the dragons might call her ‘Bringer of the Terrors of the Night’, and the griffons, ‘Nightfear’, but in the end, all the names boiled down to one common name when translated into the pony tongue. The reason was simple: Luna’s command of the night, and of the world of dreams, was second to none. To the enemies of Equestria, she was that which in the dark was to be feared.

Night terrors would plague whole armies, causing breakdowns in discipline or even outright mutiny among the rank and file. Kings and generals would receive personalized nightmares, causing insomnia, paranoia, and even hypnophobia in those who tried to endure the visions. Even if an army managed to guard themselves in their sleep, her command of the darkness and shadows was terrifying; one minotaur captain watched his entire command vanish into the dark before his very eyes. Other times, entire armies would disappear without a trace overnight, never to be heard from again.

The void of space itself seemed to reach out and grab the Oculi as it strafed them. Engines strained and the mass effect core pulsed as the machine tried to compensate for the sudden resistance, to no avail. The beam fired again, a vain attempt to drive back the darkness as it clawed its way across the machine, but there was nothing to hit, no way to push back the shadows. With a mechanical screech across the radio channels, shadows covered the machine completely. A moment later, it was gone- vanished, dragged into the realm of dreams to become nothing more than another fleeting terror in the night, a bad dream that was forgotten when one woke.

Luna was not so foolish as to let her guard down yet. She had been fighting these things now for several hours, and they were nothing if not tenacious. Even the large casualties she inflicted in the opening moments of the battle by using her Moon as a ram- nearly one third of the invasion fleet, by her count- had not deterred the Ascended from their attack.

“Reaper dreadnought approaching from above us,” the golem reported.

She saw it, not with her eyes but with her magic. The Ascended ships had a significant magical presence, a strange occurrence as they were magically dead in most every other way, without even a proper arcane reactor. Vexing as it was, it allowed her to track and identify each of the Ascended ships when she needed to, allowing her to allocate the proper response for each. The one approaching from above was large, one of the largest she had yet to encounter in the invasion, and that meant it was one of the two-kilometer long behemoths.

Lethal, to anything of significant size. Five had destroyed what vessels Equus had mustered within minutes of the invasion and boasted weaponry capable of targeting even the fighters that Equus sent. This vessel, the Normandy, advanced as it may be, would not stand a chance.

Fortunately, Luna had a plan for that as well. Her eyes lit white with magical power as she called upon her true, full power. Her form flickered and became like smoke; like a hallucination, or a waking dream, Luna was both there, and yet not. Anchored as the ship was to her, and the mortals upon it to their ship, many looked in in curiosity or panic as they too became slightly less... real. Luna ignored them all as her horn blazed, arranging for the counter-attack on the Ascended that was about to attack them.

The Ascended fired its two kilometer length main accelerator. Luna was not deviating from her course, and after the Moon’s passage the surviving Ascended ships were free to approach the ship. With their more advanced drive systems, the Oculi attack and intervening time had been more than enough time for the Ascended, or a part of them, to close to well within mass accelerator range.

Metal, accelerated to relativistic speeds down the two kilometer barrel of the weapon and aimed directly at the Normandy. With a kinetic yield of nearly 450 kilotons of TNT, the round was a starship killer of immense power, capable of the outright destruction of any ship within Equestria’s fleet in a single hit. There was no doubt in Luna’s mind that this ship would not survive a direct hit.

The golem knew as well. Luna was thrown momentarily off kilter as the Normandy’s thrusters fired, attempting vainly to pull them out of the path of the rapidly approaching projectile, but even that was too little, too late. The round cleaved through the empty space between the dreadnought and the frigate in milliseconds, passing through the barriers as though they weren’t even there…

And passed through the ship like a bullet through smoke.

While her enemies had called her ‘Nightmare’, her allies in battle had but one name for her: the Immortal. Luna commanded the shadows and dreams themselves, and when they answered her call, she melted into the darkness. Swords would stab through her with no resistance and no injury, spells simply passed through as though she was not there. Even Celestia, for all her destructive light, was just as helplessly impotent against Luna in this state, for when the light was gone, the shadows would once again return. It was the reason why Celestia had been forced to use the Elements of Harmony to banish Nightmare Moon; there was nothing else that she could do, with all her prodigious power, that would defeat the mare of darkness and nightmares.

Before the Ascended could fire again, Luna’s counterattack hit. Four of her stars, Maasym, Zaniah, Auva, and Kaus impacted the armor like miniature missiles. The armor did not immediately buckle; it was quite advanced, even by the standards of the dominant species of the cycle, quite capable of withstanding kiloton kinetic impacts with minimal damage. What it was not capable of withstanding was heat. It withstood it better than most materials, to be fair, but the five thousand degree centigrade temperature of a star was simply not something that any material was meant to withstand intact.

The four stars bored into the Ascended dreadnought, disappearing into the structure of the ship as it fired another round at the Normandy. This shot merely passed through as though the ship was nothing more than smoke as well. The Ascended paused in its attack for a moment, as though contemplating how the tiny frigate was capable of dodging not one but two dreadnought-killing shots. Three of the tentacle-like arms rose, pinpointing precise shots on the frigate, and fired.

Two lasers and a powerful hydrodynamic liquid metal round speared towards the frigate. The lasers passed through the engine wings without doing any harm; the hydrodynamic round, targeted upon the leading edge of the frigate, passed directly through the shadowy form of Luna herself, much to the astonishment of the aliens around her, but had no other effect upon the ship.

Not more than three seconds after the last round was fired, the Ascended convulsed; moments later, the alien dreadnought brewed up in an explosion of blue light, the four stars having burned their way to the element zero core of the ship and destabilized the containment.

Luna’s wings beat again as the ship passed her now stationary Moon. She was not about to let up her defenses yet, not until they were beneath her sister’s shield, but it appeared from her warning stars and spells that there were no more threats. It only took a few more seconds before they were close to the shield spell.

Luna probed her sister’s shield, preparing to grant the ship passage. It was too large to fit through unaided, as the Ascended drop pods did, but with a little bit of magic, it was easy for Luna to simply slip the ship through the golden shield.

With the ship now safe in the upper atmosphere of the planet, Luna allowed herself to relax and her power to wane. She severed the connection she had made to the ship through her shoes, allowing the pilot to once again take control of the vessel.

Who was staring at her.

Luna ignored him, turning to Shepard.

“I have completed our side of the agreement, Commander,” she began. Her horn lit blue, drawing her backup communication crystal from her mane where she was keeping it. She cast the translation spell upon it, then levitated it to Shepard. “A communication crystal, to allow us both to understand each other and to allow you access to our communications for aid or otherwise. A gesture of trust; do not make me regret it,” she warned. It took a moment, but Shepard nodded.

Finally, her horn lit again, drawing upon the shadows of the cockpit and compressing them into a solid form. Luna added a touch of her own magic, imprinting her unique signature into the fused shadows, then sculpted it into the shape she wanted: a crescent moon, her cutie mark. One final burst of magic gave it stability; it would last now until she canceled the spell. Now glowing with a soft blue, she floated this new pendant to Shepard as well.

“The Royal Seal of the Moon. Show it, and my subjects will know that you speak with my authority. Keep it upon you at all times, and our forces shall aid you however they can.”

Luna stretched her wings.

“Forgive me, Commander, I must continue the battle above our planet. I trust that you shall continue as you have promised, and aid our fight by destroying the general figurehead.”

Her horn lit, a teleportation spell upon the verge of casting, but Luna paused for a moment, before looking back at Shepard.

“When this is over, I would be honored to host you and your companions at the Royal Palace in Canterlot, to formally open relations between our planet and the rest of the galaxy. Good luck, Commander.”

With that, Luna teleported out, back above her sister’s shield, to continue the battle against the remaining Ascended.

Back in the cockpit, two humans and one artificial intelligence stared at the space formerly occupied by the winged unicorn. Shepard was first to shake it off, and began issuing orders for the ground team while stowing the new communication crystal and the pendant in a pouch. EDI quickly shook it off as well, returning to her duties with a mechanical efficiency that only an AI could achieve.

Joker was the last to recover, and did so by vocalizing his thoughts.

“What. The. Fu-

Author's Note:

Do you have any idea how hard it is to never refer to someone by their gender?

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