Life, Love, and Death in the House of Path

The House of Path has grown to be an enormous influence in Equestria, Griffonia, and other nations, and has gained many unusual members. But with such a varied membership, comes some unusual circumstances. Free Agent stunned the hives with his deviant mutant nature, but can a normal changeling queen learn to love? When an alicorn's dearest friends die, how does she cope? What are the new generation like? How does a pony needs to learn how to deal with a destiny that he never expected? What lofty goals do they set for themselves?
These are highlights in the lives of the various House Path members, and all the love, fear, and hope that comes with such a family of beings. And maybe a little bit of sex in between.
This series follows after "Quantum Gallop" and is episodic, and the chapters might not be added in sequential order.


8. Ad Astra 2 - Perspective


The clock showed 0557. It was nearly time for the culminating moment of this mission.

Her suit was on and helmet cinched down tight. The pressure, heating, oxygen, and water regulator spells were checked and rechecked by her other two aethernauts, the griffon commander, Carnot Highstrike, and the changeling medical officer, Quorn.

“You are going to be in the history books for this one, the very first extra-vehicular activity,” Commander Highstrike told his comrade. “Once you are outside and you stabilize yourself using the mana thruster system, we will establish communication between you and Mission Control.”

At 0600, she pulled herself into the airlock. At 0608, she opened the outer airlock door and gently pushed off with her hooves. She floated slowly out of the open door until she had reached half the length of her tether, then rotated herself and used her thrusters to move in an arcing pattern around the ship. The two other aethernauts waved to her from behind one of the windows, and she smiled and waved back. After a few moments, she heard the commander on the comm.

“We are nearly at periapsis. Mission Control wants you to go out a bit further before we turn on the uplink, then everyone down there will see what you do.”

The mare acknowledged the order and with a flick of her hoof, the mana jets let out a brief thrust and she started to pull away. Gently coasting further from both the capsule and the world of her birth, she payed out her tether until she neared the end, whereupon she turned around killed her momentum. At this distance, the spacecraft was as small as a toy off in the corner of a room. Mission control came on the line.

“We are going to begin radio silence for fifteen minutes, so that the techs down here can get sensory data from your suit and check the video link… and so that you can contemplate what you are seeing. Then we will open up the comlink to the GemVee networks.”

“Roger, Mission Control.”

She floated in near silence except for the quiet beeping sound of a data uplink/downlink being started or ending.


Finally the voice of Mission Control returned. “Are you ready to address those whose futures you will shape?”

“Yes, but first, I need you to transmit what my camera is seeing, maximum resolution possible.”

Mission Control acknowledged her request, and soon this image was being transmitted down to Equus.


In colleges, universities, high schools, elementary schools, and on larger GemVees in city centers like Manehatten, all of them saw what she did – a pale blue marble floating in the void, Luna’s moon just about to disappear behind it, and in the distance barely in the frame there was the command module. Nothing was said for a nearly a minute but then the smooth Prench accent of the artist started to broadcast to the world.

“Close your eyes for a few moments. Now look again at that marble. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it is everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every being of Equus who ever was, and lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every princess and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar’, every ‘supreme leader’, every saint and sinner in the history of our many species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a void.”

“Equus is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this marble on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.”

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this small pale marble. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

“Equus is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our races could migrate. Like it or not, for the moment, Equus is where we make our stand.”

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of Equish conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

“This is Madame Gala Neighan signing off.”


Author's Note:

The second prequel to Cosmic Lotus, and a tribute to the late great Carl Sagan.

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