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.


12. Ad Astra 6 - Thinking Big

Everyone was starting to wonder just what was going on. News reports were coming in of a massive Chrome Changeling exodus. They were travelling en masse to the moon, although not to the main lunar colonies but to somewhere on the far side. Seven out of ten 'lings were leaving, and when they were questioned, they all gave the same response: “We cannot say why, but our Queen will be making an announcement shortly. We won’t be gone for long, but trust us, it's going to be amazing.”

The explanation was late; days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into nearly a month. It was only then that Free Agent and Roseclaw approached a Griffonian broadcast station. All they said though was that while the subject that they had talked about years earlier was important, it was but a stepping stone to this announcement. It would take place in the main hall outside where the Friday informal dinner was held. House Path never gave exclusivity, but on a rotating basis they gave each news center an advantage. The last time it was to the ponies, and this time it was to the griffons. However, there was an added surprise on this occasion.

When it came time for the conference, most of the House Path team leaders were gathered and staring at GemVee cameras and voice recorders. On cue, the cameras turned on and the griffon host started to speak while others translated in hushed tones.

“Almost a month ago, the world saw a mass movement of Chrome Changelings to the moon. However, it was not just them but others as well, including composite specialists, doctors, botanists, and scientists from many other fields. We asked why but we have not been given a response until now.” He turned to Free Agent. “Can you now explain why your drones and the specialists have moved to the Moon, and what you are doing on the far side?”

The griffon-changeling grinned and looked over to Starry. “I could, but this is really Starry’s moment, so I will let her give the explanation. The Equus Council gave us clearance, so go ahead and satisfy the viewers’ curiosity, Star.”

Starry stood up and, as the cameras focused on the alicorn, her horn started to glow brightly.

“To explain fully what we are doing, I will first recap what we have already learned and released to the public before we get to the good part.”

She made an image of Equus, and then it zoomed out to show Luna’s moon and Celestia’s sun.

“This is how almost everyone sees the Equus system, and for thousands of years this model was fine because everything we were doing was within its confines. This all changed when we started to observe outside our little region of space. Now, if these three objects were the only ones influencing the paths of our probes, this is how they would travel.”

Several star like points spiraled out of the system into parts unknown, their paths becoming straighter and straighter. The only things anyone could tell were affecting their orbits were the sun, moon and Equus.

“However, when we plotted their actual paths, we got this.”

The Paths were all curved and warped, bending around an unknown point far away from the three bodies.

“We were confused at first – how could something be there that we could not see? For a few years we were scrambling to explain that strange gravitational force, but when a Diamond Dog chemist and astronomer discovered a new kind of light called infrared, we did a sky survey and found what we now call the Dim Star. It’s much larger than Celestia’s sun, but only emits infrared radiation. Once we gathered sufficient data to factor into our orbital projections, we then came up with this model.”

The system changed so that a large maroon star was in the center, with Equestria, Celestia’s sun and Luna’s moon orbiting far away from it. “With this completed model, we could then move on with our plans.”

The griffon commentator spoke up. “But we already know about this; what about the migration?”

“I am getting to that,” Starry replied patiently. “After years of research into the nature of non-Luna stars, we realized that although the Dim Star has a lot of hydrogen, it’s not massive enough to burn brightly in the visible spectrum. However, it is nonetheless a star, and if it can have worlds orbiting it, then so could the far distant stars that we can see. Thus started our search for exoplanets, and find them we did! However, in doing so, we also discovered the anomaly that we call the Far Star.”

“That is the star that astronomers say is neither controlled by Princess Luna, nor belonging to the background stars, correct?” the host inquired.

Starry nodded. “That’s right. The Far Star has exhibited several unusual qualities, but the ones that fascinate us the most hint at the existence of life – the first life that we know of outside of Equus. Because of that, we at House Path began an ambitious plan to learn more about the Far Star. Well, now we can tell you what that plan is.” Starry paused dramatically. “We are going to go to the Far Star and find out what lies at the edge of our universe.”

The griffon squawked in surprise. “But how? Princess Luna herself has said that none but her can reach the stars that she controls, and yet those are much closer than the background stars. Is the secret project on the moon related to this?”

Starry smiled. “Indeed it is. I know that you are aware of the solar sail concept as it was leaked a while back, and I know you were wondering what we were going to do with the concept. Well, this is it.”

“But to propel a ship of any reasonable size, you would need a sail of gigantic proportions!”

The alicorn grinned. “Oh, not quite as big as you think – only about fifty kilometers across, give or take. Now, building something like that would take a sizable workforce willing to unite under one banner, wouldn’t it?”

The griffon nodded in understanding. “You have started the single biggest project in the history of Equus since the moon colonization effort. How long before you think you will be ready?”

“Between eight and ten years. There is an enormous amount of work to be done, with new materials, new spells, new techniques, and so forth to be created specifically for the project which we have named Cosmic Lotus. Over two thirds of House Path’s Chrome Changeling staff has been assigned to this task, along with specialists from all over Equus and the Lunar Colony. We will be seeking even more expertise over the coming years.”

The griffon host smiled confidently. “House Path and Magitek Inc. have produced remarkable results for over a century, so I am sure that if anyone can reach the Far Star, then you can. Is there anything else you would like to announce at this stage?”

Starry idly tapped her hooves as she smiled back to the camera. “I know that a lot of the viewers are in universities, colleges, and various scientific institutions, and many of you will have questions.” She pulled out a crystal comm unit. “Our temporary comm frequency is 732-44312-110, and for the next hour, I and the others on the team will be answering any and all relevant questions before I give my closing statement.”

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