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.


13. Ad Astra 7 - Q & A

The comm in Starry’s magic field started ringing, and the alicorn answered it, automatically connecting it to the GemVee feed for the benefit of both the audience and the other House Path members.

“Cosmic Lotus Q and A. Who is calling, please?”

This is Traveling Soul speaking. I was wondering how many crew members do you plan to send to the Far Star?

“While the exact number will have to be determined by the final design of the starship and the mission parameters, in order to cope with the length of the journey, hibernation pods will keep a large portion of them asleep so that they only need experience a couple of years on the job. That means that there will have to be many more available to take their place as they finish their tour of duty. At this point we anticipate that there will be about a hundred or so crew members. This will consist of a mixture of races – ponies, griffons, zebras, and so forth, but especially changeling drones.

Are you planning to send one or more major member of House Path?

Starry smiled. “I expect to be the one leading this mission, but if any of my family want to come along, they have to earn their position.”

How will the crew and Equus communicate during the mission?

Twilight Sparkle spoke up. “I’ll answer that. All our current communication technology is still based on the sympathetically linked crystal system that I first developed over a century ago. These work irrespective of distance, and we will be able to communicate even when the starship has reached the Far Star. The newest and most advanced version will be used to transfer data as well as voice and images.”

That’s reassuring. My final question is: do you have a name for the new space craft as yet?

Path replied, “The project is named after the starship – the Cosmic Lotus.”

Starry spoke up. “Thank you for your questions. Let’s move on to the next caller.” She tapped a couple of buttons and then said, “Cosmic Lotus Q and A. What would you like to ask?”

What do you plan to do about cosmic hazards such as micro-meteors and comets? How will the ship and crew deal with them, especially as the journey will take so long?

Pif caught Starry’s eye and the alicorn let her sister reply. “We are well served by our current wealth of experience with space travel. However, due to the extraordinary length of the mission, the protections will be multi-layered. First of all will be a mana deflector shield that will push aside material far in advance of the starship’s path. A second shield will deal with larger matter that is not deflected sufficiently, or comes in at an angle. The hull will be constructed of multiple sandwiched layers that can self-heal in the event of punctures. Airlocks will isolate sections of the starship, and finally, there will be protection spells included in the uniforms. The exact details will be available once we have actually worked them all out.”

That sounds as if it would take an immense amount of power just for shielding, let alone for the rest of the ship’s systems. How are you planning to supply that much power when you will be isolated from everything?

Pif grinned. “An excellent question, and one that would not have been able to be answered as yet except for the patronage of Princess Celestia. Her Highness will be working with us to create and then efficiently harness a miniature version of her sun that will provide more than enough power for all our needs and for far longer than the most pessimistic of anticipated durations.”

Starry said, “We’ll take another caller now. Hello, you’re on the Cosmic Lotus Q and A. What is your question?”

Hi! I’d like to know how you will get this Cosmic Lotus to the Far Star just with a solar sail. And even if you do get there, how do you plan to stop once more?

Starry replied, “While the solar sail by itself would be an extremely slow way of getting anywhere, fortunately we are not limited to that. Between a mass-reducing spell and a currently prototyped means of providing an enormous thrust, we will be able to achieve a velocity close to the speed of light. Braking will be trickier because we won’t have the same thrust to slow us down, but we are working on contingencies for various scenarios that we might find when we get there. We might not even be able to slow down enough to stop at the Far Star.”

If you are unsure of even being able to brake, how can you ensure that you can get the ship back from the Far Star?

“We might not be able to return the ship to Equus,” Starry admitted. “But before you panic, that does not mean that the crew will be stranded. We will be able to teleport them back.”

What?! From that far away?” The caller was clearly skeptical.

Starry looked at her older brother. “Destined – do you want to handle this?”

“Sure, Starry. As an expert in the theory and practice of teleportation, I can tell you that there is no theoretical limit to the range of teleportation. Studies indicate that we could literally go anywhere in the universe. Right now you’re thinking that most teleporters can barely cross the street, and even the better ones are quite limited. Well, while that is true, it’s not because of the teleportation process itself. For want of a better word, it’s how you target yourself. Alicorns such as myself and the Equestrian princesses can conceptualize a destination far better than others, hence why we can travel between continents, or even between Equus and the Moon. However, because we know nothing about the Far Star and what it’s like in that locality, we simply cannot form a viable target. Fortunately there has long been a solution to this problem – mana beacons. These specially designed devices shortcut the conceptualization process and enable us to lock onto them despite being in unfamiliar locations. Once again, distance is irrelevant – one point in space-time is drawn together with another point, and presto! – You’ve teleported forty-two light years. Best of all, this works in both directions, so we will be able to go to the Lotus as well as return the crew to Equus. Admittedly it will still take an alicorn or a mage-level unicorn to do it, but we have enough of those to cover our needs.”

“Thanks, Des,” Starry said. “Next caller, please.”

How long will the trip to the Far Star take?

“Even at near the speed of light, the ship will have to travel around forty-two lightyears, so allowing for maneuvers and braking, it’s going to take about forty-four years.”

What about supplies for a journey that long? How can you provide food, water, and heat for over four decades?

Pif spoke up again. “We are already working on that, but basically we will have a water-recycling system, hydroponic gardens, and artificial protein manufacturing. Heat and light will come from the energy supplied by the miniature sun system. In fact we will have as much power as we like to run whatever devices that we need, so all that is required is to work out the optimum set-up.”

“Thanks, Pif. Next caller!”

Hello. I'd like to get back to the teleportation idea mentioned earlier. If you can use a mana beacon to go that far, why not just send an unmanned ship and teleport to it when it's within range?

Starry smiled and nodded. “Actually we did consider that option. There are two main reasons why we have discarded that idea though. Firstly, building a spaceship that is capable of achieving our extreme goals is difficult enough, let alone without a crew to monitor and maintain it if necessary. Because so much of what we are doing is new, having at least two crew members not in hibernation at all times reduces a huge amount of risk for everything we can't anticipate. Additionally, we cannot be accurate enough in our calculations of how distant the Far Star is, and we run the risk of an automated ship overshooting it. Course corrections that might be trivial when done soon enough, might be excessive if done too late. Frankly it adds an enormous amount of reliability to have a full-time crew. However, that accounts just for ship’s operational staff and not the researchers that will be an integral part of the mission.”

Starry paused and chuckled.

“When we first started discussing who to send and how many, we got quite a shock as we were inundated with expressions of interest. To make a long story short, there are many scientists who would do just about anything to be on board the Lotus, both during the journey and at the destination, but many of them would not be able to wait up to forty-four years for the privilege in addition to the eight to ten years before it even departs. They would rather spend a significant part of the journey in hibernation than to give up the possibility of being a part of this mission. And this is even before we formally call for applicants for the mission! So, while we are certainly leaving the teleportation option open, right now we are planning on taking a fully-staffed starship from the start.”

Then how do you plan to deal with being isolated for so long?

“An excellent question! Lord Free Agent – would you care to answer that?” Starry asked.

“Sure, Starry. As a changeling, I am more than familiar with how ponies and griffons respond to situations like this, and the Yellow Changelings are even more expert. First we will be choosing crew candidates with a suitable psychological profile for this mission. Special emphasis will be put on encouraging friendships during training, and lots of thought will be put into providing entertainment and intellectual stimulation during the journey. So, while professional abilities are very important, the ability to socialize with their fellow crewmembers and deal with the isolation will be even more significant.” He looked back to Starry. “I believe that’s your cue,” he added with a grin.

“Thanks, Papa.” Starry smiled at the camera. “Let me end this Q and A session with an official call for candidates for the Cosmic Lotus mission. House Path is looking for experts in several fields to apply for the initial induction period. If you feel that you can contribute under the conditions that we’ve just talked about, contact your nearest House Path branch for details. We’re looking for a new breed of aethernauts to go where no Equian has gone before. Won’t you join us on this grand adventure?”

Starry looked over to the griffon host who took the cue.

“Thank you, Starry, and all the members of House Path who have brought us this magnificent project. I’m sure that our viewers will agree that this will be the highlight of our world’s achievements, and even though it’s decades away from fruition, I am already eager to learn what they will discover at the edge of our universe. This is Harper Ironclaw signing off for the Griffonia Worldwide News Network.”

The camera lights turned off and the camera operator indicated that they were off the air. The griffon host turned back to the Path members with a grin on his face.

“Thanks again for this exclusive. I admit to being both surprised and excited.”

“Want to come along?” Starry asked.

Harper chuckled. “No, I’m not the right type for that kind of thing. I’d miss soaring through the skies far too much. I’m surprised that anyone with wings would commit to being confined for years.”

Starry half-spread her wings. “You’re right – it won’t be easy, but when you’ve dedicated so much time and effort to this endeavor as I have, a little sacrifice is worth it.”

Wandering Path stepped over to join them. “I agree with my sister – some things are worth it.”

Starry looked at Wandering. “I’m a little surprised that you joined us for the interview. You’ve spent most of your life wandering the world and not showing much interest in research.”

Wandering grinned. “Just because we have different approaches to how we contribute to House Path, doesn’t mean that we don’t have the same goals. While you have the technical expertise, I have a wealth of experience in exploration and dealing with unusual cultures. So, just a head-up, sis – I’ll not only be applying for the crew, but I’ll also be aiming to lead it.”

He winked and walked off, leaving his stunned sister gaping in surprise. Then she slowly started to smile.

“Oh, it is on!”

# # # # # # # # #

To be continued in the new story – “COSMIC LOTUS”.

Author's Note:

This is the last episode in the Ad Astra arc, but just the prologue to the next story – Cosmic Lotus – which will be coming soon.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...