Story Only thread What is this? A CB fic!? In SPACEBATTLES??!! WHAT KIND OF HERESY IS THIS!? Well, this kind. This is a continuation/sequel/sidestory of Starman Ghosts excellent CB fic, Not Alone. This being me, it involves SPACE. SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE. First of all, some basic plot thingys. And now for what I've written so far: TCB: Conquer the stars==================== I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. -Thomas Jefferson ==================== The day the Barrier appeared on Earth, everything changed. With first contact with Equestria we finally solved the one question that had plagued us since the dawn of the space age: We were not alone, we were not some lonely accident of evolution, some anomaly amongst the stars. These visitors from another universe shared our burden of sapience. Despite their equine forms, they were like us. So very much like us. We should have known what was coming, when our request for mutual cultural exchange was only partially fulfilled. We should have known when their highest-ranking diplomats tried so hard to show off their nation, but merely feigned interest when we talked of us. We should have known when they didn’t let a single human enter. We should have known when the Bureaus opened. We should have known long before Twilight Sparkle spoke on that infamous interview. But, as someone wiser once said, hindsight is always perfect. Our response was not swift enough. Millions suffered the loss of their homes, and continued to suffer in hastily erected refugee camps. South America responded harshly, interning the ponies into camps. The Ponification for Earth’s Rebirth came to be, intent on denying us of humanity. Seeds of what was to come were planted. We finally mobilized, as one. We broke the barrier, and reclaimed our lost land. We sent an ultimatum to Equestria, demanding their surrender. Equestria vanished, leaving nothing but those they had left behind. And then, everything changed again. (More stuff missing here. Great African War, Sino-Japanese conflict, formation of the TA, ponies adapting, whatever is going on in South America, etc) But there is one page left in this chapter, another act left in this play. The actors are getting ready, the stage is being set, and the theatre is filling with an audience to view this last performance. It is time for one last night at the opera. ==================== From: Starwatch, the complete guide on starships, 2350 edition. "Class: Clarke. Length: 20km. Breadth: 6.6km. Type: Colony. Crew: 1000. Security complement: 1,000 (50,000 drones). Average population: 500,000-750,000. The Clarke-class colony ships are the pinnacle of Terran colonization technology. Each multi-kilometer long vessel is completely self-sufficient, with factories, mining facilities, and even station and ship-building capability. A Clarke is fully capable of starting a colony of up to a million on its lonesome, with numbers naturally being replenished during each trip by the civilian complement. A Clarke is composed of five sections. At the core lies the main habitation module, a hollow cylinder that rotates to provide artificial gravity. This is where the entire population of the ship lives and works, and effort has been made to make it resemble planet-side living as much as possible. Internal lighting structures follow a comfortable day-night pattern, and the internal surface can be built on, farmed on and can also even contain bodies of water. It is not uncommon for several cities and indeed, several cultures to spring up in a Clarke. They are each a nation, complete with an ecosystem. Surrounding the habitation module is the engineering section, composed of four beams that surround it, with bracing between them forming a sort of cage, thick axles connecting it to a cylindrical storage space which rotates in opposite direction to the habitation module, to which it is connected to on leading end. The habitation module spins relative to the engineering section, which means that, apart from the storage facilities, engineering does not enjoy artificial gravity. Engineering contains the ship's power supply -fusion reactors for interstellar travel, solar panels for the stay in orbit- fuel, maintenance robots, anti-debris shield, Bussard Ram collector, vacuum forges and factories. These last ones are composed of two structures, located on the ventral and dorsal beams which expand outwards during their operations. Next is the propulsion section, which is mounted on the port and starboard beams of engineering. It contains a pair of high-yield fusion torches for interplanetary travel, and two hyperspace tunnelers for interstellar travel, as well as maneuvering engines. On the bow and stern we have the Command and Security sections. They are two cylinders, the one on the bow being larger and housing an internal centrifuge for the crew and the one on the stern containing a DragonFyre Interstellar comms device and secondary bridge and quarters. From these, four spokes radiate outwards, those on the stern being shorter than those on the bow. The spokes carry a variety of equipment, from interplanetary communications arrays, telescopes, radar, LIDAR, thaumic sensory arrays and, of course, short range defensive equipment like terawatt lasers, gauss cannons and magic beam casters. On the stern we have the main docking spike, which carries the transports that will bring the colonists to the surface. Landing at a planet is a momentous occasion on a Clarke, preceded by celebrations. Each ship has its own traditions surrounding planetfall, and they can be incredibly intricate and elaborate. It should be noted that this is only the basic configuration of the Clarke-class; during its many years of service, Captains have been known to modify their ships to fit their tastes or different circumstances. Most common of these modifications is lengthening and strengthening the docking spike to carry a larger amount of vessels with it. Some ships have been known to carry entire fleets with them. Other popular modifications include lengthening the spokes on the bow, or adding more of them. Sometimes, they are lengthened and bent to surround the entire ship, and equipped with weaponry to provide a better defensive grid. More extreme but nonetheless popular modifications amongst Clarkes is doubling the number of factories, or adding additional engines. The most extreme documented example of modification was the Arkady, which added an entire second hull. The number of Clarke-class ships in service includes..." ==================== Somewhere above the elliptical plane of the Kepler-20 system the vacuum of space suffered a disturbance. In an instant, a tear was opened, and for a few minutes a shred of unreality could be seen through it, twisted, dark and wrong to the eye. Then the tear vanished, leaving behind a vacuum that was no longer empty, for from the tear an enormous vessel had emerged. From its flat bow to the tip of its long tail, it was a roughly twenty two kilometer long and six kilometer wide cathedral of Nano machine-made monocrystaline metal-matrix composite dedicated to the conquest of space. It was a Clarke-class colonization ship, the largest class of ships of the Terran Alliance. It floated serenely, the great cylinders of its habitation module and stores spinning to provide its inhabitants with a gravity of one G. Eight spokes shot out from the Forward Command module, before curving towards the stern, bristling with sensors and weapons. The cage that was engineering was festooned with similarly equipped platforms. At the stern, the docking spike had been lengthened considerably, and in addition to the usual fleet of heavy duty shuttles, it also carried a small flotilla of 600 meter destroyers, no more than a dozen of them. They were long, slender vessels with counter rotating crew quarters for long journeys, and a long linear motor running nearly their entire length. More prominent was the heavy cruiser Hobbs, 1,200 meters long and similarly armed, with a slightly larger crew quarter. On the colony ship’s flat bow, its name was inscribed: TACS Calvin. ==================== Constellation Lyra. Kepler-20. Bridge, TACS Calvin. Year 2354. The bridge was a wide room with doors at both short ends. The floor curved upwards slightly, and the place was arranged in three levels of consoles projecting illusory holograms, split by stairs, which a stallion prowled. "Hyperspace exit confirmed." "Undock riding destroyers, raise shields and scan the surroundings. Shoot anything that approaches." Commander Sunrise Glory, Fleet Commander of the Calvin’s Security Fleet felt the rest of the crew roll their eyes at his order, but they nevertheless complied, sending his commands towards their respective destinations. He was a thin, tall, lanky unicorn stallion of one hundred and sixteen years of age and four feet in height, with a light blue coat, star map cutie mark and a green mane and tail that were cut brutally short. He wore a pristine white uniform jacket, white cap and black hoof shoes. He walked up and down the bridge, his critical eye inspecting the crew as they did their work. His posture was stiff, tense, and ready to jump and order that the slightest hint of danger be absolutely destroyed. Up on the third level of the bridge, Commander Firebird, Commander of the Calvin’s Security Forces, nearly rolled her eyes at Sunrise’s antics. Firebird was a pegasus mare with a red, not-quite-crimson coat and a bright orange and yellow mane and tail that was cut short in the front and long in the back, with dark grey irises on her eyes and a cutie mark of a sword. At fifty two, she was young for a pony, and at just over three feet tall she was of average height, and underneath the black bodysuit and coat of her uniform her body was muscled and lithe and full of the implants her job demanded. She understood the reason why Sunrise was acting the way he was, but it still came of as a bit exaggerated. When the sensors officer, a woman with blonde hair and blue uniform, announced there was no danger and he almost sagged in relief, she was tempted to snark on it, but kept quiet. The man sitting on the Captain’s chair next to her had no such compulsions. “I think you can quit your worrying now.” Captain Salvador Rios, Captain of the Calvin and overall commander of her military, scowled only slightly at his subordinate’s antics. At one hundred and fifty years of age he was beginning to qualify for being called “old”, but only barely. For some reason known only to him, he had refused to let himself be cosmetically rejuvenated, even though he could afford it. As a result his face was wrinkled and rough-looking, his hair was greying, and with his white uniform and cap he looked like the stereotypical salty sea captain of centuries past. “If you say so, sir.” Sunrise replied. “I know so, Commander.” Rios retorted, and Sunrise seemed about to resume his prowling, but instead went up to Rios’ side, opposite Firebird, and stood there, facing the rest of the bridge. “Sir,” he whispered, “do you think we’ll find someplace worthwhile?” Captain Rios frowned at the question as he considered it. The last time the Calvin had stopped to colonize a system was fifty two years ago. They’d arrived, set down the colonists, and were gearing up for a massive population increase when pirates arrived. The attackers had been surprised by the unusually heavy defensive armament and fleet of the Calvin and had been slaughtered, but not before one of their ships managed to drop some sort of bioweapon onto the planet, forcing the Calvin to evacuate the colonists and leave. Sunrise, who had just been given his posting at the time, never quite forgave himself. Seeing the effects overpopulation had been having on the ship, it was easy to see why. Even with the population growth halted, providing for the masses had become a problem, stretching the resources and recyclers of the Calvin to their extreme. Food and space were now at a premium. The excess population had to be housed in “temporary” slums that had grown seedier and seedier over the years; something that Firebird was intimately aware of, having slipped through the cracks in child services after her parents had proved to be completely incapable of raising her. Civil unrest threatened to rear its ugly head. A habitable planet where they could offload the excess population into a colony would be a godsend. “Lord knows,” Rios said at last, speaking just as softly as Sunrise had, “we just might.” Facing the crew, he gave an order. “Begin long-range observation of the system.” The sensors officer acknowledged the order and, simultaneously hundreds of sensory equipment swiveled to train themselves on the still, far off system. Everything from telescopes, radar and radio dishes, to more complex and exotic equipment like gamma ray and x-ray telescopes and thaumic sensors studied and observed and measured. Terabytes of data were fed into computers, which analyzed, sorted out, compared and compiled the raw data into useful information. Planets were analyzed for their composition and mass, radiation was monitored for hazards, and the most likely oases of life were singled out. This was all interrupted when one of the computers noticed something anomalous: A spike of thaumic energy that was slowly increasing in magnitude. An alert was reported back to the machine intelligence, and in nanoseconds additional sensory capacity was dedicated to studying this oddity. Radar indicated a planet of a size comparable to Terra, with an orbit just inside the star’s “Goldilocks zone”, the area where heat from the stellar body or its lack is not inimical to life. Spectrometry indicated a thin atmosphere -akin to standing at the top of the Terran Alps- composed of oxygen, nitrogen, CO2 and water vapor. An optical telescope detected a spot of light where, by all natural means, there shouldn’t be any. The spot of light, which was right on the planet’s equator and coming into view on the nocturnal side of the planet, was immediately compared to a vast database. Cities were immediately discarded, as the spot of light was too constant to be from illuminated buildings, and the environment was not one that called for a dome. Volcanoes were disregarded soon after, as was any natural cause. It was not until the computer searched through the historical archives that it found a match. The result made the sensors officer do a double take. She made the system double, triple and quadruple check the automated results and the algorithms that had produced them; finally becoming convinced that this wasn’t a malfunction when she physically compared the photograph that had been taken now with one made 236 years ago. With a sense of shock, she presented her findings for the bridge crew to see. The room full of professionals was shortly brought to silence. Mouths gaped open, in shock, a drink was sprayed over a thankfully water-resistant console. Captain Rios gave an accurate impersonation of a fish, Sunrise made an odd gurgling sound and Firebird’s wings suddenly snapped open, her face a mixture of glee, shock and rage. Just like it had on Terra 236 years ago, the night side of the barely habitable planet shone with the glowing dome of the Equestrian Barrier. “Holy shit.” ==================== “This… this is unprecedented.” “Madame President,” Captain Rios said, ““unprecedented” is an understatement if there ever was one. In the list of things I expected to find in my lifetime, Equestria was pretty much dead last, right after Space Whales.” They were in a white landscape, featureless except for the table where the four of them -Salvador, Firebird, Sunrise and the president- were sitting; a virtual meeting room. The president, a blonde woman called Laura in a light grey suit, raised an eyebrow, but ignored the Captain’s attitude. She crossed her arms in front of her and asked, “What do we know?” The Captain made a gesture, and a multitude of images sprang to life in front of her, and floated down onto the table. There were pictures, graphs, a floating lifelike model of the planet and scores and scores of numbers. Another gesture and the model ballooned into the size of a beach ball. “Well, we know the barrier’s there, on a planet that barely habitable, we know it’s glowing something fierce, we know it’s about the same size as it was when it came to Terra and we know Equestria’s in it.” He said. “And that’s all we can tell. We’re too far away to get anything but general data and the obvious.” He pointed at the image of the planet, which immediately brightened, as if its entire surface was experiencing day at once. The surface texture was fuzzy and blurred, but one could see that it was a gleaming, snowy white. The Barrier could be discerned, with some difficulty. The president looked at the charts and graphs and piles of information, her own neural implant no doubt transferring the relevant information directly into her brain, and frowned, “It says here that the planet’s completely uninhabited. There’s no one there.” Firebird nodded. “Besides some bacteria, yes.” “Then why are they there?” The president questioned, “Why is Equestria on a world with no one to convert?” The president’s words made the other three people on the table pause. From the trueborn equestrians that had been left behind when Equestria had vanished, they knew that Celestia’s entire justification for appearing on Terra all those years ago had been to “help” humanity. This, like many other things the Tyrant Sun had said, was now of negligible veracity. But, here they were, with no one else in sight. “There’s something going on down there,” Laura murmured, her eyes riveted on the fuzzy image of the Barrier, “something that would’ve made Celestia choose this world to come out again, and I really want to know what that is.” “We’ll be able to get more reliable info once we get closer.” Firebird piped up. “-Which is something we’re not going to do,” Sunrise interrupted, much to Firebird’s annoyance, “not on the Calvin, at least. We use so much thaumic energy on a day-to-day basis that every unicorn on the planet is going to feel us there, if they don’t simply look into a telescope, and I’d rather not find out if the Princesses can get a hold on our ship. Instead, I’ll be sending a detachment of destroyers, with the Hobbs at the head, towards the planet.” “We, in the meantime, will be heading out towards the hot Jupiter we detected closer to the star.” The captain added, “The moons are completely uninhabitable, but we can use it as a base of operations.” “Good.” The president said, nodding, “now for what our expeditionary group will be planning on doing when they reach their target.” “That’s actually part of our designated mission.” Firebird chirped, and quoted, “Should the Clarke-class long-range colonization vessel TAC-0015 Calvin of the Terran Alliance encounter the Equestrian Barrier at any point of its journey, they are to assume that there is a state of war against any and all individuals and organizations pertaining to the Equestrian Diarchy. What?” she added defensively, seeing how everyone was staring at her. Sunrise frowned. “That sounded like you had it memorized.” He said. “It came up in last week’s simulation and it stuck with me.” Firebird said, and internally winced. She’d said that just a little too quickly. “…Anyways.” Sunrise said, preferring to leave the question of why Firebird had memorized that particular snippet as something to be addressed later, “I suggest that our forces execute a quick strike.” The image of the planet was joined by several contact icons representing the ships, which proceeded to illustrate the Commander’s words. “We’ll come in from above the eliptic. If we can time it correctly, we can perform orbital correction burns with the planet between the barrier and us, putting us into a Molniya orbit. Then, strike force drops in from orbit, infiltrates Canterlot, neutralizes both Princesses and decapitates their command chain. After that, we send troops into mayor population centers and demand surrender, or we crack the Barrier open.” Captain Rios nodded in approval. “Minimal risk to our boys, zero risk to the Calvin and extremely high chances of success; I like it.” Firebird also nodded, and grinned, showing the pointed ceramic teeth that had replaced her original set and gave the impression that one of her parents had been a shark. “Well, I don’t.” the President said.