// Chapter 2// Story: Starcraft: Infestation of Equus.// by ZarPaulek//------------------------------//
One week after the attack on Ponyville was repelled
Rainbow Dash sat up in her hospital bed at Ponyville General Hospital, truth be told she was there so often they had a room reserved for her, but given her current injuries it seemed her current stay might be a bit longer than usual. Her wing was completely wrapped in bandages and more covered her flanks and neck. At that current moment, however, her attention was focused more on the five mares standing around her than on her injuries. "Seriously guys, what took you so long to visit me?"
Twilight Sparkle looked a bit guilty at this accusation. "Well, Princess Luna had this idea about where those monsters came from."
"They're aliens!" Pinkie Pie apparently couldn't stop herself from blurting it out.
"Aliens?" Rainbow Dash sounded a bit skeptical, "you mean like in this latest Daring Doo book?" She held up a paperback showing the eponymous pegasus archaeologist looking at a unicorn skull with an elongated cranium made from smooth crystal.
Twilight picked up the book with her magic and quickly flipped through it. "I'm afraid not Rainbow, the author's idea of aliens are quite a bit more equinoid than the real thing."
"I suppose that makes sense," said Rainbow Dash as she took her book back, "after all we've seen weirder things here on Equus, why should something from another planet be anything like us?" She seemed to suddenly realize something as she said that. "Actually, what makes you so sure that they're aliens when we've got so much funny stuff here?"
"I know, I know!" not surprisingly Pinkie Pie was standing on her hind legs and holding a forehoof high above her head. With a defeated expression Twilight allowed her to continue. "It all started back when that meanie Nightmare Moon was released from the moon..."
Five days previous
Twilight, Pinkie, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack and Spike were standing in the middle of a crater on the moon, Twilight projecting an airproof force field to keep them breathing. Outside of the purple bubble the princess of the night hovered above the twisted wreckage of what could only be described as alien spacecraft, completely exposed to hard vacuum but showing no ill effects whatsoever. "Behold! Proof of beings from distant stars!" Luna's voice boomed through the emptiness of space.
The other ponies were apparently not as impressed as she had been expecting.
"They came in that mess?"
"These fellas don't look that much like those things we saw in Ponyville."
"How can we hear you in space?"
"We should have thrown them a "welcome to Equus" party when we had the chance."
Princess Luna glided down through Twilight's force bubble to speak to them directly. "To be fair the creatures that attacked Ponyville were just as abnormal as these things." She pointed with one hoof towards a crushed marine, his dried skin showing through his shattered visor. "And their vessels were in marginally better condition before that thing I had become destroyed them." She turned to look at a semi-hemispherical ship that appeared to be upside down and slightly crushed, while another stood on its side with legs flailing out into nothing. "As for why I could speak to you from outside this bubble you constructed for your friends' convenience it has something to do with why you personally do not need it little sister."
"Right, alicorn magic or whatever." Applejack looked at the dead marine, "what about the rest of us?"
"You would asphyxiate in a few minutes, if you tried holding your breath your lungs would rupture, the fluids on or below the surface of your skin would boil away." Applejack's jaw dropped open as Luna described the effects of vacuum on a pony, "and you would be unable to speak or hear anything."
Then Fluttershy decided to surprise everyone by suddenly flying up, hitting the inner surface of the shield (fortunately Twilight hardened it in time) then swooping down to grab the dead marine and hold it up in front of Luna. "And you did that to these poor aliens?" With one hoof she flipped up the visor revealing its skull-like face. "What did they ever do to you?"
Luna almost seemed shaken by Fluttershy's Stare, her eyes growing wide in shock for a moment, then she sighed and began to speak. "I may have made a mistake or two as Nightmare Moon." She picked up the marine's rifle telekinetically, "and I'm not too sure slaying these invaders of my domain was one of them." The Princess of the moon pointed the gauss rifle upwards and depressed the trigger, it roared as a flurry of iron and depleted uranium spikes flew out and tore through Twilight's shield. Air rushed out of the tear for half a second before Luna patched it up with her own force field.
Applejack was the first to speak up. "What in tarnation was that?"
"We do not know." Luna replied setting the gauss rifle aside. "I do know that it hurt a little when I was hit with its projectiles. It couldn't have killed me, as Nightmare Moon I was even harder to slay than I am as an alicorn, but it would rip most ponies to pieces." Her face fell as she spoke further. "I shudder to think of what could happen if these beings turned their weapons on us."
"Or maybe they could help us fight the Zerg!" Twilight added her own idea. "If these aliens, let's call them humans, had all this weaponry and didn't use it against us they could be friendly. This was probably a research expedition to determine if we were ready yet for first contact with beings from another world."
"Or maybe they were a research expedition to determine whether our organs could be made into cupcakes." Pinkie Pie suggested. Nopony could tell whether she was being serious or (more likely) this was another case of Pinkie being Pinkie.
"Whatever the reason they came here how do y'all know they're still out there?" Applejack threw in her own objection. "I mean it's been four years and they haven't shown up to get all their fancy toys and dead guys yet?"
Meanwhile an assistant researcher at the excavation of a ruined lab on the former Confederate capital of Tarsonis was examining the last intact data card in Terran space with the coordinates of Equus. After reviewing a few mineral surveys of neighboring barren planets that happened to be on the same crystal he decided it was of no use to the Dominion and threw it in the scrap pile.
Back on Equus' moon Twilight Sparkle was working a spell to restore the damaged Terran structures, everypony having agreed that the technology inside was in some way, shape, or form their best chance of defeating the Zerg. The command center and science facility uncrumpled and expanded, the barracks righted itself and the cracked walls re-sealed themselves, as an afterthought the princess of dawn and dusk flipped the center over so that the flat side was on the ground. Figuring that the largest building was the most important the seven of them walked into the command center's airlock, forcing open the still unpowered inner door. Inside they found a large room with several holographic monitors on armatures for easy re-positioning and a number of toppled chairs, often with the shriveled remains of their occupants still sitting on them. Fluttershy stayed by the door, a little squeamish at the sight of the bodies.
Spike, on the other hand, couldn't resist poking at various buttons and switches on the wall panels. Eventually a loud whirring of machinery could be heard and the lights and screens came on. "Didn't mean to do that."
In one corner an adjutant wired into the wall suddenly activated and sat up, speaking in a language that none of the ponies could understand. "System resuming. Warning, airlock doors open. Closing in three seconds." The creaking mechanisms of the inner door started to work, but before it could close completely Fluttershy shrieked loudly and flew outside, searching for someplace to hide she dashed into the barracks' open hatch.
"Poor Fluttershy, she's always so scared." Rarity glanced at her flight through one of the base's windows. Then she rounded on the adjutant and yelled at her. "And just who are you to scare her like that?"
The adjutant spoke once in English, "language recognized, planet native language 1." Then it switched to near flawless Equestrian Common, "this unit is designated Adjutant 42-B7, requisitioned by Confederate Science Corps for planetary survey missions."
"See Pinkie, they were scientists." Unfortunately the cotton candy maned mare wasn't entirely convinced.
"Oh yeeeaaah?" Pinkie Pie appeared from behind the adjutant's head looking upside down into her face. "What kind of science were you guys after?"
"User not recognized, access denied."
"Pinkamina Diane Pie, now tell me what you're hiding."
"User Pinkamina Diane Pie registered, status: civilian. Access denied."
"Oh come on, just tell me already."
"You're wasting your time." Luna interjected, "it's obviously something like a golem. It's pointless to reason with them."
"It's pointless to reason with Pinkie Pie." Twilight added. "Though I admit I am a bit curious as to what they were looking for, there must be a way to gain access to her information."
"Hey cool, look at this!" Spike was still fooling around with stuff, and unlike the adjutant the computer terminals had been left open by lazy engineers. "I can see Fluttershy over there." Indeed, there on the monitor was a video feed of the interior of the barracks, with the butter-yellow pegasus cringing behind a robotic arm.
"Can you try to talk to her?" Twilight asked as she darted towards the monitor Spike was standing before.
"I don't know, I can't even read this stuff." Spike frantically tried pressing holographic icons around the image of the barracks. Suddenly the lights came on in the barracks and the arm Fluttershy was hiding behind lifted up and retracted into a wall slot. Fluttershy dropped onto the platform in the center of the room and tried to fly away but one of her hindhooves got caught in something, frantically attempting to pull herself away she pushed with her other back hoof but that got caught as well.
"What's going on?" Twilight yelled as a pair of spindly arms picked up Fluttershy's forelegs and held them to the sides, they could see her wincing as her limbs were stretched out in directions they weren't meant to be in. Then all the other machines in the room all extended at once and began laying various pieces of hardware on her body, bolts screwing one segment of armor plating to one motor or welding torches fusing two plates together. "Open that door now, we're getting out there!"
"External atmospheric reading confirmed safe. Opening airlock doors." The adjutant opened both the inner and outer door of the airlock and everypony trotted outside. After Applejack bucked the hatch to the barracks a few times (putting a couple dents in the armor) it opened revealing a pony in a rather poorly fitted suit of white powered armor carrying a gauss rifle in one gauntlet. She made a couple cautious steps forward, then fell flat on her helmeted face.
"That you Flutters?" Applejack asked as she lowered her head towards the armored suit's helmet.
"Yes." A soft voice squeaked from the closed visor. "Could you help me up, if it's not a bother to you?"
Applejack forced her way under the suit's left arm and pushed Fluttershy up far enough for her to get her forelegs under her. She stood there on her gauntlets, one open palmed and the other still grasping the rifle. When Twilight noticed this she asked Fluttershy if she could open or close the "claws". It took some wriggling of her hoof within the metal glove but eventually she managed to flex one or two fingers at a time. When she flexed the trigger finger a burst erupted from her rifle, ripping two assembly arms off their mountings and knocking her to the side.
"Then what happened?" Rainbow Dash asked as her friends started to wrap up their recap.
"Isn't it obvious?" Twilight responded, "we figured out how to get Fluttershy out of that thing, (without damaging it too badly) convinced Adjutant to change all the readouts to Equestrian, tweaked the designs so that normal ponies could wear the armor more easily, moved the ships to Ponyville, and outfitted a few companies of guardsponies with armor and weapons. They've been training ever since."
Rainbow seemed a bit confused, "Wait, so it makes this stuff?"
"Yeah, there's this machine in the Command Center, you dump scrap metal or crystals in one end and these metal blocks pop out the other. Then another machine in the barracks takes those cubes and makes them into armor and weapons." Twilight ran off quickly, having learned to simplify things around most ponies who hadn't memorized the Encyclopedia Equestria. "Wish I knew how it worked though."
Nurse Red Heart came into the room with a tray of food and pain medication. "Sorry, visiting hours are over."
"Oh well, guess you girls can tell me more tomorrow." As her friends turned to leave she remembered something all of a sudden. "Did you ever find out why the Terrans came here?"
Twilight turned slowly to face her, "yes." Then she left.
"Handprint, Dr. Hoffsteder, confirmed. Level 3 access granted to user Twilight Sparkle."
"About time." Twilight stated, releasing her telekinetic hold over the dead scientist's broken off arm and letting the disgusting thing fall to the floor. "Now will you tell me the objective of this expedition?"
The adjutant twitched as it accessed some of the more restricted files. "The primary objective of all planetary survey missions of the Terran Confederacy Science Corps is to assess planets for potential colonization."
"What? What about us? What about the native species?"
"Accessing proposals of science team on the given matter." The adjutant's eyes changed from blue to yellow. "Summarizing, Dr. Johnson suggested rejecting the planet as a viable colony. Dr. Hoffsteder's idea was to attempt to domesticate the native life forms. Dr. Foster thought they might be assimilated into the Confederacy. And Dr. Jamison wanted to exterminate them before they became a threat."
The Zerg swarmed over a village of zebras halfway across the planet from Equestria. They offered little resistance, their spears barely harming even the light carapaces of the Zerglings. Broodmother Kilysa stared down at them from her position aboard an overhanging Leviathan, these creatures had pathetic essence compared to those her brood had encountered in Equestria, little more than raw biomass. It was time for another assault.