For the next seven days, the crew of the Enterprise enjoyed what was probably the best time of their lives! They beamed down in rotating shore leave parties, and were given every chance to visit all of the major metropolitan areas of Equestria. Several visits were organized for Canterlot, Manehattan, Fillydelphia, Baltimare, Las Haygas and The Crystal Empire.
Many were quite astounded to hear of how the names almost paralleled Earth's major cities. A few wondered what would've happened with the homo sapiens who existed on the planet, since the ponies are the dominant species.
Everybody was allowed to spend an equal time visiting on the planet. Mr. Scott, however, preferred to forego most of his allotted shore leave time to look after anything that needed maintenance on the Enterprise. What little time he did spend on the planet was entirely reserved for interacting with elite members of the Royal Engineering Corps in Canterlot where he gathered information from them in regards to the inner workings of Equestria's more advanced inventions. In exchange, he described the inner workings of the Enterprise's thrusters and impulse engines. The warp drive proved to be too difficult for the members of the Engineering Corps to understand, so Scotty let it go. He did allow himself to relax at a tavern in Canterlot where he shared a few mugs of cider with the members of the Engineering Corps who invited him.
Meanwhile, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Ensign Chekhov spent most of their time with Twilight Sparkle and their friends as they took them on tours of all of the major cities of Canterlot and The Crystal Empire. They were even allowed to attend a special sun raising ceremony conducted by Princess Celestia, as well as a moon raising ceremony conducted by Princess Luna. Mr. Spock still refused to believe that any amount of unicorn or alicorn magic could counteract the natural laws of physics, though he did admit that the sun and the moon seemed to rise rather quickly, when the two alicorn princesses invoked their own special powers.
Several festivities and parties were arranged in honour of the crew of the Enterprise in all of the major cities where they were treated with every courtesy that was extended to any foreign ambassadors on a diplomatic visit; which meant that they all made the most of their shore leave!
On the last day, a grand festival was held for all of them in Ponyville. Everypony that was anypony was there to see the entire crew of the Enterprise off at the close of festivities during the night.
Captain Kirk and his usual companions spent most of the day with Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Princess Cadence, Prince Shining Armour, Twilight Sparkle and her usual friends. As the group walked past a curious pair of ponies, the following was overheard:
"You see, Bonbon!? I told you they were real! I TOLD you so!" said the bright smiling mint green coloured unicorn female.
Her female cream coloured earth pony companion let out a sigh. "Yes, Lyra! I believe you now! Now, can you please stop STARING at them!? It's embarrassing!"
But the mint coloured unicorn couldn't take her eyes off of the several humans all around her. When one particular female crewmember approached her, and struck up a conversation, Lyra couldn't help but grab one of her hands in her hooves to see if it was real.
"I've always wanted to have something like this!" Lyra blurted out obsessively.
Her female companion sighed, put a hoof to her face and shook her head. "Lyraaaaa…"
The female crewmember couldn't help but giggle. "So cute!" she commented.
"So, Captain Kirk, how did you and your crew enjoy your stay?" Princess Celestia asked casually.
"I have to say it was remarkable!" Kirk exclaimed. "I don't think we've ever enjoyed ourselves so much on a shore leave!"
"Quite true!" Dr. McCoy said. "Even Scotty had fun!"
Kirk followed his gaze to where Mr. Scott was standing, pouring over some blueprints a couple of Engineering Corps ponies happened to have, pointing to several things on the blueprint and asking questions. Kirk couldn't help but chuckle at this.
"I'm glad that you all had a great stay!" Princess Celestia smiled.
The sound of laughter coming from above made them all look up. They saw Rainbow Dash fly by with a couple of crewmembers' kids on her back. The light blue rainbow mane and tail coloured female Pegasus decided to let the kids hitch a ride on her as she took them flying. They looked to be enjoying themselves immensely as they were giddy with laughter.
"Come on, Spock! Keep up!" she called to a Pegasus bat pony flying behind her.
"I'm trying!" came the voice of Spock as he flew by, flapping his wings hard to catch up to the swift Pegasus mare.
"I think she's gonna run poor Spock into the ground!" McCoy said with a smile.
Kirk couldn't help but chuckle. "I have to agree!"
"Mister Kirk! Mister Kirk!" came the voice of a filly a few feet away from them.
Kirk saw that it belonged to Scootaloo, the small Pegasus filly who literally ran into him with her scooter just ten days prior. She was galloping up to him, but she wasn't alone. She had her two best friends with her: Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom.
"Well, hello there!" Kirk smiled brightly. "Scootaloo, is it?"
"Yep!" the little Pegasus filly said brightly.
"What's with the get up?" Kirk asked, noticing the flimsy looking plastic astronaut style helmets they were wearing.
"We're the Cutie Mark Crusader Space Explorers!" Apple Bloom said proudly.
"What?" Kirk asked with a chuckle.
"Space Explorers!" Sweetie Belle repeated. "We're gonna go into space using a spaceship we've built OURSELVES!"
"I did most of the building, though." Scootaloo admitted.
"So what d'ya think of our cool helmets!?" Apple Bloom asked.
All three girls were smiling brightly up at Kirk.
"Very nice!" Kirk said, smiling back.
"So do you think we'll earn our Space Explorer cutie marks with this?" Apple Bloom asked her friends.
"Most definitely!" Scootaloo said proudly. "The ship I built is FAILPROOF, girls!" She then turned to face Kirk. "Well, gotta run; but it was nice meeting you and your crew!"
"Yeah!" Sweetie belle chimed in. "So long, Mr. Kirk!" She waved happily with one of her forehooves.
"Bye!" Apple Bloom said.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER SPACE EXPLORERS ARE GO!" they then all exclaimed in unison before dashing off in the direction of their clubhouse.
"Ah'd… better go keep an eye on 'em in case they… try to do somethin' AH wouldn't do!" Applejack said in a worried tone.
Rarity sighed. "Right behind you, Applejack!"
Before she left to follow Applejack, Rarity turned to face Kirk. "I know that you must leave shortly, Mr. Kirk. In case I don't see you again, I just wanna say that…" she came closer to him. "Spending these past seven days with you have been… most extraordinary!" she smiled up at him.
Kirk returned the smile. "Same here!" he said.
In a surprise move from the both of them, Kirk bent down to bring his face closer to Rarity's. Rarity stretched up to meet his. They both shared a passionate kiss between them.
A few feet away, Spike sulked as he crossed his arms in front of him.
"Don't worry, Spike! Kirk's gonna beam back up to his ship shortly; and once he's gone, Rarity can be ALL YOURS again!" Twilight Sparkle mocked.
"HUMPF!" Spike grunted, still sulking.
"Goodbye, James T. Kirk." Rarity whispered as she finally let go of the kiss.
"Goodbye, Rarity!" Kirk whispered back as he stroked the side of her face.
After what seemed like an eternity, Rarity took his eyes off Kirk and turned to gallop off after Applejack.
"Hey, girls, WAIT FER US!" Applejack called as she galloped off to catch up to her younger sister and her friends.
After watching the two mares depart after their younger sisters, Kirk spoke again. "Well, I'd love to stay and chat some more, but me and my friends have to beam back aboard the Enterprise to get ready to leave. Starfleet's got us on a tight schedule."
Princess Celestia smiled and nodded. "Of course."
"I know that you'll have festivities all throughout the night, and I told my crew that they can stay on the planet's surface until midnight, then they have to beam back up."
"You can count on us to keep them entertained until they leave." Twilight Sparkle said with a smile.
Kirk smiled back. "That's all I ask!"
"By the way, Captain!" Princess Celestia said. "Your gift is still at Canterlot Palace."
"I'll have it beamed aboard." Kirk said with another smile.
Dr. McCoy turned to face Fluttershy. "Well, I guess this is goodbye." He said.
Fluttershy looked to the ground rather sadly. "I guess…" She scraped the ground with one of her forehooves.
McCoy bent down to be at eye level with the Pegasus mare, then lifted her chin so she could face him. "Listen, even though we may not see each other again, I want you to know that… I've really learned a lot from you these past few days. You'll always hold a special place in my heart and in my mind, Fluttershy. Remember that!"
The shy mare smiled. "Well, I want you to know that I've really learned a lot from you, too; and I'll never forget you, Doctor!"
They shared a heartfelt farewell hug. Fluttershy moaned contently as McCoy held her in his arms. "I'll miss you, Doctor!" Fluttershy said with moist eyes.
"I'll miss you, too!" McCoy answered in a rather shaky voice.
Chekhov and Pinkie Pie just stood facing each other in awkward silence for a few moments, not wanting to meet each other's gaze.
Finally Pinkie Pie blurted out. "Ireallydon'twantyoutoLEAVEChekhovitseemslikeonlyY ESTERDAYthatwebecameFRIENDSandIreallywantyoutoSTAY !"
Chekhov couldn't help but smile at this. "I really would lwove to stay, TOO, Pinkie Pie… but my plwace is up there… on that sheihp!"
Pinkie Pie nodded sadly. "Yes, I know."
She looked like she was about to cry, but then she smiled, hopped up and kissed Chekhov on the cheek. Then she hopped away giggling to stand next to Twilight Sparkle. Chekhov certainly didn't expect that from the pink coloured mare, but smiled again at her randomness.
All three men then came together to wait to get beamed up.
As Kirk brought out his communicator to signal the Enterprise, McCoy spoke. "Do you realize that you just kissed an alien pony on the-"
"AND…" Kirk interrupted. "It felt… just like… any other female alien I've encountered, Bones."
"You're never gonna change, are you, Jim!?"
Kirk smiled at McCoy. "Nope!"
McCoy just rolled his eyes.
Kirk then opened up his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise! Three to beam up." He said into it, then closed it.
"GOODBYE!" Princess Celestia and her group said in unison as they waved a forehoof in the air.
All three men smiled and waved back. Their hands seemed to stay stuck in the air as the transporter beam caught them. You could hear the hum of the beam as they shimmered out of sight.
Back on the Enterprise, in Kirk's quarters, the Captain had just finished setting up a free standing mirror that was actually Princess Celestia's gift to him. After he was satisfied with its positioning, he stood back to admire it.
"What do you think, Bones?" he asked Dr. McCoy, who was standing right beside him.
"Looks good, Jim!" the Doctor answered. "Do you really think it works?" He then asked as me gazed as his own reflection in the mirror.
"Who knows?" Kirk shrugged. "She said we could use it to contact her anytime when needed."
"Or she could contact us." McCoy said.
Kirk simply nodded.
It was, in fact, a spare magic mirror Princess Celestia happened to have that was not being used; so she decided to bestow it to Kirk as a gift. She told him that its power was so great that he could contact her from anywhere in the universe, when needed. She also told him that the mirror works both ways, which means that she could use it to contact him, when needed.
Both men then left Captain Kirk's quarters to make their way towards the Bridge. The double doors swished open to allow both of them to enter the hallway outside.
A few minutes later, the Turbo Lift doors swished open to reveal Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy. As they stepped onto the Bridge, she noticed that Lieutenant Uhura and Yeoman Rand were standing together, looking at something Rand was holding, and they were both smiling.
"Well, ladies" Kirk said as he approached them. "What are we looking at?"
"Just some picture of the ponies I took…" Yeoman Rand answered.
Kirk motioned for Rand to hand him the stack of photos. He perused through them, and saw several wonderful pictures of ponies of every colour imaginable posing for the camera. He even saw one of Twilight Sparkle and her friends standing close to each other, as any close friends would. He saw another of the two Princess sisters of Canterlot, as well as one of The Crystal Princess, Cadence, and her husband, Prince Shining Armour; all looking as regal as can be.
"Very nice!" Kirk smiled and commented. "Well done!" he said as he handed the pictures back to Yeoman Rand.
"Thank you, Captain." The Yeoman said.
Captain Kirk then moved to sit in his Captain's chair. McCoy came to stand beside him to his right. As soon as Kirk sat down, the Turbo Lift doors opened to reveal Mr. Spock.
"The last crewmembers have beamed aboard, Captain. We are now ready to leave orbit." He announced as he got beside Kirk.
"Very well, Mr. Spock." Kirk said. "I have to say I've never seen a world as magical as this one is!"
McCoy smiled. "It certainly was!"
"The top Scientists at the Vulcan Science Academy will have difficulty believing many of the things I must report about this… magical world. In my opinion, however, there must be several underlying scientific theories that could explain what we have witnessed down there over the past ten days."
"Oh, really!?" McCoy said. "So tell me, Spock: How do you explain you being able to fly around in your bat pony form?"
Spock raised his eyebrows. "The only logical conclusion I can come up with is that since energy fields, or what you would call magic, permeates that planet so much, it somehow affected my projected bat pony image, thus allowing it to fly."
Kirk nodded. "Logical, as usual, Mr. Spock."
"In any case, I'm sure those Vulcans at the Science Academy will have a lot of difficulty believing that!" McCoy mocked.
Spock raised his eyebrows again. "Perhaps." He then moved to assume his post as his Science Station.
Still smiling, Kirk turned to Mr. Chekhov at the Helm. "Mr. Chekhov, plot a course to heading two four three mark seven. Ahead Warp Factor Two."
"Aye, sair!" Chekhov as he pressed a few buttons at his console.
Captain's Log, Star Date 5146.3 – After spending seven days on the planet known to the local inhabitants as "Equestria", we are en route to our next destination. We have seen many wondrous things on that planet. Everything we have witnessed can be summed up in one word: MAGIC.
The hum of the Enterprise's warp drive could be heard as the ship broke orbit en route to their next destination that was part of their exploratory mission of the constellation Pegasus. Kirk and the members of the Bridge were treated to a rear view on the Bridge's screen. As they watched the planet quickly grow smaller as they departed, they wondered what other magical adventures they will encounter as they boldly go where no one has gone before!
The next day, Twilight Sparkle found herself in Canterlot. Princess Celestia had asked that she meet with her today because she had something very important she wanted to discuss with her.
She made her way to the Throne Room of the Palace, for that was where Princess Celestia told her to meet her. The two Royal Guards standing to either side of the double doors opened them up once they saw Twilight Sparkle approach. The guard to the far left smiled and ushered her inside.
The Throne Room was empty, except for Princess Celestia, who was standing in front of a particular stained glass window, her multi coloured mane and tail magically rippling. She was looking up at the window, admiring it.
Twilight Sparkle approached her long time Teacher and Mentor. She cleared her throat. "You wanted to see me, Princess?"
"Twilight Sparkle! My loyal and faithful student!" Princess Celestia smiled down at the purple coloured unicorn. "Thank you for coming. I wanted you to be the first to see it!" she said as she looked back up towards the glass window.
Twilight Sparkle smiled and gasped when she saw what Princess Celestia was looking at. "It's done already!?"
"Yes!" Princess Celestia said, still smiling.
"It's beautiful!" Twilight Sparkle commented, still smiling herself.
"It certainly is!" Princess Celestia said proudly. "The glass smiths have really outdone themselves this time!"
They were looking at a stained glass window depicting their encounter with the Enterprise crew. It showed an image of the rising sun with the Enterprise itself flying across it. The look of the ship was based on descriptions from Mr. Scott, and the glass smiths had it down to a tee! Directly below that was an image of Captain Kirk and Princess Celestia where Kirk was touching Celestia's hoof with his human fist in a hoof bump. On the upper right was an image of the night sky complete with crescent moon and stars. Directly below that was an image of Princess Luna and Mr. Spock also sharing a hoof bump. At the very bottom of the stained glass window was a depiction of Twilight Sparkle and her friends with their Elements of Harmony symbols above them. They could ask for no greater tribute to this important moment in their history!
"I can't help but think that…" Twilight Sparkle began. "A hundred years or so from now, somepony's going to be looking up at this and wonder what the hay it all represents."
Princess Celestia chuckled. "Well, if they really want to know, they can always read up on it in this book that you so graciously and thoroughly wrote about the entire encounter." She used her alicorn magic to hover the book Twilight Sparkle wrote herself in front of her. The book's cover depicted an image of a ringed planet in their own solar system quite similar to Saturn with several stars surrounding it. The image itself invokes the encounter with the outer space humans who bothered to visit their planet.
After letting Twilight Sparkle admire the book she wrote, the Princess used her magic to set it down on a wooden pedestal directly below the stained glass window. Then she started cantering back towards her throne. Twilight Sparkle stepped in beside her.
"But the reason I really brought you here today was to tell you that you are about to face what could be the most difficult challenge of your young life!"
"W-what sort of challenge?" Twilight Sparkle asked.
"I can't tell you." Princess Celestia said. "All I ask is that you be ready for it, when it comes. The outcome if it will determine whether or not you are prepared to move on to the next step of your development."
"But, Princess…" Twilight Sparkle began. "D-do you really think that I can… pass this challenge, whatever it is?"
Princess Celestia smiled. "My loyal and faithful student, you have proven time and time again that you have a singular gift for advanced unicorn magic; and it was thanks to that knowledge, along with your abilities, that you have been able to defeat foes that have given me and my sister headaches over the centuries. I have full confidence in your abilities to pass this challenge, Twilight Sparkle."
They went all the way up to the foot of the steps that lead to the throne. Princess Celestia climbed the steps while Twilight Sparkle just stayed at the foot of them. "Go now!" the Princess said as she sat on the throne. "I shall summon you at the appropriate time where you will begin your challenge."
Twilight Sparkle bowed. "Yes, Princess. And don't worry, I won't let you down!" she said confidently as she trotted away.
Princess Celestia waited until she was out of earshot before she whispered to herself: "I certainly hope so" with a slight hint of worry in her voice.
Meanwhile, in a dark cave hidden somewhere in Equestria, King Sombra was sitting on a stone throne of his own making, looking quite miserable. He had just been defeated by Twilight Sparkle and her fellow wielders of the Elements of Harmony, and lost the bat pony Army he had power over in the process. Torches on the cave walls provided just enough ambient light for him to see up to thirty feet in front of him. Beyond that, there was nothing but darkness.
The sound of hoof falls coming from the darkness in front of him made him stand up. He saw a pair of light blue eyes shine through the darkness, and they came to a stop just before the entrance to his throne room.
"Who's there!? Show yourself!" King Sombra called out.
The hoof falls resounded again as the owner of the solid light blue eyes came forward. "It's me, Master."Came the familiar voice of the changeling as he stepped out of the darkness.
"Hugh!" King Sombra cried out in surprise.
It was, in fact, the changeling he had called Hugh. The same changeling who would eventually come to be his right hoof male in his recent attempt to take over Equestria. He was also instrumental in recruiting the entire bat pony garrison into his ranks, that same garrison who was recently defeated by the Royal Crystal Empire Guard.
"SO…" said a smiling King Sombra. "you've escaped from your former Queen again?"
Hugh smiled and nodded. "That's right, Master; and I'm not alone. It's all right, boys!" he then called out into the darkness.
Out of the darkness emerged other changelings. Except for certain variations, they all looked exactly like Hugh! There were over two hundred in all, and they had followed Hugh as they defected from the Changeling Badlands.
Upon seeing this, King Sombra slowly smiled. He then started to laugh softly. His laughing slowly grew in intensity until it was a full blown evil laughter. He now had the basis with which to form a new Army to take over all of Equestria!
Such an Army, though, would require more resources. King Sombra would need to figure out where to get those resources. It was certain, though, that Hugh would be able to help him figure this all out.