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Arrow 18 Mission Logs is a the banner title for two My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics written by Admiral Tigerclaw, depicting a First Contact scenario between Earth and Equestria. Arrow 18 Mission Logs: Sparkle's Notes tells the story from the ponies' point of view, using Twilight Sparkle's diary and correspondence, while Arrow 18 Mission Logs: Lone Ranger mostly uses the log of human astronaut Randolph Edwards.

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The story takes place, in MLP terms, after the Canterlot Wedding but before Magical Mystery Cure.

Lone Ranger was completed in June 2015, with Sparkle's Notes significantly behind in the timeline.

Tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Chrysalis has a rather tragic My God, What Have I Done?, and even her first appearance in her true form has her looking completely pitiful while trying to get out of a thunderstorm.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Twilight teaches herself English from Randy's ship's computer impressively fast. Otherwise averted — Luna tries to speak English, but only manages to sound like a horrifically malfunctioning toaster.
    • Later, Rainbow Dash gives it a try and fares even worse!
      I'tok! Uno-tok! Tok'i!
      • Direct translation: "I talk! You no talk! Talk I!" Understandable Translation: "I'm talking! You don't talk! Talk to me!"
    • Averted from Randy's point of view. Despite his attempts, some of the syllables and sounds ponies make are not able to be reproduced by humans.
    • All the "Pony Names" used by Randy are an example of this- they're the closest translation he has to what their names are in his language, but not their actual names, as those would be spoken in another dialect.
  • Anti-Magic: Much like in the author's other major story, Randy is essentially immune to all forms of magic, including Cockatrice Stares, Luna's Dream Walking and Changeling Love siphoning.
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    • Changeling shapeshifting is also affected. When Chrysalis tries to shapeshift into Randy, the result just screams Uncanny Valley.
    • There are ways around his anti-magic, though. The Cockatrice Stare didn't affect him directly, but did affect the particles of food in his blood, which gave him a migraine. Twilight was able to overpower the magic resistance for teleportation by pumping way more power into the teleport than usual.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: In-Universe, this is why humans sent Randy to Equestria in the first place- the star system does not make sense the way that humans understand orbital mechanics. Equestria is an earth-sized world with a main-sequence star orbiting it every twenty-four hours, and it and the local moon do so at a rate that is very uneven with no discernable cause.
    • It's even dangerous, according to the ponies- because the Equestrian system doesn't make sense, Randy might not be the last alien who comes to check it out...
      • Further, it's all on Celestia to control it. If anything happens to her, there's a good chance Equus will be plunged into the star or fired off out of the system.
    • The local star is unnaturally calm. No sunspots, no ejecta, no prominences, and the solar wind is perfectly even in all directions. Randy notes this as part of the mystery of the star system.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Randy is injured after the Ravenstar malfunctions while taking off, losing both legs. But he survives thanks to Luna, and has managed to help forge a good relationship between Earth and Equus (as well as between the Equestrians and the Changelings), and more humans will be coming to Equestria soon.
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    • Chrysalis gets one as well. Not only was the Canterlot invasion All for Nothing, she learns that if she had succeeded and killed Celestia, the planet would have plunged into the local star. In despair, she gives up her power over the changelings and ends any hostilities with the Princesses. On the other hand, now Changelings can begin integrating peacefully with ponies, and the future does look brighter for her and her people.
    • For Equus, they are finally starting to unify in a Federation, which may make their world more peaceful. However, the reason it's happening is that they now know that there are aliens out there, and their star system is an anomaly which may draw unwanted attention. The humans proved nice, but what if the next group to find them isn't so nice?
  • Carnivore Confusion: Inverted at one point when Twilight mistakenly eats one of Randy's meat-based MREs and discovers, to her dismay, that she likes it.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted. While Arrow 18 was able to arrive at Equestria in 22 weeks after a journey of 3750 light years, the space program is just getting revved up again after the discovery of FTL drives. Arrow 18 is the only FTL capable ship they have, and it's implied that after Randy's ship blows up, it'll take years for Earth to send another.
  • Continuity Nod: Chrysalis' attempt at conquering Canterlot is mentioned.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Putting only a single person on the mission comes back to haunt Earth when Randy's ship malfunctions because he didn't check it thoroughly enough. Being Avionics rather than mechanical, he sees a broken part and replaces it, not thinking to track it back further to see why it broke.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Twilight's analysis of human artwork of pegasi trail off into a redacted section when she starts examining a male pegasus as big as Celestia.
  • Doing In the Wizard: This happens to some of the magic of Equestria. Unicorn magic (namely telekinesis and teleportation) has a basis in the stories version of FTL, Changeling's ability to feed on love is described more like feeding on energy (with love being a conduit by which they do so), and when Changelings shapeshift, they first hit their target with a small burst of X-rays, presumably to see what the full structure looks like.
    • Randy's epiphany and simulations about the Equestrian System, based on his understanding of magic and how it relates to FTL theory, accidentally triggered a Heel–Face Turn in Chrysalis. It turns out that Celestia is necessary to keep the sun moving. Without her, it's entirely possible that Equestria would have plunged into the sun. Chrysalis does not take the revelation that an attempt to make herself stronger and provide for her 'lings nearly wiped out the entire planet well.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Because Randy's pictures of unicorns, cockatrices, etc. are all drawings or paintings, Twilight assumes they've gone extinct on Earth, not realizing they're fictional there.
    • Further, it leads to a fascinating misunderstanding when Celestia notes that all the "monsters" have been exagerated, while horse-like creatures have their attractive features accentuated. It leads Celestia to think that these drawings are artistic interpretations of real creatures on Earth, and that humans managed to wipe out all the dangerous creatures there.
    • Randy initially thinks that because he came in after dark, the locals might not have noticed him coming down. He thinks it's a slim chance, since there was a sonic boom, but it's plausible. He later learns that he buzzed Canterlot at Mach 2, so they absolutely knew he was there.
  • The Federation: The ponies, near the end of the story, are trying to set one up among the people of Equestria. The reason for this is that the arrival of Randy has shown that there are beings from beyond the stars that can reach them, and while Randy and humanity were nice, there's no telling who or what might show up next.
  • First Contact: The story as a whole. Actual initial communication uses math.
  • First Contact Math: Some of the first things exchanged between Twilight and Randy are mathematical equations. Ponies apparently use base four math, while humans use base ten.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Randy discovers that yes, Celestia and Luna do in fact literally control the sun and moon, he kind of... breaks for a little while. Particularly noteworthy in that he was perfectly willing to consider it as a hypothesis; seeing actual evidence is a different experience entirely.
    • Rainbow Dash is discovered to be claustrophobic...when they're on a ship traveling over twenty times the speed of sound.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Takes place whenever Twilight fills in for Randy when he is incapacitated in some way... or just tries writing her own report because she figured out how to use magic to hack the system.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Due to his Anti-Magic properties, even eye contact from Randy is described as an unpleasant electrical shock by Queen Chrysalis. Randy describes it as smacking a dog on the nose with a newspaper. It's this fact that forces Chrysalis to the negotiating table.
    • Apparently extremely high pitched noises are capable of causing unicorns extreme pain. Twilight describes one such devices as making it feel like "My horn is on fire." She then crushes the device into a tiny ball of metal.
  • Made of Iron: Luna Is able to survive injuries that force Randy to have both of his legs amputated, whereas all she gets is a few burns and feathers that need regrowing.
  • Magic Versus Science: An interesting take. Twilight manages to hack into Randy's computer with magic. Specifically, by using her magic to painstakingly track the electrical currents within the computer, poking and prodding at different circuits until she found the one bit that needed to be flipped which told the computer that the correct password had been entered. It apparently took her over eight hours to find it.
  • Mood Whiplash: Chapter 14 is almost over and Randy is starting the prep work to leave the planet for the last time in a while. The next entry is an error report that shows that the ship exploded.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Or what did I almost do in Chrysalis' case. Doubles as a Break the Haughty moment for her.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Rarity reacts to Randy's apparently ugly uniform by having Applejack hogtie him and bring him back to Carousel Boutique, then stripping it from him. Twilight arrives soon afterward, having just learned about human modesty, and covers him up.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Canterlot's proper name translated to English is "Cantered Slopes Cliffside City of the Rising Sun". Twilight lampshades that a lot of Equestrian names become rather long when translated to English.
  • The Nicknamer: Because Randy can't understand ponies, until he gets a good translation of their name, he resorts to this. For example, Chrysalis was "Mothra."
    • Technically all the names that Randy gives the ponies are this; they're translations of the pony names into English and not the actual sounds that ponies identify themselves as.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Randy resorts to this to make sure Twilight knows not to touch anything on the console. Unlike the computer, she could easily kill them if she touches the wrong thing.
  • Outside-Context Problem: An alien lands in Equestria, who happens to be immune to much of their magics.
    • A letter from Princess Celestia makes her worries clear- she hasn't had something truly surprising to her since Luna became Nightmare Moon, at this point. For this reason, despite not having met Randy at that point, she feared him.
  • Reality Ensues: Pinkie tries to invite Randy to a Party, then gets very, very mad when he doesn't show up. It takes her ranting at him for quite some time before she remembers that he can't read or write their language.
    • Part of the process of astronaut training is psychological screening, not to mention training to prepare for everything that will happen in a voyage to space. While it is amusing that Twilight modified some of his space suits for travel to the mothership, Rainbow Dash received absolutely none of that training or screening and freaks out once zero gravity starts kicking in.
    • Randy can't really speak the local language- his physiology, vocal cords, and more aren't shaped right for it.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Twilight steals two of Randy's spare pressure suits and has them adapted for ponies, giving them cutie marks and an embroidered name tag reading "Sparkal (sic) Space Program", all before even getting his permission to take either her or Rainbow Dash into space with him. Randy can't help but be impressed.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Whilst Randy is immune to the Cockatrice stare, the nutrients of the Equestrian food he ate isn't. The result is the poor guy getting a titanic migraine until Twilight is able to give him a de-petrification potion.
  • Scrapbook Story: Both stories are complied from logs, letters and a transcript from a flight data recorder.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: After realizing she just ate meat — and enjoyed it — Twilight quietly excuses herself from the room and shuts herself in another, but Randall can still hear her scream...which is so strong that it affects the Arrow freighter's power as well.
  • Sequel Hook: Randy is still trapped in Equestria, with no way to get back to the mothership. Earth is going to need to send another ship to Equestria. Further, as noted in The Unreveal, there's still lots of mysteries left to uncover.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Randall quickly notes that changelings keep a constant weight regardless of disguise. He's tipped off by the fact that according to his calculations (based on hoofprints) the pony he dubbed "Shifty" weighs less than half what she should.
  • Shown Their Work: To the point of simulating flights in Orbiter and linking the results.
  • Taser Tag Weakness: Randy tasers Twilight to get her out of his ship and into bed when he becomes concerned about her obsessive studying. He tries it on Rainbow Dash during her panic attack later, but it doesn't work — pegasi are more resistant to electric shock.
  • The Unreveal: Two.
    • While the mechanics of how the star system of Equestria work are now understood, how did it get like that to begin with? Why is it necessary to have magical ponies use their abilities to manipulate celestial bodies?
    • Why does earth have mythology that includes actual, real creatures from Equestria? As Twilight points out, there's no way that creatures that evolved 3,750 light years apart could be so close to one another- it'd be impossible.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Rainbow Dash proves to be extremely claustrophobic once in Randy's spaceship, going into a panic attack during takeoff.
    • Later Justified by Twilight. Rainbow Dash is a pegasus and is used to flying under her own power. To be flying in an enclosed space not under her control is hell!
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Randy briefly wonders if Shifty/ Queen Chrysalis was using one in her true form due to her appearing to be partially crippled and clearly a victim of abuse. He deduces she isn't because she'd use fresh wounds rather than old scars if she wanted to garner sympathy.

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