Dr. Boulder? He must be confused with someone else, I don't even have a Ph.D. yet. Well, this is the break I have been looking for at least. It would be weird to tell Fluttershy about this trip since it is nowhere near the Everfree Forest. I would have to apologize for lying yet again and punish myself because I know she wouldn't. I feel like this relationship would be easier on me if she just got angry at me. She is really, really kind. Well, this trip is everything I am looking for.
Wait, something about undercover top secrecy? Oh so much fun, I can have a code name and everything. Should probably take this more seriously but I need this fun in my life.
Unfortunately I don't have many belongings at Fluttershy's cozy cottage. I had all of my surveying gear shipped back to my dorm in Manehatten while I was in the hospital. Plus I guess I need some faceless geology students to help out, why the limit on just two though? Are the caverns that cramped? Or maybe three people crews are more optimal for cave exploration than a large team. If only I knew a pony or a pony that knows a pony who's been there. Well, I have to leave immediately so I should catch the next train out.
Large shipping boxes blocked my entrance to my old room. Well, at least my stuff got here. Entering my room there was a definite film of dust overlaying my furniture. I pull out a box from under my bed and I call my mother's cell phone. The sound of a phone ringing from the inside of the box put a tear in my eye. I never actually watched her phone ring before since my denial made me happy.
I walk over to my old stage mirror and I see that stranger again. He looks back into my eyes with antipathy. I started to panic so I grabbed my old blanket and covered the mirror. I don't feel at peace with my reflection anymore. I'm not even comfortable with bringing some nobodies with me, I really need this time for myself, despite the danger. Wait what am I thinking, saying that is like saying I want to die or something.
A silence filled my room. I left, grabbing my pack from the postal boxes I brought in. I can't go back into that room, not for a long time at least. I just need to get myself to the train and head to Canterlot. A message on my phone from Mickey said someone would meet and my crew with details on how to get there.
I don't know why I have to be discreet about this whole thing, but it's not like this is new to me. I remember doing a survey for an oil company, only to tell them that Equestria has no oil, and wouldn't need it anyways since everything is powered by magic. Wish I got paid more to tell them drilling would be a stupid decision, but I had to go on record saying the exact opposite, and now Las Pegasus is paying the price. I wish my career choice came with some dignity.
The view from the train is nice, I've never been to Canterlot before. I don't feel like Fluttershy's descriptions did the place justice, she seems to remember everything through the eyes of her friends. I don't have any company with me so I wonder how nice the town could be for a lone stallion. As I look through the window to the scenery beside the train tracks, I switch my gaze to the window itself. I'm suddenly face to face with the stranger again as the background becomes a motion blur.
I open the window give me some fresh air. It was an impulse decision that upset some ponies behind me but I needed to regain my thoughts. My mind has never been blank like that. It felt so bizarre. I need to get off of this train.
Exiting the train I was indeed greeted by an older gentlepony. He stood wearing a dark coat and hat covering his eyes with a sign 'Dr. Boulder'. Don't know why I'm a doctor still but I'll roll with it.
"Greetings doctor, I've been expecting you. Where are your crew members?" His voice was deep but carried a rasp.
"It's just me sir. Trust me, I'm a professional." Wow look at me go. It's horse-shit crazy to go into a cave without any buddies, though I hope he just lets this slide.
"Uh huh. Well my assistant Alfred will carry your bags. I hope you understand that we cannot speak of this in public, would you follow me?" No, I don't understand, but that was something I was willing to lie about, then again, what isn't. I handed my bags off to a nicely dressed chap and I followed the trench coat wearing pony.
"Please sir, would you step into the carriage?" I didn't want to speak, not that I would know what to say anyways. This pony meant business, and I wasn't sure I wanted to be part of it, but it's my job now.
"Now then, this carriage will take us to the gem mine's hidden entrance. You may refer to me as Mr. Break. That's not my real name of course but you must understand, I'm funding this expedition of yours. Publicity of this undertaking could mean bad news for me, let's say, 'business' I run. I run a tight ship and I need every nook and cranny of these mines explored, more importantly, I need your approval of mining the gems without running the risk of collapsing Canterlot."
"My approval? So even if I find working in these caverns to be too risky, you want me to guarantee no potential failures? I'm not sure if I can ethically do that with all due respect." This pony gave me a bad vibe from the moment I met him. Whoever this, Mr. Break is, is a not trust worthy man. Why would anyone think I would willingly put an entire city, let alone the capitol of Equestria in serious danger?
"But 'Doctor', this approval would be very good for your business. I'm willing to cut a deal with you. I'm a very wealthy man you see, the profits from those mines would be endless, and I'm willing to cut it 50-50. You will never have a problem funding your little expeditions again, you can live a life of excess anywhere in the world. I'm offering you the chance to change your entire life."
The rumored high quality gems from there do go for priceless amounts on the high end market. If I help Mr. Break though, I run the risk of putting Canterlot in jeopardy, but his offer is almost too good to be true.
"I could live, wherever I wanted? Move out of my single dorm and start a new life. Is this why you keep referring to me as 'doctor'? I would actually be one then." Oh Celestia the thought of recreating myself seemed like an exotic paradise. To be honest, the 'Canterlot at risk' thing may not even be true, the caverns may in fact be safe for mining, that is what I have to figure out anyways.
"Go have fun in your caves, Dr. Boulder. I just need you to sign here giving my business the ok to mine, you do your 'survey' for as long as you need, and once you are satisfied, my team will move in."
The carriage stopped at a large grove of trees. I assume the entrance is somewhere within that forest, hidden well of course, which means I need to make my decision now. There is no time to stall. My new life is waiting for me.
"I'll do it."