Jigsaw lay on his back in the subway car, his head hanging upside down off the edge of the row of seats. Tiptoe sat opposite from him, staring out the window at the aged stone tunnel rushing past.
“See anything yet?” Jigsaw said.
“Nope. Nothing but rocks, puddles, and sand.” Tiptoe replied dully, smooshing her face against the glass.
“It’s been 3 days!” Jigsaw said, rolling over and sitting up on his haunches. “You’d think this a subway system would lead SOMEWHERE interesting, but all we’ve found are empty stations.”
“At least my wings are better. And at the speed we’re going, I’m just amazed this thing hasn’t broken down or reached the end of the tracks.” Tiptoe said.
Jigsaw’s voice adopted a tone of mock indignation. “Why, I never! You have so little faith in the mighty Jigsaw?”
Tiptoe rolled her eyes. Jigsaw had been in such high spirits lately. It seemed he was still ecstatic be in a piece of working old-world tech. Tiptoe wasn’t quite as happy about it. The machine creaked and shook, and occasionally it would break down, requiring Jigsaw to go out and scavenge for materials to fix it. They couldn’t keep it going forever- Jigsaw’s powers might have been prodigious, but this WAS a piece of 10,000-year-old tech.
“I’m getting pretty thirsty,” Tiptoe said, “can we stop for water?”
“Sure thing, I was getting pretty thirsty too.” Jigsaw said. He jumped off the seats and trotted into the driver’s cabin. His horn glowed blue as he pulled down on a lever and pushed several buttons. The whole car bucked and screeched as the wheels locked in place. Blue sparks could be seen flying from under them. Eventually, the car shuddered to a halt.
“I really, really hate that.” Tiptoe said, extracting herself from the window and hopping out the door into the tunnel. Jigsaw jumped out shortly after.
“I think it’s kinda fun!” He said.
Tiptoe rolled her eyes and they started off together up the tunnel, looking for water. The lamps on the front of the car lit the tunnel for several hundred feet ahead, and they quickly came upon a pool of fresh water and began to drink.
When they had drunk their fill, Tiptoe said, “I’ve been wondering for a while now, what exactly powers that thing? I noticed the lights turning on in the station when you put your horn into that door.”
“I’m glad you asked!” Jigsaw said, his ears perking up. “You’re familiar with electricity, right?”
“Yeah, we learned about it in school. They use it to electroplate metal, right?”
“Right. But that’s not all it can do. In the old world, they had ways of generating massive amounts of electricity. Electricity was used to replace magic so non-unicorns could operate some of the more advanced technology. That subway car back there was one of them, but now I’ve jury-rigged it to use magic. The lights at the station were magical, too. Magic and electricity have rather strange interactions. In fact, in this one book, I read about this time a unicorn tried to enchant a certain piece of old-world tech, and he ended up...”
Jigsaw kept talking, but Tiptoe had long since stopped paying attention. All these technical details really didn’t interest her, and magic was just a mystery to her. She was more worried about the food situation. They hadn't eaten more than the occasional mushroom for 3 days now, and her mood was starting to show it. Jigsaw seemed unaffected, which bothered her even more.
“... of course, that being said, I still enjoy magic and magic powered things, obviously, I just think they both have their place. Not that it really matters since we can’t even generate an- Hey, what’s the matter with you?” Jigsaw said, seeing her ears pressed down against her head.
“Will you just stop talking!” Tiptoe yelled. She spread her wings out. “All you’ve done for the last three days is talk about the stupid subway car! What makes you think I care? I asked one question, I didn’t want your whole life story!” She stood there, wings outspread, fuming.
Jigsaw stared at her, his eyes flicking back and forth between hers. Then he seemed to shrink.
“I’m sorry.” he said. “Let’s head back to the car.”
He began to walk towards the subway car, his head held low. Tiptoe followed far behind him. Before long, they were back in the car, and with a spark from Jigsaw’s horn, they were hurtling down the track again.
Several hours later, Tiptoe sat on the bench in the very back end of the subway car. Jigsaw lay curled up in the front-most. Tiptoe glanced his direction and squirmed in her seat. She wasn’t happy about what she’d said earlier. She got up and slowly walked towards Jigsaw.
“Jigsaw...?” She said tentatively.
“What do you want?” Jigsaw replied, without looking at her.
“I wanted to apologize for... my outburst earlier. I think I’m just stressed from... everything that’s happened in the last few days.”
Jigsaw sat up and stared out the window for several seconds. Then he turned, and Tiptoe was shocked to see his eyes were glistening with tears.
“Listen. I want to tell you something.” he said. He patted the seat next to him with is hoof, and Tiptoe jumped onto the seat and settled in.
“You’re not the first apprentice I’ve taken on, you know.” he began. “There was another before you. A young earth pony by the name of Antimony. As brilliant a geologist as I’d ever seen. We were supposed to travel together into one of the old world ruins. We... well, we didn’t make it far. We ran into a cave ogre along the way, and I’m ashamed to say that I ran for it. Antimony tried to stand her ground and... she didn’t make it out. She died because I was too cowardly to stay and help. Since then, I’ve traveled on my own, until the tribunal forced me to take you on.” Jigsaw looked up at Tiptoe. “You saved my life twice back there in the water. I won’t ever leave you to fend for yourself, Tiptoe.”
“But... why are you telling me this?”
“Because... because I wanted to tell somepony. And... I wanted you to know. What you mean to me.”
Jigsaw met Tiptoe’s eyes, and they held each other's gaze for a long moment. Then, Tiptoe broke away and jumped down.
“I’m getting pretty tired. I think I’m going to go to sleep.”
“Yeah, okay.” Jigsaw said, looking slightly disappointed. He lay his head back down on the seat cushion. The train rocked.
He was surprised and pleased to find out a moment later that tiptoe had curled up on the seat next to him. He smiled and closed his eyes.
It was then that the subway train ran out of track.
Tiptoe and Jigsaw were launched from the seats and went hurtling around the inside of the subway car until it finally came to a stop. Jigsaw sat up and looked around the mangled car.
“Tiptoe! Tiptoe, are you okay?” He yelled.
A wing appeared from under a pile of seat cushions. “I’m fine, Jigsaw! What happened?”
“I don’t know,” Jigsaw replied, “But I’m guessing it had something to do with that.” He gestured out the back window at the track behind them, where no track could be seen for as far as they could see.
“We probably ran out of track and skidded to... wherever we are.” Jigsaw said.
“Does this mean we have to walk?” Tiptoe asked, her ears drooping.
A bolt of blue light appeared to shoot from Jigsaw’s horn and into the metal floor of the car.
“It’s broken even beyond my ability to repair it” said Jigsaw. “Maybe if I had a few years and intimate knowledge of the mechanics of this thing I could, but as it stands, yes. We’re going to have to walk.”
Tiptoe grumbled and she and Jigsaw climbed out of a broken window on the side of the car. Jigsaw lit his horn and they began down the tunnel.
“It always seems to come down to this, doesn’t it?” Jigsaw thought.“walking down a tunnel, with only the light of my horn to guide us, no idea where we’re going.”
Farther down, Tiptoe thought she could see something. A small pinprick of light.
“Jigsaw! Put out your horn for a second!” she said. Jigsaw complied and put out his horn. Sure enough, there was light farther down the tunnel.
“C’mon!” Jigsaw yelled, and began galloping. Tiptoe followed as fast as she could.
The rapidly approached the source of the light- another station. However, once they broke into the station proper, the two of them recoiled in horror.
“Sunlight!” they shouted in unison. They instinctively put a hoof over their eyes and braced for immolation. However, it didn’t come. Jigsaw lowered his hoof cautiously.
“Tiptoe? I don’t think... I don’t think it can hurt us.” Jigsaw slowly walked forwards into the beam of light. It felt pleasantly warm on his skin. “I think.... I think we rode farther than we thought. I think... I think we’re in the temperate zone.”
Tiptoe’s brain seized. The temperate zone was just an old pony’s tale told to little fillies to make them sleep better! It couldn’t possibly exist! But there Jigsaw was, standing full into the sunlight, his face up and his eyes closed.
Of course, they both remembered the story well. The great goddesses Celestia and Luna ruled the night and day in harmony, and the world was in perfect balance. Day and night came to all areas of the world, and only a few were too hostile to support life. The great sun and mighty moon traversed the sky equally.
But then, the Great Cataclysm occurred- the goddesses had simply vanished. The sun and moon stayed frozen where they were, and the world fell to chaos. The tribunal’s records told of a group of ponies on the daylit side descending into a massive cave complex when the weather began to get too hot and sealing the entrance with a massive metal door. They were who Tiptoe and Jigsaw had descended from. The great metal door had only been opened twice afterwards- once at 1,000 years after the Great Cataclysm, and another after 5,000 years. Both times the sun had proven to be as harsh as ever- in instantly killed any living thing exposed to its rays.
Tiptoe walked forward hesitantly into the sunlight and something seemed to shift inside her. She looked up and saw the sky- the real, blue sky- for the first time in her life. She spread her wings and beat them downwards.
“Tiptoe, wait!” Jigsaw yelled, but it was too late. Tiptoe took off and flew up to the hole in the ceiling and out.
She felt lighter than she ever had. She soared upwards, flapping her wings as hard as she could. She dove. She flipped. She raced through the open air and breathed deeply. The air had a peculiar smell that she assumed must have been the foliage present all over the ground beneath her. She had never been happier in her life. How did she ever live underground before this? The sky was where she belonged.
She dove back into the small hole in the ground and saw Jigsaw standing there, his mouth agape.
“I saw you outside. That was... incredible!” Jigsaw said. “But... can you get me out of here?”
“I can try.” Said Tiptoe. She flew above Jigsaw and grabbed him with her front hooves and beat her wings. Slowly, they made progress up to the hole in the ceiling.
When they made it out, Tiptoe dumped Jigsaw onto the grass and landed, panting. “I really need to work on my wing strength if I’m going to be carrying you!” She said, laughing.
Jigsaw simply stared up at the sky.
“I’ve never seen anywhere so big... The sky is immense! And the grass! There’s so much of it! I've only ever seen grass in the botanical gardens! I mean, I’d heard the stories, but nothing can actually prepare you for...” He trailed off, still looking straight up. “Look at... look at the sun and the moon.”
The sun hung low and red in the western sky, casting a low, warm light over the grass. The moon hung in the east, dominating the skyline. It looked pockmarked and dull gray.
“That... that isn’t how they look in illustrations.” Jigsaw said. “They look almost as if they’re... dying.”
Tiptoe looked at the two celestial bodies on either side of them. “That’s true, but we’re here, now, and we’re very much alive, and I’m exhausted.”
“Agreed.” said Jigsaw, yawning. “It’s been a pretty crazy week.”
Together, they curled up on the ground and fell asleep. The strange, perpetual twilight cast long, spindly shadows onto the nearby trees.