• Member Since 29th Sep, 2011
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shalrath


I <3 GAMMA RAYS

More Blog Posts22

  • 114 weeks
    Luna can't sleep

    Back from the final Bronycon, more on that later. In the meantime, enjoy some horsewords. Bonus points for reading aloud.

    - - -

    Beneath a blackened sky, the pale milky moon cast a pallid glow across lands steeped in shadow.  A sea of muted grey from mountains thrust high, to plains fertile and fallow.

    Read More

    7 comments · 197 views
  • 274 weeks
    The struggles of half-assed fic research

    So here I was, minding my own business. I can't get two lines into a new story without having to stop and try to figure out a cooler sounding name than "Castle of the Two Pony Sisters"

    THEN THIS SHIT HAPPENS

    2 comments · 388 views
  • 274 weeks
    The final supper of the ficwhores

    The hot humid musk of Baltimore suffocates you like God's enormous unwashed ballsack the moment you step out the door. A sea of brick beckons the journey of a thousand steps between the gleaming glass zoo of migratory humans and the organic hive of stone and streets known as Charm City. You put your best foot forward, feeling it stick slightly against the pervasive brownish ichor of

    Read More

    1 comments · 402 views
  • 274 weeks
    Horsecon 2016

    Bronycon after-action report.


    (Confound these ponies, they drive me to drink)

    Had an absolutely tremendous time. Got to hang out with a few interesting people, such as..

    Admiral Biscuit (Hail Biscuit!)
    Arad
    Archonix
    Axis of Rotation

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    14 comments · 506 views
  • 439 weeks
    A tale of two pegasi.

    (Wrote a few thousand words today. Here's some of them. CH16 inbound)

    * * *

    It was a slow day in Ponyville.

    It couldn't be fast enough for Scootaloo.

    The wind whipped through her fuchsia mane as the grass receded behind each sharp stamp of her hooves.  Her short wings buzzed as they bit into the air, pushing herself with every erg of energy she could muster.  

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    5 comments · 718 views
Jan
15th
2013

Candlelight. · 11:14pm Jan 15th, 2013

"Fluttershy. Hangar Six, please," the artificial Equestrian voice spoke softly in her ear.

She recoiled further beneath the rumpled mound of blankets, whimpering softly through short sharp breaths.

"Fluttershy, please." the electronically tinged voice repeated. It spoke nearly perfect Equestrian, with a subtle mimicry of Trent's vocal inflection.

Her head shook under the blanket, and her chest heaved deeply, letting out her breath in a stuttering staccato of wracking sobs. The cold clinical light from the fluorescent fixture shone through the thin marigold bed sheet, stinging her watery eyes.

She swatted one hoof toward the far wall. The light turned off.

Legs and wings tangled in a snarl of bedding as she rolled onto her back, clutching the bulky pillow to her chest.

"I'm not mad at you. You know that."

She clenched the transmit key, but released it without a word.

"I want to show you something."

Two hind legs curled up to her belly, while one hoof beat angrily at the firm foam mattress, blindly thrashing pent up frustration as soft muffled thumps.

"Fluttershy. Please."

The voice did not come from the translator this time. It was Equestrian, or at least the best that Trent could manage.

She sighed through clenched teeth, staring at the dark ceiling lit only by the fading glow of dusk. Tears rolled in tiny rivulets down the matted fur of her cheeks. Eyes unfocused and uncaring.

The 240 millimetre camera spun in its armoured ball, regarding Trent with an emotionless stare. He stood askew, canted to one side as an off-center picture would hang neglected from a wall.

"It's getting late. Please come here."

She shook her head, staring at the high speckled ceiling.

"Fluttershy..." Trent walked towards the ramp.

She recoiled at his approach, squeezing her forelegs over her belly and feathering the lift fans. One hundred and twenty blades folded back along the forward shafts, slicing the air with a slick sharp snap.

Trent sighed, looking up resignedly.

"Please talk to me."

The hangar was still and quiet, save for the gentle thrum of the ship.

"...The things you said," she choked out in breaking syllables, her voice booming through the external speakers.

"You know why I said them."

The hangar was quiet again.

"I'm not mad. I'm not disappointed. Please don't feel that way."

"Then why..."

"Let me show you."

She twisted to one side, squeezing her eyes shut and facing the wall.

There was a tickling sensation that manifested outside her body, yet felt within her very bones. A pinprick of heat. A flicker of flame. She bolted upright.

Trent held a small squat cylinder in one hand. Blue fire lapped at the air above it. He bent down gingerly, and set the flaming canister on Green Hopper's deck. The 240 millimetre camera swivelled swiftly within the armoured turret, bearing a baleful gaze at the man standing within the ship's steel gullet.

"Wha... What are you doing!"

Trent proffered a second canister from his pocket, setting it ablaze with a small tin lighter. He turned to face the camera.

"You will see," he paused on every word.

The canister dropped to the deck with a soft echoing clack.

Fluttershy flicked the switch with a wave of her hoof, and jumped from the bed. The tall glass windows became mirrors beneath the sudden blinding light. She stepped past the peeled pile of her suit, and pushed the handle on the door.

Her hoofsteps tapped quietly on the short red nylon carpet as she strode down the hallway. She did not run, but trotted with a determined gait. Doors by the dozen flew by as she reservedly raced toward the shiny stainless steel elevator.

The lift was quick, descending with a hum of well oiled cable on a motor that spun with the stupid consistency of a planet. She passed through the quarterdeck, bereft of bunting and bearing skeletal sticks where standards would have proudly hung. The thick greenish glass doors parted at her unspoken command, and she trotted across the flat flowing concrete pavilion. Her hooves trod upon the wet trimmed grass as she made her way to the empty black asphalt street.

The street lamps flickered to life, flooding the road with their sickly yellow glow. She raced through the wet chilly air, hoofsteps echoing their sharp taps across the sprawling complex of the Schoolhouse.

She flew above the rooftops, pumping her wings with a steady metronomic rhythm. Blood coursed through her veins as fuel sat primed within pressurized pumps. Her muscles burned warmly from the persistent pace, just as the heaters gently glowed within the high spool turbines. For a brief moment she relaxed, feeling at ease through the familiar sensations within the sleek steel predator.

The spaceport loomed upon the distant plateau. Blocky buildings that straddled land by the acre, behemoths that blotted out the last light trickling over the hazy orange horizon. She flew onward, skimming over the thick foliage that clung to the sides of the winding mountain road.

* * *

Trent sat cross-legged at the top of the ramp. Soft shadows and dim lights illuminated Green Hopper's bay, dancing to the nuances of the gentle breezes that found their way inside the warship's hull. The flames flickered slightly with the creaking of a steel door. Sharp hoofsteps approached at a measured pace, tapping along the polished polycrete and echoing against the suspended steel channel of the ramp.

The camera spun to meet her as she ascended the ramp, following her every step. She watched herself approach Trent, staring at him through both sets of eyes, equally detached and disembodied.

Before her lay a grid of small canisters, each bearing blue flame. Each spaced evenly within the dropship's bay. She stared for a moment, before turning to Trent.

"I couldn't find any candles," he spoke.

"Um. What?"

"Candles. They don't really make them any more. I had to use these instead. They're meant for chaffing dishes. Keeps the food warm at banquets or buffets. That sort of thing. I found five packs of twenty in the kitchen storage area."

"Why?" she shook her head in confusion.

"One hundred candles. It's what I wanted to show you."

She stared apprehensively, still stinging from the verbal beratement earlier.

"Here, I brought this so you could sit down," he motioned to a folded field blanket at the lip of the ramp.

Her hoof made a token tap against the thick grey synth-wool.

"You said I knew why.."

"Ssshhh... Shhh. Now's not the time for that. You make your mistakes, you move on. I'm not mad at you, Fluttershy. You should know that, after all this. All we've done. You've been learning so much, you know. I'm really proud of you. It's just that sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes. Just like earlier today."

Her head hung slightly. The heat from the hundred candles warmed her face and filled her nose with their mild burning scent. She stepped forward onto the blanket, and sat down.

"I panicked," she said through a clenched throat. "How did I learn anything from that?"

"Well, you didn't of course."

Her breath escaped in a frustrated hiss.

"That's why we're here now."

"What do you want from me?" she sighed.

"A homework assignment. One little task before bed. I want you to sit here with me, and relax. Meditate. Consider today's events in the grand scheme of the past months. Think about today, and where you could be in the future. This is but one brief fleeting moment in time, and it will be gone before too long. Consider it, but please don’t dwell upon it."

"And the candles?"

"Ahh, the candles. Do you see where they are? Sitting neatly inside your ship? I want you to think of something. Imagine that each of those candles is a life. A life held safe within your ship’s bay."

She looked out across the field of flame, each steel cylinder burning brightly within the unlit expanse of the hold.

"I want you to look at each one. Give it a name. Think about it's life. What it's leaving behind. Where it will go from here. Can you imagine them, Fluttershy? Each tiny candle within your ship, a life carried by your hooves. Life from the scattered reaches of the galaxy, each unique and precious in their own right. Each one ripped from their homes, separated from their families and torn from loved ones. Each blessed with the slim fortune of being here, on board you ship. Within your care. Your deliverance."

Fluttershy sat down firmly. Her body sagged with the weight of Trent's words, yet her head held itself high. Wide tepid eyes flickering with the reflection of so many tiny lights.

"Each of them. Give them a name. A life. They are the reason you fly. The reason you fight.”

She shivered.

The flames licked the air within the dropship’s bay, flickering cheerily against the dark grey bulkheads.

One hundred candles. One hundred futures for one hundred lives.

One brave little pegasus.

She stared, nodding rhythmically as her eyelids grew heavy. Her lips pursed and parted, silently bestowing names and faces to each twinkling glow. Bodies and faces foreign and unnatural, manifest from her ephemeral id. Voices ranging from the guttural and growling to the melodic and monotone. Scared and pleading, one and all.

The murky turbulence of her imagination faded briefly. She could see her friends sitting forlornly within the belly of the ship. Expectantly. Looking up to her from afar. Her eyes squeezed shut and she shook her head.

She blinked once again. They surrounded her. Eyes wide and empty, staring past the distant void that divided them, across the sea of time that separated them. Beacons that beckoned homeward through an interminable empty gulf, where she felt lost without bearing.

Her breath caught in her throat, squeezing her sudden surprise into shocked silence. The canisters burned brightly in the unlit bay. Her friends were nowhere to be seen. She exhaled gently, settling back onto the warm wool blanket.

“Fluttershy,” Trent whispered.

“Yes?”

“Can you see them?”

She blinked again. The bay was empty.

“..Yes.”

“You can count them again, if you like. There may be more.”

A sigh escaped her lips, and she began nodding at each light in turn.

“They’re all depending on someone. Someone who can deliver them from harm. Someone who can give them a future.”

He turned to Fluttershy.

“Will it be you?”

* * *

The candles lay still within the bay, lazy wisps of smoke in thin wavy strands where flames once danced high. The grey blanket wrapped around the yellow pegasus, her head nestled firmly against Trent’s thigh.

It was almost time.

The blanket wrapped around several more times, and he hoisted the sleeping bundle over his shoulder, gently tiptoeing down the steel ramp, and across the sea of concrete within the vast hangar.

She lay still across the seat of the electric cart, sleeping soundly as the road rolled by. Her fur fluttered gently in the chilled air, tufts of yellow and silky pink mane peeking out from the blanket. It was a deep sleep, content and peaceful. Free of anxious worry and gnawing fright.

The bundle shifted and stirred slightly, slung between two arms. Green glass parted on slick silent bearings, a warm welcoming gust of air to greet the two tired travellers.

Her head snuggled back into the familiar firmness of the foam pillow. Feathery wings stretched slightly of their own accord, before slipping beneath the marigold sheets.

The door clicked shut. Heavy footfalls shuffled silently down the red carpeted hallway.

The elevator hummed quietly, opening to the rooftop lounge. The lights were out all over the Schoolhouse, but the sky burned brightly. A shimmering sea of stars that arced across the heavens. Trent stared silently at the panoramic vista, singling out a spot of sky holding a star that was too far to see.

Eleven minutes.

He placed one canister upon the dew soaked balcony, coaxing it alight with the tin lighter. It burned brightly, a tiny gout of flame that outshone the terrible leviathans of the cosmos.

The differential chronometer ticked away the seconds. It was a special kind of watch, the sort that navigators relied upon to trace their paths between the stars. Where the universe blazed bright and thick, the very matter of creation slowed the passage of time like barnacles on an oceangoing ship. Where the cosmos was empty and without form, time raced without impediment. It was not a large difference, for what differences could be conceivably imagined by organic minds. But it remained a difference, subtle as it may be to the fleeting attention of those who could comprehend the universe in their infinitesimally short snapshots.

Far away, a short hop across the galactic disc, it was mid-afternoon. The siege of Seven Gates had been grinding away mercilessly for several months now. The armada slogged slowly through the moat of sublight space. A fleet that pressed together from all sides such that their numbers blotted out the stars and dimmed the sun.

Five minutes. The flames licked and lapped at the chilly air.

They had fought without relent, trading tactics for numbers. Each meter to Seven Gates duly paid in vaporized mass. An intermingling sea of ships that followed behind the lifeless drifting derelicts of their brethren.

Four minutes. Trent looked toward the star that wasn’t there.

The differential chronometer tracked time by offset and by rate. The fat snaking clouds of the galactic arms were chopped into their own regions, where time passed more slowly in proximity to the titanic gravity well of the galactic core and the spinning crossbar of stars that dragged spacetime behind it’s terrifying mass. Seven Gates lay near the head of the Crux arm, a crossroads between Sol, Cellara, Lepus, Khaava, Uo, Ranel, and Ptel.

Seven Gates. Seven hundred million lives. A fraction of their constituent homeworlds.

Four hundred thousand saved.

Three minutes.

Trent clutched the balcony, the tiny can of blue flame nestled between his hands. The stars burned bright and constant, yet looked bleary through the welling lens of tears.

Two minutes.

It had been a terrible surprise. The siege was expected to last for weeks after they made planetfall. It was over in minutes.

One minute.

Trent looked at the watch again, counting down the seconds. He looked up again, staring expectantly at that indistinct patch of sky.

“Will it be me?” he asked.

The countdown finished, chiming dilligently until it was silenced under his fingertip.

The cannister was turned over, and it’s flame snuffed out.

Trent drew one deep breath, and screamed at the sky.

Report shalrath · 476 views ·
Comments ( 9 )

Is this a preview or is this the chapter itself?

715462

It's a scene from about 2/3's of the way through the Fluttershy arc. Started writing last night, finished this afternoon. Kind of a rush, so I hope there's not too many mistakes.

How is it btw?

715647
Cou'pla spelling errors. Most often, I noticed "it's" v. "its."
Thematically, you might have overdone it a bit with the candles, but I liked the imagery. And some of your word choice was a tad mundane for me, but I suppose it carried its point across well enough.
I liked it, though.

Think about it's life.

*its

character interaction seemed good, but I was confused about the setting; first she's inside a ship, then she's outside planetside, then in another ship...? Hopefully the details on that will be more clear in-context.

715647
This feels like one of those previews some anime or cartoons do telling you what gonna happen come the next airing, but they overdo it sometimes and the plot-line of the next episode becomes so plainly obvious that you can actually skip it. Unlike TV where they mandatorily present these at the end of the show, I can skip blogs and fanfic previews. I'm content with waiting and would rather read EVERYTHING in one go, so I respectfully decline. Your story is worth the wait, so take your time to make the best of it the way you see fit. We can only influence your decision, but ultimately the choice is yours to make.

716323

You know how Trent can open doors and push buttons by radio? She can too. The ship is essentially a prosthetic extension of herself.

716295

Okay, no more writing till 5am. heh.

716749

I've had this scene stewing around in my head for a while now. Had to get it out of the memory buffer. All of these little blog posts are essentially rough drafts, so the final product will be a bit more polished, and some of the exposition will be removed.

The hint about Seven Gates isn't enough info to spoil anything yet - although the final version of this scene might look a bit creepier without any mention of it.

716991
Then I shall wait to read the whole chapter in all its creepy glory :pinkiecrazy:

Fluttershy's relation to Green Hopper at this point is close enough that she can not only feel everything the ship senses, but she can control it as well. It's sort of like Trent's rambling flashback in CH14 where he's talking about fighting in a jungle, and flying an atmospheric nuclear cruiser overhead at the same time.

This ability will come into play later, after all the mane 6 arcs.

She also has a pet.

716991
Oh, you.
720632
Intriguing. I'd be interested to see how you plan on making that 100% internally consistent, but I don't forsee too many problems.

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