• Member Since 29th Sep, 2011
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More Blog Posts22

  • 237 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.

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    7 comments · 387 views
  • 397 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"


    2 comments · 527 views
  • 397 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

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    1 comments · 534 views
  • 397 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!)
    Axis of Rotation

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    14 comments · 651 views
  • 562 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 · 833 views

The Sledge · 3:32am Apr 3rd, 2013

(I'm not dead)

The Sledge.

Not to be confused with the sledgehammer, though one could easily make the tongue-in-cheek comparison.

The Sledge is like a sled. A sled for starships. Not that a modern starship needs such an anachronistic device from a time when interstellar travel was measured in decades and logistical resupply was measured in equally impractical numbers.

But one day, the Sledge had one very important, and very special purpose.

It so happened that by a series of fortuitous events, the Sledge was delivered to the Cellera system, and placed in orbit around the single alabaster moon of Seven Gates. The sheer size of the craft was incredible to behold, and the brute force obsolescence of its design left the populace of Seven Gates awestruck. For a brief time, it accounted for a fifteen percent rise in extra-system traffic, as tourists flocked to see with their own eyes (or equivalent) that such a relic could have, much less would have, been built in the pre-FTL era.

The bow of the Sledge is a dome of steel designed to plow through the dust filled interstellar distances, shrugging off the kiloton blasts of stray molecules impacting the forward glacis. A small ocean of cryogenic hydrogen would have filled its cavernous hold. Starships of a more practical size would have fit neatly within a honeycomb of chambered berths, or docked alongside - as remoras hitching upon the belly of a shark.

On a clear night, you could see the shadow it cast across the moon.

While novel, the Sledge was soon forgotten amid a galactic venue of other equally interesting things. However, there was considerable activity taking place near the behemoth of a ship, presumably to establish an entire museum of spaceflight technologies, where the Sledge would surely be a historical exhibit with the same prominence to spaceflight as the Pyramids were to an archaeologist.

After some time, the Sledge had been gutted. Sections of her fusion drive were strewn across the moonscape as monuments of technology gone by. In an age where the engines of a starship were little more than glorified thrusters, the sight of a fusion compressor coil that could straddle a city block was nearly unthinkable. Superconducting coils the size of subway cars wound around the saddle shaped arches, disappearing into hair-thin bands near the apex of the yoke, some five hundred meters overhead. Fuel tanks the size and shape of an O'Neil colony lay still and empty across the powdery lunar surface. And towering in the distance, the monolithic bulk of the Sledge stood upright, forever awaiting her maiden voyage.

A not very interesting thing happened one day. Two visitors arrived to Seven Gates, one human that bore a strong resemblance to a somewhat important person (who insisted that he wasn't), and a smaller equine shaped alien with yellow fur, bright pink mane, and a pair of feathery wings. Between the two of them, they owned a small atmospheric craft. However, in the grand scheme of the Seven Gates customs office, this wasn't terribly unusual.

A much more interesting thing happened the following day. FTL transit was suspended. The FTL disruption region was expanded to an unheard-of scale, extending nearly eight light-minutes in radius. Nearly one astronomical unit, if you were inclined to use the "english" system.

Just prior, a small fleet arrived within the system. An announcement was made. Due to recent contact with a heretofore unknown spacefaring society, a condition of heightened alert was declared for all homeworlds, colonies, outposts, and spacegoing vessels within the Concordiance.

Two hours later, a state of war was announced. Seven Gates was declared under emergency martial law, and evacuations were to begin immediately.

This was met with some ridicule and disbelief.

If it were a rogue species, they could surely dispatch ships to riddle their scouting forces with high velocity rail shot, and force their home planet into an armistice.

If it were a confederacy of star systems (which would be unlikely to go unnoticed in this day and age), surely they could decimate their task force with magnetic lances and communication lasers.

If it were an empire of allied species, (increasingly improbable) then they could surely tear their ships in half by summoning the forces of gravity from just beyond the veil of space, crushing their matter like wooden boats within the scaly beak of the kraken.

Twenty minutes later, they learned that it was not.

A Type Three galactic civilization stood against them, and from the very edge of the FTL suppression field, they could see their ships arrive. An armada from all angles and all elevations, enough ships to blot out the stars themselves.

As the armada crossed the moat of sublight space, evacuations began from Seven Gates. They had one month before the armada arrived. Transports flew around the clock, tearing contrails into the sky with each passenger payload. Volunteer units formed an auxiliary corps, ferrying people to orbit alongside the immense commercial Skylifters and Avaylia class dropships.

Tensions mounted. The armada closed in at their inexorable pace. New stars blazed brightly in the night sky, the reverse thrust of starships decelerating from fractional c. The FTL suppression field kept them from coming in, but it also kept the evacuation fleet from getting out. Even the Crossbar Five communications platform was cut off from it's realtime hyperspace ansible network.

It had been nearly two weeks since they heard anything from outside Cellera. The silence was deafening.

Every weapon was brought to bear against the armada. The deep space communication lasers on Crossbar Five were turned towards the stars as an invisible burning lance. Its city sized computer banks were reprogrammed to act as fire control and to run battle simulations. Cruise missiles the size of 747's packed with tungsten golf balls were hurled from Seven Gates' gravitational slingshot. Nuclear pumped gamma ray lasers twinkled like fireflies in the night sky, a silent choir that sang with the primordial light of the cosmic expansion. Yet still, they approached. Every meter to Seven Gates duly paid by measure of metallic plasma and organic ash.

Surely when they came, the FTL suppression field would be shut off, and the survivors of Seven Gates would flee to the far corners of the galaxy.

However, keeping the enemy armada trapped within sublight space for another month was a vital component in a far more important operation. Trapping the bulk of their fleet to buy time for retaliation.

Surely, this was the bulk of their fleet.

The armada was upon them. However, there was one trick they held up their sleeve. One card held stubbornly within their hand. The signal was given, and all remaining ships made haste to lunar orbit.

The Sledge was waiting.

Ships of all sizes filed into the superstructure. From the smallest singleship to the Prominence class dreadnoughts that safely stowed away millions of refugees each. Farewells were sent to those left to fortify Seven Gates, those settled within bunkers carved from the very bedrock. The surface may burn and the oceans may boil, but reinforcements would surely arrive before the stone fortresses were breached.

Crossbar Five burned as it's crew raced towards the Sledge. Its secrets would die with the station, a promise guaranteed by those who adamantly insisted upon staying until every cipher was null and every equipment rack eviscerated by plasma torch.

As the last ship docked, and hypervelocity slugs pinged against the outer hull, the Sledge engaged its engine.

It was a new engine. One of a kind. One powerful enough to push the castle of steel.

A fusion drive would have been efficient, but slow. A gravity planar would have been quick, but useless upon a mass of that size. The solution was just as much of a brute force design as the Sledge itself.

If you're familiar with the concept of "Orion", whereby a ship tosses nuclear bombs out the back, and rides along the ensuing shockwave - then your sense of imagination is far too modest.

At the base of the Sledge, a pair of mile-long buildings extended away in either direction. Where they met, the two buildings were offset by nearly a centimeter from each other - what was thought to be a mild scandal of architectural incompetence. The buildings had never been opened to the public. Where one would expect to find exhibits and memorabilia, there was a wholly different set of equipment. A small unassuming magnetic rail ran down the length of each building. At the ends, mass centrifuges, two storeys tall and squat as sultans, lay buried within pits of reinforced lunar regolith.

The signal was given. Superfluid plasma colder than deep space and denser than a failed star were fired from their respective canons. A magnetic pinch strong enough to induce paramagnetic attraction in organic flesh squeezed the pea-sized freight trains of plasma into infinitesimally small points. Beneath the Sledge, the two invisible pellets flew by each other at a low fraction of the speed of light, just millimetres apart.

But, even at such speeds, they danced. As black holes go, these were small enough that protons would have to queue in line to get sucked in. Their mass was microscopic in comparison to their stellar cousins. Even as they blinked into their whirlwind existence, they began spewing radiation from virtual particle pairs that happened to spring into existence upon the very cusp of their respective horizons.

From within the Sledge, a very long tube spun. It was a drum of mercury, a quarter mile long, and surrounded by magnetic hammers, looking very much like the cylinders of a radial aircraft engine. A slug of chilled plasma condensate entered the cavity at one end, and was quickly crushed until it shot out of the far side.

It was another black hole, at least temporarily. Singularities of that size are doomed to fizzle out in a violent fury as their matter returns back to normal space. However, even the tiniest of black holes could take minutes to centuries to finally evaporate completely. As these shot through the eye of the tidal storm, that stay of execution was shortened to nil.

There was an explosion that any cosmologist would have devoted their career to see. Followed by another, and another, and another. The gravitational waves from the spinning ring turned the face of the moon into magma, and the lemming-like suicides of the nano singularities not only vaporized a crater beneath the Sledge, but actually induced R-process neutron capture to forge heavier elements.

One might ask how the Sledge survived this. The spinning singularity pair was held within a trap, as firmly as a penny within a block of concrete. The gravitational planers pushed firmly against their mass, as a sprinter would lunge forth from the starting blocks. As for the radiation and the jets of energetic X-rays that spewed from the singularity pair, one might ask what material could be employed to shield against the very fury of such as cosmic engine.

There is none.

At least, not any that would survive indefinitely.

Steel plates, the size of city blocks and as thick as a man was tall, were stacked in an inverted pyramid beneath the Sledge. Steel plates smelted by the sun, and forged in the tidal pull of Cellera's radioactive gas giants. Steel plates that ablated into fiery tongues of metallic plasma, forming a corona of brilliant blinding light around the base of the Sledge.

It was the largest structure ever built, and it was accelerating at four times the standard force of gravity.

You would not want to be behind the Sledge when it started its run.. and if you were in front of it, then god help you.

The Sledge escaped.

Unfortunately, the man and the pegasus were not onboard.

Report shalrath · 611 views ·
Comments ( 9 )

Well now I'm thoroughly confused...


Trent sighed, picking up the metal briefcase, and turned towards Sugarcube Corner.

“Mr. Trent?”

“Yes, Fluttershy?” he sighed.

“Well... It’s just that, you never really answered Mr. Lancaster’s question.”

“Oh. Well, it is a bit complicated to explain how it works. You should know.”

“No, not that. I mean, where is everybody? Why can’t they be here?”

“Ahh... That,” Trent frowned. “I think they might be a little busy right now.”

Every hair stood upright along Fluttershy’s back.

“But don’t worry, we’ll get to meet them soon enough.”

There was a long pregnant silence, preceded by a short sharp gasp. Trent stopped, turning slowly to face Fluttershy.

“Will they...” she glanced from side to side, and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Will they be okay?”

Trent smiled. He set down the briefcase and clasped his hands together. His eyes looked to the sky as he drew a deep breath and smiled confidently, preparing to tell Fluttershy exactly what she hoped to hear.

Not a word escaped his lips.

The two stared silently at each other for a moment. Trent’s hands began to wring together as his cheerful grin flickered into sincere concern. He knelt down and leaned forward toward the imploring inquisitive pegasus.

“There’s no hiding anything from you, is there?”

You entice me so! :rainbowkiss:
I long for a deeper understanding of these scenes, and shall await the next chapter with bated breath. :pinkiehappy:

*Waits for the next chapter that may be coming out soon.*

I think "two storeys tall" should be "two stories"

Amazing work as always, Shalrath. I await fervorously. :D

Not sure I followed all of that, but I'm reminded of Stephen Baxter's GUT drives. Compress stuff down to densities found shortly after the Big Bang, allow a controlled expansion in a single direction, and there's your thrust...

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