Embers Fall

by CrimsonWave

11 - Miles

Back in Las Pegasus, Sun Beamer was doing some final packing for his own journey to Duskgem; the plan was to hitch a ride with Blast Furnace and her cousin Smith Stone to Reino, stay there for a few nights at his home there, then head for the desert on the first day of the Gathering. Sun Beamer's feelings of anticipation for this event were four parts excitement and one part fear, given that he's not a pony known for "roughing it" that often. Thenagain, it's not like he wasn't being accompanied by a trusty pegasi who knew her way around this mysterious event that he knew absolutely nothing about until now. Along with prerequisite reminders on the norms and practices of the Gathering, Blast Furnace was also hyping a "surprise" for when they arrived this morning.

As Sun Beamer tried to cram just one more pair of boots into his third suitcase, someone began knocking on his door. He opened the door to reveal Smith; he was a grey-colored, medium-sized unicorn stallion with a picture of a stone hammer on his flanks. He was only slightly larger than Sun Beamer, and looked he had trotted right out of a renaissance fair.

"Lemme guess; Smith Stone?" Sun Beamer asked.

"You are correct, Sir Beamer." he confirmed. "Oh, looks like you're packing somewhat heavy. I can get those for you." Smith Stone started to levitate Sun Beamer's luggage so he could put them in his RV.

As he did this, Blast Furnace popped her head out of one of the windows. "Hey, Sun Beamer! You ready to rock and roll?" she yelled. "This is the big surprise I've been talking about; we got a new Windidigo!"

"New to us to be exact." Smith clarified, having found a way to squeeze that last boot into Sun Beamer's last suitcase. Blast Furnace rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, it's a 2013 model! It's not that old." he elaborated.

Sun Beamer entered the RV; it was spacious, and definitely a bit more comfortable to ride in than just a normal truck. "You could sleep in it too if tents on top of hot sand isn't quite your thing." Smith Stone explained.

Sun Beamer rested himself onto one of the couch-like seats. "I’ll accept that offer.”

"See? I knew he would." Blast Furnace whispered to Smith.

"What was that?" Sun Beamer asked.

"Eh, nothing." she replied. Clearly, Sun Beamer wasn't meant to hear that.

"So, I don't think you answered my question from earlier, Sun." Blast Furnace prepared.

"Oh?" he replied.

"You ready to rock?"

"Yeah! Drop that track, Stone!" Sun Beamer announced.

"I'll take that as an indication that we're all ready to go." Smith Stone nonchalantly responded.

Neighvada is one of those places where everything becomes grim and mysterious the moment you leave a major city; the highway towards Reino wound through dry plains, periodically punctuated by small towns whose entire existence depends on getting travelers to stop by and stay for a little while longer than they usually would. To pass the time, Sun Beamer, Blast Furnace, and Smith Stone exchanged the often-humorous stories about their lives.

"So let me get this straight; there was a DJ at that festival a few months ago who was conspiring to brainwash everypony?" asked Smith Stone.

"Yes. Me and a friend were investigating her, and she seemed to be on a mission to 'end' something, but we haven't quite figured out what." explained Sun Beamer. "We think it's music-related, though. Why else would she try to do this at a dance music festival?"

"She ended up ambushing me, and then used a strange spell that put me into some weird alternate reality with villains and stuff in it." he continued. "Everything started 'flickering' back to normal if I got away from her, however, so I'm guessing it has a limited range?"

"Okay, that has to be some of the craziest crap I've ever heard, and I've seen some of the weird spells that unicorns have mastered nowadays." Blast Furnace affirmed.

"It gets weirder. You remember when you first met me at that restaurant?" asked Sun Beamer.

"Yep." she replied.

"Well, the waiter told me that some truckers were hearing weird things on their radios that matched up the stuff I was hearing in the alternate reality. So my wild guess is that it interferes with, or uses the same frequencies, as a radio."

"A form of mind-controlling unicorn magic that resonates through actual radio waves, huh?" Smith Stone asked. "Coincidentally, one of my friends was studying about stuff like that for a university paper. Maybe you should capture her as a test subject!" he jokingly proposed.

Everypony laughed for a moment.

"Yeah, that would be a good idea ... if we knew where she was, though. I've been a little uneasy about whether she may be going to the Gathering or not, since her music seems to align with the typical soundtrack of Duskgem." Sun Beamer admitted.

"However, this event is a little obscure, pun intended, and Blast Furnace said it was a common courtesy for those sound camp things to not reveal who their performers are. Consider this non-scientific evidence that I have no need to worry about evil DJs, maybe." Sun Beamer concluded.

"But in the event she is there, I know her possible weaknesses, and we'll practically blend into the crowd. Does she even know what I look like without my rave costume on to begin with?" he pondered.

"I doubt it, Chaotic Kisol." acknowledged Blast Furnace. "Though that mane feels like something iconic that she might pick up on...."

"Like you just said, don't worry. It's not like you're not travelling with new friends..." Smith Stone remarked.