From Far Beyond

by Jade Dawn

Chapter 3: Interim

From Far Beyond

A “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” Fanfiction

Written by Jade Dawn

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is owned by Hasbro. I own none of the characters except the ones I have created for this story.

Chapter 3: Interim

Eric leaned over a table in the middle of the family living room, staring down at the textbook and loose-leaf paper before him. He had long ago began wondering if statistics was designed specifically to torture people like him. Now he was pretty much sure of it.

Mr. Mauchik had given the class fifteen problems out of the textbook that were due the next week, much to everyone's chagrin. But Eric especially. It wasn't the due date that bothered him. It was the actual assignments themselves that troubled him so. No matter what he tried, the understanding he sought continuously eluded him.

He just wasn't a mathematical genius, and that was that.

He pulled his notebook in front of him and looked over the frantically scribbled words and numerals written on it, desperately hoping to have some sort of epiphany on the subject. Much to his frustration, he found none.

A thousand and one self-deprecating remarks flooded into his brain. You've gotta study harder, Eric, or You're not taking this seriously enough, or You're in high school, you should be able to handle this, the whole shebang.

He tried to shoo those ugly thoughts away by thinking about Charles Brant's speech to the school last week, but to no avail. The words of the famous man had sounded so profound, so uplifting that day he had spoken. But now the words had seemed to lose their potency in the face of an actual problem. In the end, they did Eric no good.

And it was such a minor problem in the grand scheme of things, Eric thought. It was just one stupid statistics homework assignment that probably any other kid in the class could crack! If he couldn't solve this without hitting a mental wall, then what would happen when he was met with a real challenge?

Eric groaned and put his head in his hands. It was only then that he realized that his palms had actually began sweating.

You're panicking again, Eric. Keep it together.

Maybe he could just ask Dad to help him...

Except Dad wasn't able to help him right now. He was sitting down in that old storage room in the basement, working on whatever it was he was working on, when he should have been enjoying his month off with his family.

Eric sighed as he remembered how it had blown over at the restaurant the other night...

"What do you mean, 'special project'?" Sarah asked incredulously, dropping the fork with a bit of steak back onto the plate.

Jonathan raised a hand in defense. "It's nothing big, honey. It's just something that the Research Department wants me working on as a...a kind of side project. Honestly, it's not–"

"But why now?" She persisted. "I thought this was a vacation. You know, where you spend time with your family? That kind of thing?"

"Sarah, please keep it down," Jonathan whispered, nervously glancing around the restaurant.

"I'm not yelling, Jonathan, I'm just–" she cut off abruptly.

From opposite ends of the table, Eric and Benjamin gave each other nervous glances. For a moment, it had seemed like things would spiral into a full-on argument.

What a way for Dad to come home, Eric thought. First night back, and he and Mom are at each other's throats.

This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen at all. There wasn't supposed to be any projects from TechnoCorp. Dad was supposed to have a full month to spend at home with his family. This whole thing had come completely out of nowhere.

Finally–mercifully–Sarah relaxed, and leaned back in her seat. "I just thought we'd been spending more time together. All of us, Jonathan..."

Jonathan looked down guiltily. "I know..."

"And now just wasn't what I expected."

Jonathan nodded weakly. " neither."

Eric cleared his throat. "Um...not to pry or anything, but can you at least tell us what this is all about, Dad?"

Jonathan hesitated, as if trying to decide what to say. "It's...kind of top-secret right now, son. I can't really say much about it..." He sighed. "Not even to any of you."

"But it won't take up the whole month, will it?" Eric inquired. "You'll be able to finish it up and still have some vacation time left, right?"

"Will I still get to show you what I've been building in Minecraft?" Benjamin asked nervously.

Jonathan smiled–a small, sad kind of smile–and said, "Don't you worry. I'll get this thing all wrapped up, and then we'll all be able to enjoy ourselves." He looked Sarah right in the eyes. "I promise."

Somehow, though, Eric didn't find himself convinced all that convinced...

Eric's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a doorbell, followed soon after by hurried footsteps coming up the stairs from the basement.

"I've got it, I've got it!" His father called out. "It's probably for me!" The next thing Eric heard was the door opening, and a new voice that he assumed was the mailman.

"Um, hi. You're Dr. Jonathan Colby?"

"Yes. Is that for me?"

There was a moment of silence (Eric assumed the man had just nodded). "I'm gonna need you to sign here. And here. Uh, just initial that. It's all yours, sir."

"Thank you very much." The door shut, and the unseen delivery man was gone.

Curious, Eric stood and went over to the front hallway. His Dad was coming from the front door with a medium sized box in his hands. On the side was the TechnoCorp logo, and a label that read: CAUTION!: Liquid contents. Handle with care. Dad was looking down at it, muttering something about "finally got here".

"What's that?" Eric asked.

Jonathan actually jumped a little, and briefly fumbled with the box as he tried to regain his composure. "Oh, uh, sorry. You, um, startled me there."

"Sorry about that, Dad." Still jumpy, Eric thought. What on Earth is he so nervous about right now? "Is that another thing for your project?"

"What, you mean this?"

"Um, yeah? I mean, not to sound snarky or anything, but what else?"

Jonathan nodded. "Yeah. It's for the...the project, yes. Excuse me." He eased himself past Eric and made his way towards the door to the basement in the hallway.

Eric hesitated before asking, "Hey, Dad? I don't know if you're gonna be busy later on, but if you're free later, could you help me with my stats homework? I'm kind of stuck aga–"

"Yeah, I'll see about it later, okay?" Jonathan interrupted. "I'm in the middle of something right now." He didn't even glance at Eric as he opened the door to the basement and disappeared from view.

Eric sighed and shook his head. On the one hand, he was annoyed that he wasn't going to be getting that homework done anytime soon.

But Dad...

The sound of a phone ringing from the living room pulled him out of his thoughts. He went over and picked it up from where it lay on the couch. It was Dad's phone, but the ringtone and phone number were unfamiliar to him.

Probably somebody from work, he thought. It was the only explanation he could come up with.

Cautiously, he pressed the "answer" button and put the phone to his ear.


The voice that replied was a deep voice with a British accent to it. "My name is Eckhardt. David Eckhardt, from TechnoCorp Enterprise's Research Department. Perhaps you've heard of me? Never mind, you probably have. I'm trying to reach a Dr. Jonathan Colby. Is he around?"

Eric found himself momentarily taken aback. "Um...I'll see if he's available. Hang on a sec." He put the phone down, and went to the basement door, still open ajar from when his father had passed through, and began to descend the stairs.

He'd heard of Dr. Eckhardt, alright. He'd been the chief scientist at SynthX Industries when the malaria incident had happened. Although he had been reportedly in charge of the project, he pinned the blame on his superiors, claiming that they had rushed him before he and the other scientists had completed the test simulations. After the company went bankrupt and TechnoCorp bought it out, Eckhardt had joined the Research Department, quickly becoming chief of all of the company's research and development operations in recent years.

From what Eric had heard, the man had quite the ego. Rumor had it that even Charles Brant didn't get along with him.

Eric finally entered the basement. On the far side of the room was a door that marked the entrance to the old storage room where Dad often worked.

The door to the room was shut. Eric went up to it and rapped on it with his knuckles.

"Hey, Dad?"

"Eric," his father said from somewhere behind the door. "I'm sorry, I really am, but I don't have time for–"

"No, no, it's not that. There's a phone call from work. Somebody named Eckhardt."

For a moment, there was silence. Then the door opened, and Jonathan stepped out.

"Eckhardt?" he asked. There was a faint sense of worry in his voice. "David Eckhardt? From TechnoCorp?"

"Um, yeah, he said he wanted to talk to–"

"Eric, listen to me," his father said. Now his voice was stern, insistent. "I want you to go back up there and tell him I'm not home. I don't care what excuse you have to make up, but I am not here, do you understand?"

Eric was taken aback. This was the first time in his life he'd ever heard Dad telling somebody to lie, least of all his own son, and especially to his boss. "But..."

"Eric, please!" Jonathan shouted. Eric leapt back, startled.

Jonathan sighed, then put his hands on his son's shoulders. "Eric, listen. I promise I'll explain this whole thing to you and your mother and Benjamin. But please...tell Eckhardt I'm not home."

Eric was silent for a while, trying to process it all, before giving a small nod and going back up the stairs.

Once there, he picked up the phone and told Eckhardt the best excuse he could think of.

"Uh, sorry, sir," Eric said. "He's not home yet. The train from the airport was delayed. He won't be back until tomorrow."

"Oh, really?" Eckhardt replied. He didn't sound convinced. "How...unfortunate. Well, listen, do me a favor; when he does get home, you just let him know I called, alright?"

Eric hesitated for a moment before cautiously replying. "Alright, I'll–"

There was a low beep as Eckhardt ended the call. No "goodbye" or anything like that. It just ended right there.

Confused, and now more uneasy than ever before, Eric put the phone down.

What was that all about?, he wondered.

Fizzlepop narrowed her eyes and glared at her adversary.

Most ponies would think it looked so innocent, so ordinary, so harmless. And it certainly looked the part, sitting there silently like that.

Fizzlepop knew better. She could almost hear it mocking her, daring her to take it on and fail in doing so.

But she was not a mare to be deterred once she had her mind made up. She was going to utterly defeat her hated enemy. She would win the day, and revel in her victory.

With Celestia as her witness, she was gonna finally pick up that newspaper with her magic!

Fizzlepop took a deep breath, and began.

Slowly, painfully slow for the average unicorn, she began to let her magic seep out of the shattered remains of her horn, focusing it on the newspaper.

Not all at once, she reminded herself. Do it slow. Bit by bit. Give the field time to build up, and then start to lift.

Even pouring out her magic as slow as she was, she could still feel the instability that came with her broken horn. For a moment, she thought she saw a few sparks beginning to form, and reduced the output accordingly.


Finally, after what seemed like an eternity and a half, a blue aura began to swirl around the newspaper. Fizzlepop felt her pulse quicken in excitement. She might actually do it this time!

Then, carefully willing it with her mind, she lifted the newspaper up into the air.

Even after recent events, it was still quite rare for Fizzlepop to do anything more than a modest smile. But now she couldn't help herself. She was grinning from ear to ear in triumph, and actually caught herself laughing with joy, of all things.

"Twilight!" she called. "Or Spike, or somepony, come quick! I'm doing it, I'm doing it!"

She was pretty happy up until the edges of the paper began to catch fire.

Fizzlepop leapt back with a rather uncharacteristic yelp, and the newspaper fell to the floor. She leapt at it and stomped out the small flames with her hooves, and blew on it for good measure.

It was at that moment that the doors to the library swung open, and Twilight galloped in.

"What happened?! Are you hurt?! Is something attacking?! Is there–"

"No, Twilight, it's..." Fizzlepop slumped down to the floor, and hung her head dejectedly. "It's nothing. Nothing at all."

Twilight looked over at the now medium rare paper, and quickly put two and two together. "Were you trying to use magic again?"

Fizzlepop nodded. "Mmhm."

Twilight sat down beside her. "How far did you get?"

Fizzlepop shrugged. "Well, I was at least able to hold it up for a second or two."

"Really?" Twilight said. "Well, at least you're improving. That's a good sign."

Fizzlepop smiled a little. "Yeah..." Her frown returned. "I, uh, must've pumped in a little too much when I got excited..."

Twilight gave her a reassuring pat on the back. "Don't worry. We'll find a way to make it work," she said with a comforting smile.

Fizzlepop nodded. "Yeah...I guess." She wanted to move on from the incident now, and looked at the still-intact headline of the paper:


"I see they finally decided to let the public in on it."

"Mhmm," Twilight said. "They figured that given how well known she's become, it'd be pointless to cover it up."

"Is the populace as panicked as they thought?"

"No. There's concern, yes, but nopony's screaming about the end of the world or an alien abduction or whatever."

Fizzlepop suddenly got an image of little green space-ponies with death rays and flying saucers, and she smiled a little at the absurdity of the idea. "Any luck on finding out why the locator spell failed."

Twilight shook her head. "Nothing yet. I still haven't gotten a response from Celestia yet. I sent a letter to Starlight Glimmer, though. She's about as good as magic as I am, so I figured she might have some idea about–"

She was interrupted when Spike came running through the library doors. He was holding a scroll in his hand. "Hey, Twi," he said. "Just got this. It's from the Crystal Empire."

Twilight rose to her hooves. "It must be from Starlight." She levitated the scroll from Spike and opened it up. "Let's hope she actually has something..."

Dear Twilight,

I'm very sorry, but Starlight is unavailable right now. I asked her and Sunburst to investigate claims of windigos outside the Empire's borders. I don't know when they'll be back.

When she returns, I'll be sure to let her know about your problem. Good luck in the meantime.

With regards,
Princess Cadence

"Well," Twilight said disappointedly. "So much for that idea. Can't be helped, I guess."

"I hope she and Sunburst are gonna be okay," Spike said. "I heard that they've been getting some pretty bad snowstorms up there right now."

"I'm sure they'll be fine, Spike. Trust me, I know Starlight. There's a lot that pony can handle."

"Of all the times for a blizzard to sweep in, it had to be now, when we're smack in the middle of a frozen wasteland!" Starlight shouted over the swirling winds.

"Hey, it's not my fault I wasn't able to read the weather forecast this morning!" Sunburst snapped back. "You were in such a rush to get going that I barely had time to get a bagel!"

"Oh yeah, sure, blame it on me!"

The two of them were standing in some Celestia-forsaken part of the Frozen North, caught in one of the worst snowstorms either of them had ever seen. Even with all their snow gear, they were still freezing cold and miserable.

Naturally, this didn't exactly work wonders for their tempers.

"You know what?" Starlight said. "We should head back. We're not gonna get anything done in this weather. Besides, nothing could possibly stay out here for very long...not even a windigo."

"Well, technically speaking," Sunburst said. "Windigos are adapted for living in and creating sub-zero environments, so I'm pretty sure that..."

He couldn't see it clearly through the blowing snow, but he was pretty sure Starlight was giving him a face that resembled a death glare.

"On second thought, you're right. Let's head back."

The two of them turned and started walking back in the direction of the Crystal Empire. They had to raise their hooves over their eyes to shield them from the winds.

"Hey, Sunburst?" Starlight said. "Sorry about that back there. I shouldn't have snapped like that. I'm just..."

"Cold and tired?" Sunburst said. "Yeah, me too. Sorry."

Starlight gave a light chuckle. "If there were any windigos out here, I'm pretty sure we'd look like an all-you-can-eat buffet back there."

"Yeah, I'll bet," Sunburst replied. "'Step right up folks! Last chance to get some on-the-house negative emotions!'" He said with a laugh. "But in all seriousness–" He was cut off when Starlight put a hoof on his chest to stop him.

"Sunburst..." she said, pointing ahead of them. "What are those?"

Sunburst squinted into the white abyss. At first he saw nothing, but then, gradually, he began to make to shapes moving about in the storm. They were tall, perhaps a few feet taller than the average pony, and seemed to walk on two legs, but he couldn't be sure at this distance.

"I...I don't know, I..."

One of the things appeared to notice them, and raised what looked like an arm to point them out. It's companion raised a stick-like object and pointed it straight at the two ponies.

"Starlight, do you think we should run?"

Before she could answer, there was a loud sound, almost like a bang, that echoed through the storm. A small patch of snow seemed to explode in front of the two, and they stepped back in alarm. In a hole in the snow before them, there was a small, silvery object.

It looked like a dart.

Starlight made up her mind. "Run. Now."

With that, the two turned tail and bolted. Neither of them cared what direction they were going. All the knew was that whatever was out there was not friendly.

As they ran, Sunburst heard several more bangs. Once or twice, he could hear another dart whizzing by very close to him, and he yelped whenever it happened.

Sunburst was thoroughly terrified. He actually would've felt better if they had run into windigos after all. At least he would've known what they were up against.

But then, after a while, the bangs from the weapon stopped, and Sunburst only heard the wind howling and his own hooves in the snow. He slowed to a stop and tried to catch his breath, sucking in great quantities of freezing air.

"Okay..." he panted. "I think...I think we got away from them...we gotta find another way to get..." He suddenly realized that he hadn't heard from Starlight since they started running, and whipped his head up in alarm.

She was nowhere to be found.

"Starlight?" Sunburst called. "Starlight!" Using his own hoof prints as a guide, he ran back they way he had come, calling out her name all the while.

"Starlight! Where are you?! Starlight?!"

He stopped when he noticed a large print in the snow. It was about the size of a pony. Around it were several other prints that he couldn't identify, leading back in the direction they had run from.

They took her. Oh, sweet Celestia, they've got her!

He took off running, following the new set of prints. His run took him far past where they had originally seen the things.

Gradually, he began to see lights through the windswept snow, and he slowed to a halt to take in the strange scene before him.

A large, boxy looking object lay silent and unmoving about a hundred feet ahead of him. Bright, dazzling lights shown from the top and the front of the object.

Off to the side, about fifty feet away, was an even stranger sight. A large, iridescent shimmer was hovering in mid-air, pulsating with a faint hum. It looked like somepony had taken a ripple from a stone thrown into a pond, turned it on its side and set it on repeat.

But it was what was going on at the back of the first object that grabbed his attention. He saw the two creatures lifting something between them into the back of the thing.

Through the whiteness, he could just make out a lavender coat...

"NO!" He shouted, charging forth. "Let her go!

But the creatures either didn't hear him or didn't heed his calls. Either way, they disappeared with their captive into the bowels of the object. There was a sudden revving noise, rather like those internal-combustion engines that Sunburst had read about once, and the object rolled forward towards the ripple.

Sunburst frantically tried to keep up with the thing. "Wait! Bring her back, please! Stop!"

Even as he ran, he realized he would never make it in time. He could only watch helplessly as the thing moved straight into the shimmer...

...and vanished completely.

Even as he did, he saw it shrinking, collapsing on itself. He just reached it when it finally shrunk into a tiny dot of light, and then winked out entirely.

Sunburst skidded to a halt as he stared at where the creatures, the shimmer, and his friend had been just a moment before. Apart from some strange tracks left behind by that one object, there was no sign of them at all.

It was like they had never existed.

"STARLIGHT!" Sunburst cried.

But she couldn't hear him. Nopony could hear him, and nopony could help him, either.

He was all alone in the cold, wailing blizzard.