• Published 15th Mar 2012
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End of the Line - Wheller

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Chapter 1

End of the Line
Chapter 1

Twilight Sparkle felt mixed feelings about what was going on at the here and now. She nervously awaited the lift containing her, Rainbow Dash, Vinyl Scratch, Surprise, and the rest of their friends to reach the bottom of the shaft. They were going down into the heart of the Vermillion Mesa.

The lift hit bottom with a soft thump, allowing the doors to open to reveal another one, but this door was like no other that could be found at Vermillion Mesa. However, this was not a door that was unique. Twilight Sparkle herself had seen two others just like it, one in Whitetail Wood, and another in the Divide. The door was a large metal gear, with large white letters painted on the front of it. VMMB, the door to the Vermillion Mesa Missile Base.

‘How many of these things are we going to run into?’ Twilight Sparkle asked, rhetorically.

‘In a perfect world? None’, snapped an annoyed, impatient voice belonging to a one of the Cultus Mechanius’ blue robed Saracen. This one was called Glass Bauble, in the low lights outside of the missile base, she would have been very difficult to see, her brown coat and her blue robes blending well into the darkness. Her blonde mane on the other hand stuck out like a red rose in a field full of dandelions. Twilight had almost forgotten about the Saracen unicorn that was leading them into the depths of Vermillion Mesa to speak to the enigmatic Order Master of the Cultus Mechanius, an earth pony by the name of Darius, the father of Chapter Master Xerxes of the Manehattan Cultus Mechanius, who they knew from the Cutie Mark Crusaders story from while they were at FutureTec.

Twilight looked around and for the first time was focused enough to realise that the Cutie Mark Crusaders were not with them, that they had not been with them since stepping off the train. ‘Did anypony see the Cutie Mark Crusaders?’

Rarity and Applejack looked around, they too, had not realised that the Cutie Mark Crusaders were absent. ‘Oh no! Sweetie Belle!?’ Rarity cried out. ‘I take my eye off you for a minute and you wander off!’

‘’They’ll be fine’, Vinyl Scratch said as she leaned in close to whisper into Twilight’s ear. ‘Those kids remember’, she said quietly.

‘What?!’ Twilight exclaimed. ‘How do you know that?!’

‘You want to know how?’ Vinyl Scratch asked with a grin. ‘Because I’m fucking brilliant!’

Twilight merely sighed and rolled her eyes, Vinyl didn’t stop grinning even after they all filed out of the lift.

‘I’m sure whatever that secret conversation you all just had is totally important and all, but can we hurry this up?’ Glass Bauble said as she threw the switch. ‘I’ve got work to do’.

With that, everypony in the room covered their ears as hazard lights began to flash, the air filled with the hiss of steam and something from inside grabbed hold of the door, pulling it backwards, filling the air with the horrible screech of metal grinding against metal. With a loud clamping noise, the air became quiet again.

‘Darling, somepony simply must do something about that awful noise!’ Rarity cried out.

‘Uh huh’, Glass Bauble said without interest as she stepped inside, the rest of the group promptly followed her in.

‘Jeeze, somepony clearly isn’t a people person’, Vinyl said audibly.

‘Quiet Vinyl’, Twilight said, hushing her friend.

‘Yeah! Quiet Vinyl’, Glass Bauble added as she led the way down the long hallway of the Vermillion Mesa Missile Base. Vinyl Scratch’s grin turned to a scowl, but she said nothing.

Twilight Sparkle looked around, the layout was exactly identical to the FutureTec headquarters, itself formerly being the Everfree Plains Missile Base. Glass Bauble led the way into the control room, it too was identical to the one at FutureTec, with one big distinction, it lacked a mainframe terminal like the one Emerald Sparkle had appeared on.

What was more surprising was the fact that the room was also filled with several familiar faces. In the far corner observing technical readouts was none other than Ditzy Doo, the former Ponyville mailmare, who’s conversion to nephitism meant that this was the first time that they had seen her in a very, very long time. With her was her adoptive daughter, Dinky sitting next to her studying the console.

Likewise, Graham Cracker, whom Twilight supposed was the leader of the Nephites, despite his claims not to be the few times that Twilight had met him, (he’d claimed that the Nephites had no leader, other than ‘God’, though that clearly turned out to be far from the case), was speaking to somepony clad in red robes, who had their back turned to them. Twilight couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of Graham Cracker, who was covered in bandages from being horribly burned over his entire body. Twilight couldn’t imagine much of a worse fate, though the Nephite missionary seemed to take it in stride.

Obviously, Graham Cracker took notice of Twilight’s glances as his eyes shifted away from the pony that he was speaking to and towards her. ‘Master Darius? It looks as if our guests have arrived’.

The pony Graham Cracker was speaking to turned around, allowing Twilight to catch her first glance at him, he was older, grey coat with a cobalt blue mane, wearing a bright red set of robes, but what stuck out most about him were his eyes. They were pitch black, with small red dots in the middle for pupils. Twilight was taken aback by appearance, until she realised she recognised the description from the Cutie Mark Crusader’s story as matching that of Chapter Master Xerxes of the Manehattan Chapter. That had to make this Xerxes’ father, Darius.

Darius studied them all for a moment, taking in every detail with his cybernetic eyes before speaking. ‘Greetings, welcome to Vermillion Mesa, I am Order Master Darius, and we have much to speak about’.

...

Dark. Why was it always so dark?

Trixie didn’t know where she was, all she knew that she was tied up and something was over her eyes. It felt like a strip of cloth, which would make sense. It was difficult for her to move, her hind legs had been tied together, and her forelegs were tied up under her chest, pressed against her stomach. The entire position was very, very uncomfortable. Though Trixie figured that was the point. Archimedes had locked her up in here, this dark, quiet space, where she couldn’t figure out what was going on. She had no idea what had happened to any of her co-conspirators, Aloe, Lotus, Bon Bon, Lyra, Colgate, and Berry Punch’s fates were all a mystery to her, as was Spike’s, whom Trixie had not seen or heard from since the Paladins had separated them. Trixie grunted loudly and threw her weight to the left in an attempt to roll onto her back. Trixie let out a cry when she felt the bonds of her fore and hind legs tightening. She was tied down to the floor as well.

She heard the sound of steam hissing, and the sound of a metal door sliding open. That narrowed down the possible locations of where she was to pretty much just one place. That sound was a hydraulic door, which meant that she was in a room, probably a cleared out utility closet at FutureTec, which would make sense, the Fillydelphians had come here for FutureTec to begin with.

‘What do you want?’ Trixie asked to whoever had entered the room.

The response was not one of words, but rather a series of beeping noises. Trixie felt a sensation of heat on the side of her head, and with a snap, the blindfold over her eyes fell away. The room was dark, but that was not surprising, however, the red emergency lighting from outside in the hallway was enough for Trixie to see clearly. Before her was a giant metal parasprite, fluttering it’s wings rapidly as it moved to the bonds holding Trixie to the floor, heating them up and cutting them lose.

‘What are you?’ Trixie asked.

The metal parasprite beeped a few times, and then a voice from it began to speak.

Head researcher’s log, Doctor Emerald Sparkle reporting, time stamp 0532 8/1/5003 ROG... refuse to use that bitch’s calendar, even after all this time... Doppler’s not even here to scold me into staying on track... I miss that little Artificial Personality... This log is to document the recent changes made to Spritebot Durable, Subject Epsilon. The only remaining prototype of the Durable model combat Spritebot, first constructed nearly a thousand years ago, the Durable model was intended to be my prime fighting force, however there were... complications in the development of the Durable model’s Artificial Personality, as a result, Durable Subject Alpha through Delta all self terminated. As Subject Epsilon, or Sadie, as I like to call her is the only surviving prototype, it is important that it not be destroyed, which was the thought process behind this retrofit for use as a stealth, electronic and cyber warfare unit for use in reconnaissance, and sabotage operations. Using a combination of both technology and magic, the trial runs were a complete success, and Sadie is ready to be deployed into her new role immediately. That should give those fucks in Fillydelphia something to think about.

The recording ended with a click, and Sadie urged Trixie to roll over onto her back, she complied, allowing the spritebot to burn away the bonds. They snapped open, freeing Trixie from her restraints. She got back up to her hooves. ‘Why are you helping me?’ she asked

The speakers on the spritebot crackled again. ‘Fight rabble!’ cried the same voice that had spoken on the log.

‘Well, I can certainly do that!’ Trixie said with a grin as she and Sadie fled from the room, taking off running down the corridors.