• Published 10th Jul 2011
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Antipodes - PK



An epic post-apocolyptic adventure fic surrounding Celestia and Luna's dissapearence.

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Antipodes- Chapter 11

Antipodes

Chapter 11

by PK

Several minutes earlier…

“Jigsaw, do you entirely trust these ponies?”

“What do you mean?” Jigsaw said, taken aback. “I haven’t really seen any reason not to trust them. I was wary at first, but why would they show me something as precious as the fragment of Celestia if they were hiding things from us?”

“I don’t know, Jigsaw,” she said uneasily. “I noticed pretty much as soon as they let me in here. Look around. Do you see any controls for the doors?”

Jigsaw glanced around the room. The elevator shaft at the far end of the room didn’t have any visible controls on the smooth glass surface. The door that had slid open to permit Tiptoe’s entrance was now flush with the wall.

“Okay, you have my attention,” Jigsaw said. “Was there anything else?”

Tiptoe lowered her voice. “Have you actually seen any other ponies besides the blue and red ones? I walked through several floors of this place and the only ponies I saw were outside the tower. I think we’re being held prisoner.”

Jigsaw opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again. He retraced the path they had taken to the library in his mind, and it slowly dawned on him that Tiptoe was right. He hadn’t seen a single other pony during his whole trip through the tower. He supposed he had been too taken in by the wonder of the city.

“What do you propose we do about it?” Jigsaw whispered.

A large grin began to creep its way across Tiptoe’s face.

“Just follow my lead.”

Before long, the two ponies were standing on opposite sides of the sliding wooden wall panel that served as the only apparent entrance to the room. They heard a quiet mechanical hum come from somewhere inside the wall, and the doorway slid up smoothly. Cerulean stood in the doorway in confusion for only a moment before Tiptoe shouted, “NOW!”

A blue glow surrounded Jigsaw’s horn as he lifted a heavy book off a nearby bookshelf. It went sailing through the air and hit a surprised Cerulean right in the head, stunning her. Tiptoe and Jigsaw used the moment to run out the door. Tiptoe then ran around to the backside of Cerulean and kicked her with her back legs—hard. Cerulean went tumbling into the library. Just as she shook her head to regain her focus and began speaking, Jigsaw waved a hoof in front of the door controls. The door slid shut with the familiar humming noise.

“We did it!” said Jigsaw, breathing hard. “We actually made it!”

Tiptoe shushed Jigsaw. “We can’t be heard! Just because we didn’t see anypony earlier doesn’t mean there couldn’t be guards. If we’re going to sneak out of here, you’re going to have to follow my lead.”

Jigsaw was somewhat surprised at Tiptoe’s take-charge attitude, though he understood why it had taken hold. Stealth was her special talent, and this was the first time she had ever gotten to utilize it. He remembered the boost of confidence he had gotten when he was trapped in the subway station and figured it must have been similar to how she was feeling now. He just hoped he could keep up.

“Just follow my lead, and stay as quiet as you can.” Tiptoe whispered, walking over to the wall on the right of the hallway. She lowered her head and stood on the very tips of her hooves. Jigsaw was amazed as she began to move forward along the wall—her hooffalls, once loud against the stone, seemed to have faded into silence. Jigsaw stood unsteadily on his hooves—he felt that he might fall over at any moment. However, after a few steps forward, he began to learn how to step lightly and make as little sound as possible. However, if he attempted to go Tiptoe’s speed, he ending up making a very loud noise, so Tiptoe was constantly forced to stop and wait for him to catch up.

They set off down the hallway, Tiptoe stopping at every corner to look ahead and make sure the coast was clear. Jigsaw was mesmerized—her body seemed to flow from place to place, showing an elegance and conservation in movement he had never seen in a pony before. She even used her wings. Every now and then, in a larger room, she would take off from the ground, flapping her wings in a slow, stiff motion that was almost totally silent, exploring the upper levels of the multistory rooms. The tower had been completely deserted so far, although it looked as though it had been built to accompany a huge amount of ponies. Several times, Jigsaw spoke up to question the necessity of sneaking, but Tiptoe quickly silenced him.

Tiptoe peeked her head around a corner of a brightly lit, white-tiled hallway, then signaled for Jigsaw to follow her. After Tiptoe’s tail had vanished out of sight around the corner, Jigsaw slowly made his way around to follow her.

They entered into what looked like a lobby. It appeared unpowered—there were no lights on anywhere. The ceiling stretched at least six stories above them, and rows of balconies jutted out from small rooms arranged around three of the walls, like an office complex. The entire western wall, however, was taken up by a single pane of glass. Through it, taking up almost the entire area of the window, was the moon. The silvery light that filtered in through the window cast an eerie light over the entire scene. Jigsaw and Tiptoe’s shadows climbed halfway up the wall as they approached the window in awe.

The city could be seen spread out beneath them, lights twinkling in windows. Jigsaw approached the window, nearly mesmerized, when Tiptoe prodded him from the side and pointed towards a door to their left. Muffled voices could be heard coming from the other side. Jigsaw and Tiptoe remained rooted to the spot. Soon, however, the voices moved past the door and out of earshot.

After a few moments, Tiptoe spoke up. “Jigsaw, we’re going to need to get through that door.”

“What? Are you crazy?” Jigsaw hissed back. “We can’t go out there! There are other ponies out there!”

“Exactly,” Tiptoe said. “Which means that there has to be a way out down there. Think about it. So far, we haven’t even been able to go down a level. We also haven’t seen any other ponies. If there are some out there, it stands to reason they must have come from somewhere, yeah? I vote we go exploring.”

“But what if we get caught?” Jigsaw said, glancing out the window at the glistening city below them.

Tiptoe chuckled quietly. “We won’t. Now I get to pay you back for all the times you showed off your magic. Try and open the door while I’m gone.” She winked at Jigsaw before leaping into the air and soaring up to one of the balconies above the door. She walked inside the small room behind the balcony and vanished from sight.

Jigsaw couldn’t help but smile at Tiptoe’s high spirits. They had been in such a constant state of rush and terror since this whole adventure began that he had learned to appreciate the little moments when he could. He took one final look out at the moon before cantering over to the door.

First he attempted to open it by means of the control panel fastened to the wall. It appeared to be much older than the sleek, motion activated control panels on the library door—this one had a control panel covered in strange and unfamiliar characters that extended from the wall at a slight angle. A small screen was directly above it. To either side of the keyboard was a large, round button—one green, and one red. Jigsaw decided to hit the green one on instinct. The screen winked to life, showing an image of a black hoofprint. Then, with a mechanical screech, the door slid open…to reveal a thick sheet of plaster on the other side. At the same time, Jigsaw heard Tiptoe yell down from the balcony. He galloped out to the center of the room. Tiptoe stood braced against the balcony railing, her front hooves resting against the top rung.

“Did you manage to get the door open?” she called down.

“Yeah, but it was blocked off!” Jigsaw replied. “I don’t see any way through unless you think we can kick a hole in it, in which case there would probably be armed guards right outside.”

“I figured as much! The room in here is empty, but the door is locked from the inside. It leads to a hallway directly above this floor, and there’s a stairwell at the end of the hall!”

“That’s great, but how am I supposed to get up there?” Jigsaw called back.

“Hold on!” Tiptoe shouted. She put her hooves back on the ground and took a few steps back before galloping forward and leaping over the railing. She spread her wings out wide and soared down in a series of wide spirals before finally landing in front of Jigsaw with a single flap of her wings.

“Okay, now you’re just showing off,” Jigsaw said.

“Oh, don’t pretend you don’t like it,” Tiptoe said with a playful wink.

Jigsaw was surprised, though not entirely displeased at Tiptoe’s attitude. Before he could speak, however, she took off again, looping around Jigsaw before coming to a stop hovering over him.

“I’m going to grab you and pull you up to the balcony. It’s probably not going to be comfortable. Are you ready?” she said.

“Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose,” Jigsaw responded.

Tiptoe wrapped her hooves around Jigsaw’s midriff and began to beat her wings. Jigsaw was buffeted by several strong gusts of wind before they began to rise off the ground. He hung limp in Tiptoe’s arms as they slowly rose towards the balcony.

Tiptoe beat her wings as hard as she could. The extra weight of Jigsaw made the flight excruciatingly slow. She had gotten stronger in the week or so they had been on the surface, thought the weight of a full-grown pony still posed a significant challenge to her.

After a few agonizing minutes of flying, Tiptoe finally reached the level of the balcony. She dropped Jigsaw off before landing on the ground and collapsing onto her back, panting heavily. Jigsaw gingerly arched his spine back down into its normal position, acutely aware of the imprint Tiptoe’s hooves had left on his stomach. Nonetheless, he turned to her and said, “That was incredible back there. I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard of a pony being carried up that far!”

Tiptoe stood up, having caught her breath. Her feathers were ruffled from the exertion she had just put them through. She began fluttering them in an attempt to flatten them down when Jigsaw interrupted her.

“Let me do that. I can actually reach them, after all.”

He flattened down the stray feathers with one hoof. When he was done, Tiptoe turned to face him.

“Thanks,” she said, a note of fatigue still present in her voice.

They locked eyes for a brief moment. Both of them remembered the conversation they’d had under the snowy pine tree what seemed like ages ago, and they could read it on each other’s faces. Tiptoe, however, decided to take action. In one quick motion, she leaned forwards and gave Jigsaw a quick peck on the cheek.

“I know what we talked about, but you never said flirting was off the table,” she then turned around with a flourish and trotted into the dark room beyond.

Jigsaw stood stunned at the entrance to the room for a few moments before stating “I like her. I really like her,” to nopony in particular. He then entered the dark room.

Inside was just as empty as Tiptoe had described. To Jigsaw, it looked to have once been a residential area. There were several small rooms branching off of the main one, all just as empty. The only light in the room came from the light that filtered in from the doorway. Tiptoe stood at the opposite side of the room, where a simple wooden door was located. This one seemed to be about as old as the one in the lobby—it had a similar control panel in the wall off to one side. Tiptoe pressed the green button with her nose and the door slid open. Beyond was a brightly lit hallway. So brightly lit, in fact, that it temporarily stunned Jigsaw. When his eyes had adjusted, he saw a small red carpet that extended to either direction. To the left, the hallways simply turned and vanished from sight. To the right, however, a stairwell was clearly visible. Rich, warm lights in the shape of a sun lined the hallway every few dozen feet.

“C’mon,” Tiptoe whispered, “We have to get going before someone else shows up.”

They had only made it halfway to the stairwell when the sound of voices came up from below. Tiptoe froze in her tracks for just a moment before she turned on the spot, jammed the open button on one of the nearby doors, and jumped inside. Jigsaw followed her lead and jumped in after her. She pressed the red button on the control panel and the door slid shut just as two ponies came walking up the stairwell. Jigsaw and Tiptoe placed their ears against the seam of the door in an attempt to overhear the conversation going on outside.

“…is that he’s finally found a replacement for the Attenuator, but he escaped with the other pony that came through the portal! They’re running around in the old residential areas right now! That’s what the lockdown earlier was about, I think. I don’t even think most of these old doors are even hooked up to the network any more, though. Doesn’t really matter, the bottom level’s sealed off anyway. Poor guy, though, I sure don’t envy him,” said a deep, gruff male voice.

“Have you ever seen the Attenuator in person?” The reply came from a much more subdued and younger-sounding male voice.

“No. But I’ve heard the screaming.”

Several seconds of silence followed this statement.

“Haven’t you ever wanted to just let her go?” the soft-spoken male voice said.

Suddenly the sound of a flurry of motion came from outside and a loud bang and sharp shake of the door caused Jigsaw and Tiptoe to jump back. It appeared as though one of the ponies outside had been pinned against the door they were currently hiding in.

“Listen up, kid. I know you’re new here, but if they hear you talking like that, they will not hesitate to kill you. What you just said has gotten ponies…good ponies…drained. So you’d do best to forget you ever thought that.”

The door shook slightly and they heard sounds of gasping coming from outside.

“Now, come on. We need to get back to quarters before we’re caught after lockdown.”

Tiptoe and Jigsaw shared a look. After a few moments, the footsteps outside the doorway faded away. Tiptoe asked Jigsaw to light his horn, and he complied.

“What’s the Attenuator? And why do they want me for it?” Jigsaw asked, his voice shaking with fear.

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like anything you want to be a part of. And what do you think they meant by ‘drained’? What’s going on in this place?”

Her voice shook at the last sentence, giving away her nervousness. When she looked at the fear etched on Jigsaw’s face, however, she mustered up every last fragment of courage she had.

“It doesn’t matter. We’re going to get out of here. All you have to do is trust me.”

She took a step back and extended her wings just a little.

“Do you trust me?”

Jigsaw looked up at her. “With my life.”

“Good, because this won’t be the first time I’ve saved you,” she said with a wink, heading towards the door to the room.

Jigsaw knew she was putting on a brave face for his benefit, but it didn’t really matter to him. The fact that she was willing to try at all meant a great deal to him. Still, though, he couldn’t shake the line about screaming out of his head.

The door to the room slid open and Tiptoe poked her head out and looked up and down the hallway. She turned and nodded silently to Jigsaw to indicate the hall was clear. They headed out together, approaching the stairwell uninterrupted. Soon, they were descending down a flight of small, red-carpeted steps, ears perked up to listen for footsteps coming up the stairwell.

What they found at the bottom was not what they had been expecting. There was no hallway at the bottom of the stairway—instead, a round platform, similar to the one in the throne room, though not identical, was located in the center of a small room. This one, however, appeared to be made out of a dark black, reflective stone instead of the course and dull gray stone from above. A thick cord extended from the back of the platform and off into a wall. A rather melodious humming was coming from the platform. The most striking feature, however, was the holographic message displayed at head level over the platform—“Lockdown protocols in place. All intergate travel is disabled. Return to your quarters until further notice.”

Tiptoe and Jigsaw cursed in unison at the turn of events.

“Well, I suppose that explains the lack of ponies. What do we do now?” Jigsaw said as Tiptoe walked onto the platform. The holographic image floating above fragmented and distorted as she passed through it.

“Can you do anything with your magic?” Tiptoe asked.

She stepped off the platform and Jigsaw took her place. His horn began to glow as tendrils of blue light made their way down to the platform. Suddenly, the melodious hum issuing from the platform became harsh and discordant, and Jigsaw flew off and slammed into the wall behind it. Tiptoe let out a gasp and galloped over to him. Jigsaw groaned.

“Are you okay?” she implored.

Slowly, Jigsaw moved up to sit on his haunches. “It’s going to leave a nasty bruise, but nothing’s broken. The security here is just too tight. I can’t break in.”

“How is that possible?” Tiptoe said, a little exasperated. “I’ve seen you work a thousand bits of way more impressive magic!”

“Yeah, on systems that were thousands of years old or had no protection in the first place. Those computers in that compound back there were over ten thousand years old—the magical protection on them was nearly gone. These are fresh. Maybe if I had a few weeks I could break them, but for now we’re out of luck.”

Tiptoe glared at him for a moment, then shook her head. “At least we’re safe here, for now. Nopony’s going to come through the portal while it’s on loc—”

Before she could finish the sentence, the hologram above the platform vanished and the tinkling melody coming from it grew in volume. Just when Tiptoe was getting worried about the noise level, it suddenly cut back to near-silence and two large blue words appeared above the platform: “Good luck”.

Both Jigsaw and Tiptoe’s faces broke out in huge grins. They looked at each other, and without another word, jumped on to the portal.

A sudden flash of light came from underneath them, and they both felt as if gravity had been reversed. The world melted away into a blur of colors and shapes, constantly shifting and changing direction. They had the sensation of great speed, though it was hard to tell. Suddenly, with a rather jarring slam, the world became solid again, and they found themselves standing on a portal in a room with smooth, white walls. They didn’t pay too much attention to the architecture, however. Their attention was taken up by the door.

The ornately decorated entrance was visually striking. White designs reminiscent of creeping vines criss-crossed their way across a window made of glass that refracted the light from the glowing blue shield into beautiful patterns of color that played along the back wall. But what they noticed most wasn’t the door itself—it was what was outside it. Beyond the double doors was the city of Stalliongrad. The portal had taken them right to ground level.

Jigsaw began to laugh. He couldn’t believe they were actually going to make it out of this alive! Outside the doors could be seen the slick, high-tech buildings he had been glimpsing in the elevators for so long. Ponies outside were going about their lives, eating at restaurants, laughing among themselves, and even operating slick-looking vehicles on narrow streets.

Together, they pushed open the double doors of the tower and walked out into the bustle of Stalliongrad.

Minutes earlier…

The elevator entrance in the library whooshed open. Cerulean cowered behind a bookshelf. She didn’t need to look. She could already see the dancing red light casting the shadow of a unicorn on the wall.

Rubidium came around the corner and faced Cerulean. His horn looked as though it was on fire—a huge corona of red energy emanated from his horn, making him difficult to look at directly. When he spoke, the volume nearly shook books off the shelves.

“You let them escape?” he said. “How can you be so incompetent! Do you understand what this means?”

Cerulean didn’t respond.

Rubidium let out a roar of rage and a torrent of red energy flew from the tip of his horn and hit Cerulean. She began to scream and writhe. Her coat began to lose its elasticity and vibrant blue color. After a few moments of this, Rubidium stepped back, breaking the connection.

“Be thankful I didn’t take it all.”

Cerulean, who now had the appearance of a pony 40 years her elder, didn’t respond. Instead, she simply lay curled into a ball and sobbed.

Rubidium trotted over to her and lifted her face in his hoof.

“Tell me you’re thankful,” he hissed, “or I take it all.”

Cerulean looked up, a look of anguish and anger etched on to her face. “Thank you.”

Rubidium dropped her head and walked back to the elevator, riding it back up.

Cerulean made a decision. She adjusted the device under her wing until it glowed a deep red color and pressed down on it. She flashed out of the library and reappeared an instant later in the hallway leading to the Attenuator’s chambers. The screams that usually filled the hall were quieter today. Cerulean guessed that the facility’s lockdown meant it was pulling less power, thus reducing the pull of the Attenuator. She opened the door at the far end of the hallway with her override password and entered.

In the center of the room was a decrepit, white, female unicorn, strapped on to a table. Two crystalline rods extended from the ceiling, stopping about three feet from her horn. From each rod, an extremely bright plume of magical energy billowed into her horn, to be converted into usable power. The power was drawn away by a large, metallic ring-like device clamped around the base of her horn.

Upon hearing Cerulean’s entrance, the Attenuator opened her eyes. Cerulean caught her glance and began walking over to her. The Attenuator braced herself for what she though was going to be some fresh punishment, but instead Cerulean simply whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Cerulean then slowly made her way over to the main control panel for the facility, located on the far side of the Attenuator's chamber. She opened the lockdown protocol and entered the code for the override.

The computer prompted her with a text box asking “Lockdown deactivation message?”

In the box, she typed two words.

“Good luck.”

The red lights on the control panel all turned green as the portals came back on line. The screams of the Attenuator started fresh and clear and the power requirements for the facility shot up. The sweet, tinkly music that accompanied attenuation also grew in volume.

Cerulean walked up to face the Attenuator, who did her best to suppress the screams.

Cerulean began to speak. “I may have lost years of my life, but I can stop it from ever happening again.”

She then turned back to the console and entered her emergency keycode. Power to the entire facility was cut, leaving only the shield intact. For the first time in her memory, the Attenuator felt the pain ebb away.

Cerulean turned to leave. Before she did, however, the Attenuator spoke in a voice that sounded every bit as sweet as the music accompanying attenuation.

“Thank you. For the first time in a long time, I have hope.”

Cerulean had never heard the Attenuator speak before. She smiled to herself, turned the teleportation plate under her wing to its green setting, and pressed it. She vanished in a flash of light.