• 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 16

Antipodes

Chapter 16

by PK

The first thing Jigsaw noticed was the pounding in his head. The pain radiated out from the base of his horn, causing him to raise a hoof to his head and massage it gingerly. As soon as he touched his head, however, the pain spiked. He let out a yelp and opened his eyes. He was lying in what appeared to be a circle of scorched ground. He slowly pushed himself up on his haunches, blinking his eyes to clear his vision. Even the smallest movement caused him to wince with pain. A light layer of snow coated the ground just outside the circle, with a grove of evergreen trees growing not far beyond. On the horizon, barely visible over the glare of the sun, was a flickering green light. Jigsaw’s horn hummed for a moment, then the glow was gone. Jigsaw squinted at the spot where the glow had been when he heard a rustle behind him. He whipped around in alarm, but was relieved to see that it was only Tiptoe. She was lying on her side, facing away from him. Jigsaw got up and trotted over to her in concern. Her mane seemed to be singed, but she appeared otherwise uninjured. Jigsaw then turned his attention to the charred ring around them. It appeared to be about twenty feet in diameter. Jigsaw scuffed at the ground with his hoof, revealing bare earth under the layer of soot. He tried to think back to the last thing he remembered- doubling over in pain on the staircase. How had he gotten here? And why did his head hurt so bad? He decided the only thing for him to do was to try and wake Tiptoe up.

Tiptoe opened her eyes slowly, not quite understanding what she was seeing. Then, as understanding rushed back to her, she jumped back on to her feet and looked around wildly. She was relieved to see a rather startled looking Jigsaw standing next to her. She threw her hooves around him and hugged him tightly. Jigsaw bit his lip to stop from yelling out in pain.

“I’m glad to see you too,” Jigsaw said, obviously bemused, “but what exactly is going on?”

Tiptoe let go of Jigsaw and said, “You don’t remember?”

“The last thing I remember, we were climbing up a staircase when I got this horrible pain in my horn. Next thing I knew, I woke up here.”

Tiptoe nodded. “I suppose that makes sense. You had some kind of fit on the stairs, and the roof caved in up ahead. I tried to get you out but I couldn’t move you nearly fast enough. Then this strange light came out of your horn. It looked like that sun symbol we’ve seen before.”

“Sun symbol?” Jigsaw said. “Do you think it could have anything to do with the fragment of Celestia?”

“It must,” replied Tiptoe. “What else could it have been?”

“I think- I think it was trying to protect me, since I’m carrying it. I can’t quite tell, but I get certain feelings from it. They’re really vague and unclear, but I think that was a sort of last resort to keep me safe and you just got taken along for the ride.”

Tiptoe thought this over for a moment before breaking out in a smile. “So does this mean we can’t be killed? It’s going to keep us safe!”

Jigsaw shook his head gravely. “No. It’s going to try. I don’t know that it will always succeed, and even if it can, I don’t think my body can handle it. Whatever it did back in that staircase nearly took me out for good.

Tiptoe’s smile gradually vanished as she remembered Jigsaw convulsing on the stairs, his eyes rolling back into his head.

They sat in silence for a time after that, mulling over the information. A chill wind picked up, slowly beginning to blow away the soot and re-cover the area in snow. The two ponies began to shiver.

“Come on,” Jigsaw said, “we should go into the trees. At least we’d be sheltered from the wind.” Tiptoe nodded, but still sat on the ground, staring out at the moon, large, dull, and silvery-gray in the sky. Tears began welling up in her eyes. Jigsaw made his way over to her.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

Tiptoe blinked, tears running silently down her face.

“Doesn’t it ever overwhelm you?” she asked quietly. “Don’t you ever just want to give up?”

Jigsaw didn’t really know how to react. “What do you mean?”

“I mean we just saw an entire city full of innocent ponies die. Ponies we knew! Because of us!” The tears were coming faster now.

“We don’t know that it was because of us,” Jigsaw responded, trying to sound reassuring.

“Oh, really?” Tiptoe’s voice became harsher. “You think it was just chance that Tantalus showed up when he did? That he managed to get into the city after ten thousand years of being held back?”

“Tiptoe, I don-” Jigsaw began, but Tiptoe cut him off.

“I don’t want to hear what you don’t know! I want to hear some answers for once! What are these fragments for? Why are we trying to find them? Why aren’t we trying to find home? Don’t you care about anyone back there?”

She began sobbing, her tears falling onto the mixture of soot and snow at her feet.

Jigsaw was stung by Tiptoe’s remarks, but he stayed calm.

“Tiptoe, you know that isn’t fair. Of course I care. Do you think I wanted this... this thing to embed itself inside me and nearly kill me? No, I didn’t. I don’t have any more choice in this than you do. The only thing I can think to do is keep looking for these fragments. Maybe we can use them to get revenge on Tantalus for killing all those ponies. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that we can’t give up. Incendia wouldn’t have wanted that.”

Tiptoe took a deep, shuddering breath to steady herself. The tears stopped.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s just... what happened back there was so terrible, and we’re just expected to keep going, and we don’t even know where we’re supposed to go! It’s all so insane!”

“You’re telling me. The most exciting part of my day used to be going to fix a leaky pipe.” Jigsaw said, a small smile beginning to tug at the sides of his mouth.

Tiptoe didn’t smile, but instead flung herself around Jigsaw again. This time, Jigsaw reciprocated by nuzzling Tiptoe’s neck. “We’ll make it through this. We managed to escape everything thrown at us so far, right?”

Tiptoe didn’t respond, but dug her face into Jigsaw’s mane. Jigsaw exhaled sharply from the pain of the added weight.

“Is something wrong?” Tiptoe asked concernedly.

“I’m still pretty sore from the whole ordeal.”

Tiptoe released Jigsaw and smiled despite herself.

“What do we do next?” she asked, turning on the spot to examine her surroundings. “I have no idea where we are. Which direction should we go?”

Jigsaw opened his mouth to answer when suddenly, he froze. Tiptoe saw his eyes gloss over as if he had somehow fallen asleep while standing upright. Just when she was about to say something, he snapped out of it, his eyes becoming sharp and alert.

“Northeast,” he said. “We need to go northeast.”

Tiptoe looked at Jigsaw quizzically. “What was that about?”

“What was what about?”

“You froze for a bit when I asked you.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t freeze,” Jigsaw replied, obviously confused.

“You did!” Tiptoe insisted. “You stopped talking and your eyes glossed over, then you sort of snapped out of it and said we should go northeast.”

“Strange,” Jigsaw said. “I feel fine. I just definitely think we should go northeast.”

“Well, I suppose we don’t have any other leads.” Tiptoe sounded uneasy.

Jigsaw nodded and stretched, attempting fruitlessly to work out some of the soreness that still pervaded his muscles.

Together, they set off on hoof into the grove of trees.

The tall evergreens provided shelter from the chilly wind, at the cost of blocking out what little light the far-off sun and dull moon provided. Jigsaw lit his horn, though it took rather more effort then he was used to. The small light given off caused strange, spindly shadows to be cast from the tree branches, causing the two ponies to occasionally jump at what they perceived as something stalking right next to them. Invariably, they would let out a nervous chuckle, then continue down the path, eyes still flitting from side to side.

Mercifully, though, they made it through the copse without encountering anything worse than low branches. However, when they emerged from the thick group of trees, the wind was stronger and more bitter than ever, and the snow was several inches deeper. The gale blew so hard that Jigsaw almost had to yell to be heard over it.

“I think we should camp out in the forest until the wind dies down! I don’t think we could last very long out here!”

Tiptoe shouted a word of agreement and they quickly turned back into the dense grove of trees. Though they were now protected from the wind, they still shivered bitterly, having lost any body heat that the hike through the copse had given them.

They walked a small ways farther into the trees, coming across a small area that was large enough for a fire. Jigsaw began gathering fallen twigs and other refuse from the forest floor, piling it in the center of the clearing. When he felt that the firepit was satisfactory, he leaned his head down and held the tip of his horn an inch away of some of the bark he had stripped from branches to use as kindling. A small spark shot from his horn and struck the bark, igniting it. he blew gently on the smoldering chunk of wood, until flames sprang up and began to consume the pile of twigs.

The two ponies huddled around the fire, soaking up the heat and the light. Finally comfortable, they let the exhaustion of their ordeal wash over them, and they curled up on the ground and fell asleep.

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