• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Darkstine

“And there was a bunch of talk about the foundation of the world and some other boring fluff,” Rainbow Dash said with a yawn, reclining back in her seat within the steam-powered plane. At least two hours had passed, and Steelteeth was still piloting the vehicle hurriedly east towards the darkening horizons beyond the plains of Emeraldine. “Quite frankly, it was all dull as nails until she gave me the magical shield thingy.”

“And yet she remained vague about your purpose in Darkstine.”

“Yeah, pretty much.” Rainbow Dash stretched a hoof out, smiling as she danced it up and down through the rippling air currents surging past them. “I guess Her Majesty is like me: a pony who likes to wing it. Erm... I don't mean to poke fun at the disability of her wings. They look good on her, if nothing else.”

“Mmmhmmm...”

Rainbow Dash's goggled eyes glanced over towards the trenchcoated stallion. She spoke above the whistling winds around the aircraft, “You're remaining pretty calm for a constable who's been coerced into guiding a featherbrained pegasus elbow-deep into unicornville.”

“Nopony's been coerced,” Steelteeth muttered. “I am honored to be doing the will of my Queen.”

“Even when—like—she's totally ambiguous about the crap she forces you to do?”

“There is very little magic in the realm of Emeraldine,” Steelteeth said. “And there are even fewer souls wise and powerful enough to practice it. Whatever Whitemane's will may be, I shall follow it completely.”

“Hrm...” Rainbow Dash grunted. “That's kind of uncool, don't you think?”

“What is, pray tell?”

“Following an alicorn blindly? No matter what she says?”

“It is not blindness,” he argued calmly. “Much rather, it is righteous subservience. She overlooks the safety of Verdestone, and I protect her interests with equal vigor.”

“Still...” Rainbow Dash muttered as her ruby eyes scanned the horizon with a sudden lethargy. “There's no telling when the day may come when a alicorn goddess screws you royally...”

Steelteeth's aquamarine eyes shifted under his goggles. He said nothing.

Rainbow Dash smirked his way. “Seriously, though, has she ever done the horn-thing with you?”

“What horn thing?”

“Y'know! The... the thing!” Rainbow Dash gestured a fake spike at the base of her forehead, grinning. “Where she waltzes magically into your head and plays croquet with your memories and crud.”

“I have experienced a telepathic connection once or twice with Her Majesty,” Steelteeth said with a nod.

Rainbow Dash blinked at the pilot. “Yeah... and?”

“There is nothing more to add. We've shared a mental connect.”

“She didn't—like—go snooping around in the private filing cabinets of your noggin?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You make it sound as though I have things worth hiding.”

“Well, don'tcha?”

Steelteeth grunted. “Not in the least.”

“Oh come on!” Rainbow Dash grinned wickedly. “No childhood fears? No sincere love for fudge?”

“Negatory.”

“Nooooooo...” Rainbow Dash leaned towards him with a wag of her eyebrows. “....clandestine escapades with Evergreen behind the curtains of Darkstine's red light stables?”

“I believe your opinions of Evergreen and I are unfounded.”

“Oh come now, Steely! You and her were the only earth ponies around each other for ages in that city! Don't tell me that there was no hankying of the pankying!”

“None at all.”

“Why? Because your metal teeth scared her off?”

“No,” he droned. “Because Evergreen does not take a liking to stallions.”

Rainbow Dash blinked. “Oh.” She blinked again. “Really?” Her face paled as a sad twitch pulsed through her ruby eyes. “Dear Luna, just how bad did I need a bath back in Ridgeside...?”

“We are making swift time,” Steelteeth unemotionally uttered. “We will be in Darkstine airspace in minutes.”

“Already?” Rainbow Dash remarked, sitting up straight. “Yeesh, that was quick!”

“Not used to travel this swift?”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash balked at him. “Hey! I can make lightning bolts look like snails! Pffft! Like this bucket of bolts even comes close to impressing me!”

“You seemed incredibly awestruck until I just now implied that it outmatches your speed.”

“Yeah, well... erm... a pegasus doesn't rust!” Rainbow Dash raspberried before squinting at the east horizon. A solid line of blackness obscured the horizon. “Hmmmm... Uhh, Steely?”

“I do wish you would not call me that,” he growled menacingly.

“So sue me. Ahem. I think we ought to gain some altitude. There're some nasty stormclouds lingering ahead.”

“Those aren't stormclouds,” Steelteeth said in a dull tone.

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash gave him a bizarre look. “Then just what in the hay are there?”

Suddenly, three glowing orbs of sparkling magic flew up and orbited the aircraft in mid-flight. One of them shot directly in front of Rainbow Dash and pulsed a bright blue.

“Whoah jeez!” Rainbow Dash squeaked, scrunching back in her seat.

A crackling voice echoed from the core of the floating sphere in front of Rainbow. “Sincere inquisition: Who trespasses Darksitian airspace?!”

“Ah,” Steely nodded without so much as glancing at the orbiting trio of spheres. “The border patrol. We're almost there.”

A panting Rainbow Dash pointed her trembling hoof at the object before her muzzle. “You mean THIS is the Darkstinian border patrol?!”

The magical voice crackled once more, “Repeated demand with bolder emphasis: Identify yourselves or we will be forced to neutralize this vehcile.”

“Uhhhh... uhmmm... Ehehhhh...” Rainbow Dash stammered.

Steelteeth spoke towards the sphere. “I am Constable Steelteeth, former ambassador of Emeraldine-Darkstine relations. This is Rainbow Dash, honorable guest to Her Majesty, Queen Whitemare.” He calmly tilted the controls forward, coasting the plane lower over a ridge of hills as the smoggy atmosphere of the bordering province lingered darkly just beyond the bouldery peaks. “In accordance with Article Twelve of the Three Hundred and Seventh-Second Industrial Amendment, I am granted freedom to enter Darkstinian territory. If you don't believe me, check clearance with the representatives of Governor Mintelle, whom should be expecting me after such a long visit.”

“Neutral response: Please wait while representatives of the Governor are contacted.” The glowing sphere sparkled and strobed through several shades of blue. Finally, it settled for a bright hue and flickered with affirmation. “Permission obtained: Proceed directly to the Governor's Facility in East New Ring. Governor Mintelle awaits your arrival. Abide by the rules of Darkstine, outtrotters.”

The three spheres spun around the plane one last time before darting off towards the dark clouds overhead like reverse meteors.

Rainbow Dash gulped and slumped further into her seat with a sigh. “That's the first time I've ever been outflown by a plane and three glowing turds in one afternoon.”

“Hmmmm...” Steelteeth muttered below his breath. His grimacing teeth glittered in the permeating gray light that suddenly assaulted the airscape. “'East New Ring.' I'm not sure I like the sound of that.”

“Oh yeah? Why not?”

“It suggests a sudden and dramatic power shift, the political kind,” he uttered as he lowered the craft's altitude, piercing the thick smog. “If nothing else, my incidental trip here may prove useful in gaining knowledge on the inner turmoil of Darkstine.”

“And—nngh!” Rainbow Dash coughed and hacked before waving a hoof to clear the billowing fumes all around them. “J-just... ugh... wh-who's this 'Montel' guy?”

“Mintelle,” Steelteeth emphasized. “And SHE is the head of Darkstinian industrial affairs in the capital city of Ridge Side. At least, she was last time I checked. She had barely won an election against her supreme rival, Duke Zaap Nator of the Western Districts.”

“If these unicorns are half as goofy as their titles, then I think I'll be flying away from this place pretty darn quick.”

“I wouldn't be too hasty, Miss Dash,” Steelteeth remarked. “After all, you are here per the Queen's request just as much as I am. Besides...” He gestured over the edge of the vehicle with a free hoof. “There is no telling if you might enjoy the sights or not.”

“Heh, yeah right...” Rainbow Dash cast a dull glance over the edge of the cockpit. “What's to enjoy about a bunch of stuffy, magic-sucking eggheads—holy snap!” Her ruby eyes bulged as her jaw dropped.

Row after row of cylindrical buildings brimmed with glinting brass gears and cogwheels. Forests of smokestacks billowed flame and smoke into the air while hovering spheres darted between flickering magical portals. Tesla coils brimming with electricity fueled elevated tracks where blue-glowing trains glided hissingly from one portion of the densely packed urbanscape to the other. In the center of the metal-laced streets, several towers stretched with their rhythmically gyrating skeletons exposed, pendulums swingings and conveyor belts transferring objects of magical importance from one district to another in clockwork precision. Throughout the streets, Darkstinian ponies marched in droves, clothed in thin layers of steam-powered copper armor. The smoggy air above sang with crackling embers of magically-imbued sparks, and in the middle of the capital—as wide as a gaping lake—a dark and unfathomably deep pit loomed, its sharp brass edges flickering with etheral pulses of crimson flame.

“Uhmmm...” Rainbow Dash gazed at the spectacle below, her wings twitching. She turned around to witness Steelteeth gazing at her expectantly. In response, she smirked. “Yeah, okay. Where's the gift shop?”

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