• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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“Do you hear me now, filly?” echoed the voice of Cold Canter in the cool desert air.

Rainbow Dash stood on the edge of the wooden platform. A crimson sun was setting over the ravine, casting a shadow over the eastern edge of the chasm and painting the rest of the landscape in amber hues.

The pegasus held a blue crystal in her grasp that was glowing each each vibration of the unicorn's disembodied voice.

“Yup. I hear you as clear as rainfall,” Rainbow Dash replied. “Uhhh...” She pivoted the glowing blue shard around and around before her. “Do you hear me? Is this thing on?”

“What's your favorite vegetable?”

“Uhm...” Rainbow Dash fidgeted. “String beans? I guess? What's that have to do with anything?”

“Just making sure I was picking up you and not a telepathic feedback of my own thoughts.” The blue crystal stopped glowing. The door to the shack opened several feet away. Cold Canter marched out, levitating an identical stone of his own. He crossed the distance between the two and stood before Rainbow Dash. “Nopony loves the kind of vegetables I do.”

“Celery? Brussel Sprouts? Spinach?”

“I'll tell you if it means you changing your mind about this crazy journey of yours.”

“Sorry, guy,” she replied with a smirk, juggling her own crystal from one hoof to another. “Guess I'll just have to stay in the dark, then. It's the sacrifices we make, after all.”

“Well, that's putting it lightly.” He gestured towards his rock. “These stones should afford us a moderate amount of communication.”

“Why only moderate?”

“Well, if you too were a unicorn imbued with magic, then you and I could cover considerably longer distances—even scaling the continent if need be. But, as I'm the only one possessing a horn, this will most likely cover no more than a thousand miles.”

“Sounds cool in my book.” She smiled and looked at the sound stone up close. “I've done something kind of like this before, only it requires the moon to be full.”

“Oh?” Cold Canter leaned his head aside with curiosity. “That must be some insanely powerful unicorn magic.”

“Alicorn, actually.”

His eyes narrowed. “You've consorted with goddesses?”

“Heh... 'consort' is such a funky, funky word.”

Would you prefer a more apt title?”

“Nah. I'm good.” Rainbow Dash pocketed the sound stone away in her saddlebag and shuddered. “I've had it up to here with titles.”

“To each their own,” he said with a shrug, then levitated his sound stone into a belt strapped about his weathered haunches. “I would very gladly have donated use a piece of Pristine Darkstinian Quartz, but I'm afraid Desert Light and myself will have to retain those for communication with the authorities due west of here.”

“Well, I'm not about to ruffle anypony's mane. At least, more than I've already done.”

“Am I talking with a national fugitive all of the sudden?”

“Heh...” She smiled. “I wouldn't be a very successful criminal if I allowed a guard the means of talking to me over long distances while I made my getaway.”

“Again, I wished that I had a much better sample of rock to use in this scenario.”

“I'm sure this will work just fine, CC. You've been generous enough as it is.”

“Emeraldine Sapphires have an exquisite enchantment for fusing to leylines. And then if I was to make an alloy out of the local rubies of the ravine's lower crust—jaded as they are—it could add a firm buffer to the communication spell. Unless, of course, we were to use hydra diamonds to increase the range of leyline differentiation...”

“Hey, Uhm,” Rainbow Dash murmured. “I'm a bit unsure of asking you this, because I'll sound like a blundering idiot if I'm wrong, but... are you a diamond dog in disguise?”

“I'm pretty sure I'd smell a lot worse if I was,” Cold Canter replied.

“Heheheh... Good one.” Rainbow Dash turned and faced the darkening horizon beyond the ravine.

“You surely don't plan on leaving tonight.”

“Why not?”

“I may not be the avid explorer that you are, but venturing across the desert—by air or by land—is hardly a pleasant experience during the night. Aside from bitter cold, the occasional sandstorm might blot out the stars and make travel daunting at best.”

“I think it's downright cute how concerned you are for me,” she replied. “And trust me.” Rainbow Dash winked. “There's not a lot of crud in life that I will admit is cute.”

“I guess you're just unlike most young sprites who past through this area,” Cold Canter said, pacing up along the length of the platform's railing. “You're full of life and optimism. That's not something that should be sent lightly into that unforgiving east.”

“If I don't head east, every other direction in my life will be unforgiving.”

The old stallion started to chuckle hoarsely.

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. “What?”

He turned to look at her in the dimming sunset. “I almost remember what it's like to be so determined to do something that all other avenues of possibility become dull, like dying stars.”

“Hey, I've 'consorted' with alicorns, remember?”


“I've seen what it's like to raise the sun up close,” she murmured. “Believe me, stars are overrated. If I don't spend my energy right here and now the way I like to, then I'll lose the only light that matters. Life is full of crazy dangers and stuff, but I'd like to be at least in charge of when and where I burn out. You dig?”

His nostrils flared as he calmly looked at her. “I suppose it would have been a pity if, in the end, you simply ended up like me.”

She blinked awkwardly at that.

“So, you will stay, then?” He gestured towards her, bearing a gentle smile. “Until morning, at least?”

“Heh...” Her wings flexed as she walked with him towards the shack. “If it makes you sleep better, I'll not fly out until sunrise.”

“That sounds like a wise decision.”

“And hey! Don't look so down in the muzzle!” She winked at him and jostled the saddlebag with her sound stone in it. “Seems like we'll have plenty of stuff to talk about on the horizon...”

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