• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Taste

“Are there lots of pegasi like you in the realm of the Sun Goddess?” One of the many stallions leaned closer to the fire so that his face lit up in the night. He and his companions gazed eagerly at Rainbow Dash from where they sat in the center of the camp. “I was told that there were so many winged ponies to the west that they could summon hurricanes by their sheer flight paths!”

“Eh... we pegasi can do pretty cool things,” Rainbow Dash said. She sat on her haunches before the fire, bathed in the mesmerized gazes of so many earth ponies squatting around her. The burning wood crackled and spat ashes beneath her rasping voice, “But we're not in the business of starting hurricanes. Now tornadoes we've been known to do! Especially when it comes to gathering moisture for making rain.”

“Wow, even the rain is monitored where you live...” Another stallion remarked as his brown-garbed companions murmured in awe. “If we had pegasi here who could change the weather, it'd make life easier.”

Another stallion leaned in. “We'd also be out of a job.” He gestured towards the wagon.

Several ponies chuckled while the first stallion rolled his eyes. “Still, the magic of flight is an amazing thing.”

“It can also be a wicked awesome thing.” Rainbow Dash smirked and flexed her wings. “Especially when you know how to use it right...” Her voice trailed off as she saw a familiar blonde sight.

Sun Plate was marching towards the group. He had a tray clamped in his teeth. He laid it down before the many ponies. Once his mouth was free, he muttered in a tiny voice. “There. Freshly cut. Remember, equal shares...”

“Who are you, our mom, Sun Plate?”

“Hahahaha.”

“Heheh—”

“The boy's wise,” Fulltrot said, marching his elder frame into the amber glow as he sat down close to Rainbow Dash. “You should all listen to him. If we don't conserve our food supplies, we'll faint before we get to Windthrow.”

“Right. Enough talk. I'm famished!” Ironhoof said as he trotted by, scooped up a morsel from the tray, and began nibbling on it. The other ponies muttered under their breaths and took their shares as the tray was passed around.

Iron Plate didn't look remotely hungry, in spite of having just served the material. He ran a hoof through his short, golden threads, then glanced across the fire. Upon seeing Rainbow's receiving glance, he once more made himself scarce.

“It must be a great sky city.”

Rainbow Dash snapped out of it. She gazed aside. “Huh?”

“Where you come from,” Fulltrot continued. “There must be a great city in the sky for so many pegasi to be situated in one place. I've been in this world long enough to know that pegasi like to flock together, which is why we rarely see any of your kind this far out.”

Rainbow Dash smirked. “Well, I guess I'm just the one pegasus who felt like stretching her wings a bit more.”

“Stratopolis, perhaps?”

“Hmm? What?”

“The name of your city?”

Rainbow Dash giggled. “Ahem. No. Stratopolis is a myth. There's a reason why that city supposedly 'floated away into nothingness.' It simply never existed to begin with.”

“Nice to know that pegasi have a penchant for storytelling as much as earth ponies.”

“Yeah, if you say so.” Rainbow Dash yawned and leaned back as the tray of food was passed around towards them. “I come from a place called Cloudsdale.”

“Hmmm... Cloudsdale...”

“It's a large city. I imagine you would have... heard of it...” Rainbow Dash was distracted. She stared down at the tray as it reached Fulltrot. The morsels were thin strips of black material. She watched steadily as ponies around her casually took the stringy bits of food and shoved it between their teeth while engaging in normal conversation.

Fulltrot stared at her, taking in her reaction.

Rainbow Dash cleared her throat and tried to keep her smile from breaking. “You... You ponies have a nifty kind of a diet around here...” She gulped.

“So you're Equestrian.”

Rainbow Dash glanced at Fulltrot once more, her brow furrowed

Fulltrot paused the tray being passed between them. “I've been near the borders of the Sun Goddess' land. I know that eating meat around there is more than just taboo, it's even a crime in some parts... yes?”

“Erm... I guess you could say that, yes...” Rainbow Dash briefly lurched, clenching her jaw as if trying to hold her bile in.

“Out here, so far from the Goddess' glory, ponies have to work harder to eke resources from the world. It must come as a major shock to a pegasus such as yourself.”

“Uhhh... eheh... kind of...”

“We're not cannibals,” Fulltrot said with a calm smile. “If that makes you feel any better.”

“Oh. Yeesh. I didn't even... think of that.” Rainbow Dash gulped and stared at Fulltrot. “Though, I can't help but wonder just... uhm... what it is...”

“Let's just say,” Red Turnip spoke from a few spaces away, “There are some cows who talk less than others.”

The many stallions chuckled. Rainbow Dash seemed hardly amused.

Fulltrot saw it. “Do not worry. You've been helpful to this caravan, and it is only right that we paid you our respects.” He cleared his voice and threw it across the camp. “Sun Plate?”

The young pony glanced over from the wagons. “Sir?”

“Go into my personal supply. I think there should be some celery in the green container.”

“But... I thought... you were saving that for your return dinner with your family—”

“And they'll understand when it was necessary for me to show hospitality to a pony who deserved it. Swiftly, Sun Plate, if you could.”

The pony took a deep breath and nodded. Awkwardly, he shifted through the materials in the rear of the wagon and acquired the green edibles.

“The further you fly from Equestria...” Fulltrot's voice stole Rainbow's attention again. “...the more you'll find ponies whose way of life will shock you, maybe even disgust you. And not all creatures you meet will be so willing to accommodate for your sensibilities.”

“Heh...” Rainbow Dash chuckled. “You say that as if I'm not used to traveling around.”

Fulltrot merely stared at her.

She bit her lip and her ears momentarily deflated. Staring into the cosmos and shadows of mountains somehow didn't make her feel this intimidated.

“I see before me a pony who's terribly young, and yet so terribly far from home. And as old as I am, I've never met a soul who would willfully fly herself away from the realm of the Sun Goddess. All I'm saying is that it makes me wonder. Did you really come all this way to sit down at a camp and be appalled by tanned beef?”

Sun Plate suddenly walked up, lying a plate of celery stalks at Rainbow Dash's hooves. Rainbow stared down at them. As Sun Plate left, she looked back up at Fulltrot.

“Believe it or not...” She smiled gently. “Even for somepony my age, I know that there's more than food that a pegasus lives off of.”

“And that brings me to another point of curiosity.” Fulltrot smiled gently. “Does such a pegasus come this far for a change of taste, or because Equestria no longer has that which used to fill her?”

Rainbow Dash blinked at that. She had no response. So, instead, she quietly filled her mouth with celery, her gaze falling into the fire.

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