• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Shimmering

Several pale, heavy arches swam over Rainbow Dash's ruby eyes. She gazed up at them as she glided gently forward, only flapping her wings when she occasionally needed to. She led the group slowly through the ever-expansive heart of the underground structure. A thin platform of glowing metal served as their walkway. On either side was a horrendous drop into unfathomable depths. Metal-laced ravines went on beyond sight, adding to the insane vastness of the place.

“Judging from how long we have traveled and at our current speed,” Astral exclaimed from beneath Rainbow's flying figure. “I imagine we've covered no less than four miles through this place.”

“Is there any place that frickin' big?” Rainbow Dash asked. “In the world, that is?”

“Not in any of the history books I've read,” Astral replied. “And, as if you haven't guessed, I'm quite learned.”

“Who would want to build something so big?” Rainbow Dash gazed up at the high ceiling that glowed as she flew along. “I haven't seen any living rooms or nothing: just a bunch of giant corridors and ugly looking machines.” She blinked down at Astral. “Could this be a power plant of some sort?”

“Industrial machines have only existed on this continent for the past three hundred years. It's entirely possible that a prehistoric civilization fashioned mechanisms far more advanced than what's been recorded. But I sincerely doubt that this is a 'power plant,' as you would call it. There's no evidence of a distribution of fuel.”

“Otherwise, there'd be nothing to get the machines moving, right?”

“Exactly.”

“Heh.” Rainbow Dash looked ahead of her slow flight. “I knew I wasn't completely dumb.”

“You're a lot sharper than yourself credit for, Miss Dash.”

“Is this the same unicorn who was about to bite my head off for leading this group into this place to begin with?”

“Consider that the sin of a doubting stallion,” Astral said with a slight bow. “You've not led us astray. Though, I would very much like to know where this corridor is leading us. Surely you are just as immeasurably curious.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Rainbow Dash glanced down at her dimly glowing pendant. She sighed. “So much time has passed by. I suppose it's night already, huh?”

“Miss Dash, I wouldn't doubt it if two days have passed since you freed us from our captors.”

“Two days...” She winced and gazed up at the ceiling. “Ugh. Luna's going to kill me.”

“I beg your pardon?”

Rainbow Dash cleared her throat. “Erm. Nothing. So... uhm...” She smiled down at Astral. “None of those ugly bat-creatures have attacked us. I suppose that's a good sign.”

“Yes. That, or the minotaurs in possession of the second chaos strip aren't able to reach us in here.”

“Would it have something to do with the metal surface of this place?”

“Just about anything is capable of possessing an enchantment,” Astral said. “Given enough time and concentration. If the civilization who built this practiced sorcery, it's quite possible that they created an anti-mana shield when they constructed the walls.”

“Heh. Lucky us, right?”

“In more ways than one,” Astral said with a nod. “Tell me, Miss Dash. Did the Sun Goddess bequeath you the Element of Loyalty personally? Or did it somehow come to you, as if it was your destiny to possess the pendant?”

Rainbow Dash said nothing. She merely bit her lip and flew ahead.

Astral continued, “Because there's an old legend that Wintergaters used to hold dear. It said that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars would aid in the escape of the Mare of the Moon, and the only thing keeping eternal night from bathing the landscape would be the legendary Elements of Harmony. Well, almost a year ago to date, the Mare in the Moon vanished. Ever since, rumor spread far and wide of the Equestrian Moon Princess having returned to earth to once again bless the land with her immortal wisdom.”

“Seems like everywhere I friggin' go,” Rainbow Dash muttered. “I'm always running into eggheads.”

“Miss Dash,” Astral said with a smile. “I know that you are entitled to your privacy. But you cannot hide what's in plain sight. You are the wielder of the Element of Loyalty. The power that went into such an item as you wear around your neck is absolutely astronomical. Without the six pieces of Harmony, this world cannot exist. The rest of the ponies behind us: they can only guess why this place responds to you so. But I happen to know. You're in possession of something that's far more powerful than any of us have ever had the grace to witness. And what's more, I don't think it's all just the pendant that you bear. There's more to it than that, isn't there?”

“How about I get us out of this stupid maze...” Rainbow Dash smiled bitterly down at him. “And then you can spend your precious time doing the college professor thing.”

“Still, it begs the question,” Astral thought aloud as Rainbow Dash flew a little higher. “If just one Element was brought to a place like this, and it's already had this kind of an effect, what would happen if the other five graced this location? Could the machinery come alive? Could the entire facility light up?”

“I don't think you'll ever have to worry about that,” Rainbow Dash muttered. Her prismatic tail drooped behind her. “None of the other Elements will ever see this place.”

“And why's that? Are they being used elsewhere?”

“No,” Rainbow Dash said. “There's only one.”

“One what?” Astral said. When Rainbow Dash didn't answer, his eyes went wide and he came to a hoof-scuffling stop. “There's only one Element?” His jaw dropped. “Since... S-Since when?”

“Since...” Rainbow Dash shuddered in mid-air. Suddenly, she flinched. She turned and squinted down a narrow passageway that opened up into a gaping, metal chasm. “What in the hay...?”

Astral barely snapped out of his shocked stupor to crane his neck and share her gaze. “What is it that you see?”

“Something bright.... something glowing...” Rainbow Dash gazed at the shimmering sight from afar. She licked her lips and smiled devilishly. “I'm gonna go check it out!”

As she zipped away, Astral reached a hoof out in protest. “Miss Dash! Wait! It could be dangerous!”

“Heehee! Yeah? So?!”

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