• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Niche

Rainbow Dash thought that she was prepared to handle the cold. She was wrong.

The frost of night descended on her like a shattering glacier. Every inch of her coat was penetrated by the gloss of freezing moisture. She had found a niche to situate herself in overnight, but she was hardly enthralled. For two solid hours, she fumbled to start a fire. The rocky structure of the crevice she was situated in was made slippery by a thin layer of sleet, and she nearly collapsed several times as she struggled to produce sparks with her flint and steel.

When she finally built a fire, Rainbow heaved numerous bundles of wood onto the glowing flame. Minutes passed as she squatted before the embers, warming her limbs, overjoyed to have feeling return to her hooves. She then noticed that—in her panic and desperation—that she had easily tossed over two-thirds of her wood supply onto the pyre.

She cursed under her breath, nevertheless squatting closer to the flames and rubbing her limbs. More minutes passed, and when she next stretched her wings, she twitched awkwardly upon realizing how stiff they were. The moisture that had clung to her feathers was starting to harden into granules of ice. Wincing, she turned around and positioned her back to the fire, stretching her wings out wide to receive the brunt of the warmth.

With a sigh, she gazed out into the haze of night. The color and spectacle of the stars was gone, replaced instead by a sheer blackness that loomed beyond the halo of orange light generated by the fire. If she squinted, she couldn't tell where the shadowed mountains ended and the dismal cosmos began. Somehow, she didn't doubt that her camp was the only source of light for miles around.

Rainbow Dash exhaled sharply, gazing down into the polished rock beneath her. Every time she thought she was getting used to perpetual isolation, she'd end up in a place or a situation that would dwarf the previous. It suddenly dawned on her that if she were to freeze to death in that place, not only would nopony bury her, but it was likely that no single soul would find her body, period.

Interestingly enough, Rainbow Dash was neither saddened nor frightened by this contemplation. She wondered how many ponies in history had perished in such a lonesome way, having vanished off the edges of the earth, carrying with them infinite secrets and thoughts that would be precious to them, that nopony else would be capable of contemplating for they weren't there when the end of all things descended on that one unfortunate soul. The end of the universe—after all—was relative to when a singled pony died, vanished, or just gave up, Rainbow Dash imagined. History was a selective thing, unaware of so many unsung bards lost within the gaps of the physical and mental planes...

Rainbow Dash went cross-eyed. She turned around, grabbed a stick that wasn't entirely burning, and smacked herself in a skull with it. As soon as her eyes blinked again, all she could think about was food, flying, and explosions.

She smiled.

Tossing the stick back in, she scooted over to the far end of the fire, so that she was pinned between the flames and the cradle that the rocky niche had made. Her wings were no longer stiff, and the flames had intensified enough to keep her moderately comfortable. She knew that it would be a pressing situation to find more wood the next day. She knew that there was an unfathomable distance of mountains left to scale. She also knew that there was nopony within dozens of miles to help her—much less Princess Luna.

Staring into the flames—basking in the warmth as she huddled toastily beneath the star-less expanse—Rainbow Dash no longer cared. She reached into her saddlebag and grabbed a few flowers. Munching on them, she smiled and fantasized about far more scrumptious morsels. She hoped that whatever civilization she might find on the other side of the mountain range: they'd have a feast for her... or at least a salad bar.

Maybe even a water park...

Rainbow Dash snickered to herself. She curled up besides the flame, closed her eyes, and dreamt of summer sunshine.

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