• Published 2nd Jun 2012
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Shades of Equestria - Typographical Error



It is time for Twilight and her frineds to walk on their new home. But is it all they imagined?

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Nopony spoke, afraid to break the silence. The only sound was the rushing of the wind through their manes, and the creaking of the metal beneath their hooves. They stared around, taking in anything and everything they saw. Twilight, through blurry eyes, turned slightly, still being held aloft. She raised a hoof that was not being held, covering her eyes from the glare of the sun. No, not sun, she realized. Suns.

Two suns hung in the sky like two blazing yellow eyes. One was hanging directly above them, casting a shadow under their bodies. But the other was setting, casting long, fading shadows out behind them. She looked to the sky, which was a rich, soft blue. Clouds, white and puffy, floated along on a breeze that none of them could feel. The sky curved away from them, disappearing below a mountainous horizon miles away. Despite the blazing headache, Twilight smiled as she looked out at her new world. Angling herself a little more, she looked around at the landscape.

They had landed in some sort of field. Tall, amber plants, like grain of some sort, rose from the ground, waving in the occasional breeze. They looked like waves, flowing across a yellow ocean. Every now and then, a plant of some sort, they looked like trees, but shorter and skinnier, rose from the ground. But, unlike trees, they did not have leaves. Instead, long, spindly vines hung from their branches, curling before they touched the ground. Even smaller growths, almost like flowers, but smaller, sprouted from the vines. At the crest, a single large branch curled and wound back down the ‘trunk’. Following it with her eyes, Twilight found that the ‘trees’ were not individual plants, but were all part of the same plant! She felt her mouth open as she looked around, and she felt no need to close it.

Whooves was the first to move. He took a single step out of the hull of the pod. At first he stumbled, a puzzled look on his face. Twilight couldn’t see a reason for his trip. Be he just shook it off and continues down the metal ramp. He reached the end, pausing before he stepped off the metal. He turned to the others, motioning them down. Rainbow nodded at Fluttershy, who nodded back. As one, they flew out of the hull. The moment they did, they dipped a few feet. Twilight felt as if a ten pound weight had been dropped on her chest. After a few second, Rainbow and Fluttershy righted themselves, turning to Whooves.

“What was that!?” Rainbow asked, obviously ruffled. She looked like she was using more energy than normal to stay afloat, as was Fluttershy.

“I think I remember.” Whooves said, looking up at her. “This planet is one sixth larger than Earth. So it will have one sixth more gravity than Earth. The gravity drive on the ship is keeping it at Earth gravity. But out here, it is normal. It is something we are going to have to get used to.” Rainbow huffed, but stayed aloft. Twilight looked over her shoulder. Rarity was standing at the edge of the hull. With a deep breath, she took a step out. She did the same little trip as Whooves had done, and Twilight laughed. But it wasn’t because of the trip. It was because of her hair, normally floating and light, was pushed flat against her head, obscuring one of her eyes. She let out a small scream, running back inside the hull. Instantly, her hair puffed back into place.

“Well this simply won’t do!” she huffed, pacing back and forth across the entrance.

Come on, Rarity!” Applejack said, pushing her outside. “We aren’t going to stay on this ship just ‘cause of your hair!” Applejack’s mane fell, as did Rarity’s, but Rarity stayed outside this time. Derpy was next, doing the same little fall that Rainbow and Fluttershy had. Pinkie was last. Her hair was in the typical fluffy curls. And when she stepped out, to no surprise of Twilight’s, they stayed the same. She turned her stutter-step into a cartwheel, landing on two hooves next to Rarity, who just stared at her.

They turned and looked at the open wilderness. They had never seen anything so open, so untouched. Slowly, it settled over them. This was someplace new. They were light-years from Equestria. Miles from home, from anything they had ever known. They were the aliens on this planet. The invasive species. But something was missing, something important.

“Where’s the colony?” Pinkie asked, spinning on the spot. She was right. There was no sign of anything pony created for miles around. Whooves looking around, eventually stopping on Derpy.

“Can you fly up there and see if you can see it?” he asked. She nodded, flying up in a spiral towards the sky. She turned slowly, looking around. When she turned in the opposite direction that they were facing, her expression lit up.

“It’s over this way!” her husky voice carrying down to them. “It’s huge...but, I can’t see any ponies.” She flew back down to them, landing on the ramp.

“Maybe they are all inside or something.” Applejack said, looking at Whooves.

“We will see I guess.” he said. “Do you think you can walk?” he asked Twilight. She flexed the muscles in her legs. They were sore, but she could move them. She gave him a weak nod. Whooves nodded at Rainbow and Fluttershy, who slowly lowered her to the ground. She rolled over, setting herself on her legs. She stood for a moment, swaying as she got used to the weight. She took a step, than another, and another. She smiled slightly as she found that she could walk.

Whooves handed her the cloth back. She realized that it was the hood from his suit. “Hold this against your head. The bleeding should stop soon.” She pushed the cloth against her head, feeling the cold of the metal fibers soothe her wound. She turned for the first time to look at the ship that had carried them down from orbit.

It was vaguely oval shaped. Wider at one end than it was at the other. Three rows of lights, about a foot in diameter each, wrapped across the hull. Twilight realized that they separated decks. At the top were a row of circular holes, each about two feet wide. A few inches down, they were sealed shut with a metal aperture. They must have been for air and electricity, she reasoned. The whole thing was a silvery-white color. An alloy had been used to construct the body, leaving the inner working to be made out of stronger steel. Her eyes moved to the back of the pod. Sticking out of the back, almost like a bird's feet in flight, were the thrusters. They were burned black, smoke still rising from them. As she looked further down, she could see a deep rut, maybe a few yards deep, cut into the ground. It stretched for what seemed like half a mile. The whole underside of the ship was covered in the dirt and plant life of the planet. She was now glad that she had been unconscious during the landing. But there was one part that caught Twilight’s eyes.

Above the hatch they had just come through, many yards high, was the insignia of the Equine Space Federation. Pure white against the tint of the ship, it stood out as much as they did on this planet. It looked like a bird of prey made out of geometric shapes. Wings spread out behind it, claws pointed down to catch whatever poor creature it was diving at. It was meant to show the strength and power of the Equines. But now, 100 years late, and crippled as they were, it just wasn’t living up. Twilight turned her back, not wanting to look at it.

“How far is the colony?” Whooves asked Derpy.

“It isn’t far. Less than a mile.”

“Do you think you can walk that far?” he asked Twilight. She took a couple steps around the ramp, feeling the stiffness work its way out of her joints.

“I think so.” she answered. Whooves nodded.

“Alright, I want us to stick together. We don’t know what is out there. So pegasi, Rainbow, stay with us.”

“Fine.” Rainbow answered, dropping down onto the ground.

“Alright, let’s go.” Together, they stepped off the ramp for the first time. The plants closed in on them, reaching up and covering their bodies. All Twilight could see of the others were their heads and wings. They circled around the front of the pod, making sure to stay away from the hull, which was still throwing off heat. As the far side of the planet came into view, they could see what Derpy had been talking about. rising from the plains, was the colony.

Bright, shining metal, the exact kind as the pod, sat in the gleaming sun. The colony looked like a collection of semi-spheres. From where she was walking, she would see six or seven spheres, connected by small covered walkways The largest sat in the center. A large circular window sat on the side facing them. It was the only thing that distinguished it from the others. It looked so strange, just sitting in the wilderness like that. Instantly, Twilight knew something was wrong.

The plants had grown up around the buildings, rising up past halfway on a couple. A few ‘trees’ had sprouted, and their ‘vines’ were spreading across the spheres. Scorch marks covered the tops, and several cracks had opened up in them. The ‘vines’ were growing into the cracks, forcing them wider. Something was utterly, and terribly, wrong.

“Oh, Celestia.” Whooves said, his pace quickening. Twilight forced herself to catch up, ignoring the pain in her head. As they got closer, the colony began to look worse and worse. The hope Twilight had been feeling in her heart burst. What had happened? Within minutes, they had reached the colony, and the extent of the damage could be seen more clearly.

“Celestia..” Whooves breathed. “What happened here?” He seemed at a loss for words, just staring up at the ruined spheres. It was a long time before he moved again.

“I...I will go see if I can see anything.” Rainbow said, floating above their heads. She flew off towards one of the large cracks in the ceiling. She dropped down on the roof, and an startling clang rang out. She jumped back a few feet, but then walk forward again.

“I can’t see anything!” she shouted. “All I see are these things,” she kicked one of the ‘vines’, ”and dark.”

“Well come back down here!” Twilight said. Rainbow flew back down to them, landing in the now muzzle high plants.

“What are we going to do?” Rainbow asked Whooves. That seemed to shake him out of his trance.

“We should find the door.” he said, his voice shaking. “See if we can find a way in.”

“What do you expect to find?” Rarity asked.

“If we are lucky, ponies. If we aren’t, I am not sure.” And with that, he started to walk around the sphere, taking in each and every crack in its surface. From where they were now, they could see how large the spheres actually were. They were at least three stories tall. The one they were now circling, the one in the center, was at least four. And each and every one bore the same scorch marks and cracks as the one in the center. After a few minutes of circling, walking around the sphere twice, they found the door.

It blended in so well with the rest of the sphere, the they had missed it on their first time around. Whooves walked forward, softly running his hoof along the cool metal. As he did, a metallic whirl rose from the sphere. A panel next to the door flipped open, and lights around the outside of the door illuminated. Whooves took a few steps back, startled. Then he walked forward, looking at the panel.

“This isn’t like the ones on the ship.” he observed. And he was right. It was a dark green screen, with no hoof print glowing. But he still touched it just the same. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, the screen flashed a cool blue.

Name and Rank.” a female voice said. Whooves looked around at the others, confused.

"Umm, Doctor Whooves. And I don’t have a rank.” The screen turned black, the flashed blue again, this time, several sentences were written on the screen.

Choose the option that fits your situation.” the voice said again. Twilight looked down the list of options. One jumped out at her.

“There! New colonists!” she almost shouted. Whooves smiled, tapping that option. The screen flickered black again, then turned back on. But this time, it was the dark green.

“Initiating Colony procedure Gamma 3.” the voice said. But this time, it was a males. And it wasn’t a computer's voice either. “Please place your right front hoof on the screen.” the voice commanded. Whooves looked sideways at Twilight, then did as he was told. He placed it against the screen, and the male voice spoke up again.

“Command transfer beginning.”

“What does he mean by that?” Whooves said. “What command? What?” A moments later, he froze in place as electricity from the screen held him there. Twilight heard a small sound from the panel, and she saw the whole screen fall away. The only thing the was left was the small amount of space that his hoof took up. She saw something move inside the open space, press itself up against the screen. A second later, a bright red light flared, aimed directly at his hoof. Fear erupted into his Whooves eyes, and he tried desperately to move, but he was frozen in place. Moments later, the red light stopped, and the screen fell back into place. The current ended, and Whooves shot back a few yards. He looked down at his hoof, breathing deeply.

The hoof was smoking. The laser, as Twilight now realized it was, had cut straight through the suit there, and cut into his hoof. She walked over and looked at the hoof. Small groves, almost like the circuits in a circuit board, had been carved into his hoof. Not deep enough to do any damage, but just right to be able to stay permanently.

“What?!” Whooves said again, looking around at them.

“Command transfer complete. All command information and records to be transferred to this colonists file. Regular initiation will now begin.” the male voice said, and the screen flicker blue once more.

“WHAT?!” Whooves said again, rushing towards the screen.

Next colonist place your right front hoof against the screen.” the female voice said. Twilight looked at Whooves and the others. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she touched her hoof to the screen.

State your name and the rank you would like to fill.” Twilight looked at Whooves, not sure what to say.

“If I think what I think that meant. I am now commander. So I would say....Lieutenant?” he guessed.

“Twilight Sparkle. Lieutenant” she said.

Name and rank accepted.” the voice said. A second later, the current of electricity froze her in place, the the panel fell away into the wall. From her point of view, she could see nothing that was happening, but she knew the laser was getting ready. And she was right.

A second later, she felt the laser start up. She had never gotten a tattoo before, but she expecting this was what it was like. A pain, nowhere near the pain in her head, started in a small point, the followed invisible lines around her hoof, working from the outside in. She opened her eyes, and she could see a small amount of smoke rising from her hoof, and she began to feel sick. The sound of her hoof being cut into was almost unbearable. But, finally, it stopped, and she found she could move again.

She looked down at her hoof, blowing away smoke and a powder that was all the laser left in its trail. The grooves were almost impossible to see, but she tilted her hoof a little, and the setting sun cast them into sharp contrast. They were shaped in small, concentric circles. But every now and then, a small part of the circle jumped away, then fell back into place. It looked like the crop circles that farmers sometimes carved in their fields to have some fun with the local press. The sick feeling in her stomach calmed a little, but she still had to swallow a few times before she felt calm enough to open her mouth.

“What....Why...huh?” she stuttered, looking around. “What is this supposed to do?!”

“I think they needed added security down here, so instead of all hoofprints opening the doors, only certain ones can.” Whooves said, looking down at his own hoof. “This is one way of doing it, I suppose. You can’t cheat it.”

“Do we all have to get it?” Fluttershy asked, backing away from the door.

“If you want to get it, yes, you have to.” Whooves answered.

One by one, they stepped up to the door. They said their names and ranks. After lieutenant, they went down in order, not really caring about who got what rank. The only problem was Fluttershy, who they had to practically knock out to get to do it. But, finally, they were finished, and the door opened.

Twilight looked inside. After a few moments, the lights flickered on, bathing the room inside with a dull, white glow. Twilight gasped when she saw what condition it was in. ‘Vines’ hung from the ceiling, spreading across the floor in some spots. Stains from years of water seeping in. Several lights hung from the ceiling, their cords dangling close to the ground. occasionally, one would flicker off, then turn back on several seconds later. Twilight was at a complete loss for words.

“What...what happened here?!” Applejack said as she walked in next to Twilight.

“I don’t know...”

They were in some sort of hallway. About five feet wide and ten feet long. When Rainbow, who was last, walked in, the door shut behind them with a ‘clang’. A moment passed where nothing happened, then a small red light in the corner turned on.

Disinfecting process initiated.” the voice said. A second later, two nozzle appeared from holes in the walls. They angled down at the ponies and sprayed them down with a clear liquid. Rarity screamed as it his her hair. Twilight felt it run through her fur. As it did, it seemed to heat up the fur, as if it was burning something. The stream reached her head, where the wound stood open to the liquid. She let out a strained whine as the spray threw disinfectant into the gash. But she felt better knowing she was receiving some sort of medical attention. The jets of liquid stopped, and the nozzles retreated. They stood, dripping, in the hallway. But as the seconds ticked by, Twilight could feel her fur dry. Within thirty seconds, she was completely dry, and a little fluffy.

“Well, that was completely unnecessary!” Rarity said, indignantly. She opened her pack and floated a brush over to her mane and tail, brushing it back into place. Twilight rolled her eyes, just as a door on the far end of the hall opened. She walked in, the others on her heels.

This room looked just like the last one. The only difference were splashes of sunlight on the floor, illuminating the immediate area. Looking around, twilight saw rows of computer monitors and controls lining the walls. A thick coating of dust covered everything, and it puffed up in small plumes as they walked. The computers seemed to be fine despite the damage done to the rest of the dome. One particular screen was glowing, the same insignia as on the ship flashing in the screen.

“Do you think we should?” Twilight asked Whooves, pointing at the screen. He nodded, walking over to it. Twilight and the others followed, crowding around the screen.

Whooves pressed the button, and the screen flashed black for a few second. Then, scrolling across the screen, were dark green letters and numbers. They watched as the letters slowly formed words.

Play: File_015../.Colonization_Procedure 001/..

The letters flashed away, only to be replaced with a small white dot. The dot exploded, filling the whole screen with a white light. That too faded, leaving behind what looked like a room. Twilight could see a bed in the background, along with a door. It looked similar to the ones on the ship. Slight movement, and a pony came into view. He sat down in front of the screen, staring at it for a few moments.

He was an ashen-grey pegasus. His light blue eyes were staring straight at the camera, almost as if he could see them standing there. His flaming orange and yellow hair was standing out at all angles, with a pony tail hanging down in the back. he wore a military type uniform, with many medals and stars glowing in the white light. Even though he seemed commanding and intelligent, he looked tired and sick. Large bags were under his eyes, and his feathers were drooping. He cleared his throat, then turned back to the camera.

“My name, is Commander Moonfire.” he said his voice low and gravelly. Twilight realized it was the same voice that they had heard earlier. “I am the leader of the colony on Nova Equine. And if you are hearing this, then the colony has been destroyed.”

An audible gasp rose from the group. And the sound of a deflating balloon met their ears as Pinkie’s hair fell flat against her scalp.

“We have survived so much. Five years, and we have created the perfect colony. Permanent energy source. Stable food and water supply. Healthy population...That is, until two weeks ago. We don’t know why, and we don’t know exactly when, but the colonists have been getting sick. Deathly sick. Only about a sixteenth of our original numbers are left, and even those are dropping. By the end of this week, I don’t know how many will be left...” His voice trailed off, and he looked at something to the left of the screen. He pulled it down, and twilight saw that it was a photograph.

“My wife and kids. They may already be dead, back on Equestria, but I still miss them. I would have rather been there, than stuck on this rock. At least I had a choice back there.” he looked back up at the camera, his eyes foggy. “But I have made that choice for you. If you are hearing this, then you have figured out a way to get off your ship. Yes, I know you are there. You arrived ten years ahead of schedule, which is probably a good thing. I stopped the reanimation cycle. I kept you frozen. I know, eventually, you will awaken. But that will be a long time from now. The scientists don’t know what has started this disease, but they hope that it will be over when you arrive. And, hopefully, you will be able to pick up where we left off, and start this colony right again.

“There are just a few things you should know. Geology. Very unstable geology in the mountains. Stay away from areas with loose rocks, or unusually moist dirt. They could cause sinkholes or avalanches. We lost too many good ponies that way. Next, are the storms. Every seven months or so, there are several electrical storms. It is suicidal to go outside at those times. The domes should protect you, but if they have been breached, they need to be repaired as soon as possible.

“Other than those, I think that is--” He was interrupted by a severe coughing fit. It lasted for a few minutes, and the whole time, Twilight was looking away and covering her ears. When it stopped, Moonfire pulled his hoof away from his mouth, both now stained red. He took a couple deep breaths before continuing.

“I think that is all you need to know. Whoever you are, one of you is now commander. I speak directly to you.” Whooves walked forward, almost as if Moonfire was in the room with them. “Take care of them. They are the most valuable commodity in the entire galaxy right now. Protect them care for them, and cherish them. Do everything for them that I was unable to. Quarters are outside and in the dome to the right. Commander’s quarters are on the top floor. You will find this uniform there.” he said, picking at the green-grey tunic he wore.

“‘Our Future is Among the Stars.’ That is what they told us to get us to join this mission. The opportunity to start anew. To right the wrongs we have committed over our time back home. It just seems like empty words now. My future wasn’t out here, light-years from home, where I can’t even see my own star anymore. No, my future wasn’t out here. My death was.

“Good luck, good travels, and goodbye. I wish you all the luck I have left in me. Get this colony on the right track again. Show that we are more adaptable than they thought. Just live. That is all I can say. One day, we will meet again. And I will be standing there, ready to shake your hoof. Goodbye. Goodbye, for now.”

With one last sad look at the camera, he reached to the right, and he flashed away, leaving them with only silence, and their fearful expressions reflected back at them in the black screen.

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