• 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 3

Chapter 3

She lay on the cold metal floor, tears streaming down her face. Deep sobs echoed around the metal walls and flared back at her, only adding to her misery. The tears fell down her muzzle, landing in the small but growing puddle next to her cheek. Her violet eyes were closed tight against the truth, the truth that they were there, and nothing else was. She curled her legs up to her chest and buried her face in her tail. She didn’t want to see the world. She didn’t want to know.

She couldn’t remember how she got there. All she could remember was Moonfire talking, and raw panic rising within her. But she didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. Everything they had done, everything they had suffered for. Worthless. Cast away like bits of trash. She curled tighter into the ball as her sobs grew, and her tears continued. Why was this happening to them? What had they ever done wrong to deserve this? It just wasn’t right! This shouldn’t be happening. She was screaming those words inside her.

Much later, she wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but she heard hoof steps. She didn’t care, she just tried to block them out. They came closer, and she knew whose they were. Whooves’. Carefully placed, but soft, hoof falls. Like he planned every step. He came closer, sitting down next to her. He didn’t say anything. He just gently stroked her mane as she cried. A long while later, she didn’t know how long, her tears ended, but the pain remained. She uncurled herself from the ball, her tail and cheek now thoroughly wet from her tears. She looked up through foggy eyes at Whooves.

He was still stroking her mane, looking at her with a mixture of pity and understanding. Her helped her to lean against the cold metal, settling down next to her. Their shoulders touched as they sat, both looking straight ahead. It was a while before either of them spoke.

“The others are worried about you.” he said softly, afraid to startle her, like a rare bird. “They were afraid you would try to...”

“Kill myself.” she finished, her voice barely audible. Whooves nodded, still not looking at her. “What if I had? It wouldn’t matter.” she said, eyes fogging over again. “We are all dead anyway, we just have to wait for it.”

“Don’t say that.” Whooves said, turning to look at her. “We just have to--”

“Whooves!” She said, grabbing his hoof. “Look around. This isn’t like last time. There is no ship to protect us. We are all alone, and we are going to die!” She fell back against the metal wall, tears falling once more. Whooves just watched her, then turned back to the other wall. Moments passed like hours, with neither saying anything.

“What would have happened if you gave up this easily last time?” he asked softly. She sniffed, wiping the tears away.

“What do you mean?” she asked, her voice thick.

“If you had given up last time, we would still be on the ship. Derpy and I would probably be dead, and you would still be stuck up there. But you didn’t give up. You got us down here. You helped us survive.”

“To a planet with no ponies, and a destroyed base? I didn’t help at all. We should have just lived up there. At least we had food and water.” She looked away from him, lower lip trembling. “And it wasn’t just me. I just picked up where Cora left off. And you did some too. You would have gotten off without me.” Whooves shook his head, standing up and walking away. But before he got to the door, he paused. He turned and walked back over to her. He knelt down in front of her and helped her to her haunches. He looked into her lilac eyes.

“We are going to get out of this. Do you know how I do?” She shook her head, a single tear falling. Whooves smiled, brushing the tear away. Then he leaned in and gently placed his lips against hers. Her eyes flashed open, panicking for a second, her brain short circuiting. But then she relaxed, eyes closing. Her lips were soft against his, and Whooves could taste her tears on her lips, but he didn’t care. She wrapped her fore-legs around his neck, pulling him closer. After what seemed like an eternity, too short a time for her, he broke away. She stared up into his eyes, which were kind and warm.

“We are going to get out, because I trust you.” He held out his hoof to her. She looked at it, the looked around at the ship. One meant a fight for survival. The other meant safety, at least for a while. She looked back at him, knowing the right choice.

*****

The door to the center dome opened. The others stood there, waiting to see who walked in. Scared as they were, they didn’t need something like this to happen. After a brief pause, Whooves walked in. Alone. Their hope crumbled, and they turned away. He cleared his throat.

“She is outside. I am going to take her to find some quarters. I don’t want any of you disturbing her.” Their faces lit up, galloping over to Whooves.

“Is she alright?” Fluttershy asked.

“She is severely depressed. So please giver her some time. And Rainbow, don’t do anything to try to cheer her up.” he said, expression dead serious. Rainbow nodded, not even smiling. “After I get her settled, we can find you all rooms. Just stay here for a while.” He turned and walked back outside, leaving the others alone.

Twilight was leaning against the dome, looking up at the sky. “I thought the sun was setting hours ago.” she said, looking up at the sky. Two suns were still sitting there, although one was slightly larger and stained red. Even though both were higher in the sky, the landscape was tinted as if it was a sunset.

“Triple sun system.” Whooves said, taking her hoof and leading her to to dorms. “We have to have three sunsets.”

“So how long are the days here?” she asked, feeling dead tired already.

“I don’t know.” he said, shaking his head. “But I guess that would be in the command files.” They had reached the dome with the bedrooms. He slid his hoof over the screen, and the door opened. Lights flickered on, illuminating the inside. It was in no better shape than the other dome. Inside, the long hallway branched off into different doorways. At the very end, a single door stood, numbers along the top.

“We should probably go down a couple floors.” he said, leading her to the elevator. She didn’t even try to protest. He pressed the button, and the door opened automatically. The metal grinding noise that had been ever present on the ship, was absent here. He walked inside, followed by Twilight. He pressed a button for three floors down, and the doors shut. The elevator dropped automatically, just like back on the ship. His stomach rose, then fell as they reached the floor. The doors opened, and he breathed a sigh of relief. This floor was untouched. Pristine white walls glowed under the lights.

They walked out into the hall, and Whooves picked the closest room to the elevator. He reached down and took Twilight’s right front hoof. He placed it against the screen. After a small blue flash, the door beeped and opened. Whooves stepping inside first, not sure what to find.

The room looked like nopony had ever lived in it. The bed was perfectly made, and the desk was pristine and untouched. It was similar to the ones on the ship, with one main room, and a small bathroom off to the side. He led Twilight inside. “I guess this will be your room.” he said, not sure what else to do. He was about to leave, when Twilight turned around. She walked forward and embraced him, burying her head in his mane.

“Thank you.” she whispered in his ear. She broke away and sat down on the bed.

“There isn’t any reason to thank me.” he said. “It was something I had to do.” He turned to leave, but her voice stopped him.

“Whooves? About before, on the ship..” He turned to face her, startled to see her blushing. “What..what did it mean?” Whooves had been expecting this, so he just smiled and stroked her mane again.

“If we survive this, I will tell you.” Then he turned and left the room, leaving Twilight confused and unsure.

*****

Whooves walked back into the central dome, finding the others in just about the same positions as before.

“How is she?” Applejack asked when he walked in.

“She just needs some time to get things straight.” Whooves answered. He picked up a dust covered chair a placed it correctly, sitting down in it. “I put her in the B3 floor. So I want you guys to take the B2 floor for the time being. Just until she is well again.”

“Do you think it’s safe...to leave her alone?” Rarity asked.

“I trust that she will take care of herself.” Whooves answered. “However. I will see to her from time to time. Anyway, you should all probably go pick a room. The final sunset will be soon, and we don’t know what night is like here.” The others nodded, filing out the door. But Whooves stayed in the chair. He had his own emotions to work out.

*****

It had been a couple hours since Whooves left, but she could not find sleep. Aggravated, Twilight hit her pillow to try to make it more comfortable, even though it was already perfect. When another ten minutes produced the same result, she just got up.

She had heard movement of the floor above. The others had gone to sleep long ago, while she was stuck awake, in a place she really didn’t want to be. She began to look over her room. Very similar to the rooms on the ship. A desk in one corner, bed in another, and a bathroom branching off. But she remembered there was another feature that the rooms had. On a blank wall, you could slide your hoof, and a window would open. There was a blank wall here as well. Even in her depressed state, her natural curiosity won out. She walked over and touched the wall. A small screen flipped out of the wall. She placed her hoof on the screen, and a green line ran up and down the hoof, reading the grooves. A sharp beep rang out after the light had faded.

First officer initializing.” the female voice said. “View previous profile or create a new profile?” The two options popped up on the screen.

“Previous profile?” Twilight said to herself. Looking over her shoulder, she tapped the “Previous profile” option. The screen flipped back into the wall. Twilight stepped back, not sure what to expect. A moment later, a larger screen broke out of the wall, followed by a small chair rising from the floor. The screen glowed blue as it settled into place, with icons lining the right side of the screen. Twilight had never seen anything like this. She walked forward and sat down in the chair. She looked over the icons slowly. She only recognized two of the objects. One was the nuclear hazard symbol, glowing yellow and black, and was one a piece of paper. That icon had a blinking “+1” appearing next to it every couple seconds. Looking over her shoulder again, she tapped the icon. A small message appeared in green letters on the screen.

View last journal?” followed by “Yes or No”. She tapped the yes button. The screen flashed black for a moment, then came back as white. Words were written on the white page. Twilight, spurred on by this discovery, read them over.

Lead Science officers journal. Four years, six months, and seven days since landing.

The colony has collapsed. Our numbers are decimated, and they are falling still. We can’t even repopulate now, as we lost our last mare yesterday. There are four of us now. Moonfire, me, and two more stallions. The best we could do for this colony was stop the arrival of more ponies. Moonfire did that by halting the reanimation process on the new E.S.S.S ship that arrived this morning. There would be no reason to bring them down. They would die just as we did.

I didn’t sign up for this. I signed up for the creation of a new world. A place where we could restart. I guess the irony is, we are restarting once again. The planet is starting over, deleting us from the surface. I can’t believe everything we have done is going to waste! It just doesn’t seem real. I keep wishing for my eyes to open, and this be some dream caused by a bad carrot or something. But they won’t, and I am stuck here on this dying planet.

I have had an idea. A crazy, but possibly genius idea. I will let you know in a later edit what my decision will be, but until then, this will be it. LG, signing off.

At the very bottom of the page, separated by a large white space, was a few small sentences.

EDIT: Moonfire is dead. Plan is going into full effect. If you don’t hear from me again, it is because either the plan worked, or I am dead. For the last time, LG signing off.

Twilight stared at the words on the screen. She couldn’t process what she has just read. Something within her was feeling sorry for that pony, and all the others who had been there, and another part was yelling. But not at them. At her. She had been feeling so sorry for herself. These ponies were watching each other die, and she was with her best friends, alive, with a chance to rebuild. She felt disgusted. She got up and slid her hoof on the wall. The screen fell back into place, as did the chair. she walked over and opened the door, starting to walk up the hall.

She needed time to think.

*****

Whooves entered the elevator, punching the button for the highest floor. He didn’t know what he expected to find there, but he hoped it would help him in some way. The numbers faded black as he rose, and eventually, the elevator stopped. The doors opened onto a small hallway. A single look, and he could tell something was off.

The walls were intact and perfect. No plants grew in from the ceiling, and no lights were dead, or flashing weakly. He slowly stepped out, afraid a single step would cause the whole thing to collapse. But nothing happened, so he continued his walk. At the end of the hall was a single door, marked with the same insignia that was on the ship, and was on the first screen they had seen. The geometric bird of prey. He walked over to the door, running his hoof over the frame. A screen flipped over, its surface covered with dust. He wiped the dust away, causing a waterfall of brown and grey to fall onto the floor. He placed his hoof against the screen. The lasers read the grooves, and the door opened.

Inside, it was pitch black. He placed a single hoof in, and the lights blinked on. He flinched as they did, closing his eyes to block out the glare. But when he could see again, he stepped inside. This was a slightly more luxurious version on the other rooms. A double wide bed sat in the center, with a large desk off to one side. The bathroom was slightly larger. But others than the size, it was exactly the same. But what struck him most, was the perfectness of it all. It looked like it had been built yesterday. Taken from a time one hundred years ago, and placed in front of him now. He slowly spun on the spot, trying to take it all in.

True to his word, Moonfire’s uniform was sitting, neatly folded, on the bedspread. Whooves walked towards it, not wanting to assume this duty. He unfolded it, watching the silken material unfold perfectly with no creases, despite being folded for almost a century. The metals clinked loudly, breaking the unworldly silence. A nameplate stood out at the top of the metals. ‘Moonfire’ it said. Whooves was hit with a sudden guilt. Slowly, almost caringly, he pulled the nameplate off. He placed it on the desk, next to a few papers and a pen. It felt so wrong to be taking this position, but he had to do it. He slid the uniform over his head, poking his front legs through holes. When he was finished, he walked to the nearest wall, and looked at his reflection. It was the first time he had seen it in a long time.

He looked insane. That was his first though. His mane and tail were long and unkempt. His eyes were wide, with large bags under them. His eyes themselves carry traces of all the things he had felt over the past days. Fear, pain, anguish, hopelessness. It was all reflected back at him. He closed his eyes, turning away from the pony in the reflection. He sat down on the bed, burying his head in his hooves. He was supposed to be the leader. But he didn’t know what to do. he didn’t have the slightest idea how this base works. “Worked” he said out loud. He didn’t know how to repair it. Nothing. He flopped down in the bed, looking up at the ceiling. He just felt so tired. But closing his eyes offered no solution. His mind was racing, not allowing any sleep. So, after thirty minutes of trying, he sat up, letting out an exhausted sigh. He stood up and trudged around the room for a while. The metals on his uniform clinked every time he stepped. Finally, he decided he would take a walk. He opened the door, and stepped out into the hallway.

*****

The dome was hot on her back, but she didn’t feel like moving. She looked up at the setting sun, the final one. The sky beyond had turned a deep indigo, while the sky next to the sun had turned to a combination of rich yellow and deep orange. The space in the middle, a vivid purple, matched her eyes perfectly. At the farthest edge of the indigo sky, small white specks had begun to grow. She watched them stars slowly come to like, invading a sky that had once been so plain. The dome cooled as the sun set. Her shadow cascaded off the side, falling to the ground in a single stream of black. But soon, even that faded, and she was left alone in the cooling night air. Or so she thought.

The sound of hooves touching metal caused her to jump. Turning around, he saw Whooves walking towards her, slipping slightly on the smooth metal. When he reached her, he sat down, watching the last of the orange disappear from the horizon, and smiling at the confused expression on her face.

“How..how did you get up here?” she asked.

“You could say I traveled on a pair of blue wings.” Whooves said, smiling. “I could asked the same thing, but I already know the answer.” he said, tapping her horn. She nodded, looking back at the horizon.

“You told them to leave me alone.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. Whooves nodded.

“I did. I thought it would be best to give you a little space for a while.” Whooves said, looking back at her. “I may not be a psychologist, but I am still worried about you.”

“Well, you don’t have to be. I have figured we have it better than they did. We are alive, and we have friends. While they were dying, and they didn’t know why. There wasn’t a reason to act as I did.”

Whooves licked his lips. He didn’t have anything to say to that. He just laid down on the metal and looked up at the sky. Twilight did the same, but she put a little distance between them.

The stars slowly came to life, filling the sky with life. The formed swirls and clouds and rivers. They flowed through the sky, a river of light in a dark forest. As they burst to life, a pattern was emerging. A pattern they had never been able to see back on Equestria. The Milky Way shown out at them, a beautiful lake of gold and green and red and blue light. Clouds of dust and stars surfed through it, all surrounding its glowing center. Twilight smiled, the galaxy reflected in her eyes.

“Where’s home?” she asked. Whooves turned to look at her. “Where’s Equestria?” Whooves looked back at the stars. His trained eyes traced lined between the stars he knew, and the ones he didn’t. After a few moments, he found it.

“That little yellow spec.” he said, pointing up. “Just above that duct cloud. That’s home.”

“It’s beautiful.” Twilight breathed. “How far away are we?”

“We are Orbiting around Alpha Centauri B so..... About Four and a half light years from home. And that took four hundred years....”

“What do you think Equestria is like now?” Twilight asked. She was afraid to ask it.

Whooves just shrugged. “Maybe the dragons and griffins had a revolt and ponies are now slaves. Maybe they found a way to reverse the pollution they were doing to the planet. Maybe a war. We will never know.”

“Don’t you care?” Twilight asked.

“Of course I care!” Whooves said, sitting up. “It’s just...there is nothing we can do about them now. We have to forget them. Everyone we knew....even their great grandfoals are dead. There wouldn’t be an Equestria to go back to even if we could return.”

Twilight bit her lip, not sure what to make of this statement. She just settled for silence, sitting back and watching the stars overhead.

“You should probably go inside soon.” Whooves said. “We don’t know how cold it gets here at night.” Twilight looked at him, then closed her eyes. Her horn glowed, and a sphere of energy surrounded them. Instantly, Whooves felt like he was back in a warm spring day on Equestria. He looked down at Twilight, who was smirking at him.

“Don’t worry. I am a big unicorn, I can take care of myself.” Whooves nodded, rubbing his eyes.

“Well, just be safe. I will see you tomorrow.” And with that, he walked outside the sphere. The cold hit him like a rock, but he kept moving. He waved, and Rainbow flew over and plucking him from the dome. She set him on the ground, then flew back to the dorms. Whooves took one last look up at Twilight, her magic sphere causing her siloghete to become distorted, then turned and walked back to the dorms.

*****

Whooves woke up the next morning feeling more tired than when he had gone to bed. He sat up, groaning. Looking around, he remembered where he was, and let out another groan. He stood up, stretching his legs. He put on his uniform, and opened the door. The hallway was just as it had been, and he slowly trudged towards the elevator. When he reached the ground floor he remembered. Food. They only had a limited amount of the bars from the ship. The top priority would be to get the garden working again. He walked back to the central dome, where they had left their bags. He pulled a bar out and unwrapped the wrapping. He sat down in one of the chairs, waiting for the others to wake up. It was still early, and the sun had barely risen.

Slowly, one by one in varying moods, the others walked in. He handed them a bar as they did, and they chewed in silence. Finally, only one pony was missing.

“Where’s Twi?” Applejack asked. Whooves jumped up, looking around.

“Did any of you see her last night?” he asked. The shook their heads.

“Alright. I think I know where she is. Just stay here.” He galloped out the door. A sun had risen, but from which direction he couldn’t tell. He ran over to the dorms, taking the elevator down to Twilight’s room. He door was shut, and he pressed his hoof against the screen.

“Commander override.” the voice said, then the doors opened. He ran inside, letting out a sigh of relief.

Twilight was sitting at the computer, turned around, staring at him like he had grown a second head. “What is the matter with you?” she asked. He took a couple steps back, blushing.

“I was...I just...sorry.” he finally managed. “I wanted to see if you were OK.”

“I am perfectly alright, as you can see.” she said, turning back to the screen. Whooves walked towards her, looking over her shoulder at the screen. She was reading some sort of document.

“What is that?” Whooves asked.

“It’s the journal from the previous occupant of this room. He was the lead science officer, and from what i can see in his journals, a genius.” She closed the document, only to bring up another. “He is talking about all these experiments he ran to try to understand the geology, the atmosphere, and the genetics of the life here. Pretty amazing stuff.”

“Anything about the disease?” Whooves asked, looking over the document.

“Not as much as you would think.” Twilight answered. “Only a couple notes on ponies dying, and a nickname for the disease. They called it the “3 Day Flu”, because you were infected, and-”

“You died in three days.” Whooves finished. Twilight nodded, pulling up another document. “This is his last journal. Read the last paragraph. Whooves read it over, his lips slightly moving as his eyes scanned the page.

“What plan? What happened to him?”

“That’s the thing, I don’t know. He never made any mention of any plan, or any way to save the ponies. This plan just popped out of nowhere.” She stayed silent for a moment. “Do you think he survived?”

“Even if he had, he would have been probably 120 years old by now. Probably more. There is no way he could have lived that long.” Twilight nodded, shutting down the computer. “Come on, you need to eat something.” He led her towards the door.

“Are we going to explore the base today?” she asked. “I was hoping we might find more information.”

“Yeah, I was planning on that.” Whooves replied.

*****

The split up into groups of two. There were four domes left, so it was equal for them all. Twilight and Whooves chose the dome farthest from the central dome. The smallest one. Whooves pressed his hoof against the panel, and the door opened. But another door awaited them a few feet in. Both a bio-hazard and a nuclear symbol were emblazoned on the doors. Another panel, this one with two hoofprints, was inlaid into the wall. Twilight pressed her hood against it with Whooves, and after a small hiss, the doors opened.

A laboratory rested inside. Rows of computers and other machines covered the walls. Tables and chairs with glass test tubes and vials stood in the middle. Stairs, not an elevator, rested at the back of the dome. Lights above them glowed weakly, and a few hung on wires, but the inside looked to be mostly intact.

“Do you feel that?” Whooves asked, pressing a hoof solidly against the ground. Twilight did the same, and she could feel it. A rumble, deep and hoarse, was rising from under them. The floor was also warm, despite being inside and in the cool air.

“What is that?” Twilight asked, backing away a few steps. “That’s not a volcano, is it?”

“No, no no.’ Whooves said, smiling. “That, would be the nuclear reactor. They must have placed it here, to keep it away from the rest of the base. Farthest point from the center.”

“I am surprised it hasn’t gone critical yet.” Twilight said, gingerly walking around the dome.

“Well, as long as the energy is flowing, so are the control systems. I just hope it hasn’t sprung a leak.”

“So the garden wouldn’t be here then?”

“No. But, some part of the disease might be contained here. I don’t think we should touch anything until we know exactly what everything is.”

“Good idea.” Twilight said, stepping away from the machines. They continued to look at each of the floors. Every floor was the same. Computers and machines, glass and plastic and metal. Everything was how the ponies had left it a hundred years ago. They had finished the last floor, and were about to head up, when a burst of static caught Twilight off-guard.

“Twilight?! Twilight are you there?!” Fluttershy’s panicked voice came through the communicator.

“Yes, I am here. What’s wrong?”

“Come to the medical dome. Bottom floor. Come as fast as possible!”

“Fluttershy, what is it?!” But she had already cut off. “We have to go.” Twilight said to Whooves.

“Can’t you teleport us there?” he asked.

“I was planning on it.” She closed her eyes, and a nimbus of deep maroon enveloped them. The feeling of weightlessness flowed through Whooves’ body. Then, the world went black. A second later, the world flashed back, but they were in a different spot. They were standing outside another dome. But this one had a bright green cross above the door. Whooves slammed his hoof against the screen, rushing in as soon as the door was wide enough. They galloped down the stairs, three at a time. Finally, they reached the bottom floor.

A single door stood ajar. Fluttershy and Rarity stood outside of it, looks of confusion and worry on their faces.

“What...is..it?” Twilight asked, out of breath. Fluttershy opened the door farther, showing them inside. A small room, with a single metal table and a counter lay beyond. Above the table, almost flush with the headrest, was a hatch. It looked like it had been directly cut out of their ship and pasted in the room. Along the top, a row of three lights were flashing. Red, then yellow and green, then all at once. The pattern kept repeating over and over again.

“Is that.....” Twilight asked, not finishing her question. Whooves was already nodded, walking forward. He placed a single hoof against the metal. When he pulled it away, a print was left in the thin layer of ice that covered the hatch. Looking back at Twilight, he nodded again. He placed both hooves on the hatch, and pulled. The sound of ice breaking filled the small room, and a second later, the hatch swung free on its hinges. A blast of cold air and water vapor erupted from the hatch, along with a small warning siren. When it had cleared, Twilight rushed forward, almost pushing Whooves out of the way. She grasped the tray inside the hatch, and pulled.

Metal scraped against ice and the tray was pulled free. It landed with a loud bang on the table, and Twilight skittered back a few steps as it did. But she walked forward again, staring down at the object. Whooves walked forward and looked over her shoulder, amazed.

A pony, completely encased in a suit, and frozen solid, rested on the tray.

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