• Published 9th Jun 2012
  • 1,158 Views, 5 Comments

Seeking Secrets - Shumiry

A human travels to Equestria to find peace, but an ancient evil has other plans for this creature...

  • ...

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The first sensation he became aware of was the pain in his lower back, followed by the feeling of prickling against his neck. Drawing a deep breath, the smell of dirt and hay drenched his nostrils, thick and rich. He drew in another deep breath, savoring the potent scent, as he tried to gain his bearings. He was sitting on the ground, his back and head propped up against what was most likely a hay bale. Opening his eyes, he was assaulted by brilliant, vibrant color. Even though he was inside what appeared to be a barn, shielding him from direct sunlight, everything seemed like it was glowing. As if everything the light touched contributed energy to the photons, making the world more stimulating, more potent.

“It's like I'm in a cartoon...” he muttered, as he began to rise to his feet. The acuity of the statement hit him like a blow, causing him to stagger. A cartoon... Heart hammering in his chest, his eyes adjusted to the darkness, his HUD (Heads Up Display), which had been noticeably absent during his journey, seemed to have finally returned, alerting him that many of his nanobots' functions were still offline, and that it might be a couple days before enough could be constructed to restore them.

He opened the panel on his left wrist, and debated whether or not to shut all their functions down. If he did, then all of them could contribute to the repairs, making his recovery time probably half of what it would be now, but robbing him of his HUD, a resource he had come to view as nearly invaluable, as well as the healing capabilities they provided him. Finally, he snapped the panel shut. In a strange world, with no true understanding of what dangers may be lurking, it would be folly to rob himself of his seventh sense and regeneration. He certainly had no desire to successfully Shift to another dimension, only to be killed because he couldn't wait a few days to have exceptional hearing.

“Applebloom ya darned varmint, where'd ya go? You're not gettin' outta yer chores that easy!” With eyes like dinner plates he crouched down low and froze, listening intently. He heard the sound of hooves on grass, followed by what sounded like a short scuffle, and then squeals of laughter. Again he reeled from the sensation, rocking forward and landing on his hands and knees. The mirth! The pure, unadulterated joy in the sounds slammed through him like a river, his heart throbbing with the beauty of it. Never, in all his long years in his home dimension, had he bore witness to such happiness! Until he noticed the wet spots on the ground, it never occurred to him that he was crying.

With a smile stretched across his face, he returned to his crouch, and made his way to the window through which the sounds seemed to come. Steeling himself for the assault, he peeked outside. Waves of green greeted him, and over the crest of a small hill, he could see what appeared to be apple trees, bearing only small, green fruit. Amidst the trees he saw the source of the sounds, two shapes he recognized immediately. A small yellow filly with a red mane and tail, and a larger, but still small, mare with an orange coat and blonde hair partially hidden by a cowboy hat.

He wanted to shout to them! To vault the window and run across the meadow, a smile on his face as the two ponies ran to him and greeted him as a new, if strange, friend! His hands gripped the wood of the window, preparing to launch him through it.

“No.” Who had whispered that? Sinking down to the dirt floor, he turned and rested his back against the wall.

“No.” he said again, with more conviction this time. Folding his legs into the lotus position, he sat and contemplated. He did not survive one hundred twenty years amongst humans by making rash decisions. He had not become the first, and so far only immortal on earth by acting without planning. And he certainly had not managed to become the first successful Shifter by moving blindly forward! No, he would sit, and think, and come up with a plan.

He awoke from his nap just after twilight. Watching the sun's motion for an hour had allowed him to readjust his internal clock to the time in this world, which, as luck would have it, was not too terribly different from hell, as he had come to call his birth dimension. Seconds, minutes, hours, and days were all the same here, though the sun had a strange tendency to move in clicks, rather than the smooth motion he was used to. After setting his nanobot alarm, he had climbed up into the loft and found a good spot to hide.

He had been relieved to find that he wouldn't need to forage for food until the night, having had no idea how long the journey through dimensions had taken, or what damage he had sustained after... whatever had happened. His body seemed uninjured, and all his vitals were strong. Whatever was causing this world to seem to him like he was on a mescalin trip was, apparently, not caused by an oversensitivity of his perceptive organs, but rather by the vibrancy of the world itself, a fact he found both comforting and intriguing.

After ensuring he was alone, he made his way out of the barn, indulging himself in his prior whimsy of vaulting through the window, since opening and shutting the barn door would likely have been even more risky. That was the excuse he told himself anyways. First, food.

After scrutinizing the landscape for a minute, ensuring that nopony was still out and about, he began making his way through the meadow. Fortunately, the grass was just tall enough that he was able to remain hidden while sliding on his belly. During his painfully slow journey to the orchard, he collected sturdy stalks of grass here and there, careful not to leave any bare patches, and used his feet to partially straighten the stalks he had smushed with his passing, leaving almost no sign behind.

While crawling he wove the stalks together, creating some gilly bands for his arms and head, and a few for his legs, making him blend in even more. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but which had only really been two hours, he reached the cover of the orchard. Quickly weaving his way amongst the orderly trees, he obscured the view line of anypony who might be looking at the orchard from outside, before shimmying up one of the trunks. The fruit wasn't ripe yet, but it was close enough, and he ate a few from each tree, consuming all but the seeds of each apple. It wouldn't do to have snuck so carefully, only to leave a trail of apple cores behind leading to his hiding place!

Hunger sated, he collected a few more apples and stored them in some of his pockets. It galled him now that he hadn't brought any tools or equipment with him, since things had gone so smoothly, but he had needed to be prepared for the eventuality that he would arrive in the court of Canterlot, or some other equally populated location. It would not have been wise to arrive with cloaking devices, foreign, and frankly alien-looking tools, and other such nonsense that would seriously detract from any claims to have come in peace.

Emerging from the orchard, he began his trek north to Ponyville. Looping southeast through the orchards had cost him some time, but he needed glucose in his blood if the nanobots were going to keep working, and lots of it if they were going to construct enough new nanobots to get the rest of his systems online. Mostly he was worried about his regeneration. In his current state, a serious injury, like a fractured bone, or a pierced organ, might take days to heal. And some injuries that would normally pose little or no threat, like a stab through the heart, might actually prove fatal! It was imperative that he keep enough food in him to get those systems back as soon as possible.

With the farm behind him, and some distance until he was within eyesight of even the outer houses of Ponyville, he relaxed his vigil a little and moved in a low crouch. For most, maintaining this position of motion for even a short time would quickly prove debilitating; the compressed rib cage reducing lung capacity, and the strain of being bent over while running. For him, it would be hours before stiffness or cramping began. His muscles contained carbon-weave fibers, and his bones had been reinforced with SkeleTON implants, making them almost ten times as strong as they ought to be. Between that and the nanobots whisking away the waste products of exertion, he would make it to Ponyville with energy to spare.

Letting his gaze roam over the landscape, he again felt the cool wetness of tears on his cheeks. It was just so beautiful! Every scene was like a painting. The night sky twinkled with stars and a shining moon, like a lovingly crafted masterpiece. The pale light bathed the grass and trees, giving the whole world an ethereal glow, looking like the prized creation of a master silversmith. With a smile he wiped the tears away and shook his head. It was going to be hard to make a good impression if he couldn't even look at an empty field without tearing up like a leaky faucet.

The journey was significantly lengthened by his borderline obsessive desire to remain hidden. Giving any homestead he encountered a wide berth, and avoiding roads in favor of fields or trees made his route circuitous and wandering.

Finally he came into view of the smattering of homes that was Ponyville. Immediately he recognized the Carousel Boutique, Sugarcube Corner, and the library, as well as a few other buildings he had seen in the show back in hell. Goal in sight, he slackened his pace and crouched lower. There didn't appear to be anypony out and about... still, caution was warranted. His whole plan would be ruined if somepony saw him now. Once he was within several yards of the outermost buildings of Ponyville, his movements slowed further, barely faster than a walk. Years of practice attempting to emulate ninja allowed him to step lightly, making almost no sound as he moved along the walls. Funny how something so childish could be so useful, he mused.

His alertness heightened when he realized how smoothly the journey had been thus far. I'm never this lucky, he thought, something must be about to go wrong. A glance at the sky told him he was running out of time. It would soon be morning.

Quickening his pace, mindful of any noise he made, and of the fact that the residents of any one of these houses might be early risers, he hurried around the edge of town. Mustering his courage, he made one last dash to the place where he would finally be able to rest.

Slowly, carefully, he climbed the massive tree, thankful for the handholds provided by the various additions made by turning it into a library. Eventually, he made his way into the leafy boughs at the top of the tree, moving into a promising looking patch of branches thick with foliage. Beneath him was only the wood of the tree, so nopony looking up would see him, and above and around him were branches and leaves, obscuring the view of anypony who might seek for him from the sky or some high window. Nestling in for a rest, he reclined in a cradle formed by the boughs, and closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of Ponyville as it began another day. A warm stillness had settled within him, a feeling of ease and contentment that had long, long been denied. For a time, he struggled to think of the word for the feeling that bathed him.

"Ah yes," he whispered to himself, "peace."