• Published 20th Jul 2016
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Going Deep Under - The Bricklayer

The seas harbor many mysteries, and one of them is about to be uncovered. Question is, will those that have uncovered it survive the experience...?

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Part 20: Route de la mort

The mood between Night Glider and Twilight, even as the convoy marched on through the tunnels again could very accurately be described by one as frosty for the next few nights, at least on Twilight’s part. She refused to even look at the pegasus in question, much less even speak to her. In her mind, Night Glider was just another member of the expedition, not even worth her notice.

After all, if you didn’t think about one pony in any personal way, you could spare your own feelings from being hurt right? At least that’s what Twilight’s mind was telling her. Her heart on the other hoof spoke differently.

“Sure, it was just one incident!” It had argued. “She was trying to defend you from the Blast Sisters’ constant teasing!”

“But that’s just it!” Twilight reminded herself. “I don’t need defending, and anyways, that’s all it was, just teasing.”

“But what about the nightmare that story they came up with gave you? What about that?”

“It was just a nightmare, everypony has those,” the logical part of Twilight’s mind put in. “Your imagination got the better of you. The way the story was told, wasn’t really that scary anyhow if you think about it. I mean, the ghost of an angry mare haunting a train late on certain nights all because of one perverted pony long ago, one who may not even exist? It’s silly!”

Love and logic were two different things, however. They never went hand in hand. Twilight supposed you could rationalize it as hormones just calling out for you to continue your gene line, However, there was one key problem with that, the logic seemed to fall flat on its face when you were a mare in love with another mare, didn’t it?

Night Glider on the other hoof kept giving looks to Twilight when she thought the unicorn wasn’t looking. Discrete peeks at the bookish unicorn, before quickly looking back at the road in front of them before Twilight could even realize that Night Glider had even looked at her.

Night Glider’s head hit the dash of the truck and she hit her hoof on the horn in frustration.

“You know, keep doing that and you’ll probably just get a headache,” Gallants remarked, as he sat beside her in the passenger’s seat. Behind them sat the remaining food supplies of the expedition.

“Tartarus of a lot better than how I feel right now. I screwed up, you don’t have to tell me that,” Night Glider remarked. “Twilight hates me, end of story. Should have just stowed my temper and let the Blast Sisters be. Celestia above, probably be better off if I just keep my distance.”

“Yeah, an angry mare isn’t something you trifle with, I’ll give you that,” Spent Thrift said from the back of the truck, shotgun by his side. “Or griffon in my particular case, but you get the picture,”

“Gee, thanks for the input,” Night Glider deadpanned. “You’re a real Sigmane. Remind me to hire you next time I need love advice.”

“Take it from somepony’s who actually been married, for as short as it was. Love… Well, it’s a… Oh, how do I put this?” He pondered before sighing. “Ah, I know. It's a very dangerous state. You are inclined to recklessness and kind of tune out the rest of your life and everything that's been important to you. It's actually not all that pleasurable. I don't know who the Tartarus wants to get in a situation where you can't bear an hour without somepony's company. But I’ll be damned if I don’t say that if it’s not a pleasurable feeling,” He continued. “Love hurts, and it sucks, I get that. Life sucks in general, to be honest. But get over that. Take what you do have in life that makes you happy, and grab it by the reigns before it slips away,”

With that, he sighed again and muttered to himself “Times like these make me wonder why I gave up drinking… Celestia and Luna above, I hate romantic drama.”

“You know, he’s probably right,” Gallants put in. “I mean about love, not the drinking thing. Might do you and Twilight a whole heaping load of good if you just listened to him.”

Night Glider scoffed.

“Yeah… Listen to a flirt and a guy who’s never been in love for one minute with anypony for his life.”

Gallants could only raise an eyebrow.

“Who says I haven’t?” He remarked with a wink of his eye. Night Glider allowed herself to spare a look towards the narrow pathway below. Almost directly below her line of sight in a rather tiny Neighamerican made Austin roadster (Looking very much out of place in the mostly military convoy) sat directly behind the tunnel drilling machine, Twilight was skimming through her father’s journal. The only light sources in the current cavern were the headlights and headlamps of the various vehicles making up the convoy. You couldn’t even see rock bottom. Nimbus had tried to see how far down it was by throwing a small stone to the bottom of the pit, but even with one ear trained to the ground, he couldn’t hear it hit anything.

Put simply, one wrong step, one wrong turn of the wheel and that’d be the end of you. It was no small wonder the Prance borne and raised High Winds had named the pathway “Route de la mort” or in standard Equestrian… The Road of Death.

Night Glider smiled to herself as she continued to watch Twilight, still keeping one eye on the wheel, flip through the pages of her book. That was her egghead alright, always lovably nerdy and always with her nose in a book.

Sadly, the thing about keeping one eye on the steering wheel and another on a small vehicle almost directly below you was that you could only focus on one thing at once. And right now, almost all of Night Glider’s focus was on Twilight. Her hoof made one small movement to the left, and the supply truck turned. A screeching and squealing of tires could be heard and before Night Glider knew it, she and her truck were partially over the side of the road and hanging precariously over one very deadly drop.

“Shit, shit, shit!” Gallants swore very loudly as there came a thudding sound and then Spent’s shotgun plunged through the front window just barely missing Night Glider’s head. Glass shattered, and fell piece by piece into the pit below, the darkness welcoming it with open arms.

“What the…?” Twilight asked as she heard a scream and looked upwards and her jaw dropped freely of its own accord as she saw it. There it was, the front end of the supply truck hanging just above her head, and ready to drop right on top of her.

Fancy slammed one of his hooves on the brakes and the little Austin’s tires squealed and made a cloud of smoke as it pulled backwards. This was just around the same time as a box full of fruit fell from the back of the truck and smashed onto the road in front of them, its contents spilling all over and some tumbling over the side and into the darkness below.

Twilight’s eyes widened, as they met Night Glider’s own. The pegasus’s eyes were as wide as saucers, with their owner gripping the steering wheel tightly for dear life, full of fear.

“Twilight, help! J-Just do something, anything!” Night Glider squeaked out, almost too softly to hear. Almost. Forgetting all of her previous rage and anger towards her, Twilight became filled with determination as she stared Night Glider down.

Twilight’s magic energy, all that she could muster went into her horn and a purple glow enveloped the truck in an aura, grasping it tightly. The truck began to move upwards, little by little, but Night Glider knew something Twilight didn’t. For all of her magical strength, the truck was still very, very heavy and filled to the brim with food crates, not to mention two fully grown ponies and one griffon.

Twilight soon began to figure this out as well, as she felt her strength leaving her and the truck beginning to tilt back towards the chasm.

“I… I can’t hold it!” Twilight strained out, sweating hard just from all the magic she was being forced to use. But then she saw Night Glider again, the fear in her face, and the acceptance of death.

“Just let me go, Twi!” Night Glider shouted back before turning to Spent and Gallants. “You two, get out of here while you still can!”

Twilight shook her head no in a pleading manner before her eyes narrowed. She just had to push herself, she just had to! No, she’d lost too many friends on this journey, and she wasn’t about to lose another one!

“Come on… Just a little more!” Twilight murmured to herself as the truck creaked and began to tilt further still, each time getting more and more closer to going over the side completely and taking those inside with it.

Suddenly, a light gold color, gamboge really, joined that of the lavender aura encompassing the supply truck.

“Not going to let my niece do this alone, I left you alone in your quest for Neighlantis for far too long, let them scorn you and let you get treated to years of mockery and laughter. I abandoned you when you needed it most. I’m never going to do that again,” Fancy stated, his horn glowing brightly like the midday sun.

“Thank you…” Twilight whispered and her horn began to glow ever brighter still as well. Fancy smiled and nodded at her before Twilight returned the nod. “Let’s do this… together.”

Little by little, the truck began to move upwards again. Gallants and Spent shared a look, jumped from their seats and ran to the back end of the truck. Their weight now distributed to another side, balancing it out, the truck began to move back towards the road. A sound like an explosion went off, and a grappling hook grabbed onto the back of the truck’s rear bumper.

“Alright you sorry excuses for explorers, pull it back! Put your backs into it!” Riptalon snarled out as he turned his head back towards High Wind and another pony manning the grapple cannon. The cannon, mounted on the back of their truck began to slowly pull Night Glider’s vehicle back towards the road.

Down below, Fancy and Twilight continued focusing their magic on the truck before it was lifted upwards and then gently sat back down before the twin auras released it. Night Glider sighed, letting out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

“Yeah… Maybe tossing the bottle out wasn’t such a good idea…” Spent muttered largely to himself clutching his chest, feeling his rapidly beating heart.

“...Okay, okay… It’s all good. All good,” Twilight whispered to herself, taking deep breath after deep breath to calm herself.

Fancy looked up towards Nimbus and the two shared a look. No words needed to be spoken between the two. Fancy then turned to the drill machine in front of him and shouted for it to halt as Nimbus did the same with his section of the convoy. There’d been enough drama and scares today, now a good long rest was in order.

Later that night, Night Glider flew down towards Fancy’s Austin where she saw Twilight curled up in one of the seats like a rather large kitten and resting her head on her father’s journal, fast asleep. Night Glider smiled as she saw the soft rise and fall of Twilight’s chest and gently removed the journal and replaced it with a pillow she’d stolen from Fuse’s supplies. The pegasus could rage at her in the morning, right now only Twilight mattered. After today, she deserved a nice peaceful long sleep and Night Glider was determined to help out with that in any way that she could.

However, as soon as the journal was removed Twilight moaned softly and her eyes fluttered open.

“Ni-Night Glider?” She asked wearily, her eyes widening a little.

“Yeah, it’s me,” the pegasus answered before replying in a teasing tone “Who were you expecting, Lady Celestia herself?”

“You should be asleep,” Twilight groaned out.

“After today?” Night Glider muttered. “Yeah, don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ll skip the nightmares, thank you very much.”

“I’m… I’m sorry.” Twilight whispered and her companion raised an eyebrow in surprise as she draped her forelegs over the Austin’s door.

“For what?” She asked.

“For the past few days… I’m been acting like what Grape would probably call an idjit. Been treating you so coldly… Trying to rationalize things,”

“Rationalize? How so?” Night Glider asked.

“Feelings. I’ve never been much an expert on love, never felt it,” Twilight explained and Night Glider’s eyes widened. “Always told myself it was just hormones. A body’s natural instinct, seeking out a mate. Trying to be logical about everything,”

“Never change Twilight, never change.” Night Glider laughed as she fluttered her wings and sat down beside her fellow mare.

“But… the hormones argument can’t work, not with me. It sorta falls flat on its face when you look at another mare and feel those sort of… emotions,” Twilight said, her muzzle drawing closer to Night Glider’s. Both mare’s faces flushed red. What she had to say next made the pegasus’s eyes widen even further, if that were possible. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu, ancient philosopher, helped found Taoism. Another quote of his that you’re probably more familiar with. “A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's hooves.”

“Yeah, I’m familiar with that one,” Night Glider replied. “Always sounded a bit different to me. Thought it went “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”?”

“Same proverb, but translated differently. Comes from Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching. Written in Classical Chinese, very difficult to understand properly unless you’re as well read as I am.” Twilight explained, blushing beet red before stuttering out “B-But that’s besides the point.”

“Then what is?” Night Glider curiously inquired.

T-That quote, while you were teetering off that precipice about to go over the side (At this point, Night Glider muttered “Yeah, don’t remind me.” to herself) and I was trying to save you… I thought of it at one point. That’s what probably did it, I think. Those words… They inspired me. That’s what did it today, allowed me to save you.” Twilight continued to explain before a hoof was gently placed over her mouth.

“Don’t get all sappy on me Twi, just don’t. I hate that sort of crap,” Night Glider said, cupping Twilight’s face before booping her on the nose, making Twilight’s face scrunch up in a rather cute manner. Night Glider giggled. “And throw out your logic, hmm? The heart wants what the heart wants.”

With that, she closed the gap between them.

Author's Note:

Okay, so that's the end of that subplot. Now, before you balk at the idea of Austins back in the 1930s, there actually existed a few. Namely, from the
American Austin Car Company. To be honest, I was thinking of this car when I wrote up Fancy's personal vehicle.

You can read up on it here. Now, credit where it's due. The quote below is attributed to Colin Firth, so credit where it's due.

"It's a very dangerous state. You are inclined to recklessness and kind of tune out the rest of your life and everything that's been important to you. It's actually not all that pleasurable. I don't know who the hell wants to get in a situation where you can't bear an hour without somebody's company."

Incredibly anachronistic, as Colin wasn't even born yet in this time period but I think it's a very fitting quote.