• Published 9th Jun 2017
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Embers Fall - CrimsonWave


A clan of evil electronic music producers go to the desert to wreak some havoc. Hilarity and possible destruction ensues.

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5 - A Truck Stop Tale

Sun Beamer considered the implications of these new reports; he began wondering whether Obscurus even knew how her “mind controlling magic” worked in the first place. Obviously, it had to involve something that a seemingly-typical unicorn could do. There had to be an explanation of why other ponies knew about the things he saw. But why truckers?

To Sun Beamer, it felt a bit like the virtual reality headset his trusty co-worker Fluorescent Fury had shown him. Except, instead of a phone right in front of your eyes, it was overriding his vision directly somehow. It also seemed staticy, like a radio; what if…? But now was not the time to concoct theories surrounding somepony’s magical unicorn powers. Instead, Sun Beamer made his way towards the front of Gigantic Gerry’s, resisting his urge to buy an expensive sugary snack from its convenience store at 9:00 a.m. in the morning.

He didn’t, however, resist his urge to look at a community board right next to the front doors; it was filled with flyers for various events, including rodeos, something called the “Gathering of Embers”, free princess wings, a fair and demolition derby, and SSC Vanhoover for the first time ever this November? Wait what?!

Sun Beamer took a double take, befuddled at why an event traditionally tied to the Summer Solstice is having a spin-off in the final days of Autumn. “Meh. Guess they want more of that ‘pie’ everyone was telling me about…” he said to himself.

Just as Sun Beamer was finally heading out towards the bus stop outside, he noticed that an excited-looking pegasus -- with a grey and orange mane and a rust-colored coat -- was calling for him from a nearby hallway. “Hey, Chaotic Kisol You were great out there this morning!” she rang with excitement.

The fact that this mare called him “Chaotic Kisol” was a sign of something: she must’ve been a member of his following! Or, at least, someone who follows him on a social networking app where “chaotic_kisol” is his screen name. “It’s Blast Furnace, from ShotGram! That’s my real name too.”

“Oh, now I recognize you! I’m Sun Beamer, by the way.” he greeted. “Though you look a little, er ... punkier than usual.”

Sun Beamer hadn’t seen her with such a stylized mane before; he must’ve missed a post or two.Blast Furnace giggled a bit; “Yeah; I guess that’s a good term for it.”

“On the other hand, I’ve never seen you without all your cyberpunk stuff on before, but it’s not like I can’t tell who you are; that mohawk is unmistakable!” she complimented.

Sun Beamer seemed a little flattered. “Eh, thanks” he replied. ”The company I work for was trying to make us look cooler because we’re suddenly operating all this staging stuff for DJs, so they call themselves Mohawx now. I played along.” Sun Beamer continued. “Then I started getting hooked on rave fashion.” he concluded.

The two began to trot towards the makeshift bus stop outside. “Oh, so you actually work at festivals?” Blast Furnace asked.

“Actually, this was my first. You can just say that we’re getting paid big money to fire lasers at everypony.” They chuckled at the mere concept.

“So yeah, given your fondness for Obscurus Noctis, at least you’re a reasonable follower of electronica.” Blast Furnace noted. “I don’t usually go to the bigger electronic music events nowadays; they’re flooded with mares who goof off in repurposed Nightmare Night costumes, and scream at Hothoof like they’re the little fillies in the front-row seats at an Ephemeral Harmonies concert!”

“Oh my gosh, I hate that band so much! Can’t they just break up already?” Sun Beamer hissed.

“Lest they all go solo.” Blast Furnace snarked; she tended to do that from time to time.

“Also, I don’t think ‘fondness’ is a right word to use to describe my relationship with Obscurus Noctis at this point at time.” Sun Beamer admitted. “I’ll explain that a little later…”

“Oh? I’m sorry…” Blast Furnace apologized for inadvertently reminding her new friend-to-be of certain events that occurred within the past 12 hours.

She continued on; “Anyway, I only went to the SSC this year because me and my cousin are huge fans of Silkshifter and Canterless. They don’t go to the big events often; they tend to prefer more intimate gigs, such as small-town taverns, and the Gathering of Embers. Though I may be a bit biased, given that my-”

“Hold on, Gathering of Embers?” Sun Beamer interjected, recalling what he saw earlier. “I think I saw a flyer for that in the store, but it didn’t say what it was about.” he inquired.

“Okay, as I was saying, I may be a bit biased in bringing the Gathering up, given that my sire and a few of my relatives are heavily involved in it.” Blast Furnace went on.

“So, what is it exactly?” Sun Beamer pondered; “You’ve implied that there’s music involved…”

“Okay, to be honest, it’s actually a little tricky to explain, but I’ll do my best. Envision 23,000 ponies, coming to the middle of nowhere, to camp out in a makeshift city built around a giant, wooden alicorn statue. But if you go there right this second, there is literally nothing there.” she teased. Sun Beamer appeared to be curious.

“It’s like a mirage. Once the Gathering concludes, everypony packs up and leaves. No one is allowed to leave anything behind.”

“When you’re at the Duskgem Basin during the Gathering, it’s a completely different world. One where the only limit is the collective imaginations of its residents. It’s all about being a part of something, a tight-knit community fueled by survival, self-expression and participation.” The pegasus elaborated. “Or in other words, it’s basically an art festival with a very wide definition of ‘art’. Music happens to be one of them.”

“Go on…” Sun Beamer inquired, as the pair of ponies sat on a bench near the bus stop.

“Some campers use their sites to build things like art installations, restaurants, weird stuff, and of course, makeshift music venues, and so on. A lot of underground DJs play here, often for hours at a time. Everything here is decentralized; the camps book the acts and so on. The only thing the overall organizers really do are write the rules and managed some other backend stuff.” Sun Beamer seemed fascinated.

“In the daytime, Duskgem looks like an industrial, post-apocalyptic world. But when the sun goes down, the lights come on -- almost like a more extravagant version of the Summer Sun Celebration.” she explained. Sun Beamer was further impressed that something like this even existed.

“But better, obviously. 95% of the stuff there is brought in by somepony else. Metalworkin’ is my talent, so I tend to craft sculptures over the Summer to bring to the Gathering.” Blast Furnace boasted.

“The organizers, who call themselves the “Embers”, insist that the Gathering is not a ‘festival’, but a model for a society built around the pillars of expression, participation, and unity.” she elaborated. “Fire is commonly used as a motif to represent something that brings everypony together. Kind of like a sentry.” Blast Furnace continued, as Sun Beamer nodded in agreement.

“Of course, nothing brings everypony together more than setting the giant alicorn on fire.” she announced, as Sun Beamer gasped. “Woah, now you’re talking!” Sun Beamer exclaimed.

“It’s practically a bonfire; on the night they do it, it's like waiting for Midnight on New Year’s Eve.” she concluded.

“Okay, where do I sign up? But, more importantly, where even is this?” Sun Beamer queried. “You mentioned a ‘Duskgem Basin’.”

Blast Furnace paused for a moment. “It’s in the Neighvada Desert. You know that city called Reino? Many Followers reign from there, if not San Franciscolt, because it’s only a 3-hour drive under normal circumstances.”

The words “normal circumstances” had an air of uncertainty that Sun Beamer couldn’t quite put his hooves on. “You said you live in Las Pegasus, right? I do too, but I have relatives in Reino.” Blast Furnace acknowledged.

“Oh, okay.” Sun Beamer affirmed. “Given that I’m attending it for my fifth time in a row this year, I could easily help you out.”

“Thanks for the offer.” Sun Beamer exclaimed, as a bus heading for South Las Pegasus pulled in. “Oh, we’ll have to talk about this later, my bus is here.”

“I see.” Blast Furnace confirmed. “Well, you know what social networks I’m on. You’ll have to prepare quickly if you want to come to the Gathering, cause Summer goes by pretty fast around here!”.

“Okay! I’ll keep in touch; thank you!” Sun Beamer hollered as climbed aboard the bus with a crowd of other ponies. He could just overhear Blast Furnace saying “You’re welcome”, as she flew off, as only a pegasus could.

Her exposition posed more questions for Sun Beamer than it answered: how would he get there? What kind of preparations was she alluding to? Are there other key details he should know? Is this event so obscure that Obscurus Noctis would have never heard of it before? What even was Obscurus doing to him? And most importantly, would he even be able to get vacation days off for this Gathering? There was a time and place for these questions, but not now...

blastfurnace mentioned you in a post
ohmygosh I met @the_chaotic_kisol after #SSCLasPegasus this morning! he's actually pretty friendly!

Author's Note:

You wanted more exposition about the Gathering of Embers, right?