• Published 25th Apr 2018
  • 321 Views, 18 Comments

Equestrian Space: Short Stories - Shirlendra

These are a collection of short stories chronicling a series of events in the Equestrian home system.

  • ...

The Empty Magazine

The darkness is vast, and sometimes things cloak themselves within it.

In a ship larger than most city blocks sat a single pony. It was this pony's job to make sure the cargo hauler got to its destination in the outer rim without a hitch. For this hauler carried life giving materials to the far stations. Although not as critical as in the years past it was still of vital importance. One would think a ship like this would be of interest to pirates out in the far reaches.

For this ship carried only simple materials. Things which were hard to get or couldn't be manufactured on the far stations. All the parts the ship hauled were of course stamped with serial numbers. Stealing from a ship like this carried a sentence much worse than anything any pirate was willing to pay. Not to mention the various defenses the ship carried. A number of small point defense cannons were more than enough to chase off a pirate band or two.

It was in this ship the pony sat entombed in the cockpit, with only standard ration packs for company. Its journey would take no more than three standard days and it was already fifty hours in.

The pony sat and watched as the stars go by, and imagined maybe one day having a ship of their own. The pony, having little else to do, sat and read. Books, magazines, journals, some happy, some sad, but all these items had a common theme. "Love" screamed the journals, the magazines and the books. For it was love that special kind of companionship that the pony craved most and perhaps... just perhaps, it was this trip that would mark that particular mission, complete.

But the darkness is vast, and sometimes... it hides that which should be feared.

It was the vibrations and the blaring alarms which jarred the pony from their daydream. The PDCs had let loose upon the void surrounding the ship. Streams of fire screamed out into the darkness in perfect silence as the ships frame vibrated with the salvos. The pony blinked and was instantly alert, eyes scanning, watching the darkness as targeting systems attempted to lock onto something... something the sensors couldn't quite seem to identify.

Numbers ran across the display across the cockpit, fuel, air, rounds... the ship was old, constructed before light replaced hard metal as the weapon of choice. The PDCs needed ammunition, and they were running dangerously low as the silent fire screamed into the darkness. The pony slammed a hoof against the override. The vibrations rippling along the frame slowed and stopped. The alarms silenced, the great frame was once again quiet and still.

Out in the darkness, something glistened. Like silk around a beautiful frame, it rippled and moved and made its way towards the ancient hauler. The pony, eyes keen from watching the stars watched the object and checked the sensors. The course matched what the pony could visually confirm. The pony watched the object glide closer and, did a quick calibration on the fire control panel. A simple change to lock directly onto the target rather than lead it, the PDCs already prepped and the targeting solution locked in.

As the shimmering object slid closer, the pony hoped that the final few salvos would be enough. The ponies hoof hovered, just millimeters over the engage command.

Closer, closer... Sweat dripped down the pony's neck and stung its eyes. But they wouldn't give up, not when they had a mission to complete.

A push of the button, and vibrations shook the aged frame as the silent fire raced out towards the object. It was simply too close for the object to evade evade, to run. The silent streams of fire converged on the point like a lover's embrace and for a moment, the shimmering faded as the fire passed straight through it and further into space. But moments after the fiery embrace had leapt from the aged ship, the vibrations stopped. A readout showed what the pony had feared.

The guns on the hauler fired only once before in fear and doubt now lay dormant, their capabilities expended. As the pony watched, the object regained its shimmer and continued on it's slow journey towards the hauler. It was at this moment, the pony realized something was very, very wrong with the object. The pony had expected a kaboom, or bits of the ship to go flying off into the void. But to just shrug off what should of shredded something of that size that was just unnatural.

There was a split second where the pony saw something reflected in the canopy of the cockpit behind it's seat. Then the pony saw no more. The pony who had wanted to love, to be loved... was no more, and all that remained was a corpse strapped to a chair.

A figure stood silhouetted in the doorway, like some lover come to sweep the pony away. The figure moved forward, to look into the corpses helmet, its eyes, open and shimmering in the glow of the console. It's mouth lips parted slightly as if to receive a kiss. The figure looked into the surprised eyes of the corpse, it growled through its suits built in communications, "Only Equestrian."

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