• Published 24th Jan 2018
  • 550 Views, 24 Comments

Friendship is Stellar - Prospekt

A young mare frees Starlight Glimmer from a block of ice. But there's a problem: it has been 30 years since Starlight was first frozen, and Equestria is now a very different place...

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Chapter 1: Spelunking

Thirty years later...

The wind howled over the empty plains, sending drifts of snow billowing through the crisp northern air. The day was finally breaking, and some sunlight was just beginning to penetrate through the thick expanse of clouds overhead. Apart from the wind's constant whistle, all was silent. There wasn't an animal in sight. The rabbits were hidden away in their tiny dens. The foxes were hunkered down safely under the cover of the ice caves. The air was devoid of any life, as the wind continued to ravage through the wide open landscape.

But there was a lone earth pony trekking through the snow. Covered in a thick black coat, the gray pony pushed through the elements at a steady pace, leaving hoofprints in her wake that were quickly ruined by fresh blasts of blowing snow. Her head was obscured by a hood, but her yellowish eyes still penetrated through with a determined gaze that wasn't about to let any force of nature get in the way. The mare wore a snug brown satchel over her body that held some mining tools, with some space left over for the loot that she intended to bring home.

Silica Pumice had been this way many times. She usually took the trip out to the blanketed plains a few times a week, each time exploring a new gaping hole in the ground with the expectation that there would be some valuable crystals to bring back. Occasionally, she would find nothing of value and have to trot all the way back empty-hoofed. Those days were tough. Bringing home loot meant that her mother, Limestone, would have one less reason to be a grouch that day. But perhaps more importantly, bringing home some loot meant that the family could make ends meet. The Pumice family did this kind of work every day. Limestone would hold down the fort at home and run the family's little jewelry trading post. Agate, Silica's father, would go on his own expeditions to find crystals. And her little twin siblings, Onyx and Diane, would stay home to help their mother around the house.

Every so often, ponies from the big city to the south would show up to the Pumice jewelry shop, showing off their fine coats and well-groomed manes. Those rich ponies had somehow gotten their hooves on enough bits in the post-disaster years to still live lives that were not unlike the decent lives of ponies from decades gone by. But these ponies were few and far between. Most were like the Pumices and Limestone's side of the family, the Pies, who made a living by scavenging for valuable minerals in the hostile North. They usually made their own clothes, built their own homes, and grew their own food (if they could manage to build a greenhouse). Silica's parents said that it had already been frigid in the North before the wars began. But now it was only more intense, and not just in the northern reaches of the world; the winter had engulfed the whole world.

Such was life for Silica Pumice. Day after day, it was the same old story. Wake up before dawn. Head out before dawn. Be about halfway to the caves by dawn. Find a cave. Venture into the cave. Harvest some crystals, if any were there. Take the crystals back home. Eat. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. It was difficult to stay optimistic. Many ponies had given up in the post-disaster years, as the snowstorms got more and more severe, and lived in a state of unfeeling gloom. The melancholy simply couldn't be escaped; it was as if the unending winter that rested over Equestria had brought not only cold and snow, but also a fog of depression that refused to dissipate and only continued to weigh on the hearts of ponies. This was the only life that Silica had ever known, but she was sick of the gloom. She hungered for something more than this, as if the old Equestria was a distant memory of generations past, buried deep inside her soul and yearning to be dug up.

"Kinda like these crystals," the earth pony muttered to herself with a puff of foggy breath.

It was getting brighter outside, as a hint of blue sky started to peak through the mass of clouds that covered the land on most days. It wasn't often that the deep blue sky was visible through the unwavering canopy; Silica sighed in relief, having a feeling that this was a good omen. Perhaps she would have a good harvest today.

Silica continued her trek and began to seek out the ice caves peeking out of the sea of snowdrifts. A few holes in the ground were in view up ahead, including one particularly promising one that sat invitingly on the side of a tall hill.

Well, I guess this will be the one, thought Silica.

The earth pony trudged on toward the gaping wound in the ground. By the time Silica reached the cave's entrance, the wind was beginning to intensify, so she hurriedly ran inside. She set down her pack and removed her hood, revealing a gray mane with thick white stripes and streaks of black. She opened her pack and took out her rusty old hard hat. Silica hit a switch on the side to turn on the head lamp, strapped the sturdy hat on, strapped her pack back on to her coat, and began to head down into the caverns.

The head lamp's glow emanated through the frigid cave as Silica began traversing the winding passage down. Typically, the best crystals for harvesting in this region were about 30 feet below ground level. So, it took a lot of walking to get to the best spots. Sure, the occasional crystal would glimmer from the walls of the passageway. But they were usually not ideal. The more valuable varieties would be further beneath the snowy hills up above.

One particular variety, the much-treasured Amoravite, could be found in some caverns. On the rare occasion that Silica did stumble upon a vein of Amoravite and bring some home, it was usually unicorns who would end up buying the jewelry made from the crystals. They were supposed to be unusually receptive to unicorn magic; wealthier unicorns passing through the region would often buy an Amoravite necklace in hope that it would amplify their magical powers. Back in the day, before Silica was born, it would apparently be used to craft certain powerful magical artifacts. No one knew where these were anymore--but they were said to have thrived off of the magical properties of the crystals. Silica didn't expect to find any of the enchanted mineral. And it wasn't the end of the world if she didn't find any; there were plenty of other crystal varieties in the region that could be crafted into perfectly fine jewelry.

Silica trudged on, her hooves careful to sidestep some of the sharper looking rocks on the floor, as well as any icy spots. She panted as she continued to walk through the winding passages, careful to pay close attention to the paths she took so that she wouldn't get lost. That would be devastating. Silica had gotten lost before, and it was a scary feeling. Once, she had been stuck in a cave for the better part of a day. She had learned that it was important to not take too many turns; the best way to stay on track and not get lost was to go in as direct of a path as possible. Sometimes, upon reaching a fork in the path, she would stop, gather some pebbles in a unique shape (usually an arrow), and then continue on so that on the trip back, she would have some inkling of a coherent path to follow.

I really don't need to get lo--

Silica was halted mid-thought by a surprising drop-off directly ahead. The path ended rather suddenly at a dark chasm. Silica stopped right before the cliff and curiously peered down into it, allowing her head lamp to illuminate whatever lie below. She figured it was just a dark, rocky crevice.

But she was further taken aback when she saw what was really down in the pit.

A dazzling array of blue crystals--undoubtedly Amoravite--surrounded a roughly circular room. The gigantic vein of the precious mineral wrapped around the walls in a dazzling display, not unlike the lights on a typical Hearth's Warming tree. One side of the chamber was bordered by another crevice. But the rest was adorned in a breathtaking display that reflected the light from Silica's headlamp like a bunch of mirrors.

Silica had seen some impressive veins of crystals before. But this? This was something special. Somehow, she just had to get down there.

With a spring in her step, Silica began to backtrack through the passageway, looking for any turn that might possibly lead down into the beautiful chamber. She noticed one unexplored pathway that looked to be angled slightly downward.

"Well," Silica said out loud with excitement. "You only live once!"

The earth pony gathered some pebbles together in an arrow shape next to the original arrow she had put at the fork in the path. Then, she entered the new passageway, her heart beating quicker and quicker. The new passageway winded down and down in a continuous spiral. Each turn was a bit more dizzying than the last, but Silica tried not to focus on how disorientating each loop was--hopefully, she had a prize waiting at the end of this tunnel!

Down, down, down Silica continued. Her legs began to weaken as she continued down the tunnel, but she pressed on. The finish line lay just ahead. She could almost feel the room just ahead, calling out for her to reap what adorned the walls within. Eventually, the spiral stopped, and the path straightened out. The path appeared to open up just ahead. Silica broke into a gallop, eager to walk into the dazzling--

Her heart skipped a beat when she saw what was in the unfamiliar room at the end of the passage. There were indeed some Amoravite crystals, though nowhere near as many as the chamber that Silica had expected to find. But what shocked Silica was what sat up against a dark wall.

A large block of ice was frozen into the edge of the rocky wall. And within the ice, sat a purplish pink unicorn mare with her eyes closed and her mouth in a tranquil expression. She had a predominantly dark purple mane with streaks of lighter purple and aquamarine stripes. Her tail was curled around her flank, but Silica could tell what her cutie mark was: a purple and white star with a mint green ribbon just above it.

Is she... alive?!?

Silica stood next to the ice, almost pressing her face up against it. The pony's face was just a few inches away. No matter what, this pony was miraculously preserved; who knew how long she had been frozen in this block of ice?

But even if this pony was... Silica gulped... dead, then she at least deserved to be laid to rest somewhere other than a deep crevice in a cave. And what if the unicorn had a family? What if she had friends? What if she had children? They would undoubtedly be heartbroken.

Silica's thoughts began racing. Crystals could wait if it meant that she was getting this unicorn out of the cave. Her family would understand if she came home empty-hoofed for a very good reason.

But how was she going to thaw this pony out? And could she do it quick enough that she could be out of the cave before dark? There was only a thin layer of ice to get through, but that didn't mean freeing the frozen pony would be a cakewalk.

A light bulb switched on in Silica's head, and she immediately opened her pack for her chisel. This could be dangerous for the poor unicorn trapped inside the ice, since the ice could crack awkwardly and slice her open if the desperate earth pony wasn't careful, but there wasn't any other option. Silica didn't want to get herself stuck down in this cave. Her family would be devastated. She felt it was best to take the risk than to just leave the poor pony trapped in a remote cave.


Silica took out her chisel and got to work on the ice. Her stomach was growling a bit, but food could wait. This pony had been stuck for who knows how long, and this could be her only chance to be free.

After what felt like hours, Silica had finally chipped away at the ice enough to expose the mysterious unicorn's flesh. It had been a painstaking process; she chipped through the ice over and over again, careful to be more and more delicate as the sharp ice pick inched closer and closer to the unicorn within. Eventually, she succeeded, and the pony's face was now sticking out of the ice.

Now, let's get you out of here.

Silica carefully chipped along the edges of the pony's body, slowly but surely trying to free up enough space to slip her body through.

And then, Silica's heart almost stopped.

The pony's chest was moving, ever so slightly. She was breathing.

"Dear sun and moon above!" Silica exclaimed as she began to stroke the unicorn's face in wonder. "It's a miracle. Y-you're... still alive."

The unicorn said nothing in reply, her eyes still closed in a content expression.

She seems to be unconscious.

Silica began picking rapidly at the ice, desperately trying to create some more room. Even if the pony was unconscious, the least Silica could do was get her out and warm her up. On and on, Silica worked at the ice, her heart racing in rhythm with each quick swing of the pick. She periodically stopped, inched up close to the ice, took a deep breath, exhaled deeply in hope of warming it up a bit, and then stepped back to resume her efforts.

Finally, after what seemed like another hour, enough of the unicorn was free to attempt to pull her out of the chunk of ice. Silica put her tools down behind her, grabbed the pony's now-exposed forelegs, and pulled with every bit of strength she had left. Immediately, the unicorn flew out onto Silica's body, sending them both tumbling back toward the entryway to the chamber. The two mares landed with a thud--thankfully, on a smooth spot without any jagged rocks sticking up out of the cave's floor.

Silica panted with exhaustion. Now the mysterious unicorn was free, but there was no way she could safely drag the stranger back onto the surface immediately. So, Silica picked up her belongings sat with her back up against the rocky wall and her comatose companion close by her side.

The gray earth pony opened her pack up, desperately hoping that she hadn't forgotten to pack some food. She sighed in relief when she saw what was in there: a hay and cheese sandwich that was still relatively cold after being in the chilly cave for a few hours, and a small bottle of water.

Silica nibbled on the sandwich, occasionally taking a sip of water. It was important to not only recharge her body with a bit of food, but to also stay hydrated. She needed every bit of help she could get right now.

Out of the blue, a soft, feminine voice groaned.

Once again, Silica's heart began racing. She stood up quickly and peeked with suspicion toward the dark passageway that led into the chamber.

"Who's there?" she called out.

"Mmmph. Rarity," the same feminine voice muttered. Silica looked over and, to her amazement, the voice was coming from the unicorn lying on the ground a few feet away.

"S-s-stranger?" Silica stammered. "Can you hear me?"

The figure appeared to nod, though her eyes were still closed.

"Mmhm," it muttered in reply. "Mmph. Rarity. Spike. What happened?"

"Rarity? Spike? Who are they?"

"Y-you mean... you aren't them?" the voice mumbled in response, followed by a deep yawn. "Then who are you?"

"Silica Pumice."


"Silica Pumice. What's your name?"

The unicorn opened her indigo eyes, staring toward Silica with a groggy expression.

"I'm Starlight Glimmer."

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