• Published 2nd Mar 2018
  • 3,120 Views, 204 Comments

Down into the Deep - DenyTheWitch

On the distant Planet 4546B, two aliens must delve deep into the abyss to discover a way home, and discover a great many other secrets in the process. Some of which are not happy to be found.

  • ...

Floating Island

He wasn't sure how long he sat there, probably just a few minutes. It felt like hours.

This had been the best lead Ryley had yet found, coordinates for a Rendezvous point, a location all survivors where supposed to gather at. Instead all he found was little more than a testimony to the last acts of the last of his crew.

"They're dead. They're all dead."

Truthfully he'd suspected as such for a while, all the life pods he had found thus far had painted pretty grim pictures of that, none of them had been in working condition, and every log told of some problem for its passengers. And when he'd gone to the mountain island and no-one else had joined him, he'd pretty much given up at that point.

Then that stupid alien broadcast had to go and get his hopes back up.

Ten new biological subjects it had said, ten!

"Probably just an old message, like all the life pod distress signals." Ryley still wasn't sure exactly how long he had been out when the pod crashed, how much of this happened while he was unconscious, and how many of his crew he just barely missed. Ultimately the exact time made little difference, it was too long, he'd missed them, and unless someone else was hiding on this island (unlikely) then they were all dead.

"Forget what you can't change, focus on what you can."

A deep sigh escaped his lips as he finally looked up from his spot on the ground, the storm was dying and the day was ending, he could see it through dimming light in the small gaps of the clouds above, the large red moon visible through some others. Standing up he looked back down to see Rainbow Dash looking down at the ground, ears usually swivelling around now pinned to her head, it looked both adorable, and quite sad. Another sigh.

"Come on Rainbow, it's not going to get any brighter for a very long time." She looked up and almost for a moment seemed like she would say something, then thought better of it and started heading towards the cave she had already gone through. They walked up in silence, which suited Ryley just fine, he wasn't exactly very emotional at the best of times anyway, but when they left the cave and he finally got his first look at the island proper, his first impression was the sharp biting wind blowing across the island, his second impression however, was that of wonder.

This floating island was even more lush than the mountain island, anything that wasn't a cliff or a beach was covered in plant life, from grass, to small shrubs to large glowing trees. And looking up with the last of the faint light he could see with, Ryley spotted one of the observatories Rainbow Dash had mentioned, sitting at the very top of a small but steep mountain. He looked back down at Rainbow, who he noticed was making no effort to fly at the moment, contrary to what she had usually done ever since her wing had been fixed. He held out his hand to let the wind run between his fingers.

"Wind too strong?" She nodded glancing up at the sky above whilst shaking some of her blowing mane away from her face.

"For now, I think its gonna die down soon enough, but until then best not to risk it, my wings still aren't fully healed, otherwise I'd take this storm no problem." Ryley arched an eyebrow at that, looking at her small form and then back up at the billowing trees, some of them bending despite what looked like 40cm thick trunks.

"Right, well anyway for now I guess we shouldn't climb any of the mountains either, you said you saw three structures right, two on the mountains and one in between?"


"Right, well then let's check out that place first, hopefully at least by then the winds will have died down."

"And that'll give us shelter until then." Rainbow nodded again and the two set off around the island.

Searching the remaining structures on the Island did not take particularly long. First the base in the centre of the island, which had sat in a small gorge between the two mountains. The two story structure mostly consisted of the same tubular design as Ryley's base, except that the back half of the lower level was made of a large circular structure, this back half was partially buried under a landslide from some time ago, the top level was broken open at the back half as well.

After quickly dispatching the few Cave Crawlers that surrounded the structure this base had proven a treasure trove of edible plant life, surrounded by glowing 'Lantern Trees' and sitting next to a small farm filled with 'Marblemelons' and the more recognizable Chinese Potatoes. After scanning the base and collecting the few PDA's they found inside the storm outside had died down to a reasonable level, enough for Rainbow Dash to go back to flying and for Ryley to safely climb the mountains, however other than a few batteries and water bottles, these observation posts only yielded more PDA's and more blueprints for the base.

Now Ryley was back down by the central base reading all the data entries they'd found across the island, trying to piece together what happened. The overall story was familiar enough to him, Paul Torgal, Bart Torgal and a security guard named Marguriet crashed here some time ago. From what he gathered from the entries this Paul Torgal was some big shot company boss, and had been travelling with his son before they took a short detour to this planet, presumably only they and Marguriet survived the following crash. After that they had found this island and built a base here before being forced to relocate into an underwater cave due to deteriorating weather conditions. The bulk of what the logs told him wasn't particularly interesting to him, they had a few arguments, Paul and Marguriet especially, and they'd discovered a purple tablet like the ones from the Quarantine Enforcement Platform. The most interesting (and concerning) data log was the last entry of Bart Torgal, the voice of the young man filling the abandoned base as Ryley let to play yet again.

"This is the first time I've seen sunlight in months. After all that time in the deep I'd been dreaming of it. Now that I'm back here, I'm finding it hard to enjoy alone. Father was right: we should never have left this place. We shouldn't have gone so deep. They do not want us down there.

Despite my best efforts ill-health is taking hold of me. The visions are getting worse.

Marguerit and father are now part of the ecosystem of this incredible planet. It's reassuring to know that when I go, I'll join them.

Until then... well, there's always the view."

Briefly Ryley considered playing the recording for a fifth time, until finally placing the tablet down on the half buried table next to him. He looked out to the night sky beyond, watching the two moons glide over the burning Aurora, before his gaze drifted down to the bits of ocean he could see.

"'They do not want us down there.' Who? What did you find down there Bart?" That line in particular was stuck in his head, did he find the alien builders? Or was there something else? Maybe he just meant the fauna. His gaze drifted further down, until he was looking at the ground itself, or more precisely, the marker on his HUD for the 'Alien Thermal Plant.'

"It's not like we have much of a choice." Ryley had already come to accept that good news was scarce on this planet, and realistically all this new information meant was that they'd have to be a bit more careful going down themselves. And besides it wasn't as though all the information had been useless.

"PDA, show me the proposed coordinates for the second base." There was no verbal response, just a small ping from the tablet in his hand, and then a new marker appeared on his HUD, closer to his base than this island, and 200m deep. With any luck that base might yield new blueprints, and even if it didn't, according to Marguriet the cave system it was located in was rich with mineral deposits.

"And so the scavenger hunt continues." It'd be funny if it wasn't so dangerous.

Further internal musing where interrupted by the sounds of wing beats as Rainbow Dash landed outside of the base, she having flown around the island to search for any signs of his crew, Ryley didn't bother looking up. "Let me guess, you didn't find any more humans?" The ensuing silence told the story well enough.

"Why'd you fly here anyway? The radio piece can easily reach across this island I would have heard you wherever you asked." This time he did look up to see Rainbow Dash looking at him with another of her unnervingly human expressions, but this one was harder to read, there was sadness quite clearly, but also something else. Rainbow cleared her throat.

"I know, but I figured it would be better to tell you in person about, well, I guess you already know." She looked away for a moment, and Ryley almost went back to his PDA before she looked back and spoke again. "Anyway I did find something else, another arch like the one on the mountain." That got his attention.

"Another one. Where?" She gestured behind her towards the rest of the island.

"In a cave around the island, looked almost exactly the same, I thought if you're done here and there was nothing else on this island that we should check it out before we leave." She threw another strange look at him, but Ryley's mind was already on other things as he stood up and looked outside. Day Night cycles where much faster on this planet than standard Terran time, it would almost be daytime soon, which would be as good a time as any to head back to base. He packed up the PDA's and scavenged supplies and gestured to Rainbow Dash.

"Lead the way."

Silence was becoming as recurring theme on these trips, that and bad news, a far cry from her usual travel experiences with her friends. Still Rainbow hadn't found it in herself to break it as she led him to the newest arch, Ryley was hurting, and she couldn't help but feel partially responsible. Ryley had been so eager to come here after hearing about it, Rainbow had been convinced that there would be more humans on this island, and it seemed that Ryley had believed it too, instead all they'd found was a graveyard and ghosts. It all felt like a joke, a very very cruel and uncool joke.

"If only I'd actually searched the island when I first came here, at least then..." Truthfully, deep down, Rainbow understood that it wouldn't have really changed anything, but that was what sucked the most about all this, how little she could change. Right now the way Ryley was acting, it seemed like a classic problem she and her friends would have dealt with back home, but Rainbow Dash had no idea how to help this one, what could she possibly say? His ship had 157 creatures on it, and now Ryley was the only survivor, Rainbow couldn't think of any way of addressing that, it sucked, it just sucked and there was nothing good about it that Rainbow Dash could think of.

So instead they made the trip around the island and into the cave in silence, not a word between the two until they were finally inside the cavern overlooking the pillars and arch that looked oh so familiar. A series of rectangular alien pillars surrounded a large platform on top of which an Arch sat, all the structures where made of the same dark black with green stripes alien material as the previous alien sites, all looking equally ominous. Ryley quietly looking down from the small path that ran along the top of this cave, looking down at the alien objects, before making his was down the small narrow path across the cave wall down to get a closer look, Rainbow Dash flying down alongside him. Eventually it was Ryley who finally broke the long silence between them.

"You said you came here through an arch like this?" She nodded, looking closely at the strangely ominous archway before them.

"I think the once I came through was a bit bigger, but yeah, it looked a lot like this one." She watched as he stepped forwards onto the platform of the arch itself, running a hand across the structure. "Why'd you ask? I thought we couldn't even try to go home until we'd ended the Quarantine enforcement thing." He nodded pulling out his PDA and he half mumbled his response to her.

"It's just that if these arches are for transportation, I'm wondering about where they all go, this one looks almost identical to the one on the Mountain Island, but you say its smaller than the one you came through, so maybe these ones just lead to other places on the planet." Rainbow pondered that thought, thinking back to the arch inside the mountain, she knew there was something different about these two arches, though she couldn't quite figure out what, but they were very similar, still.

"So what, you think we could travel to the other arches with these?" He nodded, running his scanner over the arch as he did so.

"Maybe if we can somehow get these arches to work we could find new places, maybe some of them lead to the facilities down below, it would certainly save us a lot of effort." Rainbow thought about that as she flew towards the platform as well.

"That seems, too good to be true." He let out an amused scoff at that.

"Probably yeah, it just a theory anyway, doesn't matter unless we can figure out a way to turn these on anyway, and I have no idea about that." It was then that Rainbow finally realised what was different about this arch.

"The podium!" Ryley looked back at her quizzically as Rainbow Dash hovered excitedly over a space still on the platform but a few metres away from the actual arch. Seeing his confused face she elaborated.

"The arch back on the mountain island had a podium about here, and it opened up when we got near it, that's what's different about this arch, and maybe that's how these things work." Now that she was thinking about it the bigger arch back on Equestria also had a podium like that, and Twilight had attached loads of wires and cables to that podium as well. Ryley nodded at that looking around slowly.

"Maybe, it might be worth looking into that later." Then he shook his head. "In any case it's not relevant right now, we've found just about everything we can on this island, time to head back." And just like that the small scraps of energy and excitement Rainbow had been getting vanished into the wind as Ryley made his way back out of the cave up to the island, Rainbow Dash following again in silence.

This silence didn't last nearly as long though, as they exited the cave Rainbow quickly flew in front of Ryley stopping him in his tracks. "So what did we get from this island then huh? We got something right, this wasn't just a waste of time."

Ryley looked her in the eye for a moment before turning his gaze out to the ocean and nodding slowly. "It wasn't a waste, we got blueprints, crops and some new coordinates to check out, the Degasi survivors built another base which might show us more clues." A small wave of relief washed over her as she heard that, something useful came out of this venture at least, and she couldn't prevent a small sigh escaping her. But as she followed his gaze out to the dark ocean beyond, her gaze inevitably drifted towards the massive wreckage of the Aurora, and her mind drifted back to the massage they had first found on this island.

"Keen." She muttered this under her breath, but this time she forgot about the PDA, and she almost winced as she heard it repeat her quiet murmur loud enough for half the island to hear. Ryley looked back down at her, his face dropping slightly as he did so.

"What about him?" Rainbow internally cursed both the PDA and herself for bringing this back up, but now that it was in the air she decided to press on with it.

"Keen said Alterra sent a 'data package' to the Aurora, what is that?" Ryley didn't answer for a moment, mulling it over, evidently he had forgotten that particular detail, not that Rainbow Dash could blame him, but eventually he answered with a slow nod.

"A data package is information, like these PDA's we find." He lifted his gaze again, but this time it was clearly focused on the Aurora, Rainbow Dash glancing between the ship and Ryley.

"So if Alterra sent something to the Aurora it must be important right?" He said nothing merely nodding out of the corner of her eye, and so she continued. "But how are we going to get it if the Aurora is surrounded by radiation." He glanced back at her, surprise evident on his face, before slowly nodding again.

"Yeah. Yeah it is, but I can make a suit that would let me survive that." Again he looked back to the Aurora. "At least long enough to fix the reactor core." Rainbow nodded quietly, following his gaze out to the burning wreck.

"Next stop the Aurora I guess."