• Published 20th Feb 2019
  • 218 Views, 12 Comments

Pandemic: Departures - Cosmic Eclipse



Following the ETS Pandemic three months prior, A group of ponies embark on a journey to find their place in a rapidly changing world, with dreams to change the very future itself!

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Ch 1 - "A World of Change"

“Good morning everyone, this is the pre flight announcement for flight 496 from LAX to Denver Colorado, we’ll be boarding in just a few moments so I’d like to ask you to please gather all of your personal belongings at this time and prepare for boarding with your boarding pass and identification out and ready, thank you!”

This was it, Joshua’s flight. He was on a two week vacation, but also had bigger pursuits in mind. Joshua was at a rather important crossroad in his life, looking forward to visiting the nearby colleges and towns. Little did he know that his life was about to significantly change in more ways than one.

He gathered his carry on bag and the rest of his personal belongings and boarded the plane.

“Welcome aboard!” came the cheerful greeting from the flight attendant.

“Thanks…”

“Any time.”

As he settled down for the long flight ahead of him, he couldn’t help but contemplate the world of change that was ahead. He had lived in the same house in the same town for most of his life, and the prospect of moving to an entirely different state and town was frightening to him.

His thoughts and worries seemed to melt away as he closed his eyes, falling into a peaceful sleep. This was something that he would always irrationally worry about, the future, change, all of it. That was largely the reason for this trip, to go out of his element and perhaps even plan a more permanent move as a result. In many ways he was uncertain of the path ahead, but he had a hunch that it would all turn out okay in the end.

How wrong he could be…

-=-

Silver Eclipse entered what was once his home before ETS had irreparably derailed his life. It had been a week since he had resolved to set out and explore how the rest of society in the United States had fared, hoping to find other ponies who shared the same knack for research and discovery as he did. Silver browsed through his many possessions, and for a brief moment he wished that he was a unicorn, dreading the tough task ahead of him.

It was a rather small dwelling, set in the outskirts of Los Angeles, but it was a home nonetheless, something he had worked towards on his own, a place where he felt a peace. As Silver gazed out the large window in his former office, he couldn’t help but feel a small twinge of sadness, knowing that he would genuinely miss the familiarity of it all, the beautiful sight of the mountains in the distance being a strong source of inspiration for him.
Silver gazed through his telescope, looking into the night sky above. He couldn’t help but feel a small sense of fear, knowing that somewhere out in the vast unknown there were creations working their way over to their universe, to snuff out all life as they knew it. Silver shuddered at the thought. He was never afraid of the unknown before, but the stuff he had come to learn in only a relatively short amount of time scared him. If it was any small consolation, the Devourers weren’t supposed to arrive for another millennia or two. That didn’t stop him from worrying about it though, the thought wouldn’t leave his mind, driving him to spend his nights building his own fantastical worlds within his dreams as a distraction to keep the nightmares at bay.

Silver knew that he couldn’t stay however, his home would serve no further use for him, he could never hope to comfortably live in it, and his enhanced senses just made it too challenging to live in the city any longer. Not to mention the humans in his neighborhood would likely never fully tolerate him there. Most of the other ponies who had lived in the city had already left, finding their own ways elsewhere, away from humanity. His neighborhood, while not being bad per say, was still full of humans that held a rather negative view towards ponies and he didn’t want to be antagonized any further.

Seeing no point in delaying the inevitable any further, he began to carefully search through his belongings. So many great memories flooded back to him, and if he could take it all he would, but there was just no easy way to do that, and he was taking enough time as it was anyways.

Silver knew that the vast majority of what he used to own as a human would serve him no use now, not to mention that he didn't even know what his final destination would be. Full of uncertainty, he resolved to take only the essentials with him and leave this place behind. A few choice selections from his private library, His camera, compass, a durable blanket, and digital archive would more or less be all he needed. He realized that some of this would be harder to travel with, but he was willing to deal with it if it meant that some of his greatest treasures would be safe.

Silver turned to one of the many shelves that lined what was once his office, glancing at the bound volumes that were organized before him. He brushed a hoof over the aged books on his shelf, trying to choose only the most important volumes to bring with him. He paused when he reached one of his favorite books, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

In a sense he felt like Captain Nemo had, turning his back on humanity for reasons that were good to him, while also having an intense desire to help those who needed it. He didn’t hate humanity per say, but humanity seemed to hate him. It was a tough decision to cut off contact with the people that he knew and considered friends as a human, but if it meant that they could all live in peace then he was willing to deal with the feeling of sadness and loneliness that came with this exile.

Even now the loneliness was getting to him, pushing him ever forward on his mission. The vast unknown that was the future called out to him, and he was determined to make the best of his situation. There was much to do however, and he hardly had the resources to do them at the current time. Such was the nature of science however, and Silver would push forward regardless of the result.

He knew that there was so much more to sort through. However he couldn’t let his emotions get in the way of the task at hand, so he resumed the sorting, hoping that it would help distract him further. For him, the sooner he was done, the better. By the end of the night, Silver had flown a short distance away, his most treasured belongings packed up with care. Silver was getting tired, dawn was close at hand and he usually prefered to sleep around this time. Seeing no reason to push himself further, he decided to make temporary camp at one of the local pony towns, a small village in the mountains going by the name of “Greenview”. Fittingly enough, it had a wonderful view of nature, a view that slowly faded away as the tight hold of sleep pulled Silver in.

-=-

Silver stood in a foggy dark void, trying to imagine each and every detail of the labyrinthian structure that he had devised in his imagination. It was a little flashy, but the detail oriented night pony could find ample distraction here. He closed his eyes and focused even more. He took in a deep breath, and when he opened his eyes he was greeted with the now familiar sight of the ocean through one of the large circular windows of the Nautilus’ Grand Salon.

“You know, you’ve been getting a lot better at this. The detail is stunning and it only seems to get better as the days go on.” Came the voice of a mysterious intruder, obscured by the shadow, they were nearly impossible to make out.

Without turning to greet the intruder, Silver replied: “Here again for another one of your “check ups” as you put it?”

“Why of course, whatever else would I be here for?”

Ignoring his question, Silver simply replied, “I’m fine.”

“You sure don’t sound convinced of it. You know, you can lie all you want to me, but you can’t lie to yourself. You’ve been doing this routine for months now, and it always ends the same way, with you dwelling on your past time after time after time.”

“Look, I appreciate our little chats, I really do, but I have work to get done, work that is currently being interrupted by you.”

“You could be a little nicer, lose the attitude?”

“You’re usually the calm and collected type, is it really bothering you all that much?”

“Not nearly as much as it should be bothering you.”

“Oh really? That’s an interesting concept. Why don’t you tell me more?”, Came the sarcastic reply from Silver, seemingly disinterested in the conversation that was occurring.

“Because it isn’t healthy Silver, you keep holding onto the past without ever moving forward. You can’t go back, there’s simply no possible way to do that. The best thing you can do is to take what you have and move on with your life.”

Finally turning to greet his intruder, Silver calmly replied, “Look, I know you only want what’s best for me, but I need to find that on my own. It’s hard to move on from the past when the future is so frightening. I can’t help but fear the unknown, the news that the devourers are so far away and will likely never be here in any of our lifetimes should put me at ease… but it doesn’t. All I can think about is how we might not be prepared for that. What if we don’t do anything now? It’s fine for us because we’re not the ones who have to deal with those repercussions, but what about our descendants? Who’s looking out for them? Every day a thousand thoughts race through my head, thoughts about the future, thoughts who’s implications scare me. This is all I know right now, the only way to really feel like I’m in control of my own destiny.”

“You aren’t though, it’s foolish to believe that you are. I know you’re frightened Silver, I am too, But what can we do? You don’t even know anything about them, what hope do you have to even begin to prepare for their arrival?”

Silver sighed, closing his eyes. “You’re right. I don’t know anything about them, I don’t know how we can even hope to prepare for their arrival. What I do know is that we can at least try and make the world a better place in the meantime though, there’s so many problems that we can work towards today, maybe we’ll discover something that might help us in the future in the process of solving those problems?”

“I guess you have a point Silver, but what are you going to even start with? It’s not really an easy task, and I don’t mean to sound rude, but you’re not exactly going to do this all on your own. I can’t force you to do anything, but just think about it? Try to be realistic. I’m doing this because I care about you, I don’t want to see you waste your life away chasing the past.”

“I know I don’t dreamwalk often, but when I do I try and find others who seem to have a knack for this kind of thing. I haven’t had much luck yet, but word does seem to spread amongst dreamers, maybe some of the creative ones will find their way here. I can’t even begin to tell you how much gossip seems to spread among night ponies, It’s honestly quite fascinating in itself.”

“Well I’m glad you’re at least trying to do something productive Silver, even if it is a bit far fetched. I just want you to be happy and not dwell on your past so much. Can you at least try to do that?”

“I can promise you that I’ll try. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to get back to work.”

“Sure thing Silver, I’ll see myself out.”


Gyro woke up much the same as he had for many years now, with a new idea in mind and the sun still below the coastal horizon. He had been friends with Tinker for as long as he could remember, however In stark contrast to Tinker Gyro was significantly more reserved and stoic, choosing to focus on his plans and ideas more than conversation.

Still though he was thankful to have a friend as loyal as Tinker was. The strange turn that their lives had taken only served to inspire them on what path to go down, and to be completely honest, it was really a blessing in disguise.

Tinker was always a kind person, but he never really invented for the sake of others, but rather for the reward and praise that came with it. Transforming was an extremely humbling experience for him and he realized how much he could truly empathize with others.

Gyro on the other hand, was not so quick to immediately trust others. Tinker meant well, but he was almost too optimistic for his own good. Gyro didn’t believe that his friend was too naive, in fact he knew that Tinker was a smart pony, it was just that in his quest to help every pony, he could sometimes let his goals get in the way of common sense.

Tinker had great intentions in mind, but his ideas were testing the limits of the duo. The problem and more importantly, it’s solution became ever clearer: They needed more help.

It wouldn’t be easy though. Gyro and Tinker had been traveling the U.S. when the pandemic had first started, at the time, like many others, they had just assumed that it was a particularly bad strain of the yearly flu. How little they knew at the time.

Their dreams of a brighter tomorrow, while possible now, would still take immeasurable time to execute to their full potential. Help was the greatest thing they needed at the moment, but it was hard to come by in the current climate.

Help would have normally been easy to find pre ETS... but now it was different. Tinker had decided to try and head home when the signs of transformation had progressed beyond some weird hair color, the duo realizing that this was no normal illness when the first prominent signs of transformation had begun to show.

-=A Few Months Prior=-

The inventive duo had been travelling across the United States when it had all gone down, finding themselves in Arizona when the severity of the pandemic had started to dawn on them.

“Sir, this has progressed beyond what I would call... usual. All signs point to this being something that is far beyond the realm of known science.”

“Look, I know. This is incredibly concerning and I don’t know what to do about it. Whenever we’ve encountered a problem in the past my genius granted us a simple solution. That isn’t happening here, I don’t know what to do!” Barnabas yelled.

“Panicking won’t help now Baxter! Some incredible new branch of science is awakening and you’re panicking like some scared child. I hate to be blunt with you but your hysterics aren’t helping the situation much.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve just never dealt with this before. I need to think about this for a moment.”

And so he thought, pondering the change that was currently running rampant.

“How fast do you think we could get to Marcus’ lab?”

“Excuse me sir?”

“I said how soon can we get there!?”

“I.. I don’t know Sir? Air travel is most definitely out, but we could probably make it there fairly quickly if we drive straight to it. But there’s other considerations to...”

“Fine let’s do it. I don’t care about the considerations as long as we get there as soon as possible.”

“If you don’t mind me asking... Why?”

“I need to get to Marcus’ lab, he has an MRI we could likely use, I want to see the extent of the change that’s occurring within so I can map out what might be happening.”

“What’s your hypothesis? I believe we might be on the same page.”

“I’ve noticed that the basic changes seem to progress following bouts of sleep, it’s evident that something beyond the normal limits of our scientific understanding is occurring, and it’s beyond what I would consider to be a normal anomaly... as evidenced by the widespread cases”

“Let’s get moving then.”

-=-

The duo had driven to Phoenix as fast as they could, hoping to convince their old colleague that the pursuit of new science was more important than his own irrational fears. As they drove through the city Barnabas could be heard angrily yelling into his phone, his assistant sitting there stone faced as ever.

“What do you mean no?!”

“I told you, I can’t afford to expose myself to this, word’s spreading fast and you know how I feel about germs.”

“Oh stop being a germaphobe , this is possibly one of the greatest breakthroughs in scientific history and you’re afraid of catching the flu.”

“This isn’t just a normal bout of the flu, you, your assistant, and so many other cases are all a clear indication of this! I’m sorry, but I’m being firm on this.”

“Fine then, I’ll figure it out on my own without you!”

“I’ll take it that we won’t get through to him then?” his assistant calmly replied.

“No, we will not be getting through to him any time soon… He’s made that very clear.” Barnabas flatly said, a hint of frustration and annoyance in his voice.

“So what do we do now Sir?”

With an annoyed sigh, Barnabas flatly replied, “I guess we’ll just Travel back to base tomorrow, if we push straight through to California without taking any breaks we’ll arrive at a workable time. Liam might have access to a medical lab if he’s still got his contacts with the University.”
“Well I won’t stop you Sir…” Not that I can anyways... he thought to himself.

-=-

Back in the present, Gyro reflected back on those events. His premonitions had been correct of course, there were other considerations to take into account, travel locking down being one of them. The duo had travelled to Arizona as fast as they could, but they found themselves unable to leave the following day. Barna… Tinker, could be rather hot headed when the moment called for it, his final interactions with Marcus being rather negative. To Gyro that likely was what prompted such a large and positive change in Tinker’s behavior.

Gyro thought back to that final interaction. Marcus’s hypochondria had finally helped him it seems. The transformation seemed to speed up towards the end for seemingly yet unknown reasons, and some powerful magical forces were at work behind it. This was all purely speculation of course, the government would most assuredly never make their findings on the matter public.

It was something that he couldn’t really study now and would likely remain that way for a very long time, as the respective data was far too insufficient for his needs. It was an interesting thought though, perhaps someday somepony could help aid that task.

As he pondered on his many thoughts, the one important one came back to him. He looked down from the loft, into the open space that constituted their makeshift laboratory well outside of town. The workshop might have been a little run down, but it worked well enough for their needs. As he glanced down at Tinker, he noticed that he was still near the cart, but now asleep. Tinker could be a handful at times but his dream of the future, and more importantly, the lengths to which he would follow it was really inspiring to Gyro.

It was a dream that he would continue to follow until it was seen through. Maybe they were a little too optimistic, but in a world that had changed so much, optimism was a resource that was more valuable than anything else he could think of.

Gyro stood up from his work desk, and brought a blanket to his worn out friend.

“Sleep well old friend, you’ve earned this rest.”

There was much to be done and Gyro knew that Tinker would stress about it until the very end, never willingly resting until the swift release of sleep wrangled him away from the waking world.

He owed it to his friend to at least continue the work while he was out, for he knew that his visions of the future wouldn’t ever truly cease.

In many ways Gyro found moments like this to be the most enlightening for him. He was able to work on the various problems and solutions he would think up with relative peace. Tinker was a good friend but he could get a little over the top from time to time.

He was nearing the end of the process, finishing up a few safety additions. By the time Tinker had awakened, the project would be done, and they could finally set out.

-=-

With Marcus having denied the duo access to his lab, Barnabas and his loyal assistant were left to simply take in the data as best as they could. With travel being restricted at this point, the duo were forced to make due with what they had available to them, using their van as a makeshift laboratory.

“Sir the condition’s only getting worse, I’ve recorded the signs for a week now and the numbers keep coming in from around the U.S. it seems that the most harshly affected areas are Arizona, Colorado, most of the south, and notably Florida.”

“And what do you make of this?”

“It’s all speeding up. Early reports show that many in larger cities are showing the first signs of transformation, only a few handfuls are showing more advanced signs.”

“Fascinating. How have you held up so far?”

“Adequately enough Sir, but I keep getting these irritating headaches.”

-=Present Day=-

In a departure from the norm, it was Tinker who had woken before Gyro. As Gyro headed into the main area of the abandoned warehouse he was enthusiastically greeted by the cheerful pegasus.

“Gyro, I believe you’ve done it! We only need a few small details and we’ll be set to go!” Tinker shouted, the sheer happiness and excitement obvious in his voice.

Gyro, caught off guard by the emotion, simply replied, “You’re very welcome sir.”

“You don’t know how much this all means to me, it’s a chance to do the right thing, this time for the right reasons.”

“Believe me Tinker, I know very well.”

“We only have a few tasks remaining, have you made preparations? Scouted the routes?”

“I have, my contacts are fairly certain that the route we’ve chosen is the safest and most efficient route for this.”

“Very well, we’ll make final preparations tomorrow and set out as soon as we can. There’s a bright new world waiting for us and I can’t wait to share the future with it!”

And on that cheerful note the duo went to sleep, feeling refreshed and relaxed for the first time in nearly three months.

-=-

The morning they had been waiting for had finally come at last. Tinker and Gyro sat in silence staring at the scene before them. Their brand new mobile lab was finally complete at last, a brave new world laid out before them, with an incredible journey ahead. Truth be told, Tinker had no real plan or direction for where he was going, but rather a more general plan for the future. He and Gyro discussed the matter and determined that the best course of action would be to head back to Arizona and work with some of their newer contacts from the shelter, at least for a while.

Gyro it seemed, had made some enterprising connections throughout the post ETS U.S. and received word that civilization was already beginning to find order out east, but for now they needed to build up their own numbers and resources. Getting word out as soon as possible would be the most beneficial for ponies and humans alike. Gyro had always been that way, seemingly able to network with others with ease. It was a strange contrast to the pegasi’s normally stoic and reserved nature. Still though, the unicorn could rudimentarily operate his phone, so perhaps that made things easier.

“Gyro my friend… I believe that we’re looking at the dawn of a new era. An era where ponies no longer have to feel fear.”

“So what’s the plan now?”

“Well… We do what we’ve always done time and time again, reinvent the world around us, but this time we use our gifts to help better pony kind, and once we’ve done that we can set our sights higher, bettering mankind, and someday… someday we can set our sights to the stars… Just think of the possibilities Gyro!” Tinker excitedly yelled out.

Gyro was hardly ever one to show genuine emotion, but today was different. His friend had changed for the better, genuinely caring for those around him, hoping to help everypony that he met, and those that he couldn’t… well he’d invent something to help them out too. Gyro knew that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy, and it would definitely be filled with new risks and challenges, but he owed it to his friend to keep his best interests at heart and make sure that his plans could come to fruition.

“Sir? Just a word of advice. I know that you’re excited to finally begin your new life’s work, but please promise me that you’ll be careful. You’re not naive but I also know how passionate you can get about your goals. Please be careful, don’t let someone take advantage of you.”

“Gyro, you’ve always been one of my best friends. This means a lot to me and I promise you that I’ll repay your kindness someday. Thank you for everything that you’ve done to make this dream a reality.”

And on that note, the dynamic duo set out into a new world, with their sights set on an impossible task, one that they would work day and night to make a reality. They did not know whether they would find the success that they were searching for, but not trying would be the same as not caring, and that was something that they wouldn’t throw away for the world.

As they packed up their remaining possessions and pulled the cart out of the warehouse, they could only think about the future and the road that lied ahead of them. By noon they had reached a village in the mountains, deciding to rest for a couple days and get their bearings, they set up camp. An idea came to Tinker’s head, this could be a good opportunity to test out their mobile lab, see if perhaps the ponies of the west would be interested in the duo’s ideas.

Tinker approached Gyro, gazing down at the valley below.

“It’s a beautiful sight isn’t it?”

“What? The valley?”

“The horizon… I don’t gaze at it as much as I’d like to but it really is something special.”

The two just sat and watched the sunset for a while longer, enjoying the rest that they had worked towards for almost three months now.

“You know Gyro, I have an idea… what if we share our ideas with this village? Surely these ponies could benefit from them.”

“What do you mean sir?”

“Haven’t you noticed? They’re at peace but they still live in fear, fear of the wildlife, the humans only a short distance away, all of it. With our inventions maybe they can get some peace?”

“What are you proposing sir?”

“A demonstration, a public showcase of our inventions, we can even give them away if we want. This village doesn’t exactly have an economy to work with but isn’t helping others the best kind of payment we can get?”

As the sun began to disappear behind the horizon, Gyro contemplated this. “You know sir, if you’re interested in doing this then I’m willing to go along with it. We can’t just give all our plans away for free and hope to stay afloat, but if it’s what you feel we need to do… then I’m onboard.”

The two sat there, watching the sun finally set behind the horizon, revealing the beautiful night sky. Gyro wasn’t sure whether their plans would fully work out the way he had hoped they would, but looking down at the valley below, bathed in the soft moonlight, he had a peaceful feeling that everything would be alright.

Author's Note:

Horizons One is now departing - our final destination today: The Future...

Welcome to the beginning of my first large scale writing project in a very long time. I have a lot planned out for this story and I'm really excited to share it all with you!

Chapter Updates will be every Friday for now, though I'll probably switch over to every other Friday once I get a little busier with my work and schooling. Feedback is always welcome, and if you spot any errors, have any suggestions, or just feel like suggesting something please feel free to do so!

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