• Published 22nd May 2019
  • 212 Views, 8 Comments

Stardust's Odyssey - Cosmic Eclipse

A Thestral awakens in a world he never fell asleep in, is thrust into the middle of a century's long feud, and forced to come to terms with his new reality.

  • ...

Ch I - "An Extra-Dimensional Dilemma"

Hey there, the name’s Stardust. Kind of a strange name for a thestral I know, but that’s not important right now. Let’s just say that I’m not exactly from around here. If it helps, you can simply call me Cortex… Fearsome captain of the Kraken, I’m sure you’ve heard of me… if you haven’t then I’m sure you've at least heard the ghost stories of a bloodthirsty monster roaming the ocean, mere tall tales but not without a dash of reality, for you see, I’m the harbinger of that very monster, but it’s not really the monster the world makes it out to be, the true monster lies somewhere out there, in some parallel reality, a long sealed world, a cosmic prison... a labyrinth of nightmares… and whether the world realizes it or not I’m saving them from it all.

Now this is a story about the past… not just my past mind you, no, it’s about this universe… it’s past, the long lost Thestral King, the countless lives he ruined, and the role he played in completely derailing my life. This is the tale of my trek through an alien world, facing threats and danger that I never could have even imagined existing back home, an Odyssey that might even change the course of history, a clash between a mad king bent on revenge and the many pawns he’s thrown onto the table.

I’m not a bloodthirsty pirate per say, but when it comes to stopping some insurmountable threat one must sometimes go to extreme lengths to see an end to them. The world sees me as a pirate so what’s the harm in conforming to such a role? They see a bloodthirsty pirate? Well I’m more than happy to play the part if it means that they all get to live another day, even if they’re unaware of the true forces that gave them that blessing. So how did this all begin? Well it’s a long story but an important one all the same.

I’ll never forget that night, the night everything changed. I was sitting alone in my house, when the world grew rather dark and gloomy. Now this wasn’t normally an unusual sight in Moondust’s Hollow, but this kind of gloomy weather wasn’t scheduled for at least another week or two. Thinking back to it now, what should have thrown me off more than anything else were the weird shadows and lightning, but it only drew me in even more.

It’s hard to explain, but this strange phenomena drew my attention like a moth to a flame. In that moment my thoughts raced more than they ever had before, and I quickly made a dash for my notebook to jot some of the findings down, but of course that’s when… it… happened. The shadows seemed to warp into strange pony creatures, as the flashes only grew brighter. The wind seemed to form a strange murmur of unintelligible voices as if they were trying to warn me of something… something that I so dearly wish I could have listened to... but oh well.

I couldn’t help but gaze on at the shadows, unable to move from my place... it was as if something was keeping me there, forbidding me to leave... and then the brightest flash I’ve ever seen in my life lit up the world around me, sending my thoughts into the oblivion as the world suddenly grew dark.

When I woke a pain surged through my right leg. I flashed in and out of consciousness, time was impossible to really gauge. I should have been dead, but I somehow survived. After what felt like an eternal epoch of time I finally snapped awake and was reacquainted with the sharp pain in running down my leg… or rather, what was left of my leg.

I tried to thrash but the pain only worsened, as my vision began to black out a voice called out to me.

A pegasus ran up to me, dropping their bag on the ground next to them. “Stop! You’re lucky to be alive, we need to get you out of there first though!”

Nothing could break through to me, my world was nothing but the searing pain in my leg… and then it suddenly stopped as I blacked out once more. It must have been hours later when I awoke, as the sun had already started to rise over the mountains. My strange savior simply sat there poking the fire, as if I didn’t even exist.

I began to sit up, groaning in pain. “Wh..who are you?”

“Aha, the little survivor awakens!” The figure sat up and turned towards me. “Sorry I had to zap you, you were only going to harm yourself more. Don’t mind the prosthetic, I had to make do with what I had, I’ll get you a better one as soon as we get to the Hollows.” As the figure neared closer I was able to make his features out. The dark blue pegasus shifted to help me up, supporting me until I could stand.

I eyed my false limb, testing my weight on it hesitantly. “Who are you?”

He inspected my false leg, concern flashing across his face. “Try not to go too fast, you need to get used to standing on it again. It’s going to sting for a while, but I can address that better once we get moving. The quicker we get there the faster it’ll take.”

“But who are you?!”

“My apologies, the name’s Onyx, Onyx Haze. I’m the local scavenger. I like to check this field for various pieces of scrap that wind up here.” he paused, turning back towards me. “So what’s your story? Where’re you from?”

“Huh? Oh… Well I’m Stardust, I live over in Moondust’s Hollow… but where are we?”

Onyx flashed me a confused look, setting his saddlebag down. “Stardust huh? That’s a strange name for a thestral… Where did you say you’re from again?”

I shuffled around, trying to get a feel for my new leg. “Moondust’s Hollow, a little village over in the forsaken forest, right at the base of the northern mountains...”

“Stardust… I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about… no one’s settled over there for years...”

I raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean? I was just...” I glanced around at my surroundings, surveying the rubble all around. “Something’s wrong… my home, the Hollow, all of it was just here!”

Onyx looked on with concern. “Stardust, let’s head back over to town, I think you need to rest for a few. Clear your head…”

A bolt of panic flashed through me as I tried to pace around, falling flat on my face as I put too much weight on my wooden leg. Onyx ran forward as I tried to stand up, shaking his head. “Stardust, please come with me. You need to pace yourself and calm down. You can do it yourself or I can zap you again, your call, but you’re coming back to town with me either way.”

I surveyed my options, looking down to my false leg again, and at the vast sandy expanse around me. Seeing no better solution I opted to go with the strange pegasus. “Al..alright, I’ll go with you.”

Onyx smiled and reached down to help me up again. “A wise choice indeed. Here, use it more as a crutch for now, don’t put all your weight on it or you’re going to just fall down again. I gave you a powerful pain reliever but that’s only going to do so much to alleviate it. Xenith can help you once we get back to town.”

I tested my limits, awkwardly walking around like some lame dog. “Who’s Xenith?”

Onyx watched my progress intently, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. “Xenith is a thestral like you, he’s the town’s resident doctor. A good friend of mine and my mentor too, though to be completely honest I was never really interested in the medical field like he is. It does have it’s perks though I suppose.” he said as he gestured to my makeshift leg.

“Well I suppose I owe you one then--”

He suddenly interrupted me, catching me off guard. “--No no, it’s all fine. I owe it to help an injured pony, regardless of the situation.”

I stared back at him with a look of disbelief. “You saved my life though, Surely there’s something I can do to at least repay you for that.”

Onyx looked around the campsite, eyeing the various trinkets and scrap he had collected. “It’s not fair to ask you to help me drag this haul back to down, but how about this: once I get you back on your hooves you can assist me going forward. Is that fair enough for you?”

I looked at him and then back to the rubble that I had awoken in. “I.. Until I really know what happened I think that that’s a good idea. I… I don’t know what to call it. I remember everything, but this place is alien to me… a complete mystery. Until I have my bearings I think it’s really the best, if you don’t mind having me.”

Onyx smiled gleefully. “Well I would never turn down help, I’m sure Xenith’s going to be happy to have a patient who isn’t just some hypochondriac with a case of the flu. It’s been a while since he’s had the chance to actually use his talents.”

I squinted as I looked over to the sun as it slowly rose further above the horizon, I could stay awake during the day, I hadn’t in a long while but it certainly wasn’t impossible. Though with the state of my leg I figured the extra fatigue might not be very healthy. “Onyx, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but many of the thestrals back where I come from are nocturnal--”

“--and you’re probably tired right now. I understand. Let’s get back to town, we can worry about introductions later--”

“--It’s fine Onyx, I can manage in the day, I just need a little time to adjust is all. Let’s start walking though.”

Onyx looked back at me, then to the sun, and finally to his day’s haul that was scattered around the makeshift campsite in various piles. “Okay, I hate just leaving my haul out in the open like this, but I’d say that you’re a little more important than some junk. Go ahead and hop in the cart over there, I’ll pull you back to town.” he said as he gestured past me to a nearby cart.

I shook my head, not needing his pity. “It’s fine Onyx, I can walk back.--”

“--Look, I said I’m not interested in the medical field but that doesn’t mean I’m not ignorant of the issue at hand. You’re down one leg and you have a rather shoddy replacement, now unless you want me to zap you, you’ll get in the cart.” He said sternly, cutting me off.

“But… Can’t I just fly?” I asked pleadingly, not wanting to have to burden someone.

Onyx shook his head, sternly replying to me. “No, not with your leg in the state it’s in. I don’t want you landing roughly and causing further damage.”

“I… Look…” I sighed, lowering my head. “Oh alright, fine.” I hobbled my way over to the cart while Onyx extinguished the fire, carefully climbing into the worn wooden cart as he ran over, no doubt making sure I wouldn’t harm myself while climbing in.

“Alright, now it won’t be long until we get to town, but here, take this.” he passed me a worn metal canteen. “It’s not much but you need to stay hydrated, you just encountered some serious trauma and I don’t need you to add dehydration into the mix too.”

His explanation only served to make me realize how dry my mouth really was, not seeing any reason to argue I merely shrugged and greedily gulped down the water as he dragged the cart down the road, presumably towards “The Hollows”. There admittedly wasn’t much to do to bide my time, so I did what any injured pony stuck in the back of a cart would do, I stared at the passing desert landscape until we finally pulled into a wooded clearing.

Onyx pulled further forward into the forest, as the desert slowly faded into the distance, the sand and rocks gradually being replaced with trees and vibrant plant life. It was a strange shift, but not as strange as my current predicament. As we continued on the world slowly got darker, easing my tired eyes.

Onyx called back to me, sliding his strange goggles down over his eyes and tapping the side with a hoof. “We’re almost there Stardust, this next part might get a little bumpy so make sure you hold on to your personal effects.”

I was about to give him some smart remark about not having anything to hold onto when all of a sudden I was violently jolted, throwing me from one side of the cart and onto the other, interrupting my little attempt at humor.

He chuckled at my predicament, no doubt formulating some smart remark. “Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

I rolled my eyes and held on for dear life as the cart continued to rock and sway.

“Alright, sorry about that Stardust, the road’s going to clear out up there, it shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“Yeah alright, just give me a holler when we’re there!” I shouted back, still holding on with all the strength I could muster.

I had to give him credit, as much as I still had no reason to trust him, he hadn’t outright lied to me yet. The road suddenly smoothed out, just as he had promised. I hesitantly raised my head over the side of the cart, looking at the dark village we were now closing in on.

I finally had a chance to really look over Onyx, the dark shade making it easier for me to really notice the strange apparel he was wearing. Ponies wearing clothes wasn’t an odd sight, but his certainly were. A strange hood sat at the base of his neck, and his saddlebags seemed incredibly patched together, almost as if he had meticulously repaired them over the years rather than just buying a new set. Looking up, I also noticed the scarf that was draped around his neck, and completing the odd assortment of accessories were his goggles, though given the dark nature of the village I could only assume that they aided his vision much the same way my own two eyes did with the darkness around me.

Onyx dragged the cart further forward and began to slow to a stop in front of a large imposing tree. “Alright Stardust, we’re here. Let me help you out of the back.”

I looked around at my surroundings, noticing several similar structures, with strange glowing mushrooms illuminating the surroundings in their cool blue glow. As he stepped forward I was able to see his goggles better, noting the unnatural red glow that emanated from them, no doubt proving my theory correct.

“Admiring my goggles? They’re an invention of my own design, they work similar to how your own biological eyes work. It’s rare that a non thestral lives in this village and the ones that do needed better ways to see that didn’t require them to carry some clunky lantern around all the time.” He smiled proudly as he helped me out of the cart, brushing some dust off of my fur.

“I kind of guessed that. So what now?” I asked inquisitively

“Let’s get you in to see Xenith so we can fix that leg of yours. Afterwards I can show you around town, my workshop… whatever really suits you best.”

Seeing no reason to object I nodded. “Lead the way.”

Onyx ushered me in, greeting a few groggy looking pegasi who flashed me a look of concern as we passed by. Onyx spoke up once more. “I apologize again for the crude nature of your prosthetic, we’ll get you all hooked up with a better one soon enough. The unicorns don’t like sharing their tech but we have ways of getting some of it out of their city.”

I raised my eyebrow in confusion once more as I questioned him. “What do you mean by that?”

Onyx stopped and turned back to me, evidently hesitating. “I.. I forgot about your predicament. The unicorns are a thriving technological tribe here, though much to the frustration of the others. It’s rare that they let an outsider into their city, let alone a thestral, but Xenith was able to pull a few strings. It’s even rarer that they let someone leave with some of their tech… but just don’t worry about that. It’s a long story that I’m sure Xen doesn’t want shared.”

I began to voice my concern when he suddenly cut me off. “--Ah! Here we are, Stardust, welcome to Xenith’s lab.” He pushed the large oak doors open, ushering me into the circular room. The first thing that stood out to me was the large assortment of artifacts, shelves, and leather bound tomes that lined the walls. Bookshelves towering as high as the ceiling surrounded the room. The ceiling itself was an ornately painted dome, various stars and constellations covered every inch of it. A grizzled voice called out to us, surprising me at first. “Welcome back Onyx, I take it you were successful this time around?” I gazed ahead at the strange black thestral with a striking white mane who currently sat in front of a large circular window at the far side of the room. As he turned I caught sight of his own pair of goggles, similar to Onyx’s but with a green glow instead of the red.

Onyx pushed past me, walking up to greet the strange pony who I could only assume was Xenith. “Not quite Xen, as you can see we have a new guest. I found him out in the badlands, trapped under some rubble. As you can see he didn’t quite make it out all in one piece.”

Xenith raised an eyebrow to his goggles, tapping the side with a hoof as he scrutinized my makeshift leg. “Follow me, we need to address that as soon as possible.” He gestured to the adjacent table as he began to rummage around a large ornate trunk.

I walked forward cautiously, not quite sure what to make of the strange thestral. “I’m… Stardust, you must be Xenith.”

Without turning to greet me he simply replied, “That’s a really odd name you know? Are you one of those thestrals from the Crystal Caverns?”

“The what?.. No, sorry I’m--”

Onyx suddenly spoke up, interrupting me. “Xen, he claims he’s from the waste, where the ruins of his kingdom are.”

Xenith paused for a moment, walking over to face us. “No one’s lived there for centuries… Go lay on the table, I want to run a few tests, make sure your leg isn’t the only thing that’s injured.”

I hesitantly hopped up onto the table, laying back as he adjusted his goggles again. “Is.. is there something wrong?”

“The strange name… the odd origin point… the freak storm… I have a theory, something that Onyx and I have been formulating for years but could never truly verify.”

Another look of confusion spread across my face as I sat up. “What theory?”

He gestured to a large map on the nearby wall. “The badlands are a strange place, every new moon there’s a strange unexplainable storm that occurs over them. Anyone that enters the region during it is usually never seen again. You’re the first pony that’s ever been caught there post storm… This might sound crazy but what if you never entered there to begin with?”

I didn’t like where this was going at all. “What do you mean Xenith?”

He stepped closer to me. “What if you are some visitor from a place beyond this one?”

“Like an alien?”

He shook his head, pacing around. “No, like a… a.. Onyx, what’s the word you use?”

Onyx stepped forward. “A rift walker.”

I looked at the two with serious look. “A what?”

“A creature that was carried from one point in space and time, and deposited in an adjacent one. Like a unicorn’s teleportation, but instead of two places in one reality it’s two places in two realities. What I’m suggesting is that your point of origin does not correspond to one in our universe, but rather one in a parallel one.”

I could feel a headache coming on. I started to shift off of the table as Xenith suddenly jumped forward. “Stop! You need to sit down.”

“No, I’m sorry but this is all too crazy for me.”

“Fine, right as that may be you’re still injured, at the very least we need to fix your leg!”

I hopped off the table, immediately regretting my decision as I toppled over in pain. “No.. I..I’m fine!” I grunted out through clenched teeth.

“No you’re not. Get on the table and let me fix it before you cause more damage.”

I started to object again, but gave up, relenting as Onyx helped me back up. “Fine. But you owe me an explanation after this okay?”

Xenith adjusted his goggles again, carefully removing the prosthetic and inspecting the remnants of my amputated leg. “Sure. But I need you to understand that this may be something I can’t fully solve.” He turned towards Onyx. “You did a fine job with this one, it should pair fairly well.”

Ignoring the last part I questioned him again. “My leg?”

He walked back over to the far side of the room, gathering some supplies as he went. “No. Your extradimensional origin.”

I calmed down and laid back as Xenith dug around the trunk again. “Alright, but I just need answers okay? It’s clear that something’s happened but I don’t know what.”

Xenith continued to rummage through the trunk for many more minutes until he finally walked back over. “I don’t think anyone knows what’s happened… at least not with any sense of finality.” A strange case was cradled in his arms. I craned my neck over to see it clearer, but was quickly subdued by Onyx. Caught off guard I quickly yelled out a response. “What… what are you doing?!”

He stepped back with an embarrassed look. “You’re gonna wanna sit back for this, It’s not going to be comfortable.”

“What do you mean?” I said with an air of confusion.

“Let him see Onyx.”

Onyx flashed him a worried look. “Are you sure Xen?”

“Yes. Absolutely, he has to know what’s coming otherwise he won’t be able to prepare himself for the pairing process.”

I craned my neck back over to get a better view of what Xenith was holding. “I’m not sure I like the sound of this…”

“You won’t like the feel of it either, at least not when it’s pairing.” He set the case down and flipped it open, revealing a strange prosthetic leg that seemed to be made of some unnatural metal. “This is one of the unicorns’ most advanced creations, a prosthetic that can pair with the user seamlessly utilizing existing nerves… it’s a bit of a prototype I’m afraid but it’s better than that glorified peg leg you were getting by with before.”

I looked on at it with concern, and started to voice my objections. “I… How can I trust this?”

Xenith smiled. “Because the unicorns made it. They’re the premier authority on technology such as this. Consider this a great gift, you’ll likely be the only thestral in the entire world who has such a device, maybe even the only non unicorn… a very rare breed indeed.”

I nervously nodded. “Is… is this going to hurt?”

Xenith turned away, adjusting his goggles once more. “Do you want me to be honest with you?”

I gulped and nodded. “Yes, I do…”

He turned back, this time his goggles gave off a strange blue glow. “It’s going to hurt. A lot. The pairing process will likely be the most excruciating pain you’ve ever experienced but it’ll only last but a few minutes. Once paired it’ll operate and feel just as natural as any other limb you were born with… but this one is so much more.” He said as he shined a section on the leg.

I raised my voice again, the tone betraying my own distrust of the strange pony. “If this is so rare then why are you giving it to me?”

Xenith met my gaze. “I was originally going to just substitute your simple replacement with one of the usual models, something that wouldn’t feel as natural… but if you’re who I think you are, and all the signs point to you being them, then you’ll need this for your journey.”

I sat up again, frustration rising within. “What journey, who? Can you just give me a clear answer?!”

“After the pairing is complete.” He walked over to a cabinet, fishing a simple green vial out and tossing it towards me. “Here, take this. It’s a mild pain reliever, it’s not going to spare you the pain of the pairing but it’ll ensure that you live through it. This is a prototype afterall.”

I turned towards Onyx, flashing him a concerned look. “Onyx, can I trust this?”

“You’re going to want to. He’s not kidding when he says it’s going to be excruciating. Unicorns can just suppress this for themselves but if you haven’t noticed… there’s no unicorns here.”

I gulped the strange potion down, feeling a calm chill run down my spine. “Why… Why is it going to hurt?”

Xenith answered me sternly. “We’re sticking a new limb on you, a limb with an advanced computer that needs to map your entire brain out in order to function. It’s going to feel like every single cell in your body is on fire and you’re going to wish you were dead, you’ll probably even feel like it too, but it’ll only last a few minutes at most.”

My hooves started to tremble at this. “That’s… not reassuring.”

Xenith spoke up. “Well you did ask for the truth after all.” He pushed my head back and lifted the prosthetic into place. “Do me a favor will ya?”

I closed my eyes and tried to control my breathing, replying back a simple “Huh?”

He rubbed a similar looking potion over the stump that comprised the remainder of my leg. “Try not to vomit everywhere ok? I’m not going to clean it up and I’m sure Onyx sure isn’t going to, so if you do it’s your problem to deal with.”

“Wait what?” Before I could verbalize anything further he pressed the prosthetic onto the stump and pressed a button. My entire body lit up in agony as all I could do was scream for what felt like an eternity. Fire shot up my spine and ran through my limbs and my head felt as if it was about to crack open entirely. My heart raced as I screamed myself hoarse, the world around me fading into a blur of color and light as I squeezed my eyes shut and thrashed about on the table. Nothing could alleviate this horrible pain but yet I was still alive.

Through the pain I heard the worried voice of Onyx. “Xen, his heart rate is spiking! You need to get him under control before his heart bursts!”

“No! It’ll stabilize momentarily! Give him a few more seconds and then hit him!”

“Are you sure?!”

“I mean... I think so?”

“You think so?! I thought you designed this!”

“Well… I modified the original… by all means it should still function properly…”

“Great, just what I needed to hear Xen, I knew we should have just gone with the standard models!”

“Wait! Onyx look!”

I continued to thrash about for another eternity as the pain in my head and limbs grew to an inferno… and then, the world went dark...

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!