• Published 10th Jun 2020
  • 765 Views, 31 Comments

Splintershard - TheMajorTechie



Once upon a time, Equestria flourished. That time is now long-gone.

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2|2 ◈ The Ashes

The city descended into chaos and destruction.

A tyrant arose where there was previously none.

A dominating class arose, seeking power by association.

A war was lost, even as another was won.


"Emmmi~"

"Emmmily~"

Emily let out a loud snore.

"Seriously, Emi, stop dreaming about pink fluffy unicorns. I felt the train stop."

No response.

"Fine then. I'll do it myself."

Emily's body shuddered for a moment as Starlight took control. She raised a hand, slapping herself across the face.

"Ow-hey!"

"Hmf," Starlight dropped the possession, sinking to the back of the girl's mind. "Took you long enough. Anyway, we're here now."

Emily nodded. "Right. So... I guess we should get going now, or--"

"What we should do it take some of our share of the crystals with us. Given how that shard of yours is a piece of the Tree of buckin' Harmony, I'd say it wouldn't hurt to bring some regular crystals just in case if anything goes wrong."

"Mm-hmm," Emily hummed. "And that means I'll have to make some room in my backpack." She rummaged in her bag, pulling out some of the now-empty tins of candied apples. "Do you think I can use these as projectiles?"

"Don't."

She rolled her eyes, setting the tins aside. "Fine then. What crystals should I bring with me? I can probably cram a big, fat one into my backpack and chip away at it or something."

"No."

"Well, what do I need to bring, then? I can't throw the cans, I can't cram the crystal, what's next, am I gonna have to ditch my entire backpack?"

"Nope. Just..." Starlight let out an audible groan. "Just get a couple of handfuls of smaller crystals. You can carry them in the tins or something."

Alright then. Emily wandered over to the crates stuffed into the back of the car and lifted one of the lids. These crystals would've made for some great jewelry back at home. Granted, they'd definitely need some polishing at the very least, but there were a few crystal nuts at school that would've paid a pretty good amount for a necklace.

"Hey Star," she pointed at one of the larger crystals. "What if we just shrink 'em down again? Heck, we could fit an entire crate in my backpack! That'd work, right?"

"Nope. Too draining on my mana to maintain a temporary spell like that. I'd rather not risk running my reserves dry when we need it the most."

Fine. Emily scooped a handful of crystals from the crate, wincing at the fact that she'd just crammed an entire hand into a box full of sharp gemstones.

"Y'know, the fact that you haven't broken any bones since we met amazes me."

Shut it, Star.

"Just saying."

Emily rolled her eyes. At least the size of these crystals meant that she'd only gotten light scratches. Kinda like rubbing sandpaper on her hands.

"I--" Starlight let out a deep sigh. "You know what, asking about this sorta stuff is gonna drive me nuts. Continue."

Sheesh. That time was an accident during a woodworking class. No need to be so harsh. Either way, she probably should wear gloves next time around if she's going to handle the tiny crystals. For now, it'd probably be best to nab some of the slightly-bigger ones instead.

Emily used the edge of a candied apple tin to rummage through the crate. It wasn't long before she'd dug up a few decently-large crystals.

"There we go. You could probably fashion some amulets from those if we ever get the chance to. It'd probably help with your magic. Also, your stomach's grumbling."

Gee, thanks, Star. Never would've known. Emily dropped the crystals and the tin into her bag. She'd might as well take a look around to see what there was to eat besides candied apples.

"Oh, hey--" Aero opened the door. "--was gonna wake you up since we've been stopped for a while. Looks like you already got the memo, though. Anyway, are we gonna sell some of our loot, or..." he glanced at the branding on the crates. "Actually, now that I think of it, I should try calling up the company and reporting the cargo. They'd probably pay nicely for returning their missing stock."

"Oh, so now he's just gonna sell all of it," Starlight grumbled. "So much for splitting the spoils."

Someone knocked against the side of the car. Aero glanced out the window before trotting out.

"So," Emily swung her backpack over a shoulder. "Should we stuff a few more crystals into my backpack or nah? I'm fine with just making a run for it with what we have right now if you want."

"I'd... rather wait and see what Aero's up to. He left in quite a hurry there."

Fair enough. She could see Aero talking to another pony outside. Was... was he being arrested?

"No, looks like they're asking for paperwork. Probably to prove that he's licensed or something. See that card he's holding out?"

"Yeah?"

"Your eyes aren't the greatest, and things have probably changed quite a bit since I was last around, but it looks like a good ol' ID card."

"Yeah, I guess."

The pony Aero was talking with handed the card back with a nod.

Aero boarded the car again. "So apparently, the line's been out of service for long enough that they needed to see my papers to prove it even exists anymore!" he took a moment to recompose himself. "So anyway, the good news is that I can legally operate the line without raising any questions."

Emily raised a brow. "And the bad news?"

"Still gotta figure out where the heck all these crystals came from. I've got some bits on me, so let's go find ourselves a payph--"

"Uh... actually--" Emily cut in, "--could we maybe find a place to eat first? I've been snacking on Mrs. Ambrosia's candied apples the entire way here. I'm getting sick of all the sugar."

Aero glanced out the window, then back to Emily. "...Yeah, I guess it's a good time to get some lunch. C'mon, I'll treat ya. Call it thanks for... well, clearing the tracks and all."

Well that was easier than expected.


"Do you have anything a little less sweet, at least?"

The mare behind the counter shook her head. "Nope. You're quite the curious creature. Might I ask where you came fro--"

"AlrightthanksI'llbegoingnowbyeee!" Emily dragged Aero out of the store by the hooves. "Man. Do they always have to point out that I'm not a freakin' pony?"

Aero shrugged.

"Y'know, you could always try looking for a grocery store instead. Raid their snack aisles or somethin--"

Not helping, Starlight.

She could feel the mental eye-roll.

"Here, how 'bout we check out a place for griffins?" Aero gestured at the bakery they'd just left. "We've only been looking in equine establishments so far, and I'm pretty sure you're an omnivore. You... are an omnivore, right? Not exactly familiar with your species. Human, wasn't it?"

Emily nodded.

"And you eat meat?"

Another nod.

"Yeah, okay then, we're going to the griffin place then. Some of my old co-workers say it's a pretty good place even if you're a pony like me. Granted, a bit of fish every now and then is a nice complement to a meal."

...Fish?


Emily gawked at the dishes being served around them. She'd been expecting something more along the lines of a tuna salad or something, not sushi!

"You like salmon?"

"Whu--oh, yeah," she nodded, sipping her water. "Eel too. Have... you ever had sushi before?"

Aero shook his head. "No, not really. Like I said, I only know this place from some co-workers. It isn't too expensive, so I figured I'd bring you here. Guessing you've had it before?"

"Yup."

He looked down at his menu, then back to Emily. "What would you recommend?"

Emily shrugged. "I just eat the sushi. Don't really care all too much what it is. Unless it's like, a house special or something. Those tend to be pretty good when they're available. If you don't want anything with meat, just ask for a cucumber roll."

A waiter arrived at the side of their table, notepad at the ready. "Welcome to The Griffins' Bounty! Do you have an order at the ready?"

"Yup! I'll just have a dragon roll, and Mister Aero here's gonna try--"

"I'll have the same," Aero cut in. He glanced at the girl.

The waiter nodded, writing the items down. "Anything else?"

"Nope! Thanks!" Emily watched the waiter wander away before lightly elbowing Aero. "Hey, I thought you were gonna go for a veggie option. What gives?"

"Y'know," Starlight's voice hummed. "We ponies do occasionally eat meat. It's not very common, mind you, but we do from time to time."

Oh, okay. Welp, you learn something new every day. Emily picked up her chopsticks.

Wait.

Chopsticks?

She whirled around, her eyes darting between the assorted ponies, griffins, the occasional dragon, and other creatures populating the restaurant. Somehow, the ponies were still able to use chopsticks without anything even resembling fingers, and--

"Whoa now," Starlight interrupted. "Calm down, Emi. I've dealt with Twilight's version of your freakout before, and it isn't pretty. Calm down and forget about it. I promise it's for the best. Just focus on eating for now. We'll be leaving shortly anyway."

Right. Eat the sushi, forget about pony hoof physics, and get out before things get weird(er?). Good idea.


"So... how'd you like the sushi?"

Aero shrugged. "It was alright, I guess. Didn't expect there to be avocado in it, though. Anyway, let's find ourselves a payphone. I think I still remember the personal line of one of their folks over there."

Emily raised a brow. "You know one of their higher-ups?"

A smirk. "Being related to one of the most powerful families in the Ashen Phoenix certainly comes with its benefits."

Her eyes widened. "Wh--"

"Family business," Aero continued walking. "And that includes extended family."

"Hmph," Starlight's voice snorted. "Didn't see that coming, that's for sure. Nothing about Aero really screams Whirlwind from what I know about him."

Aero gasped, breaking into a trot. "Ah, here's a working one!"

He dropped a couple of coins into the slot and dialed in the number. Emily tried her best to avoid thinking about how typing with hooves worked.

"Hello? Ayyy, Tornado, long time no talk! Listen--" Aero lowered his voice to a whisper. "So, y'know how I bought up the old Ponyville line after I retired, right? ...Yeah, yeah, apparently somepony decided that it'd be a good idea to dump an entire freight car's worth of enchantment-grade quartz on the rails. Yes? Yeah, I've got it here in Canterlot if you wanna come down and take a look."

He hung up, letting out a heavy sigh.

"That was quick."

Aero nodded. "Yup. Tornado said that he'd come over and run an inspection on our stock to see if it was stolen or not. Either way, we'd be able to make some good money off our load."

"Soo... I can't keep any crystals for myself?"

"Oh, I'm sure you can. These are normally sold by weight anyway, so you don't need to worry."

Emily breathed a sigh of relief.

Aero cocked his head, eyeing the girl's backpack. "What are you planning on using them for, anyway? I can't imagine someone like you having much use for crystals... at least, not without..." he blinked, glancing back to her face. "Oh yeah, Starlight Glimmer. Nearly forgot that you're her reincarnation."

Aaaaand things just got awkward.


"Hey, Aero," a pegasus dropped down in front of the two. "You wanted me to run an inspection?"

"Oh geez, I didn't think you'd arrive that quickly, Tomato!" Aero took a step towards his old coworker. "What was that? Some five, six minutes after the call?"

Tornado made a face at his old nickname. "Well, yes. I was on break at the moment anyway, so I figured I'd stop by before heading back," his attention turned to Emily. "Who's the new creature?"

"Starlight Glimmer."

"You're kidding me."

"Nope!" Aero chirped. "Anyway, you wanna take a look at our cargo?"

Tornado kept his eyes on Emily. "...Yeah, okay."

"What, something up with my hair?" Emily cocked her head.

"No, no, it's just... I've never seen any creature quite like you. You say that you're Starlight Glimmer?"

Oh boy, here we go again. Emily rolled her eyes. Starlight had better be ready to explain things all over again.

"Hey Tomatohead, get over here! We've got crates full of quartz for ya to look at!"

Or not.


"So, uh, yeah--" Aero gestured at the crates crammed into the back of the lone passenger car. "--there's a lot. Would you be able to tell whether or not it's stolen stock?"

Tornado yawned, glancing at the markings. "Eh, looks like a pretty recent shipment, if the date codes are any indication," he looked back to Aero. "Given how I remember seeing these exact date codes on a crate I opened a couple of months back, I'd say that this is just a duplicate shipment that somebody wanted to get rid of. I could buy it off ya if you don't want it. We can treat it as a reward payment for returning lost resources. Wouldn't hurt to add a bit to the company stockpile anyway."

Emily nearly spat out the candied apple she had in her mouth. This whole "sell the abandoned cargo" thing was gonna be that simple? Maybe it was time to start looking for more abandoned stuff to sell off. And maybe stop snacking on the caramel-coated cubes of dried apple.

"Welp, there goes our share of the crystals."

Oh, shush, Starry. They needed the money anyway.

"Deal," Aero shook Tornado's hoof. "We'll keep one crate, though-- Emily and I would like to keep some of the crystals for our own purposes."

Tornado raised a brow. "Emily?"

"Starlight!" Aero corrected himself. "Sorry, sorry-- I forgot to mention that Emily is the body that Starlight's been reincarnated into. At least, that's what she told me."

Emily snorted. So apparently, she's nothing but a vessel now.

Starlight chuckled in the back of her mind. "Given how scatterbrained you seem to be at times, I'd say that's just about right."

Wow. That came out of nowhere. Spicy.

"Case in point."

"--And here's your check, Aero," Tornado held out a slip of paper. "If this isn't gonna set you up for the rest of your retirement, then I don't know what will. That whole thing about Emily being Starlight even though Starlight died ages ago is still weird as heck, though. Just leave the train here, and I'll send some folks over to pick things up, alright?"

Aero nodded. "Yeah, okay."

"Anyway, I'll be leaving now. Gotta get back to work."

The pegasus left without another word.

"So... uh," Emily eyed the check Aero was holding. "Are we gonna split it, or--"


"Ha. Now imagine the days back when bits were solid-gold coinage."

Emily struggled to cram the wads of cash into her backpack. Couldn't she just open a bank account or something instead? Like, put it all on a card at the very least, instead of needing to lug around so much paper! Then again, given how she's just about as foreign as foreign could get, that probably was out of the question anyway.

"Are you sure you want to take all of your share right now? I could always hold it in my account and pay you what you need."

"Nope, I'm good!" Emily grunted, zipping her backpack shut. "Anyways, I guess we'll be seeing each other around! Thanks for helping out, Aero!"

"Mmyup, no probs. If you ever need more cash, you know where to find me. I've got plenty more than enough now."

She swung her bulging backpack over her shoulder. Now, all she had to do was find that pesky scroll.

"Inner-city, most likely," Starlight piped up. "Back when I was still around, that was where a lot of the well-funded facilities tended to be."

"And where would that be?"

"I have absolutely no idea anymore."