• Published 29th Dec 2020
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Under Black Moon - Cloud Ring



Solid Line, young unicorn with suppressed dreams of greatness and being closer to her chosen Moon, gets a dream, and answers the calling.

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Chapter 6: Movement

Cursory Streak's cutie mark

☄☄☄

Cursory Streak always loved Metropolis, and the feeling was mutual. She was flying over the avenues to the horizon with four-colored blinking of apprising lights, high arches over the streets. There she was, entering a dive, folding her wings, rushing between the black-gray walls, and rising again to the Moon, closer to the Net; most often the White Moon, according to her phase of the cycle; she was too much of a sleepyhead to see the others often. She liked to bask in Her ghost-fiery brilliance, listen to the wind, catch the long-distance communications of other pegasi in it: 'better to meet after the Conjunction...', 'no, wait, how long?..', '...derrock a tornado is born again... '.

Then she often liked to visit agricultural sectors and water areas, to play with the clouds, either giving foals a ride on them or making rain for the locals; but she avoided flying over the Forest; The Forest is there / and all winding trails / are waiting to seize you, as it had been sung once. A third of the cycle later, at the end of the phase, as a habit she would end that non-stop flight and drop to a cloud bed knowing for sure that Metropolis is there for her, stretched in all Her immensity for half of the continent; and Metropolis hears and sees Cursory, and will remain there forever for her.

That was her youth, and she liked Metropolis still.

But now, sitting in the tight capsule of the aviette, side by side with the cowering earth pony, Cursory was afraid, and felt no assurance from Metropolis: too fast flight, too unsteady turns. Open the top hatch, take the pony with me and fall into the ordinary sky, and then we'll figure it out...

She tried to distract Gentle and herself by talking about the past, learn more about her neighbor and tell a little about herself, but Gentle’s answers were short and reluctant, so Cursory curled up on the seat — too hard and prickly compared to the clouds — and returned to the crossword puzzle.

Her mind slowly drifted away from the puzzle one third of a slice later. The aviette swayed side to side in almost total silence, and under Cursory’s shut eyelids blank report forms wandered on her table at the police station, and the habitable place of the Great Desert was an ‘oasis’, five letters across — five counting by lunar numerals, twelve by civilian numerals instead, and Gentle's warmth and her deep, even breathing were felt and heard from the next chair... wonder if I could come closer… and how would that ‘oasis’ be written in Lunar...

☄☄☄

“Cursory! Cursory Streak, please wake up!”

She waved to sway away the persistent worried voice, trying to hold the dream just a little bit more; in the dream there was something important, somewhere to fly right here, in this instant, but she could not remember where and with each beat the memory slipped farther away.

“Oh, I just…”, she tried to say, but said nothing.

Without waking up, Cursory caught the air with her wings, climbed higher, made a couple of turns, and only then realized that there were no more obstacles either on the sides or above. She tried to open her eyes, but they denied the attempt.

“Have we arrived?” she said, but in fact managed only something of a questioning mumble rather than coherent words.

Fortunately, Gentle Touch understood.

“Yes, for a long time already. Six slices at the very least, and you are still asleep!”

Cursory Streak tried to open her eyes again. They still did not obey, but the wings kept a sound rhythm, and the magnetic sense gave an indicative signal: yes, we are almost there, sector S is nearby, you just can’t confuse these uniform interferences with anything else...

“I will be with you shortly... maybe one third of a slice more... The bag?..” she muttered.

“I have the bag. It’s intact, I didn’t look into it.”

“Mhm... Leave it on the ground, now. And how did you pull me out that I did not…” Cursory yawned wide, unable to finish the question.

Anyway, the answer did not come.

⊛⊛⊛

Nine steps away Gentle Touch watched the pegasus preening in the diffuse light of the White Moon. Cursory Streak used two detwinkled mirrors on a flexible holder, three different brushes in turn and a bottle with an unknown aerosol. That was more than just caring for the wings and cleaning out the sweat; Cursory did not stop the process until literally every strand of her mane was exactly in its place and became exactly the right shade of purple. Even in the restaurant, she was not as sleek as she aimed to be now. Gentle hardly was distracted from this performance even by carriages’ noise on the road to the side and above them.

Gentle lay on her back in the thick whitish grass and continued to stare at the pegasus, now not trying to see more. Earlier, when the aviette was already set on the return course disappearing into the distance, and Cursory still refused to wake up, Gentle made sure that her slumber was not caused by illness or fatigue, but something yet was wrong with it. She did not get what exactly, and the images of the dream disturbed Gentle. Flying in a pinkish-scarlet fog, the voice of ocean waves or a heart beating, no land under hooves however long to fall, a salty and bitter smell...

More than a slice has passed for sure, but finally Cursory chuckled with satisfaction and went up to Gentle.

“Well, we can go ahead. Are the glasses ready?” Cursory asked.

“Yes,” Gentle held out the case in her front hooves, “But are you sure? White Moon is already at bow; this is no longer your phase.”

Cursory glanced up at the sky and smiled reassuringly, “Don't even worry. I usually don’t sleep in my phase, but when this happens, I’m able to hold up and through my next one. For now, I’ll not say that I slept well, but I’ll manage; I’m a little tougher than you think. But... don't you know what I was dreaming about?”

Gentle alerted herself, and asked warily, “What do you mean?”

Cursory laughed loudly and warmly, “Even if I didn't know before, you gave yourself away now. Blue Moon's Heralds are able to dreamwalk, and I dreamed of something important — and forgotten! — and I’ll not believe that you didn’t look in!”

Gentle pulled her legs under her, squeaked, but pulled herself together and replied in a calm tone, “Firstly, I was advised not to enter other ponies’ dreams. Even assuming I could. Secondly, if the dream was important or sent by Moon, it would be remembered. Thirdly, I think you have come too close to me, reputable Cursory Streak.”

The pegasus immediately pressed her hoof to her chest, and tilted her head a bit, “Please forgive me, as I overstepped, and I will not make the mistake again. Of course, your secrets are your secrets only. But just so you know — I'm so very curious about what it's like to be under the Blue Moon.”

Gentle did not answer at once. Only when they had already climbed the slope to the road, she breathed out, “To know more than I want to, this is what it’s like.”

She asked for help with opening the case, and putting on the glasses: heavy, with rough clips, dark lenses and an elastic strap to wrap around her head; barely warm when touched, the feeling of a living body during biting frost. Greetings, reputable Herald Gentle Touch, a disembodied voice whispered. Ready to chart your route. Remember that S sectors are not recommended for your stay.

☄☄☄ ⊛⊛⊛

When they crossed the border of sector 12-S — two warning signs in advance, but after them only a barely marked white line on solid ground — Gentle took two steps, stopped and sank to the ground.

Cursory moved to her, covered her with a wing, “What's wrong, dear?”

She didn’t pull away, despite her bravado only nine or so millicycles ago. Sobbed, “Nothing… I see nothing... but… but… these stars!..”

Cursory looked up at the sky. The White Moon, still partly above the horizon, was a barely outlined translucent circle. The Blue Moon, at hail, was also barely noticeable. Not Moons as they should be but their faint contours, reflections and echoes. But merciless stars were shining fiercely like a scattering of diamonds on a dark fabric, completely still as if there was no air around the ponies and right up to the space.

“Oh, yes, of course,” she said quietly, “We are in sector S. I have said already that only locals are comfortable here.”

But Gentle kept sobbing quietly under the sky — nines of ninety nines of brightest, impossibly colorful, sparkling stars in the sky that was, nonetheless, absolutely and hopelessly black. Everything that happens below has no meaning to the black sky, for which there was no time, no aspirations, and no needs and worries associated with them. One could just lie there in order to at some point fall up and disappear; or maybe join the endless tribe of heavenly fires, powerless to dispel the darkness.

Cursory took a deep breath and looked for the White's quivering warmth in her own chest. She caught the reminiscence of Her light, Her power, Her fire; remembered how impeccable she was and how she appreciated and took care of herself and others. She spread her wings, noticed their pearly radiance by the corner of her eye, and pushed away the oppressive gloom from Gentle and herself. It’s still you, my dear? This is still a part of you, am I right? she directed her thoughts at Metropolis, but the answer was indistinct.

“Come on, dear. Let's go. You have the designation, and I’m your guard. So let's go.”

“What do you mean? I did not ask for any guard, did I?” Gentle tried to object, waned; but Cursory nodded as if there was no question.

“If you want to get to your designation, you will need my protection. I'll go ahead.”

I believe this statement is situationally correct, the voice said, However, the boldness of this White Moon’s Herald is at the upper limit of tolerance. I recommend you to consider this.

Cursory took a few steps forward and paused; “Well?” she asked.

And so they went deeper in.

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