• Published 6th Nov 2012
  • 14,681 Views, 388 Comments

Metal Heart - Taloon85



You say you wanted to find the last humans? I'm the last one here but I'm not human... not anymore

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1. "Found it!"

One thousand years. Not one year more not one year less. It was one thousand years ago that Luna was banished to the moon in the form of the evil Nightmare Moon.

One thousand years of history, reforms, changes in the law and even a couple of wars here and there. The last armed conflict was over three hundred years ago, but still...

It would take an entire pony lifetime to catch up with all the changes that had taken place in the past thousand years, if not longer. But luckily, Luna was a fast reader and she had more than enough time during her night court. At first, it had hurt that nearly nopony would attend her court, but then again she couldn’t blame her little ponies for sleeping through the night.

After all, it was only during her beautiful, tranquil night that her little ponies get their sleep. She understood this now.

At least there were still some ponies that played and danced during the night. Her night.

One thousand years. It seemed that the world had indeed changed for the better. Luna smiled at the thought of nightclubs, which were one of the things that she was particularly happy about in the reformed Equestria. It was bittersweet, really. She remembered her numerous attempts to attend said nightclubs, which didn’t turn out to be very successful, due to her major lack of modern social knowledge. As if last Nightmare Night wasn’t enough.

That was one of many the reasons why Luna was determined to demolish Mount Books, which was conveniently placed near her throne.

It was nearly two hours ago that she had started reading her latest book. She didn’t care about the fact that it looked much older than the rest; she would read it as if it were any other book. Her sparkling eyes grew larger and wider with every page she read.

“EUREKA!!”, Luna suddenly yelled. The force of the shout was enough to cause every guard in the palace to snap to attention. “This cannot possibly be true!”

She fervently read on, but was interrupted shortly after. Her sister and co-ruler of Equestria, Princess Celestia, walked into the throne room. She was garbed in a bedroom robe, accompanied by a massive bed mane, instead of her usual regal insignia. “Luna, it’s two in the morning! Did you have to wake everypony in Canterlot? Didn’t we talk about controlling your volume?”

“I am sorry, dear sister, but look at what I have found!” Luna galloped to Celestia with the open tome grasped in her telekinetic grip. She shoved the heavy book in front of Celestia’s snout before letting the Princess of the Sun catch it in her own magic.

“What am I looking at?” Celestia asked tiredly, weary eyes scanning the moldy, worn-out page. Luna bounced in a circle around her sister, giggling like a madmare all the while.

“Oh, nothing too important. Maybe only the location of the last refuge of the humans,” she chirped. Celestia blinked several times, processing the information. Her eyes widened as the implications of Luna’s statement sank in.

“What?!” she screamed. Luna winced. It had been quite a while since she’d heard her sister use the Royal Canterlot Voice. Celestia mumbled something under her breath, and flipped through the last few pages. This couldn’t possibly be true. The civilization of humans had ended millennia before the Royal Pony Sisters’ birth. By then, the human population had been scant, growing lesser and lesser in numbers until the last human passed away shortly afterwards. Nowadays, nopony really knew about the humans anymore. What little knowledge that was preserved had transcended through time in the form of myths and legends, but even those were largely exaggerated. Even the parents of Celestia and Luna knew little about them.

“Luna, if this tome is right then there should be some kind of vault situated in the Macintosh Hills. This is a very serious discovery,” Celestia stated with a frown. Luna stopped in mid-bounce and looked up at her sister with concern.

“Why are you so serious? I thought you would be happy about my find.”

“You only read stories about the humans. I at least have heard tales about them. They were violent, greedy and destructive beings. Nothing like the romantic and adventurous idea you have of them thanks to this novels.”

“You could be wrong, it is possible that not every human is violent, greedy and destructive. Have you ever met a human yourself?” Luna asked and Celestia remain silent, “I tought as much. Wheter you like it or not, I want to find this refuge.”

Celestia was slightly shocked by Luna’s outburst. Thinking hard about what had been said, Celestia paced around the throne room. She knew only too well that when Luna had an idea in her head, she would never let it go.

Celestia stopped. She was reluctant to give in, but still said: “Fine. But only if you take some guards and my student, Twilight Sparkle, with you.”

“Why Twilight Sparkle? I don’t think that she would wan-”

“Oh, she would. Her friends, too. Keep in mind that I will have ordered the guards to destroy the vault should the humans react violently,” Celestia stated.

“Hold on! Who here is violent now? Destroying them if they do not obey? I did not know that you have become such a tyrant, dear sister,” said Luna mockingly.

Celestia sighed. “Very well then, they will yours to command as you see fit. However, if the humans mean any harm to you, Twilight, her friends or anypony at all, then...”

Luna nodded. She understood the reasons why her sister was doing this. After all, even in the most peaceful story about the humans they fought an enemy with a blood thirst no pony could develop. Not even her as Nightmare Moon.

“I will start the preparations immediately. Wish me luck and... good night” Luna snickered as she probed Celestias bed mane with one hoof.

<< Two Days Later, Ponyville, Ponyville Library >>

“Spiiiike!” called Twilight Sparkle through the entire Library, “No come on! We will be late! Luna is coming today. Have you forgotten?”

The not so chubby anymore teenage dragon came down from upstairs, a case in each hand. A sudden and slightly painful growth spurt had earned him a thinner, larger figure. He stood a head taller than Twilight and was very proud to even be a little bit athletic.

“How could I have forgotten if I had to 'deliver' a letter from the Princess at three in the morning the day before yesterday. Then you on edge for two days for a reason you wouldn't say.. Must be something really important. Rarity is still unnerved to have been forced to cancel her spa days for the next few weeks. Why weeks? What is this all about?”, he asked in a his deeper, but still young voice.

“Oh, you know it's a surprise!”, Twilight chimed from the front door with six more cases enveloped in her magic.

“Ugh, why do I have to carry these heavy cases if you could drag half of the library with your magic?” he asked a little annoyed. Twilight giggled at her assistant’s laziness.

“First, because these are your cases and these are mine. Secondly, didn't you say you wanted to train? Don't you work on Sweet Apple Acres in your free time because you want to impress a particular white unicorn we all know so well?” Twilight winked at him and Spike blushed as red as the Apples he carried around for Applejack and Big Mac.

“Not so loud, the other must be outside by now! And you know only to well that I don't do this only because of that” he whispered as he came closer.

“Yeah the money. Sorry that I can only give you so much, but the stipend pays our food and I HAVE to use at least half of it for my studies.” she looked away.

She felt guilty that she couldn't give him more for what all he did for her. She too works as librarian so she can buy herself some extra private stuff like an aroma bath set last week. In fact Spike got more from his extra job at Sweet Apple Acres then Twilight from her librarian job.

But it was hard work and Spike was tired every time he came home late in the evening. He was a really hard working dragon and Twilight had acknowledged that his crush on Rarity was far more serious then puppy love.

“I know Twilight. I appreciate that you're giving me a little, but you don't have to after all,” he said with a smile, but it vanished as he continued, “However, you know one day I will not be able to wor--”

“Don't...”, Twilight choked and with teary eyes she looked back at him, “We... we’ll talk about that when it comes.”

She did know that at some point in the not so far future her number one assistant... and almost son, would ask her to let him go his way. Either because he grew to be to big or the possible relationship with Rarity got more serious. She wiped away a forming tear and forced a smile.

“Now let's go, the others are probably waiting for us.”, she said as she opened the door.

----------------------------------

“Finally!”, called Rainbow Dash, hovering over the group of ponies including Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, “I thought you had forgotten! I was SO close to dragging you out. Now spill the beans! What is this all about? What does the Princess want from us that is so important that we have to leave Ponyville for several WEEKS?”

“Now slow down, sugar cube. Go easy on her, an she will tell us” calmed Applejack, “Ya will tell us, won't ya, Twilight?”

“Of course girls, but why don't you ask the Princess herself?”, she grinned and nod behind the group.

The heads of the five ponies snapped around and saw a royal carriages soaring through the sky. Not ten meters away from the group the carriage landed and Princess Luna walked over to the small group.

“Hello, my little ponies”, she greeted them. The group bowed in unison expect for Twilight.

“Princess Luna” she smiled happily as she trotted over to the Moon Princess, “It’s so good to see you again.”

“Twilight Sparkle”, Luna embraced her first friend after a thousand years in a light hug, “I have looked forward to seeing you again.” Twilight played a little bit shocked as she took a step back and "studied" the Princess.

“You have lost your royal 'We'?”, she asked in shock. Luna looked very nervous.

“I... erm, We thought the royal 'We' was outdated. If We had know that We should still use it,”, Luna tried to regain her former self.

“Awww, Princess. I was just messing with you. The royal 'We' was cute but irritating. It is outdated and I was just surprised to hear you speak like everypony else”, sniggered Twilight.

“So it is okay if I speak like this?” asked Luna a little sheepish.

“Of course! But don't forget the royal 'We'. It will always be a Must for Nightmare Night”, reminded the purple Unicorn and gave an eager look before as she continued, “But now, tell them already what's going on. I could barley hold myself back from telling them.”

Luna smiled at the eager excitement for the upcoming adventure. She was glad that Twilight had done as the Princess had requested and hadn't told her friends anything about it.

“Come near my little ponies”, addressed Luna the rest of the group, “What I have to say is important and not for everypony’s ears.”

The group came closer and the tension could almost be felt by Luna. She liked the attention. Not that she was lonely, she did have her sister, and the servants and guards of the castle. As well as the letters from her friend Twilight Sparkle and... “And what else?”, came a thought from deep down of her hearth.

“Princess?”, asked Twilight, tearing Luna out of her thoughts.

“Oh, of course! The reason why all of this secrecy," the moon Princess exclaimed, “We are going on an archeological excavation.”

“A' archer logical exca-what now?” asked a confused Applejack.

“An archeological excavation. We are searching in the ground for the past” squealed Twilight excitedly.

“So...”, began Rainbow Dash, “We're digging up rocks?”

“Ooo Ooo, I know everything about rocks. There are pointy ones, sharp ones, smooth ones. Oh I love the smooth ones! They are so smoo~ooth!” bubbled Pinkie as she bounced excitedly in place.

“We aren't going to just be simply digging up rocks, Rainbow, we are going to be searching for something that was thought to have been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years.”, piped Twilight in before Pinkie could start with a cascade of explanations for rock formations.

“Exactly, Twilight Sparkle. We are indeed searching for something that existed long before ponykind”, said Luna and leaned forward, “We are searching for humans!”

The group gasped and a dense silence came over the area in front of the library. It didn't take long for Rainbow Dash to ask the one question everypony wanted to know expect for Luna and Twilight.

“Soo~... what is a human?”

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The train was bigger then every other train that had visited the little train station at Ponyville. This locamotive was twice as big as the usual, everyday ones.

It pulled twenty-four cars in total. It pulled Luna's private car, a first class car for Twilight and her friends, and ten cars just for guards, workers, as well as a few servants and cooks.

There were three dining cars in total with each being located between the groups.One was a first class dining car for Luna and the Elements and the others were second class for the others. The end of the train cars were six containing equipment and weapons, if necessary, for the guards.

The group stood around Luna with mouths agape as the behemoth of metal and steam came to a stop at the station. The Ponyville station could only support three of the train cars at a time. Twilight and Spike had caught glimpses of the train twice in Canterlot, but never had they seen it in operation.

Twilight asked Luna how it could function without any visible fuel source such as coal.

Luna explained that this locomotive was built to be a perfect example of what could be achieved with the combining of magic and technology. It worked like any other steam train, but the source of its power came from spells. One was a never ending flame and the other was a sphere of water.

The train ride to the Macintosh Hills was a long one. Made longer by the three day in Appleoosa where the supplies were restocked.

Braeburn was a little disappointed that his cousin couldn't stay longer, but the Hills were still a five days ride away and they had to be on their way.

Everypony dealt with being confined in the same space for long periods of time in different ways.

Twilight and Luna read, Rarity had her personal servant, Spike, at her call and everypony could see that she was thankful to have him. Pinkie threw a party for the guards and workers. Fluttershy and Applejack didn't take it well being away from their animals or orchard. Rainbow had the most fun. She raced the train at least five times a day.

The trip finally came near to its end as the train took a side track that led deeper into the hills. Records Luna had found reported that this section of track lead to an ancient mine.

This was strange, as there were no valuable materials in these hills. Why was there a mine here?

The massive marvel of steam and steel came to a stop about two hundred meters away from the mine. It was a miracle that this old track could support the massive train this long.

The Workers quickly set up the base camp, built around the train. Pipes were attached to the Locomotive to provide water and heat via the steam. Even a steam powered generator for Electricity was among the things the Princess had brought.

“Mighty fancy things the Princess brought here”, called Applejack as she entered the tent she shared with her friends.

“Yeah, what’s with all this techno mambo jambo?”, asked Rainbow not looking up from her newest Daring Do book.

“Girls, all these things have been around for 50 years. In big cities like Manehattan and Fillydelphia they are more common. In Ponyville, the Hospital, the Cake's Bakery, and even the Library have some technology that is based of that which you see here." explained Twilight.

“A’ know, A’ know. But everything is fine without it too”, stated Applejack, a little bit uneasy with this sudden technology shock.

“Oh Applejack, don’t be afraid of a little bit of comfort. Even I know that without the electricity from the generator we wouldn’t have light, warmth and flowing water”, cooed Rarity while she got a massage from Spike, “Oh, Spike. A little to the right… yeesss, right there!”

Twilight looked at Spike and had the urge to slap him. She could tell from his stupid happy grin that he had some dirty thoughts.

“Okay, I think we should rest”, said Twilight, “Tomorrow will be a long day.”

With that, each one of the seven friends got to there sleeping place. Of course, Spike didn’t sleep in a basket anymore. He had chosen a bed extra near to Rarity, and Twilight had the feeling that these two had came together behind her back.

-----------------------------------------------------

After breakfast, the group, made up of Luna, the Elements, and Spike, got to the mine entrance for a first inspection. It was not long before Rainbow called out:

“Found it!”

“What did you find?” asked Twilight as she came galloping to where Rainbow was. Her eyes went big as she could see what was behind her loyal friend.

“Princess Luna! I think we have the entrance!” she called, “That amazing! After all this?”

The rest of the group came fast and before them towered a giant gate. Made of metal was a big doorway that was at least 5m high and 10m wide. The door seemed to open inwards.

The normal cave walls ended 15m before the gate and metal made up the area around the doorway. But that wasn’t all. One the left side, at the beginning of the metal walls, was a… thing.

With caution the Princess got near this thing. It looked like a black window, perfectly embedded in the metal wall. When she was just a few meters away from it, a light flashed from the window.

Luna quickly backpedaled and the light went off after a few seconds. On a second try the light went on again and Luna took a closer look.

The window was no window. It showed strange symbols and numbers like a projector on a screen. But she couldn’t see a projector. The window produced the symbols on its own.

“That’s amazing!” squealed Twilight, which startled the Princess. But only a little.

“That’s right, Twilight. It looks like the humans were technology more advanced than we are”, affirmed Luna. The two of them studied the screen.

Hours began to tick away, for the others it was boring, until Rainbow couldn't take it any longer.

“Oh come on!” she exclaimed “You've both been looking at this window thing for the last four hours! At least tell us something.”

Luna and Twilight looked at each other. Then to the rest.

“It is clear that this must be some sort of mechanism to open the gate. This circles here on the window react to touches, but they don’t do anything other then flash red and sound some strange noises”, explained the Princess. Twilight added:

“This is some sort of language, but nothing I have ever see before. Its really complex. But these numbers here could be a date.” She pointed at a group of numbers:

22.04.1421002013

“I think the first set are days, the second month.”

“And what are the last ones?” snickered Rainbow “Years?” Her laughter was cut short as Twilight simply stated:

“Yes.”

“Sugercube, are ya trying to say that this thin’ here is almost one and a half billion years old??” asked Applejack .“That can't be true. How can something that old, look so new?”

“Only if it’s maintained or…” Twilight swallowed “Human technology is so advanced that it doesn't need maintenance. Something we can’t even do with magic.”

Everypony fell silent for several minutes. Everypony tried to wrap their mind around this new information. The humans had built something that could last unmaintained for billions of years. They were so superior that they could do this without magic, if the legends are correct. And with this a cold fear crept up everypony’s neck.

What could have happened to the humans, that even their mighty technology could not prevent their extinction.

“We… we won’t get anymore answers if we don’t go any further” stated Luna, “I’ll try to open the gate with magic.”

Everyone else put some distance between them and the gate. Princess Luna stood before them, she charged her horn, concentrated on the gate, and released her energy. Her magic slammed into the gate and wrapped it in an blue aura.

Three minutes passed with nothing happening to the massive door. The Princess grunted and her coat was covered in sweat. This gate was… tough and heavy. But why couldn’t she do it? She could move the moon and even had once, while Celestia was sick, moved the much heavier sun. Why was this gate such a task!

She ground her teeth and her horn glowed so bright that one would fear it would melt any second. Then, the gate moved. With an ear splitting screech of ripping metal and an otherworldly screech the gate swung slowly open.

The gate finally out of the way, Luna collapsed. Twilight instantly rushed to her side.

“Princess!” called Twilight. Offering her water and help, the Princess was fast back on her hooves.

“Thank you. I don’t know why this was so hard but it’s done. We shou--”

“Spike? Spike, where are you”, called Rarity suddenly, “Has anypony seen my Spike-Wikey?”

Everypony looked around but Spike was gone and no trace of him was left. But not for long.

“Guys! You have to see this!” shouted Spike from the inside of the gate.

Everypony rushed to the inside, Princess Luna and Twilight a little slower then the rest. But what everypony saw there was beyond their imagination.

A cave. An artificial cave from what it looked like. Metal, containers, pipes, cables, railroads, buildings and six massive cylinders with cyan glowing tops at the far side of the cave. An entire city lay before them. Ten times bigger then Canterlot.

The ceiling showed a the sky with a sun and clouds. Even a light, fresh breeze greeted the new arrivals. Only a stairway separated the search party from the most frightening and exciting discovery since… since the foundation of Equestria.

They took in the scenery, then suddenly an emotionless voice suddenly came from everywhere:

“Achtung! Eindringlingsalarm! Eindringlingsalarm! Verteidigungssysteme werden aktiviert. Kommandant wird benachrichtigt.“

“Can anypony understand this?” called Applejack above the noise.

“Eindringlinge, bleibt wo ihr seid. Weiteres vordringen wird als Angriff gewertet und entsprechend geahndet“, called the voice.

“Maybe they greeting us?“ asked Spike and took a step forward, “I mean what could possible go wron--.”

Everything happened so fast. A discus like object, not bigger than a pony, came fast from above. The outer rim of the discus glowed in a bright orange. An orange-yellow beam flashed straight for Spike.

And in the next second Spikes body was thrown back. His chest scorched. Luna and Twilight simultaneously attacked the device with their magic.

“SPIKE!!!” screamed Rarity as she rushed to him. The discus reeled from the magic assault, but steadied itself and began to charge its weapon for another attack.

Twilight shielded them with her magic. And Luna hit the discus with another wave of magic, but with the same result.

“Spike, please. Answer me!” pleaded Rarity, but Spike laid lifeless before her. More devices descended from above, each attacking Twilight’s shield with countless beams.

“Take him!” commanded the Princess, “We must retreat!”

Swiftly they placed Spike on Applejack and retreated from the cavern and out the doorway.

“Princess I don’t know how much longer I can hold this shield under these attacks!” huffed Twilight her horn aglow like the Princess's had before.

“The others should be out of harms way. I’ll teleport us!” Luna said in a rush and in a bright flash they appeared back in the camp.

The others had just arrived on the outside and the guards were at high alert.

“Guards at arms! Defense positions at the perimeter of the mine entrance. Healer! To my tent!” called the Princess and guided her friends with the wounded dragon to said tent.

Two silent hours passed by, after the minutes of chaos. And no discus or other kind of attacker was seen from the mine.

The elements and the Princess were waiting for the tent, as the royal doctor finally came out. His working clothes were covered in blood and the ponies gasped at the sight.

“Doctor… how is he? How is my Spike!?” pleaded Rarity. The medic lowered his head as he spoke:

“Dragon scales are fire proof. But whatever attacked him melted straight through them. His internal organs have taken incurable damage. He is alive, but…”

The group was shocked, and tears flowed freely now. Even Rainbow and Applejack broke down.

“How long?” asked Twilight sobbing.

“One hour… more likely less” the doctor said, “I’m sorry.”

“Can we see him?” asked Luna silent.

“Yes. He is surprisingly awake. Don’t worry. We made sure he feels no pain”, the doctor stated in cold professionalism.

The group entered the tent. Spike was hooked to countless machines. Heart monitor and a stand holding only two blood packs occupied the space next to him.

They stood around his bed. Slowly and weak he opened his eyes.

“Hey, guys,” he coughed, “looks like I messed up big time.”

They assured him that everything was okay, that he would be okay. That he hadn’t done anything wrong. Spike held up a claw to stop them. He could feel his strength ebbing away and wanted to say something before he died.

“Twilight, thank you” he said simply.

“For what” she sobbed.

“For hatching me. You were always there for me. Like… a mother,” he breathed slowly and with tears in his eyes. Then he waved Rarity to his side.

“Rarity. I’m sorry I couldn't take you to the new restaurant,” he said with an apologetic smile.

“O nonsense. I’m always happy if you around me,” she smiled back with concern in her teary eyes.

Spike tried to reach for her cheek but was too weak. She helped him. Then he said the words he was sparing for a romantic picnic he had planned for when they were back in Ponyville. With his last breath:

“Rarity. I love yo--.”

His eyes slowly closed and his arm got heavy and lifeless. The heart monitor sounded only a monotonous tone.

“Spike? Spike?! SPIKE!” screamed a white unicorn mare and everypony in the camp knew that a friend was gone.