Avoid Malnutrition: A Don't Starve Crossover

by Herr Director

First published

In his attempts to capture the heart of Princess Luna, Bronium Chloride, a royal gentlecolt scientist, is imprisoned by a demon in a mysterious dimension. Can he escape, AND win Luna's love?

Bronium Chloride is one of the most gentlecoltly scientists in Equestria. That doesn't mean he is a good one. When he was first hired as an administrator to Princess Luna's Academy of Science, he immediately fell for his charge. As he delves deeper into forbidden sciences, and after one too many failures to capture the heart of the moon princess, he himself is captured by a demon and imprisoned in a strange dimension where survival is a very real concern. With the help of a past victim of the demon, can he escape the strange land and return to his love? Without starving along the way, that is.

Disclaimer: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is owned by Hasbro and Lauren Faust. Don't Starve is owned by Klei Entertainment.

Broken Dreams and Forbidden Knowledge.

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If you looked at Bronium Chloride, you would see a number of things. Go ahead, look. Take a few minutes. Done? Good. If you looked at him long enough, you would see a gentlecolt. A scientist. A romantic failure. Bronium "Bronnie" Chloride had a black mane. His body was stark white, giving him a contrasting and sterile color pallet. He had gotten his cutie mark (A flask of green liquid) mixing together the chemicals under the sink. He put a little bit of bleach, a pinch of dish soap, and a cup of pipe cleaner and BOOM! New chemical compound invented! Of course, his parents were less than pleased at first. Bronnie grew up to eventually become an administrator at Princess Luna's Academy of Science. It was his dream to work at such a prestigious organization, and even more so to work alongside the love of his life. That's right, he was in love with Princess Luna. He desperately tried to win her affections, but was never very straightforward, and often chickened out before he could make any moves on his boss. This night, he was determined to change everything.

That evening in question happened to be the night of a faculty picnic at the Canterlot Gardens. Bronnie stepped through the gate with a stride in his step. He was brimming with confidence and excitement. Maybe that courage elixir he had concocted earlier DID work! But that was a small thing compared to what he was going to do. He was actually going to ask out the Princess! They were already friends, as Princess Luna made it her business to make friends with the entire faculty, so that was a start. Normal ponies could never dream of such a thing as asking out the Princess, but as we already know, Bronnie is not like normal ponies. In the center of the gardens was a small courtyard. A long rectangular table sat in the middle of it. Already, some of his colleagues were seated at the table. Princess Luna had not yet arrived. Bronnie looked around the table until he found a chair with his name. He sat down and chatted with his co-workers. Several minutes passed. At last, the Princess had arrived. She stood a distance from the table, and shouted in her Royal Canterlot Voice.

“THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON THIS FACULTY PICNIC.” She boomed. Even though she was rather far from him, the Royal Canterlot Voice was still very loud and uncomfortable to Bronnie’s ears. “IT MEANS A LOT TO ME THAT I HAVE SO MANY LOYAL EMPLOYEES. THOSE THAT HAVE BROUGHT FOOD MAY PRESENT IT AT THIS TIME. COMMENCE THE EATING OF FOOD!” She sat at the head of the table. A blush came over her face. “Forgive me for using the Royal Canterlot Voice.” she said. “The opportunities to do so are so rare and far in between.” This provoked laughter from everypony. The food was brought out. Bronnie inhaled the succulent scent of fresh bread and potato salad. Wait, he hated potato salad. He barely touched the food anyways. He was too busy thinking about afterwards.

After the meal, everypony stood up. Some left, while others walked the gardens. Princess Luna was talking with her secretaries. Bronnie saw his chance. He fondled the box of chocolates concealed in his bag He waited until there was a break in the conversation, and stepped into the group.

“Err, Princess Luna?” he said. He prayed she would notice him

“Yes Bronium?” she said, turning to face him. So far so good.

“I was wondering if we could, err, speak privately.” he said nervously. The potion must have worn off by now. “It’s a bit of a personal matter.”

“Of course, Bronium.” She agreed. She turned to the two other ponies. “Leave us, please.” They left the princess and the gentlecolt to themselves. Bronnie and Luna sat down on a bench that just so happened to be nearby. Score one for convenience!. “Now tell me, Bronium, what seems to be the problem?” she asked.

“Please ma’am, call me Bronnie.” Bronnie replied. “And it isn’t exactly a problem. You see, I’ve been working here for a while, and it really has given me a good chance to get to know other ponies. But,” he reached into his bag and presented the chocolates. “I find that the company I most enjoy is yours.” Tears welled up in Luna’s eyes. Tears of joy, he thought. That’s a good sign, right?

“Oh Bronnie,” the moon princess said. “I would love to, but there’s a problem.” Oh no, thought Bronnie. Here comes the kicker. Luna continued. “I'm a princess anyways, and it would be difficult to have a relationship with a subject. No offense. But that's not the big issue. As an alicorn, I live forever. You, however do not. That is the problem with me. I don’t want to get into any romantic relationships because I know I will lose that special somepony to the winds of time. If things were different, you know I would agree. But I will have to say no.” she finished sadly. Her tears had escaped her eyelids and rolled down her face.

“Oh,” Bronnie said. His heart was crushed and his mind was reeling, although he wasn't completely surprised. He stood up and shuffled away. “I guess I’ll see you next week then.” he mumbled as he went towards the exit He turned around one last time. “Keep the chocolates.” Tears filled his eyes now. He left the princess and the picnic, and the gardens behind. He hailed a taxi carriage to take him home, all without one word. He was depressed, more so than he had ever been before. But he wasn't about to give up yet.

The carriage arrived in the Everfree Forest just outside of Canterlot. Bronnie stepped out of the carriage and paid the pullers. He walked down the path to his home. It was a dilapidated old house, but it was home, and that's what mattered. Bronnie raced upstairs to his attic, or his lab as he liked to call it. Odd machines and bubbling brews lined the room in one corner was Bronnie's favorite antique velvet chair. He rushed over to one particular solution under the heater. It was a brew that would stop cell degeneration. In essence, eternal youth. Well maybe not eternal, but for a very very long time, and that was the important part. It was supposed to keep brewing for two more days, but they were only two days, it wouldn't make a huge difference, right? Bronnie took the elixir off the burner and took out a small phial of green liquid. Just add a drop of stabilizing compound and the elixir could be drunk straight away. Bronnie poured carefully. Carefully. Just a drop. There it goes, aaaaaannd BOOM! The mix exploded in Bronnie's face. The elixir was ruined The tears came back as Bronnie realized he had failed. There was no hope for him. Luna would never love him. He sat in his chair to mope. As he did so however, a voice called out to him.

"Hey, Pal," The voice was low and scratchy. Bronnie looked around the room until he found the source of the noise. A small device sat on a table. It had a speaker through which the voice came out through. Bronnie was confused, he sure didn't remember making anything like that. "Say Pal, looks like you're having some trouble." Bronnie walked over to the device cautiously. "I have secret knowledge I can share with you." Bronnie's ears perked up. Secret knowledge? Why that's the best kind there is! He grabbed the device eagerly and held it up to his face. "That is, if you think you're ready for it." Bronnie nodded frantically. Give me that knowledge! he thought. "Okay then!" the device said simply. Bronnie held the device over his head and squeezed his eyes shut as blueprints flashed before his eyes. There were so many wondrous machines. But there was one that caught his eye specifically. Yes that one, he thought. I make that machine, and Luna won't be able to keep her hooves off me!

So that's what he did. For the next few weeks, he worked day and night on that machine, the device feeding him the instructions. He had to use up most of his vacation days to make the blasted thing. At last, on a stormy night, it was done. The machine looked very peculiar, very much like a pile of junk. But, none the less there was a certain elegance to it. Bronnie flopped down in his chair. He had been though a lot. One part had even required his blood to make, but did he care? No! All that mattered was that he had done it.
and walked over to the machine "Excellent," the device congratulated. "Now throw the switch." Bronnie stood up and walked over to the machine. He then got a stroke of uncertainty. He didn't actually know what this machine did. He stepped away for a moment. "DO IT!" The box yelled, more aggressively than it ever had before. Bronnie jumped in fright and pulled the switch. The machine chugged to life. The top part rose up to reveal rows of wooden planks, making the upper portion of the machine look like an evil grin. "HA HA HA HA!" the voice laughed maniacally as black, clawed arms rose up out of the ground to grab Bronnie. He tried to jump out of the way, but the claws were too quick and dragged him into blackness. As lightnig flashed around the now empty home, one could faintly, but surely, hear the sound of evil laughter in the air...

(Generating World)

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"Say, Pal. You don't look so good." Bronnie groaned as he was woken up by a voice. With a start he realized he was being spoken to by THE voice. The voice from the device. His eyes flashed open. He was lying in a patch of grass. A strange creature stood in front of him. The creature had two legs and was very tall. His mane was short and was neatly combed. His nose was long and hooked, his eyes were small and beady, and he wore a dapper suit. He looked very much like a human. Bronnie had read about humans not too long ago. They were rather interesting creatures, intelligent, but unpredictable. The man stood tall, towering over the stallion. Bronnie tried to get up, but he couldn't move, and he could only groan quietly. "I've never tried bringing anyone from your dimension before," the man spoke. "Looks like it worked." The man took a few paces away from Bronnie.

"Don't leave me!" Bronnie mumbled, although it came out like "Mun mwee muh."

"Oh, and one more word of advice," The man turned around and looked directly into Bronnie's eyes. His gaze seemed to pierce Bronnie's very soul. "You better get some food before night falls." With a small chuckle, the man disappeared in a puff of dark smoke.

Bronnie found that he was now able to move. He stood up a bit wobbly, but quickly straightened himself out. He looked around at his surroundings. He was standing on a patch of grass with a few pleasant smelling flowers. To the north and the west, there was a forest with lots of trees. To the south there was some kind of savanna. To the east there was more grassland. Bronnie decided to explore the grassland first. He straightened his saddlebag and set off. The ground was very flat, which was good because Bronnie hated hills. After passing a tree or two and some little saplings, he came to a bush laden with red berries. Bronnie didn't like berries very much, but the man did say to find food. He gathered all of the berries and put them into his bag. Out of curiosity he popped one into his mouth. It tasted a bit like a huckleberry, but sweeter. He ate a couple more, and then stopped himself. He didn't want to waste this food, as he did not know where his next meal would come from. Bronnie looked around for a bit, trying to find something else he could work with. Eventually, he found some flint and picked the sticks off one of the saplings to make an axe. When Bronnie was very young, he was a member of a Colt Scout troop. He always chopped up firewood on camp outs, and everypony in his troop said he should grow up to be a lumberjack. However, Bronnie stuck with science. Maybe if he had become a lumberjack, he wouldn't be in this situation. He went over to the forest. The grass was darker here, and was a bit muddy. Bronnie set his eyes on a medium sized tree. raised his axe and gave the tree a chop. It made a clean "thwok" sound when it hit. He hacked at the trunk furiously until the tree came down with a massive "thud". Bronnie was able to salvage two decently sized logs and a pine cone from the tree. I wonder if I can eat that pine cone, Bronnie said hungrily. He quickly dismissed the notion and went back to chopping more trees.

A while later, it became dusk. As of now, Bronnie had found more berries, some sticks, a few cut grass clippings, a couple red mushrooms that he really didn't want to eat, and now some firewood that he had spent a long time, chopping trees from the forest. His axe was worn down, and he was tired. He wasn't planning on anymore exploring, he wanted to save the savanna for tomorrow. So Bronnie decided to set up camp at the patch of grass he had started on, and where the strange man had spoken to him Bronnie set to work on making his campfire. He set the logs up in a teepee style. Just then, night fell. It was very very cold. Bronnie worked faster, until he heard a noise. It sounded like a large animal.

"WHO'S THERE!" Bronnie shouted, hoping to scare the animal off. Just then, something bit him. "AHH!!" he cried out in pain. The animal had bitten him in the side, and it hurt very badly. He pushed the grass clippings into the fire and used the flint to light them. The fire blazed up and Bronnie swung around to face his attacker only to find... nothing. Whatever it was, it was gone. Bronnie looked at the wound in his side. He had sustained a large bite mark, in fact, if he had been bitten any harder, his entire side would have been taken off. But it stooped aching, now, and when he touched the wound, it did not hurt. This world may have some strange properties that affect pain sensitivity, Bronnie thought. His attention was then directed to a different kind of pain. His stomach growled harshly and a bit painfully. And other effects on hunger, which make you hungry quickly. Of course, this could also be from the fact that I have not eaten anything all day, and that I have been doing much strenuous activity lately. Bronnie ate some more berries. They were surprisingly satisfying. As he was eating, he decided to try to roast some. Holding the berries over the fire for a few minutes, they came back as a sort of berry goop-like substance, sort of like jam, but not quite. Don't knock it till you try it, Bronnie thought as he lifted the hot goo into his mouth. The goop tasted very good, a bit like pie filling. It was somehow more satiating than the berries on their own, and Bronnie felt a bit better just from eating a hot meal. He looked at the wound in his side, to see that it had healed slightly. Not much but slightly. Bronnie cooked up the rest of his berries and shoveled them in his mouth until he was full. He loved the sweet taste so much! His wound was almost fully healed. Unfortunately, he was now out of berries to make into goop and was rather upset.

As Bronnie finished off the last pile of berry goop, it turned to day. "What? Already?" he said aloud in confusion. He sighed. This new world would take some getting used to. None the less, Bronnie steadied his axe. He was going to make his own in this new world. It was a fresh start for him. He breathed in the sweet scent of the flowers and the smoky smell of his smoldering fire. Today, he was going to get some real work done.

There's Always Time for Science

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It was Bronnie's second day in the strange land. First off, he needed to get more food before he ventured into the savanna. Bronnie went back to the grassland to stock up. Most of the berry bushes were already picked over, but he managed to scramble together a few hoof fulls. There was also a large bird that came by and ate some of his berries, but he managed to chase it away into the forest. He came across some strange looking rabbits that screeched and ran back to their holes when he got too close. At last, he came across something planted in the ground. It seemed to be a carrot.

"How mundane." Bronnie said as he looked at the carrot. He was still getting used to all the manual labor he was doing. Even though he was an Earth Pony, Bronnie did not get out very often, he was much too busy for that. With a few tugs, the carrot came out of the ground with a "pop". Bronnie studied his prize with glee. "You look so delicious," he spoke out loud as he licked his lips. His tongue reached out to taste the earthy vegetable, when he pulled back. He shook his head to clear his mind. "Gee whiz!" he said to himself. "Calm down Bronnie, it's just a carrot, you've had them before without a problem."

Now that Bronnie had gathered enough food for the day, he set out into the savanna. The grass was yellow, dry, and scratchy. There were large bushes of tall grass, the kind that was perfect for gathering grass clippings. He cut some of the grass to take with him, in case he needed it. There wasn't much to see in the savanna. Some grass, a couple boulders, some small saplings, some more of those funny little rabbit things, and... WHAT IN THE NAME OF CELESTIA IS THAT? Bronnie was astounded at what he saw. It was a buffalo, no, a cow, no, a... a Beefalo! Whatever it was, it was a large and intimidating animal. It had lots of wool all over its body and it had two jagged horns protruding out of its head. The creature smelled very bad, like a barn that hadn't been cleaned for a long time. Bronnie tried to get closer to the Beefalo (as he liked to call it), when he pulled back suddenly. He had almost stepped in a little "present" left for him by the smelly creature. Bronnie shuddered at the thought. Enough exploring for today. he decided.

Bronnie arrived back at his patch of grass. For some reason, he now felt an irrational urge to stomp on the flowers that were around his camp. His vision was getting a bit wobbly, but he wasn't bothered. He needed something to do. Bronnie racked his brains, trying to think of something. After a bit, he remembered the blueprints that the man had downloaded into his brain on that fateful night. It was some kind of science machine, or something like that. Bronnie didn't have a clue what it did, but he did know how to make it. And it had "science" in the title! How on Equis could it be any harm to make?

"Now let's see," Bronnie had drawn a blueprint of the machine in the muddy forest grass that he pieced together from what was in his brain. "I need four logs, four stones, and a gold nugget." He was slightly worried at that last ingredient. He could chop down more trees, and he could easily find a way to mine the rocks, but getting a golden nugget? That sounded like it would be difficult. None the less, Bronnie set to work. He collected some more flint from the grasslands and, with a couple of sticks and ingenuity, made himself a crude pick. Bronnie went back to the grasslands. Time to test out that pick. He walked up to one of the boulders. It looked like somepony had taken a bunch of squarish rocks and melded them together. He hit the rocks with his pickaxe. Though the rock seemed heavy and strong, it broke within a few hits. Good. Bronnie gathered the rocks up. He went to the next boulder and mined that. Same loot. Then, Bronnie noticed a different looking rock. It was a bit taller than the squarish ones. Careful not to step in Beefalo poop, he made his way to the boulder. He examined the rock to discover a yellowish shining mineral vein. Bronnie danced in glee. He had struck gold. Literally and figuratively! gold He mined the large stone with great fervor. It broke apart to reveal the usual rocks, some flint this time as well, and a single coveted gold nugget. Without delay, Bronnie took his loot and hurried back to his camp before he lost it somehow.

Bronnie sat in the grass, working on building the strange machine. "Okay, this goes here, and this goes there, NO, there. Ah, better," he mumbled under his breath. As dusk fell across the land, Bronnie finished the machine. He stood up and admired his work. It was a very strange looking machine, no doubt. The rocks made a sort of power box in the center with the gold inside. The power box was held up by three of the logs. The fourth one was hollowed out and was stuck on top of the device to act like a smoke stack. A lever had been attached to the control box, and two wheels protruded from the body of the device as well. Bronnie stepped over to the machine and hesitantly pulled the lever. He screwed his eyes shut as the machine downloaded even more recipes into his brain. There was one for a decent back pack, a shovel, a lightning rod, and so many more! He liked the sound of that back pack, his saddlebags were getting full. He got the necessary sticks and grass and tied them together as directed by the science machine to make a crude backpack. As Bronnie soon found out, however, these recipes were very hard to remember and he had to come back to the science machine if he wanted to try a new recipe, unlike the ones he had gotten from the man at his home back in Equestria. Bronnie then felt a pang of homesickness. He missed his house, old as it was, he missed his job, and he missed his boss, even though she had turned him down. He missed them all so very much, and it had only been two days. Honestly Bronnie, show some back bone, two days isn't that long!

Tonight, Bronnie decided, he was going to be smart. Just before the light went away, he build a fire pit with some of the extra rocks. When he lit it, the fire blazed up quite large, surely adequate to keep the evil night monster away. It would certainly burn longer, now that it was semi-contained. He roasted his berries and his carrot. Being an equine based being, he possessed a natural love for carrots. The carrot ended up being rather mushy when it was cooked, but it still tasted good, and it was hot. Bronnie loved hot food.

However, he found it rather difficult to sleep, or get any rest for that manner. He kept hearing whisperings. Strange voices that he couldn't make out. He yelled out to the darkness, and thought, for a second, he had seen something watching him from the dark. The night monster perhaps? When he nearly reached his breaking point, salvation arrived in the form of day break.

Bronnie bustled about his campsite. He was a bit cold and wet, as it was rainy that morning. He scoured the area, looking for any creepy monsters. When he was satisfied, he picked the flowers around his camp. It made him feel a lot calmer, and a bit more sane somehow, and the petals made him feel stronger when he ate them. Some lighting struck to his north, beyond the forest, but it was too far away to affect him too much. After the rain stopped, Bronnie set out to work right away. He took his new axe (he had to make another one after his first one broke) and headed to the forest to chop some more wood for the fire that evening, and maybe to get some for use with the new recipes given to him by the science machine.

After an hour of chopping, Bronnie sat on a stump to rest. He took a deep breath of damp woody air. He was quite pleased with himself, as he had gotten plenty of wood so far. He was about to get back up and resume working, when he heard a noise. It sounded like the chopping of a tree. Bronnie began to turn around and break into a run, he thought this must be some kind of monster, or at the very least, he was hearing things, but he stopped once more as he heard another voice. This time, the voice was loud and distinct, very much like a trumpet.

"Ha ha! Take that, nature!"

The Gentleman Scientist

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"Hello?" Bronnie yelled out. "Hello!" He ran towards the source of the voice, pushing aside the tree branches.

"Hello?" the voice called back. "Is someone there?" Bronnie ran faster. The voice was getting closer. He was no longer alone! Closer, closer, closer...

BANG! "Oof!" Bronnie fell back on his butt as something rammed into his forehead. Dazed, he looked round. The source of the voice, he soon discovered, was another man, who was rubbing his head with a scraggly hand. He had a big head, and scrawny arms and legs. He wore a reddish brown shirt with black pants, and he wore a backpack. But the most interesting and noticable feature of the other man was his hair. It was styled up into three distinct points. How much gel do you use? Bronnie thought as he studied the man. The man opened his eyes and got to his feet. He looked at Bronnie, confused, but there was an evil look in his eyes, as if he wanted to slice Bronnie open and look at all of his internal organs.

"Oh, a pony!" he said excitedly. "Must be a new thing Maxwell sent my way. I wonder if I can eat it?" The man took out his own axe. It glinted menacingly in the light streaming through the trees. He looked hungrily at the poor pony. Bronnie lifted up his hooves in defense.

"Wait!" Bronnie begged, "Don't eat me!" The man now looked shocked. He clearly wasn't expecting Bronnie to be intelligent, as to why, Bronnie did not know.

"My my," the man said in awe. "You talk." He put away the axe and helped Bronnie to his hooves. "Do you have a name, my intelligent equine?"

"Oh... it's... Bronium Chloride." Bronnie said, stuttering slightly. He did not know what the man's intentions were. Was he a friend of the other man? The bad man that had sent him here.

"Bronium Chloride you say," The man seemed to like his name. "That reminds me of the chemical compound I was working with before I was tricked into coming to this place. Anyways," The man stood tall, and struck a heroic pose. "My name is Wilson Percival Higgsbury, the most gentlemanly scientist in all of Britain!" Bronnie had never heard a name like that. It was a bit peculiar, but it certainly had a nice flow to it. Wilson looked rather sheepish all of a sudden. "Er... you have a camp don't you?" Bronnie nodded. "Good, can we talk there? My camp just burned down in a lightning strike fire. Curses! I knew I should have built a lightning rod!"

"Right then. You can call me Bronnie. Follow me now, Mr Higgsbury."

"Oh, please don't call me that. Wilson is just fine. None of that 'Mr Higgsbury' stuff, or, God forbid, 'Percy'. I hate that name."

Soon, the two arrived at Bronnie's camp. Wilson looked rather impressed with what Bronnie had so far.

"A Science Machine and a Fire Pit on your, what, third day now?" Wilson smiled at Bronnie. "I must say, you've made a surprising amount of progress in so little time. Why, I had my science machine up by my... fifth day? I can't remember, I've been here too long." Wilson was beginning to babble a bit. He seemed very happy to meet somepony that was as smart as he was in this world. "How did you get here," he asked. "No, wait, let me guess. Radio? Maxwell's voice? Forbidden knowledge? Weird machine?"

Bronnie was astounded. "Yes," he confirmed. "That's all right. How did you know. And who's Maxwell?"

Wilson sat down and motioned for Bronnie to do the same. "That's how I got here as well. Must be Maxwell's favorite trick. Oh, and Maxwell is the one who trapped us here. He showed himself to you when you first woke up, didn't he?"

"So that's his name." Bronnie nodded. "Why do you suppose he brought us here?"

Wilson shrugged. "I have no idea. His reasons are unknown." Wilson sat down and took a small hunk of... something out of his pack. It was a rather pinkish substance. Wilson threw some grass clippings he procured from his pack onto the fire. He proceeded to cook the substance. It smelled pretty good. "Want some?" Wilson offered a bit of the food to Bronnie

"Sure, What is it?"

"Rabbit. It's surprisingly tasty." Bronnie was repulsed. Meat? That morsel Wilson was eating used to be one of those rabbits! Wilson noticed Bronnie's discomfort.

"I'm sorry, friend," Wilson apologized. "I should have known you didn't eat meat. From where I come from, ponies only eat wheat, grass and carrots. But I've never seen a pony like you, so I thought it might be okay."

Now Bronnie was conflicted. He didn't have any food, and that rabbit was actually starting to look tasty. I'm going to regret this, Bronnie thought as he looked at the little morsel. "You know what," he started. "I'll keep an open mind. Give me a piece." Wilson obliged and gave Bronnie a small section of the morsel. Here goes nothing, Bronnie thought as he lifted the chunk of meat into his mouth and began to chew.

Oh sweet Celestia, why didn't I try this sooner! Bronnie loved the taste of the Rabbit meat. Due to his flat teeth made for crushing vegetables, the meat was hard to chew, and felt a little unpleasant going down, but that taste was rather heavenly. It's surprising how quickly one's morals go out the window once their survival is at stake.

"It's good, isn't it?" Wilson asked, but Bronnie's face told him the answer. When Bronnie had swallowed all the meat, he spoke.

"It's the best I've had for a long time. How do I catch those rabbits?"

"Seeing as it's almost dusk, we'll take care of that tomorrow. Why don't you sleep first." Wilson offered. The two began to put some wood on the fire.

"I can't sleep," Bronnie replied. "I keep hearing voices in the middle of the night, and they keep me awake." As usual, Wilson had the solution.

"Your logical reasoning and security must be deteriorating, yes?" Wilson diagnosed. "Then you need to pick some flowers in the morning. I find it very calming to the nerves." With that, Wilson lied down onto the grass. "You can stay up for the night, right?"

Bronnie nodded. "Yeah, no problem." And then the gentleman scientist fell asleep, while Bronnie stayed up and kept watch for the two.

The night was uneventful. Cold, but uneventful all the same. Wilson woke up and yawned.

"Morning Bronnie!" he said with a smile. Bronnie looked over at him.

"Yeah." he mumbled. The lack of sleep was really starting to affect him.

Wilson picked up on this. "Hey, go out and pick, like twelve flowers, and bring the petals to me." he said. Bronnie went to the grasslands and looked around until he had picked twelve flowers. He brought the petals back to Wilson, who weaved them into a sort of a crown of petals.

"This is a garland," he explained. "It calms the nerves and soothes the senses." Bronnie put on the garland. It seemed kind of girly, but it did smell nice, so that was a plus. Strangely enough, he did feel much calmer with the garland on. The longer he wore it, the better he felt.

"Now let me show you how to make a trap for rabbits." Wilson took a few grass clippings and some sticks. He showed Bronnie how to make them into a sort of stick and box trap. "It is a fairly simple preface." Wilson explained. "You place the bait under the box and prop it up with the stick. When the rabbit gets the bait, it knocks over the stick, the box comes down, and hello dinner! Now do you have a carrot?" Bronnie passed Wilson an extra carrot. "I'm not a big fan of vegetables, so I use my carrots for bait. Now let's catch a rabbit!"

The two scientists went down to the savanna. Wilson set up the trap near a rabbit hole and put the carrot under it. The two ran off a short distance and watched as one curious rabbit hopped up to the carrot hesitantly. He poked his head under the box and went for the carrot, knocking over the stick and trapping him inside.

"Yes!" Wilson pumped his fist into the air. "Works every time!" They went to the trap and retrieved the little rabbit. Wilson showed Bronnie how to kill the rabbit and get the meat. It took a few vomit breaks for Bronnie, but eventually he could do it himself without much trouble.

That night, the two feasted on berries and rabbit, which went rather good together. Wilson insisted that Bronnie sleep the entire night, which Bronnie was happy to do, seeing as he had gone four days now without sleep. He reflected briefly on his new friend. He was a quirky character to be sure, but his knowledge of this world would prove invaluable to Bronnie. Bronnie fell into the blissful depths of sleep, one he had not experienced for four days.

He woke up on a small island. Instead of grass or sand, there was a marble checkerboard floor. The Island was barren, and all that was beyond was seemingly endless ocean. Bronnie sat on his haunches and twiddled his metaphorical thumbs. A minute later, he got a surprise visitor

"Well, well, well," The hollow voice of Maxwell flowed through the air. Bronnie turned around. The man stood behind him, in his same dapper suit, with his same cocky grin. "You seem to be holding up rather well so far." Bronnie said nothing, in fact he couldn't say anything. Maxwell must have been using some kind of magic on him. "That"s right pal, I'm shutting you up for now, don't look so worried." Maxwell walked up to Bronnie who started to quake in his hooves. "Is somepony nervous?" Maxwell taunted. He tapped Bronnie's garland. "Don't be silly, how could one be nervous with such a beautiful crown like that?" He laughed. "Hail to the king. Oh that's me!" He became a bit more somber now. "I apologize pal, I didn't come all the way out here to mock you." Maxwell sighed. "I wanted to check on your progress, and you are doing well than most, I give you that. But I assure you, things are not going to get any easier from here, pal." He paused. "It's rather fortunate that you met Mr. Higgsbury, rather than one of my other guests. Oh I can just see you and Woodie." Another short chuckle by the demon. "But I digress. Tread carefully now, pal. You never know what I might throw at you next. Ha ha ha ha!" Maxwell disappeared, along with the island as Bronnie woke up

Ashes, Gold, and... Pigs?

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Bronnie sat up in a flash. His chest rose up and down as he breathed heavily.

"Careful, Bronnie, you almost knocked it over!" Bronnie shook his head to clear out the fuzziness and reached out. His hoof touched a round, smooth stone surface. It was a stone pot on top of a tripod made of logs. A pile of charcoal was situated below the pot. Wilson stood by the pot.

"I made a crock pot while you were sleeping." Wilson explained.

Bronnie got to his hooves. "Okay, I see." He blinked. How long had he been asleep? "What time is it?"

Wilson looked up and squinted at the sky. "Judging by the sun's position, I'd say it's about noon. You were pretty tired, so I decided to let you sleep in." Wilson sat down by Bronnie, he was a short man, but he was still almost a head taller than Bronnie. "Hey Bronnie, do you mind if we take a trek back to my old camp site today? I want to see if we can salvage some supplies."

"Why not, I can't think of anything else to do today." Bronnie straightened his garland, and then he and Wilson set off.

Wilson and Bronnie went north into the woods. A gentle breeze flowed through the trees, picking up the muddy scent of the grass. Bronnie's mane flapped around his neck, being blown about by the wind. A short walk later, the two came to a small gravel trail.

"This way!" Wilson said, pointing to the left. After a minute of walking on the trail, the trees looked black and burnt, and the normally muddy grass smelled smoky. Bronnie coughed a few times because of the smoky scent. At last, they came to a large clearing.

"We're here." Wilson said, and they stopped. Black and twisted ruins lined the clearing. A cracked and broken crock pot sat near a burnt out fire pit. The ruins of a science machine, and a few other machines which Bronnie could not recognize were visible just a bit beyond There was a cracked thermometer sitting in a burnt, collapsing wooden frame. Red liquid leaked out on to the blackened grass. Scattered around the camp were smoldering chests.

Wilson sighed. "What a waste. Well, no reason in standing around, let's search for anything we can still use." Wilson and Bronnie opened the chests trying to find any items that had survived the fire. Bronnie couldn't find much except the last three nuggets of Wilson's gold nugget collection, some marbles that had melted together, and a few blocks of cut stone. The nuggets and stone were perfectly ordinary, but the melty marbles had all the colors fused together in a sort of rainbow blob, which was very beautiful to look at. The marbles were translucent, so the sun shone through them, making a pretty shadow. He also found a mysterious gold ring. It hummed quietly Wilson was pleased to find that his icebox had survived the blaze, and the foods inside were still fresh. However, everything else was lost. Wilson and Bronnie met up in the middle of the ruins.

"Well, it could have been worse." Wilson said. "At least the food survived, right?"

"Yeah, and these," Bronnie held out what he had found. Wilson smiled. Then Bronnie took out the ring. "You know what this is?"

"I don't." Wilson replied. "I am not sure what the purpose of that thing is, but it seems like it's important. I found it in a circle of Evil Flowers." Hold on, how can flowers be evil? Bronnie thought. Wilson began walking back down the trail. "We should hurry back to your camp, it's getting late." Bronnie agreed and he caught up with Wilson as they headed back down the trail. When they came back to where they should head south, Bronnie pointed down the rest of the path.

"What's down there?" He asked.

Wilson shrugged. “I don’t know.” He said. “I tried to go down there once, but I was chased by some spiders back to my camp, while I still had a camp that is. Let’s explore it tomorrow.”

That night, Wilson and Bronnie spent their time by Bronnie’s science machine. The fire pit was burning up plenty of wood for the night. Wilson had thrown some of Bronnie's berries into the crock pot and was now making a spear for the journey tomorrow while Bronnie used the knowledge of the science machine to make some boards and cut stone. He placed the board and cut stones together to make a sort of scepter. Bronnie took the gold from Wilson's Camp and molded it around the scepter, with a knob at the top. He used a piece of flint to etch out his face on the knob. He took one of the cut stone blocks and whittled it to the point The final result was a long golden rod. Bronnie's head was carved out of the gold on the top knob, and the bottom was studded with a sharp stone. Wilson walked over to Bronnie, his crude spear in hand. He looked enviously to Bronnie's scepter. It was rather impressive compared to Wilson's barbaric spear.

"Wow," Wilson stared. "Where did you come up with that thing?"

"I don't know." Bronnie shrugged. He examined his handiwork. "Once I get started on an idea, I intend to finish it. Usually these ideas come from nowhere. This thing is nice and durable. And the best part is I can hit things with it!"

"I know the feeling." Wilson said. "That's probably how Maxwell got me to come here so easily, because I worked on that machine of his day and night." As he said this, the sun came up. The plains lit up aglow with sunlight. "Ready to venture on into the unknown?" Wilson said.

Bronnie readied his scepter. "You know it." And once more, our two heroes set out into the forest to face whatever was waiting at the end of that path.

The two reached the path, and this time, they went right. Wilson was looking around nervously, eying the woods as if something was lurking in the darkness and was waiting to jump out at them. This wouldn't have surprised Bronnie one bit.

"I can't remember exactly when and where the spiders attacked," Wilson started. "We need to be on guard." Soon, the crunchy gravel gave to a sticky surface. Bronnie looked down. A squishy sticky substance had covered the ground. A loud raspy growl came from the woods to their left. Two large spiders emerged from the trees. They had many eyes and large mouths. Wilson and Bronnie raised their weapons. "Get ready. These things bite hard!

The two got off of the webby ground and backed further down the trail. The spiders gave out a loud hiss, and they advanced toward the survivors. Bronnie swung his scepter at one of the spiders, hitting it on the head. The other spider got in closer and bit him. Bronnie cried out. The venomous bite hurt very much, but the pain went away quickly, and the venom dripped out of the wound and pooled on the ground. Wilson stabbed at the second spider until he killed it, and Bronnie finished beating the first spider to death. The spiders bodies dropped a pinkish gland and a bundle of webbing. Wilson stowed the spoils in his backpack.

"We could use these for something later." he reasoned. Wilson held up the spider gland. "Hmm." he examined the gland. "I think I can use this to heal you up a bit. He took out some ash and a rock from his back pack. Wilson fashioned a salve by crushing up the venom and the ash. "Here, Bronnie," he said. "Use this where it hurts." Bronnie applied the salve to his wounds. It stung at first, but he felt much better after a minute.

"Thank you Wilson," Bronnie smiled. "Let's keep going!"

The trail went on for a bit longer. Eventually, the rough gravel path lead to a smooth cobblestone road. The road branched off in two directions. Bronnie reached down and touched the stones. They were more or less neatly cut.

"Do you know what this means?" Bronnie said. He felt the stone cobbles some more. "Roads mean civilization-"

"And civilization means people!" Wilson exclaimed. "What are we waiting for, let's go! I bet they will have a nice big feast for us there! With hot food! And a roaring fire, and clean beds!" Bronnie set a hoof on his friend. Then the two sprinted up the left road will-nilly, without another thought on what lied at the end of the road.

When Bronnie and Wilson reached the end of the road, they collapsed on the ground in a big panting mess of floppy limbs. Gently, they pulled apart from each other and stood up. "What... is this?" Bronnie mumbled as he and Wilson gazed upon the sight before them. The "civilization" consisted of a few small houses clustered around a small clearing. Bipedal pig-like creatures walked around the village. They wore nothing but some crude shorts made of grass clippings. There was also a very fat pig with a grass crown sitting on a floor of wooden boards. He was surrounded by four obelisks and four small pyramids. "Oh... okay... Pig-men" Bronnie was disappointed. He expected that there would be a more advanced people based on the nice road that lead to the village.

"Yeah." Wilson seemed equally disappointed. At least the residents seemed peaceful enough. The Pig-men milled about the town. They looked curiously at the man and the stallion, but didn't react more than that. The two walked up to the fat Pig-man. The Pig King looked at them and grunted. Bronnie wrinkled his snout. The Pig King smelled of feces and mud. Mainly mud, but whoever was the unlucky Pig-man to care for the King's personal hygiene obviously did a sub par job.

"Well, you have to admit, that's a man with his priorities in order." Bronnie commented, eliciting a laugh from Wilson. The king smiled and grunted happily. "We should give him a peace offering, or something." Bronnie suggested. He and Wilson would need as much help as they could get if they were ever to escape Maxwell's world.

"Do you have anything?" Wilson asked. "I don't think I have anything that would be considered much of a peace offering." Bronnie looked through his pack. The only thing he could find that wasn't of too much value were the melted marbles that he had found in Wilson's chest. He took out the marbles. They glistened in the sunlight. Bronnie presented them to the king. The king smiled wide and took out a bunch of gold nuggets from under his crown. He threw them up in the air and squealed loudly in delight. The gold nuggets fell around the two. Wilson began picking up the gold and put the nuggets into his pack. The sun began to go down once more and the Pig-men ran back to their homes.

"HOME HOME! HOME TIME!" they grunted as they went inside the houses and shut the doors. The King yawned and waved the two explorers away. Wilson went up to one of the houses. When he got too close, the light was hurriedly turned off.

"I know you're in there!" Wilson yelled. Bronnie came up to him.

"I don't think we are welcome here after dark." Bronnie said. "Let's go back to camp."

"So what do you think of that village of Pig-men?" Wilson asked Bronnie.

"It wath... pwetty weeid, *gulp* I'll admit" Bronnie replied, his mouth full of sticky jam. The two were by the campfire at Bronnie's camp. Wilson had used the berries he had made in the crock pot to make some succulent and surprisingly filling jam. Bronnie and Wilson were eating this jam now, as they both had little to eat all day. Their respective hooves and hands were rather sticky from stuffing themselves full of the sticky jam. Wilson went and wiped his hands off on some grass. He brought some back for Bronnie. Bronnie wiped his hooves and leaned back, placing them behind his head. "This place sure has plenty of surprises doesn't it?"

"No doubt," Wilson replied. "I learn something new everyday here." Bronnie hugged close his scepter. The cool metal felt good against his fur.

"Guess it's time to get ready for tomorrow." he said, for the most part, satisfied. Wilson lay down on the other end of the campfire and fell asleep rather quickly. His snoring was barely heard over the crackling campfire. Bronnie, however, had a more difficult time. As interesting as this place was, he missed home. He missed his job and his house, and Princess Luna. He had been so close to winning her over, until Maxwell intervened and tricked him into coming here. He missed his old life and his old friends. As he drifted off to sleep, he heard a familiar sinister voice whispering in his mind.

"You really shouldn't worry about your love, Mr. Chloride." Maxwell's voice snickered into his ear. "You'll have bigger problems to deal with soon enough. Ha ha ha!"