Celestia and Luna send Twilight and her friends deep into Everfree Forest to find the location of a fallen meteorite.
On a mission from Princesses Celestia and Luna, Twilight and her friends are tasked with an expedition into unexplored regions of Everfree Forest in search of what is thought to be a large meteorite. While Luna was quick to rationalize the falling star, she felt a strange presence as the object passed over Equestrian airspace, so accompanies them on their journey. The girls follow a trail of scorched earth to the crash site. What they find is far more than mere space debris.
Rumbling and screeching roused Luna from her slumber. Turning toward the window that overlooked the city of Canterlot, she removed her sleep mask. A flash of blinding light greeted the princess much to her shock, forcing her to close her eyes and shield her face with a lace pillow. A light so intense, so pervasive that Luna felt the heat as it touched her fur through the curtains of her bed. The low and vexatious screeching ascended into a crescendo. Soon the noise stirred into a wild roar, the screech succeeded into the groan of metal. Any idea of the disturbance being a prank from her sister was replaced with shock when Luna teleported herself to the balcony overlooking Canterlot.
Looking above toward her moon, she gazed upon the source that caused every light in Canterlot to flicker about. A white hot streak stretching across the sky. Its sheen blocked out the stars as it passed them. Luna had to squint with a hoof protecting her eyes from the object's blinding light to follow the white comet.
A duo of Pegasi NightWatch Guards burst into the bedroom with concerned looks. The white coated stallions, clad in grey armor rushed to the side of their ruler. "Your majesty! Are you safe?" asked one worriedly.
"What do you make of this, your highness?" asked the other.
“Whatever it is, we need to make sure it isn’t dangerous,” replied Luna.
Luna lowered her hoof as the mysterious flare passed over the grand capital. She pondered her best course of action before she addressed one of her subordinates. "You there, wake my sister and inform her of the situation, sunrise approaches so it is best we confer with her," commanded Luna. The guard saluted her and dashed off. "And you, are you fast?" she asked the remaining NightWatch guard.
"Yes, your majesty!"
"Good. Bring another NightWatch Guard with you, and track whatever that light was, Report back to me. Make sure your choice in wingman is just as nimble." The guard bowed, turning to leave the princess's room.
Luna fired up the starry aura of her horn, calling on a spell that sent her to the center of the city where ponies old and young were stirred from their sleep. Seeing the princess they gathered around her, understandably grumpy. The people demanded an explanation.
"What as that? Did Celestia raise the sun early?"
"Are we under attack?"
"Is it Aliens?! It was TOTALLY Aliens!"
The crowd turned to face the pony that uttered such nonsense. She was a green filly with a white mane, a cutiemark of a UFO displayed proudly on her flank. The poor child’s innocent smile faded as the adults laughed at her. Luna smiled warmly and approached the girl to comfort the filly with a friendly pat on the head. Luna addressed her troubled people.
"I have sent scouts to investigate as we speak, but as by the Law of Sunrise, I cannot take major action during the day without permission from Princess Celestia. Once my sister has given me permission, then I can launch a formal investigation beyond what I've done so far. Until then, please calm down and carry on with your morning tasks." Mumbling, the ponies of Canterlot took heed of their princess, opening their stores and running their morning errands while some chose to go back to bed. The last to leave was the filly, disheartened by the lack of support for her theory.
"Dangit! It's never aliens!" whined the green filly, kicking the cobblestone beneath her.
Luna's smile faded as a look of concern and intrigue replaced it. As Princess of the Night, she had full royal authority when the sun sets. She also wielded a gift that granted her the power to enter the dreams of all who slept under her night sky, so long as they were within Equestrian borders of course. Yet what troubled the princess before she was awakened from a night of her royal duties? A faint glimpse of a dream. In the dream, Luna saw a world without a sun, ashes at her hooves and the heavy burden of isolation and fear. What took away Luna's grin was not that the dream did not belong to an Equestrian. But that it reminded her of the thousand years spent on a barren moon with not a single soul to comfort her. She felt a kindred spirit within the flare.
Deep in EverFree, a blackened plume of smoke rose past the treetops. Glowing heat and cinders danced freely, lighting dimly the crater and the foliage that jutted from the scorched earth in an orange light. Entire scores of trees and flora were cleared by the skidding impact. It left a barren trail to the darkened crater where the ominous lights leaked. Not just the light from the sweltering heat and charred trees, but another light. An unnatural, artificial light made from the depths of a large machine crusted in dirt as the construct whirled in the hollow ground. The sound, as if wheels of steel turned in concealment. The stirring frightened off droves of glowing eyes and stirred awake small critters hours shy of their proper waking hour.
As dawn approached and the heat quelled under the winds of an approaching rainstorm. A hiss emerged from the pit as Celestia's sun rose. The sound began life slowly, controlled, but loud. As time went on the noise died out, as if losing steam. A clunk of metal and humming emanated from the pit. From the hole, voices echoed from off the hollowed earth as if being trapped in a hallway.
"Weevah. . . where ahre we?" echoed the voice of what sounded like a young girl. "This isn't London. . ."
"Soil suggests forest biome." said a second, metallic vocalization. A hand reached up from the pit, pulling its owner behind it. A figure stood seven feet tall, clad in a brown, hooded parka . It turned its head observing the surroundings. "Suggestion. Create suitable enclosure," the figure stated calmly to the equally dressed but smaller creature clutching its back like a cherub.
"Can I ave' a nap first? I'm rathah tired." the small being asks politely.
"Yes. I will construct amenities. You rest." The tall creature settled the smaller one from its back to the soil. It hopped back into the crater with a clang. Weaver pulled itself back from the depths producing a duffle bag, pink and adorned with a white cat head topped by a bow but no mouth. The figure unzipped the bag, handing a blanket and pillow from within it to the small child.
"Thank you, Weevah," the tired girl mumbled. Weaver nodded. It rose up to begin construction of their camp. "Weevah, can you watch ovah me?" asked the cloaked child as she tugged on the shroud of her guardian.
"Tori. I must create a suitable environment for you to. . ." The child removed her hood revealing underneath a green eyed girl, her face dotted with brown freckles. Her burgundy hair held up in a messy ponytail that sat perched on the side of her head. She stared at the calm-voiced being with puppy dog eyes and genuine fear of the new, foreboding environment.
"Please. . . I'm afraid to sleep on me own."
The figure knelt down facing the child, gently caressing the side of her cheek in affection.
"Your hands arhe cold!" Tori giggled before she climbed into the figure's lap She nestling between its arms. "Can you shine your eyes for me?" Tori asked hopefully. The figure complied. From under hood of its cloak flickered teal came three glowing eyes that soothed the child countless times before. "Night Weevah" she whispered to the figure.
"It is morning,” Weaver replied with an unchanged tone from under the hood.
It got no reply, the young girl slept soundly within the protective arms of her caretaker. “Tori. Rest. I will wait. Be happy. We have a sun again." the cloaked figure told the child as she slept. It rocked her in its arms as she drifted deeper and deeper into sleep. It awaited for her to rise so she could see the beauty of nature that she was deprived of long ago.
Luna lead six ponies into the depths of Everfree. Her horn sparked as she shaped her aura into a buzzing blade of energy that hacked away at branches, filling the noses of the party with the spicy scent of severed foliage. She wore her mane in a bun to keep it from tangling in the low hanging branches. The magic that ran through her hair temporarily subdued to keep her mane in place. Twilight and company followed a similar trend, each wearing attire to protect from the elements. Each carried saddlebags with bare essentials. Trail mix, canteens, sleeping bags, and in Twilight's case, note books that she would occasionally retrieve with a spell to document interesting findings.
Gnarled trees made the hike claustrophobic. Each as tall as a castle yet tightly compacting each other with patches of sunlight breaching the canopies. So compact in fact, that Applejack managed to get herself stuck between them. She wiggled and tugged but couldn't escape the trees, or the snickering of Rainbow Dash and Pinkie pie.
“Dog garnit, can ah get some assistance please?”
Pinkie skipped her way toward Applejack. Reaching with her mouth, she removed a red jar from her saddle bag.
“What are y'all. . . HEY! That's cold!”
Pinkie giggled “What better way to get out of a jam, than with actual jam?"
She slathered the gaps between Applejack with raspberry preserves. Grabbing her hooves, Rainbowdash pulled Applejack free. “Well shoot, color me impressed, thank ya kindly, both of y'all.”
Rainbow Dash simply smirked, "No problem, Apple Jelly!”
Shaking her head, Applejack caught up to the others as they waited, “Sorry bout' the hold up Princess,” said Applejack, wipeing her jelly from her sides.
“DAMMIT!” shouted Luna, striking a vine with her magical cutter. Each strike was somehow repelled. The vines were twisted between flowering trees whose petals were like rainbows trapped in stained glass. They coiled like serpents caught in battle, forming a natural net that resisted every attempt Luna made at cutting them down with a defiant spark.
“Uh. . . What‘s the princess doin’ Twilight?”
“Well, she's having trouble with. . .”
“These wretched vines won't,” Whack! “come,” WHACK! “down!” Rapidly swinging the magical razor, Luna ground her teeth in frustration, earning a chuckle from observers behind her, “These vines are stubborn!” Luna shouted in irritation.
Applejack looked over the strange plants. Pale white, shining like the pearl of an oyster. Every time Luna hit it, the plant tensed up, blocking the blow with a flash of blue aura,“Yup, them that are Tangleweeds.” Applejack pointed out,”Dang things push as hard as you do , we used ta get em in our orchards when ah was a filly,”
Done with being made a fool of by a plant, Luna poured a spout of blue flames from the tip of her horn, the shrieking vines recoiled as the burned, leaving Luna with a satisfied smile on her face. Pinkie and Rarity looked at each other, surprised at the sudden outburst. Even Rainbow Dash ceased her snickering. "Problem solved!” Luna sighed with a devilish grin, kicking the crisp plants for good measure.
The deeper Luna lead the Mane Six, the more alien the forest became. Fluorescent mushrooms occasionally glowed in the darker corners of the forest. Draped over the trees were several spider webs. Impressed Applejack let out a long whistle “That's one doozy of a spider nest.”
Rarity’s eyes became pin pricks. The mere thought of such animals made her skin crawl, “S-s-spiders?!” she stammered, “There are spiders?!”
Each mare took a look at the large web. The strands were as thick as crayons. Pinkie took a strand in her hoof, pulled it back as far as she could before she snapped it back where it made a wobbly musical sound.”You could play bass on these!"
Pinkie began plucking away at the webbing only for Twilight to pull her away. “Pinkie, be careful! You may break it,” Twilight scolded her.
Luna looked over the hammock like web, nodding in agreement, “There is no telling how big the spider who made that is, last thing we need is to play a show for a hungry arachnid the size of a cart.”
“A cart sized spider?!” worried Rarity, pacing around, searching the treeline for such a beast.
“Oh. . . it's okay Rairty, there's no way a spider that big made the web.” Fluttershy told Rarity.
“Realy? You think what ever made this crochet from hell is gone?”
“W-Well, uhm, no, I mean, the spiders who made it are still here, they are social spiders, really tiny like specks of dirt”
Rarity swallowed. Shaking, she looked down at the web. Sure enough, she could make out tiny spots of brown moving. Hundreds, if not thousands of spiders, crawling all over the web in unison.
Fluttershy smiled as she observed them,“I'd say there are at least five hundred thousand, maybe more in this colony."
Blank faced and frightened on the inside, rarity turned quickly “Oh look at the time, let's get a move on, wouldn't want to waste daylight, come along, away from these unholy things.”
They continued their journey into the forest. Hours go by, to pass the time, Twilight Sparkle lectured her friends on the three hundred and ninth of the three hundred and eighty types fungus types located within the forest, much to the dismay of her comrades. "Oh! And on that tree is the fungi P. Voracious Thiccius! It is used to treat rashes and skin wounds, Spike once ran through a bunch of poison ivy, so I made a salve using this fungi to sooth his..."
"Twi, no offense,” an irritated Applejack interrupted, wiping away the sweat from her brow, “but ah think ah speak fer every pony when ah say we heard enough about fungi,"
"Oooo who's a fun guy?" smiled Pinkie, her back carrying a large wedding cake protected by plastic wrap with little to no effort on her back.
"No, Pinkie she means fungus," sighed Rainbow Dash, swallowing a swig from her canteen, "Is that all the food you packed?"
"Oh this? Yeah! It's a super yummy banana cream cake! I had so many baked goodies I couldn't choose! So I decided on one big treat we can snack on for days! I'll save some for Fun Gus too!"
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes at her naive friend, “Pinkie, I don’t think anyone wants to eat the same cake for four days in a row!,” Fluttershy added.
“Yeah. . . see I kinda didn’t wanna carry all that food, so I baked it all into one big cake!” Pinkie Pie explained,” It has everything you need! Fruit, frosting, eggs, flour, frosting, sugar…”
"Ya just wanted an excuse to make a giant cake so ya could lick the bowls and beaters, didn'tcha Pinkie?" Applejack asked, knowingly.
"Guilty as charged," Pinkie Pie chuckled weakly.
"Great job on the survival gear, by the way, Rares,” complemented Rainbow Dash, changing the subject, “ you should totally design some cosplay for me, these threads look straight out of a Daring Do book!"
“These are far better than cosplay, these are functional! I knew how much you enjoyed Daring Do novels, so I took a little inspiration. I'm glad you like them!" Rarity removed her hat, lamenting how it frazzled her mane,"Although I admit, I can see why the rest of you omitted these wretched things, it turns your head into a sauna!"
"Uhm, Princess Luna," squeaked Fluttershy as she stumbled after Luna and Twilight "I never seen these parts of the forest, y-you have a map right?"
"No need to be so formal, Fluttershy, we're all friends here.” Luna stopped and sat on a small boulder, the others sat down to rest. Luna's horn flashed blue causing a map to appear on the ground before them."This is all my scouts could map of known Everfree. Once we pass this," Luna pointed to a large river at the very edge of the map "We will be in uncharted territory, it is somewhere near there we will find that meteorite. This map is enchanted to fill itself as we go, but I need each of you to not only aid me in finding that meteor but also help to catalog new discoveries,"
"That’s why Luna has asked me to assemble a team to brave this new frontier!" Twilight added "Fluttershy, I want you to document any new animals we may find, PinkiePie is in charge of food and supplies, Apple Jack and Rainbow, we need you. . .”
"Twilight," interjected Rarity, "Forgive me for interrupting, but I don't think I'm suited for this trip into the woods," Rarity grimaced as her boot became stuck in the mud, she raised her leg in an attempt to free it but the footwear simply slid off with a pop, "Ugh! Just what is it you need me for, again?"
"I'm glad you asked, " smiled Twilight, "Your magic is key to this expedition!"
"Precisely," Luna added "Twilight tells me you can detect precious gemstones, is that correct? That is a impressive skill, one even my sister or I lack."
"Well, I wouldn't call it impressive per se," blushed Rarity, trying to remain humble “But it is one of my many gifts at my disposal."
"Twilight thinks you can use it to detect metals as well, " continued Luna "We need you to use your magic to find a large chunk of metal, can I trust you to try?"
"I will do my best, princess, but I admit it would be rather difficult, learning to find metal with my horn rather than gemstones in such short notice."
"I did some research at home and found a few formulas that can help,” said Twilight excitedly. ”It would take an average pony decades to learn the spell, but with your natural talent, I believe you can have down within a day." A lone rain drop fell on Twilight’s muzzle, preventing her from adding anymore to the conversation, “Strange,” Twilight mumbled “Hey Rainbow, were we expecting rain today?”
“No, not for at least a week, you don't think Everfree has its own rainfall too?”
A sudden flash lit up the forest and thunder rumbled, startling poor Fluttershy. "Eep!" she shrieked as she dove under a fallen log.
Within seconds a torrent of rain fell upon the girls. Each drop was fat and heavy, smacking both pony and soil alike with the beat of a drum. The wind whipped and wailed as it tore loose branches and leaves, spraying water everywhere. Applejack could hardly make out the sound of snapping wood before realizing the storm tore a mighty tree in half and sent it plummeting toward an oblivious Pinkie Pie splashing in a mud puddle. “Pinkie, look out!" shouted Applejack as she dashed to her friend, fighting the wind in hopes of reaching Pinkie before the trunk of the tree.
"Look at wha- SWEET SARSAPARILLA!" Exclaimed Pinkie as she realized the sudden danger.
With a gallant leap, Applejack tackled Pinkie out of the way, the wind ripping her hat from her head. But they were not of reach. Groaning on the way down, the tree feel toward the duo. Applejack and Pinkie squeezed each other as their body was overshadowed by the silhouette of the gigantic tree. Both realized neither would move out of the way in time.
Finally able to get a clear view, Luna surrounded the broken tree in her aura stopping it inches from crushing her friends, chucking it aside with minimal effort.
"Rainbow Dash, can you clear any of this?!" shouted Twilight.
"Can do!" Rainbow Dash shouted back.
She took off into the air to buck the storm clouds away but soon saw her mistake as the wind pushed her back to the ground like a rag doll. Frustration drove her to fight against it. Flying head on as the wet spray dampened her feathers, she battled the elements. Rainbow dash refused to give up, flapping harder and harder against the storm, moving bit by bit. It was all in vain. The harsh winds tore her from the sky and slammed her into Applejack and Pinkie Pie, sending the trio tumbling down hill,
"DASH! PINKIE! APPLEJACK!" Twilight yelled for her friends, but they were too far to hear her and any response was drowned out by the fearsome storm.
"SOMEPONY HELP!" screamed a terrified Fluttershy.
"Fluttershy! Stay put! Rarity, Twilight! We have to get her and find higher ground!“ commanded Luna, taking charge of the situation.
The three rushed toward the frightened cries for help of their friend, slowed by mud and rising flood. They neared the log where Fluttershy hid, now up to their necks in water. Thankfully, the log floated with Fluttershy now on top. The four clung to the log, paddling it in an attempt to prevent it from being caught in a surprise current from the flash flood. "It's alright, Fluttershy, we're here now." Rarity told a shaking, sobbing Fluttershy.
"B-b-buh Pinkie, and Apple Jack and. . .and," croaked Fluttershy, burying her face into Rarity's shoulder.
Luna and Twilight Sparkle joined them in their hug, uncertain of the fates of their friends. Twilight looked up at Luna with sad eyes, her lip quivering. It took her several tries to speak.
"It's my fault! I asked Rainbow to try and clear the weather!"
"Nonsense," Luna assured them," It's nopony's fault, let's try and find them.” Huddling together, the four floated down stream toward the last place they saw their friends. Wings dampened, spirits down, and worried about what will happen next.
Bird song was a foreign concept to Tori. She knew what birds were, but she didn't know they could sing! The charming whistle of the colorful animals were a welcome change. Home was never this pretty. The song was upbeat, the bluejay flew about, branch to branch, humming its tune as it went. It stopped only long enough to pluck a grub from the bark. It continued its melodious whistle, Tori felt like it knew she was watching, and it put on quite the show for her.
“They are fascinating creatures,” Weaver said, holding a small set of stones in his hand,”It has been quite some time since I last saw such animals.”
Weaver handed Tori a stone, taking her by the hand, he led her toward the nearby river.“You can see the bottom! It's like a viewing table!” Tori marveled, looking into the water.
“Even better. Tori. I used to take your mother to places like this. She would skip stones while I gathered firewood. I want to show you how to do it.”
“Skipping stones?” she questioned.
“Allow me,” Taking her hands in his, Weaver puppeteered her into the motions. "First you bend your wrists”
Miming weaver's actions, she turned, “Like this?”
“Yes. Then step forward. Then toss the stone with a flick of your wrists. Aim for the surface.”
Tori nodded. Weaver released her, allowing her to try on her own. She took three steps forward, flicking the stone as hard as she could. Her face lit up as the stone glided gracefully across the surface.Three times the stone skipped over the water and into the reeds on the other side.
“Did you see that?! It floated! It actually floated!”
“Very good. Perhaps you should practice and beat your record of three.”
“Can I? Let me get some more stones!” Tori went to the water's edge. Using her parka like a basket, she stuffed as many stones as she could carry. Weaver stood over her, staring through the hood of his cloak. "Weaver. What's wrong?
Immediately Weaver darted for Tori, yanking her up and onto his shoulders, running away from the riverbanks. “You made me drop me stones, Weevah!”
It was then Tori felt the rain. A single drop landed in the tip of her nose. Then another, and another, an another. Soon she was being pelted as weaver made a mad dash toward the crashed ship, sitting her on top of it. She looked down at Weaver, his eyelights illuminating the darkness. A flash of lightning , then the roar of thunder boomed in the distance.
“What was that?!” Tori yelled over the wind, frightened by the sudden storm.
Weaver was up to his head in water, he struggled to stay above.
“Tori. Do not move. Regardless of what happens.”
“Weevah, what's going on?”
A log hit Weaver hard before he could answer. Tori could hear the thud of wet wood against his face, knocked from gripping the top of the ship, Weaver was carried down river, underwater. Within a fraction of a second, Tori was alone.
“Weevah?! Weevah no!” she screamed, "Weevah! Answer me, please!" she cried "please. . ."
No reply, save angry wind and pelting rain. Tori was tempted to swim under after Weaver but hesitated, his last words played in her head several times with each attempted dip with her feet. "Do not move. Regardless of what happens." Before the water crashed over him, splashing her with an icy spray.
"Weevah, not you too!" Tori moaned into her hands.
She dropped herself onto the ground, but the sudden shift in weight caused her to slip downhill into the river’s chilling embrace. Faster and faster she sank, each flail and kick only pushed her deeper underneath the flood. The underwater waves and furious currents battered her around like a fly in a storm drain. Lighting and thunder occasionally pierced the silent depths, showing her taunting glimpses of the surface. Tori began thinking of home, of her mother as the pain of her tired muscles began to lull her to a state of drowsiness. She realized she was fighting a pointless battle. As her resolve to struggle waned, one thought stuck in her mind.
If she stops, she will die.
Tori panicked, fighting against the pull of the floodwaters with sudden desperation, weakened and worn. Her lungs burned, her vision blurred. Her small body ached yet she refused to give in for fear of succumbing to the violent waves. Her struggling only made her more tired, and her parka only made her sink faster. Soon her body became too fatigued to fight the current. No more lighting flashed, denying her the last glimpse of hope to ever reach the surface again. Exhausted, Tori finally gave up. Her eyes grew heavier and heavier and her flailing ceased.
Just as she was about to shut her eyes, she saw it. Three teal lights in the darkness followed by a familiar hand reaching for her. Tori grabbed for it, tightly squeezing the limp appendage as it hoisted her out of the water and onto the banks of dry land. Tori let go of her breath and inhaled. Weaver placed an arm around her, pulling the little girl close to his body in attempt to keep her warm. Tori looked up at her guardian, grateful for him once again saving her life. “Tori. I am here now.”
Tori could hardly be live it. Weaver, her hero clad in white armor, the light granting him a halo, stood in one piece. His armor chipped, and his voice unshaken, he was a sight of relief. The child touched the side of his helmet to be sure this was no illusion, burying herself into his chest with tears of fear and joy flowing freely onto her face. "You are safe now. Do not cry," said Weaver, breaking the silence.
"I th-thought I-I lost you!" she wailed, her voice shaking with emotion.
"Do not worry. I would simply sink. Forgive me for startling you," Weaver began stroking Tori’s wet hair as he shielded her body from the rain. She looked at his face. Weaver’s expression, as always, was difficult to determine as his face was hidden under the armoured plating. Two teal lenses where his eyes should be, one dotting his for head like a crown jewel. What Weaver couldn’t express with his face, he made up with his actions, checking over Tori as he ripped strips from his cloak to wrap around her bruised legs.
Like magic, Weaver's right hand heated up. Gently Weaver ran his fingers over Tori’s tired muscles to soothe them. Weaver has used this trick many times, his body heat transferred over to another in a selfless act of kindness. But something was off, his energy seemed weaker. To be safe tori looked over weaver more cautiously, looking for any damage to his armored body. At first glance, nothing was amiss. It was difficult to tell since Weaver’s plates hid most of his body. Satisfied she embraced Weaver in a tight hug, but it is there she found what was wrong with her friend.
"Where- what. . . ”
“Do not look at it," Weaver stated calmly.
Frantically she felt up and down the side of Weaver's frame, searching for something but not finding it. Her heart sank, she slowly turned her head toward the area she prodded, afraid of what she would find.
"Tori. Do not look at it."
Ignoring Weaver’s warning, she looked at his left side, horrified at the sight. "Weevah, where is your arm!?" she shrieked as she stared at a mangled forearm.
Armor and all was gone. The limb leaked viscous grey fluid as the machinery within turned uselessly in an. attempt to move the phantom limb. Tori could see hundreds of wires that sparked as Weaver's body tried in vain to power them.
"It had to be removed. If I dove back for you I would sink. You would drown. This was the best option.” Weaver explained, unfazed by the grievous damage.
Tori was horrified, she felt a mixture of empathy and guilt. She looked at the remainder of his arm. To a machine like Weaver, it was nothing, to a human, it looked unbearable.
"But your arm! Your arm I-I-it's gone!" she sobbed hysterically.
"It was the best option to reach you."
"You're hurt! You hurt yourself trying to help me!"
"Look. Tori. The rain has stopped. The sun is out." Weaver said, his voice punctuated by a slight hum. ”I cannot feel sunlight. Describe it to me please.”
Weaver knew if Tori put her mind on something else, that would help her calm down. Eager to share the feeling with him, Tori wiped away her tears Tori stretched an arm into the sun.
"It's warm and tingly."
"More," Weaver requested.
"It feels like a hug. All over me ahrm."
"Yes. It sounds appealing. Thank you for sharing the sensation with me. I cannot feel things as you do.”
Tori rubbed her eyes and smiled finally understanding her friend was in no pain.Tori laid in the sun allowing the light to dry her off, her mind finally at ease and off of Weaver's injury.
Weaver began grabbing branches that floated by, quickly placing tinder in a orderly pile. As the water receded Weaver waded to the crater where their ship crashed, salvaging anything he could, making sure certain to stay within sight of his human companion so she could enjoy her first day in the sun in peace.
Weaver stepped through the doors of the vessel and back out into the trenches where the downed ship laid, taking a moment to turn around and place a hand on the wreckage of the ship. Crusted in a film of minerals it sat like a rock, the sealed doors almost completely buried, deep under the wet soil.
Surviving the crash was no simple feat. A simple miscalculation, and he would have sent the ship to its doom, falling apart before it ever reached the atmosphere. If he didn't know better, he'd call it a miracle.
He dragged his hand slowly across the surface. The crust flaked away from the shIp, coating his finger in a white powder. He tried to piece together what elements that composed the dust, but the result was always the same.
"Inconclusive. Strange. These elements don't appear anywhere within my database."
As he continued examining the strange crust, Tori popped her head over the trench dug out by the crash.
“Is the ship broken” Tori asked, peering down at Weaver.
He hopped effortlessly out of the crater. Tucked under his arm a duffle bag of supplies he brought from the bowels of the ship.
“It won't be flying anytime soon,“ Weaver admitted, “but once we make contact with the others, I'm sure it can be repaired. "
“What are we having?” Tori asked as she sat down on a log, kicking her legs back and forth.
“You know that already.”
“Rice” she groaned, “bland, boring, salted rice.”
Weaver nodded, planting the canister firmly into the wood pile.
Tori found herself staring at his missing forearm. The wires were held in place with a clamp, neatly folded over and bundled with electrical tape so they don't sway in the wind.
“Can you fix it? You used to fix others like you right?”
Weaver sat down. He began to activate the heating coils in his hands, his computerized mind keeping tabs on the temperatures.
“I don't have the time or materials to reattach it alone.”
“Maybe there is someone here who can fix it for you.”
“Perhaps. After we eat I'll send the signal .”
He gripped a chunk of firewood tightly. It began to smoke as his hand radiated heat until it began to smolder. As soon as it burst into flames, he dropped the smoking tinder into the woodpile and a fire crackled to life.
“I don't want rice,” she said with a grimace,” I've eaten it forever.”
Weaver placed a metallic canister into the fire and shrugged,“It's all we have left.”
“I'm tired of rice!”
“You can have bread.”
“I don't want bread!”
“That is all we have.”
“Is that all people used to eat?”
Weaver turned the canister, the sound of its contents rattled between the popping flames.
“No. Most food was farmed. Not rations.”
“Like what they had on Earth! They raised the chickens!”
Weaver nodded, keeping his attention to the food as it cooked. Tori inched her way closer to Weaver to watch.
“What kind of plants did they grow in the labs?”
“Fruits such as apples. Cherries. Bananas-”
Tori began to snicker.
Tori tried to hold in her laughter.
Weaver flipped the canister and nodded.
“The name is quite absurd.”
Tori stopped sniggering and plucked at the grass.
“But now all we have is boring bland old rice'” she said with a scowl.
The sudden Noise made her topple over the log as the sound of popping continued to rattle in the air. She shyly peeked over, her heart racing only to find Weaver calmly holding the canister as it aggressively rumbled to life in his hand.
“Do not be afraid.”
Weaver unscrewed the top of the canister, allowing a billow of hot steam to pour out. A familiar salty sweet-scent fluttered in the air and caused her mouth to water.
“You stole this! Those are supposed to be for finishing tests!”
“I don't think that matters anymore.”
Weaver offered her the canister. Tori cup her hands as Weaver poured her a sample of the treat.She crushed the kernels against her hands, the sound making her smile.
“Can I eat it all?” she asked excitedly.
She buried her mouth in the pile of crunchy kernels, fitting as many pieces as should could. Happily she chewed, coating her mouth in the nutty, salty flavor.
Taking a cloth, weaver dabbed away her face leaving behind a smile on Tori’s face. She swallowed her first mouthful and spoke.
“You said all we had was rice and bread?” She asked between licking her fingers.
“After you finish that. It will be,” Weaver said as he ladled rice with a slotted spoon into her bowl.
Tori crumbled some over her bowl of rice believing it would make it taste better, taking a spoonful she realized she was right, “What will you tell them. About the accident?”
Weaver rapped his fingers on the ground in thought. Then, without a word he snatched Tori up and twirled her around much to her delight.
“Stop!” she squealed as she spun in the air.
Weaver sat her back down, and patted her head “It was an accident.”
She reached out and tapped Weaver’s side
While Tori laughed and ran from Weaver. Her laughter filling the forest. All the while a set of eyes watched from the shadow. Hungry, feral eyes locked onto the two watching them chase each other around a tree.
Weaver’s auditory stopped picking up sound. The forest became deathly quiet, as if all life suddenly vanished from it. He stopped moving. He turned his attention to the thick underbrush.
“Why'd you'd stop playing?” Tori asked him stopping to catch her breath.
Her eyes stopped on His hand, raised aggressively, it began to fizzle like water on cast iron, heating his hand to a vibrant orange.
“What's wrong?” She asked worriedly. . “Tori. I need you to-”
Before could finish, a beast lunged from the underbrush, its snapping jaws at Weaver’s leg, catching it between a vice of gnarled fangs.
Tori shrieked, running away from the struggle.
A swift blow from Weaver’s metallic hands clubbed the beast in the head, leaving its head smoldering.
Five more emerged from the bush trying to chase down Tori, only for Weaver to pick one up by the scruff of its neck and throw it into its packmates bowling them over. Weaver turned his head, the wolves keeping a distance away from the machine, plotting their attack.
The animals creaked as they moved, like the groan of a falling tree. They circled their prey, eager to take another bite but afraid of the flaming hand Weaver put between them. Weaver tried to think of a way to avoid the animals without violence, but memories of his past failures, the screams. Never again would he take the chance.
One then lunged with lightning speed directly at Weaver’s throat. But Weaver’s mechanical mind had no trouble tracking the movement this time. With cold precision he snatched the yipping hunter by the neck, squeezing tightly in hopes it would pass out from lack of oxygen.
But it only continued snapping its jaws.
The others attacked Weaver’s legs, bringing him down to his knees, freeing their friend. It was here Weaver made a strange discovery about his attackers.
The animal was covered in plant matter. Their manes and bodies were comprised not of fur, but thick, knotted bark. It narrowed it’s glowing emerald eyes, blazed with murderous intent at Weaver. With a snarl it charged the machine, mouth gaping with thorned teeth.
“Arm Decontamination device, Code: Brightflower.”
The locks in weaver's wrist came undone as he approached the creature, producing a metallic cylinder. He jammed the business end of the object into the chest of the wolf, bathing it in chemical fire.
While some of the creatures backed away snarling, one of the hybrids slipped past Weaver’s flames, and bounded toward Tori. Weaver turned to readjust his aim only for the wolves to snap at his arm, dragging him to the ground.
Tori ran as fast as she could, screaming. It's jaws clamped down on her, catching her parka and tore it away from her tiny body leaving her down to her navy colored jumpsuit. She fell to the ground while the rabid, wolf-like monster shredded her parka. She quickly crawled away from the monster, screaming for help.
“Weavah!” she wailed as the wolf closed in on her.
He threw the animals off of his body. His flamethrower roared spewing a cone of flames over the strange beasts, buying precious time to rush to Tori's side.
“Climb onto me.”
Weaver knelt down, letting Tori hoist herself onto him. He nudged her along with an elbow, urging her to climb up into the branches of a tree.
“Stay there. ”
A howl came bursting through the forests that caused the wolves to halt their advance on Weaver.
Tori’s heart thundered against her as she watched a massive shadow push its way past the branches beneath her.
It emerged from the forest, a larger version of the monsters before it. It's mane was gnarled, thick brambles covered in hundreds of thick thorns. It's gaping maw filled with splinter like teeth fitted sloppily from a grinning, sap dripping mouthThe monstrous thing towered over Weaver, growling at the machine with hatred and hunger.
He knew he had no chance of killing it. His flamethrower would never burn through the thick hide. Even so, he stoically faced the beast. But no sooner had the sparks the ignitor flashed did the monster bring down a mighty paw into his side, his arm crushed, and the tubes that fed the gas into his flamethrower were suddenly pinned down by bent metal.
A single warning flashed before his eyes, but he never got time to read it.
The resulting explosion was like thunder against a tin roof.
Weaver’s exoskeleton crumpled under the force of the blast. His body was sent flying with debris made of dirt, splinters, and chipped metal of his own cracked body. He slammed into the side of the ship, becoming pinned into the metal indentation he left behind.
“S-s-systems c-c-check,” he muttered with garbled words.
Sensory systems: critical.
Visual systems: critical
Auditory systems: critical
Mobility: severely damaged.
His Vision faded. His hearing faltered, he struggled to hear Tori scream at him, unable to tell what she was saying, nor from where. He raised his head. Trapped between the cracked lenses of his eyes was the image of the angry behemoth, its face shredded by shrapnel and singed with embers approached him, eyes burning with emerald rage.
He began to reach under the plate of his chest, turning a small dial where his heart should be clockwise. It stopped when it locked in place.
“Warning: Overloading reactor will result in self termination. Do not proceed unless other options have been exhausted, ” his systems warned him.
“There are no more options. Override.”
He prepared to turn the dial one final time as the timberwolves that began to surround him, nipping at his mangled legs.
The familiar shrill beep pierced Tori’s ears. She covered them, looking toward Weaver ‘s broken form with sheer panic. She knew what he was going to do. She wanted to yell for him to stop, but her voice ended up caught in her throat. Tori shut her eyes and waited for the tell tale click and the flash of hot white light.
Instead. a brilliant blue enclosed the large timberwolf, leaving it howling in confusion.
It was sent careening off into the sky, while its lackeys let go of Weaver and scattered out of fear with vibrant beams of purple and teal laser chasing after them. Four strange, horse like creatures moved quickly out of the forest as his vision completely failed, leaving Weaver in a pitch dark void.
“Are we too late Princess?” Asked one of them, weaver unable to make out who as his camera’s were cracked.
“I think it's still moving, Twilight.” said another, “but barely.”
She lowered herself closer to Weaver’s face, placing a hoof gently on Weaver’s face,“it’s ok, you’re safe now”
Weaver heard it. A familiar, friendly voice. One he hasn't heard in years. He reached up for it, desperate to find the source.
“D-doctor. It's- been *zzt* it's been so long.”
Before his hand could touch Twilight cheek, he collapsed, arm and all. Weaver’s mind went to a place. A place where no one could reach him.
Rainbow Dash's eyes fluttered as the bright rays of sunlight blinded her for a Moment. She could barely make out the two familiar silhouettes that hovered over her.
“Oh! Oh! Applejack! She's awake!”
Rainbow Dash tried sitting up. As she raised her head, a buzzing pain shot there her thighs and upper spine.
“Slow down sugar cube, ya landed on yer hip. Don't push yourself.”
Rainbow Dash bit down on her lip and tried again, “I'm f-fine.”
Scrunching her face, she forced herself up, swearing under her breath. But once again the familiar burn pulsed through her hips.
Gently, Applejack settled Rainbow Dash down onto the soft grass. Beads of sweat poured down her brow as she tried her best to endure the pain.
“We gotta find the others,” Rainbow Dash muttered between gritted teeth.
“We ain't going nowhere with you hurt,” Applejack said, “Now just hold still.”
Rainbow Dash shielded her eyes from the sun with her hoof, “Any ideas on where we are?”
Applejack shook her head. “No. No pony’s been this far out. Wait!”
Applejack stuffed her face into her saddle bag, retrieving a compass that she spat into her hoof.
“We still have- A broken compass. Well shoot,” she said throwing the useless device away.
Suddenly Pinkie Pie’s nose began to twitch.
“Guys GUYS! I smell smoke!”
The others sniffed the air.
“That's gotta be the others! A campfire!” Rainbow Dash said.
“Stay here, y'all”
Before Rainbow Dash could protest, Applejack started to gallop. Following her nose through thick brush, she hopped over moss covered stones, weaving between weeping willows and leaping over a creek. She emerged into a clearing where she could only gape in awe at what she found.
The thing was massive. It jutted awkwardly out of the ground like a mountain of metal on the edge of the clearing. Or rather what was left of the clearing. The entire place looked as though it had been bathed in dragon fire.
Applejack eased her way into the clearing, the smell of burnt, wet wood hung in the air like a fog. The closer she got to the strange machine the more details she could make out. Along the sides of the contraption were several thick, cracked windows that she couldn't see inside of.
Some kinda house? Applejack assumed as she reached a hoof to touch the massive letters printed below
“London? What's a London?”
“Applejack! Applejack you're okay!”
Fluttershy zipped past the others and wrapped her hooves around Applejack’s neck squeezing tightly, sobbing into her chest
“You're ok! Oh thank Celestia you're ok!”
“Applejack! We need your help hurry!”
“Twi? What's goin’ on? Did someone get. . .”
Her words trailed of as she saw Luna and aRarity struggled to pry a strange suit of armor from the metallic object.
It's head was crushed, three marble like eyes shattered with bits of glass falling from the lenses. It had only one arm, but the other was twisted and bent, leaking a grey viscous fluid. It kept trying to move but couldn't. It's legs bent, chest completely crushed in leaving a paw like indent. The eyes flicked as it tried to turn its head, stuck in the metal of whatever object held it in place.
“What happened!?” Applejack said softly, moving to the side of the creature. With one final tug it was pulled free and gently lowered to the ground.
“They were ambushed by timberwolves” Rarity explained, dragging a branch under the poor things head,”what is it?”
“Some kind of golem? I've never seen them this complex.” Twilight said, examining closer.
Luna shook her head, “Whatever it is, it's in great pain, I don't think it will survive this.”
The golem twitched its hand, raising it up suddenly and startlingly the ponies. It reached to the side of its head, gripping the side of its head and pulling on a circular object.
The part came off with a click, a medallion like device plugged into it's head. It offered it to anyone, hand shaking as it struggled to hold it's arm up.
“T-take it doctor. If you are there.”
All eyes fell on Twilight, who enveloped the object in her shimmering aura, she looked at the strange device gently . It was round, fitting in the palm of her hoof. With a uncertain look, she pocketed the object as Weaver laid his hand on her face.
"I brought her home doctor. I brought her-”
His voice ceased suddenly. The machine’s arm slipped off Rarity’s face and thudded onto the ground at its side, the light of its eyes flicked one last time. Soon all movement ended and Weaver laid still.
“Was there anything we could have done, Twilight?” Applejack asked.
“I've read that golems are powered by magic, maybe we could try and fix it?”
“I’m afraid there isn't anything we can do here,” Luna said solemnly as she conjured a blue blanket, resting over Weaver’s motionless body.
“Applejack, are Pinkie and Rainbow ok?’ Twilight asked hopefully,
“Yeah, but we need to get Rainbow a doctor.”
“Lets pack up then, I think we found our meteorite.”
“Let go of me!”
“Please don't squirm! I don't want to drop you!”
They were interrupted by Fluttershy, trying to calm the little girl down, but try as she might, Tori flailed in her grasp. Kicking and screaming as she tried to gently float back to the ground. She spotted the ponies surrounding a broken, unmoving Weaver, his hand poking from under the sheet.
Memory of countless people being placed under blue tarps flashed into Tori’s head like a nightmare. Overwhelmed with emotion, she struggled harder, causing Fluttershy almost fell out the air.
With a final tug she slipped free of Fluttershy’s hold. She tumbled to the ground, jumped to her feet and pushed past the ponies to get to her her friend. Applejack stepped forward in hopes of stopping her, only to be held back by Luna.
“Let her grieve,” Luna told her.
Tori’s eyes stung. She wiped away burning tears as she tried to wake him up. She didn't know how. She never learned how. But she had to. Shaky hands threw blanket off so she could see his face.
“Weaver! Wake up!”
“We’re home! You can't! We just got home!”
She tugged on his shoulders harder as Tears fell from her eyes.
“You were going to show me! You promised!”
The ponies watched in unbearable silence. Rarity looked to Luna, who was unable to say anything in comfort . Slowly Rarity approached the little girl placing a gentle hoof on her shoulder.
“Darling, he's gone.p,” Rarity said softly
Tori’s shrugged her off,” No he's not! Some one can fix him!”
Rarity Shook her head, “this isn't something you fix dear.”
Tori flamed her arms at the creature, “GO AWAY YOU FREAK! Go away! You can't bury him! He's my friend!”
Tori collapsed onto Weaver’s chest, bawling.
She didn't care what they were, they weren't touching him, Weaver was always her friend. In times like this he would hold her till the nightmares go away.
He would tell her that home was just a little further, all she had to do was be patient. A promise. They'd make it back to Earth, they'd come back and he would bring her not to the labs, or an office building, but straight back into the arms of her mother. And he would stay by her side.
He’s supposed to show her all the things she never got to see. A Zoo with monkeys and penguins. Riding in a real car. Holding a real book, color with actual crayons on real paper. But if he's gone, who would show her now? Who would take her home? Who would be her friend?
She continued to sob. Yelling at the strange little horses to keep away. She kept this up for what felt like an eternity. By the time her arms felt heavy, the sun was ducking behind the tree tops, but still she battled drowsiness. Until finally, her eyelids were too heavy and her eyes hurt too much to keep them open. She slept and hoped to hear his voice ask her to start a new day by his side, a dream so pleasant that she almost couldn't feel a familiar hand wrap around her own.