Down into the Deep

by DenyTheWitch

First published

On the distant Planet 4546B, two aliens must delve deep into the abyss to discover a way home, and discover a great many other secrets in the process. Some of which are not happy to be found.

Rainbowdash wanted to explore, and have awesome adventures in faraway lands, so when Twilight offered her the opportunity to go further than any pony has gone before, she took it. Now she's stranded on an Alien planet, with no way back home, and none of her friends. But she does find some very unlikely aid.

Ryley is a survivor from the spaceship Aurora, and as far as he can tell, he might be the only one, now after just having his hopes of rescue dashed, he is suddenly confronted with a different survivor, one who might just help him find a way of this planet after all.

Together the unlikely pair now need to uncover the mysteries of why they're both here, and what else is on Planet 4546B.

A crossover with the Game Subnautica, a highly entertaining game that I seriously suggest you play before reading this, or even if you don't read this story, just play the game, its good fun.

Also spoiler warning for the game, hence why you should just go play it, done that? Good, now time for story.

Unexpected distraction

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The Sunbeam was gone.

Ryley didn't know how long he'd been sitting there, staring out across the now quiet and calm ocean. He could hardly believe it when he'd first heard the Sunbeam over the radio, rescue at last! He could get off this miserably waterlogged planet. Ryley had raced for the Island rendezvous as soon as the Sunbeam told him to meet them there, dropping just about everything he was doing in the process, who cared, he was getting off this planet, he would be getting back to federation space.

Then Aliens happened.

He turned his head slightly to glare at the alien structure attached to the side of the Island, a massive obsidian construct jutting out from the side with a huge monolith reaching into the sky. To say he'd been surprised to see it there would be an understatement, he'd stared at the thing for a good few solid minutes before he finally shook himself to his senses. He'd had time before the Sunbeam arrived, so he decided to take a look inside, the place was creepy, no doubt about that, but it was also empty. Strange computers, glowing cubes and force fields notwithstanding. He hadn't finished exploring the base though when his PDA had informed him that the Sunbeam was entering the atmosphere and he had lost interest.

He'd raced back to the beach and was overjoyed when he saw it himself, a ship finally coming to take him home, Federation doctors could fix whatever alien disease he had so what? He was going home. Then the monolith had shifted, bits of it had moved about, and a giant gun had emerged from the structure. Ryley could do nothing but watch as it had charged up some strange energy, and then blown his salvation out of the sky.

"At least I know what happened to the Aurora now." He thought grimly, the Aurora, and every other ship that had ever crashed on this backwater deathtrap, shot down by an alien laser without any warning.

"I signed up with the Aurora to get away from all this crap, now I'm stuck on an alien planet, with more aliens out to kill me, except now I have to worry about my own food and water, and I'm not allowed to make any real guns!" A beeping from his PDA interrupted his musings.

"Seek Fluid Intake."

He sighed, well he probably needed to get back now anyway, probably think of a new plan to get off this planet, and not get shot down in the process, somehow. Standing up, he quickly sifted through what few supplies he had brought with him, all his water bottles where empty, he knew he had some back at his base, but he was thirsty. He looked up at the wierd trees with the thick stocky trunks, and the many small branches shooting directly up from said trunk, bulbo trees his PDA had called them. His scanner said they where good to eat, and its not like this day could get much worse anyway.

Shrugging he pulled out his knife and cut off a small piece of the tree bark, it tasted rather bland, and was also not very filling. Still, there where a lot of trees, and it didn't take much of a cut from each tree to get the small meals, so he set to work chipping away at them.

"Might make a good crop for the base, should probably bring some back with me." Ryley was keenly aware that he was just trying to distract himself from the mess with the Sunbeam, but he didn't really care, he needed to do something, and given his current line of thought, it wasn't like the distraction was working anyway.

"Okay, think Ryley, what did the old bastard use to say? Stop complaining about whats already happened and start thinking about what you can make happen. So first things first, if I want to get off this rock I definitly need to shut down that gun." He threw a glance back at the structure, the gun was folded back into the monolith now, no sign it had every been there to begin with.

"Easier said then done." A rustling sound to his left pulled him from his thoughts and he instead turned to look at the small, mountain, or large hill, that dominated the island, his hand shifting to his survival knife. The four legged, spider-like cave crawlers weren't particularly dangerous, their bites where too shallow to be actually threatening, and they didn't seem to have any venom, but they where still painful, and besides, he was in a foul mood right now and kicking around some cave crawlers seemed like it would be a good outlet for all that pent up rage.

So when something substantially larger that a cave crawler came tumbling down the mountain his first instinct was to back off, which he did, quickly darting behind one of the Bulboa trees to look around at the new alien. At which point he noticed several things at once.

One, it was very bright, not bright in the glowy kind he'd seen on this planet throughout the ocean, just brightly coloured, it had a bright blue coat and, what seemed to be rainbow coloured hair running down its neck.

Two, whatever it was it wasn't aquatic or amphibious, it had fur and way too much of it to be useful underwater, making this the first non aquatic or amphibious creature he'd seen on this planet except for himself and the Skyray's.

Three, it was hurt, whatever it was, its bright blue coat was covered in small scratches and cuts, with small amounts of blood slowly staining its fur, some of those wound looked fresh, likely from the cave crawlers that where currently crushed underneath it, or just the tumble down the mountain, that could do it too. It also wasn't moving.

After the shock of just, whatever it was, had worn off, he slowly started to creep towards it, carefully watching for any signs it might turn out to be hostile. Some might call Ryley paranoid for this, but those people hadn't been strapped on an alien planet for the past week. Ryley hadn't survived this long by not being careful, and he didn't intend to stop now.

Once he got closer to the alien, he could see that it was at least, or he thought it was. Its chest was rising and falling very slowly, but for all he knew that could just be an internal bacterial reaction and the alien was completely dead right now, he'd seen weirder. He also saw that, whatever it was, it had wings, not the kind he'd seen on the small Skyrays, these wings looked more in place on a terran bird.

Pulling out his scanner, he methodically ran it over the creature, noticing the scanner took a bit longer on this creature than it did with other things its size, when the scanner was complete and he looked at the results, he only grew even more confused as his PDA decided to read this info out for him.

"Scan complete. Species identified as, Pegasus. Scan data indicates that this creature seems to not be native to this planet, a visitor, like you." He scowled at that last bit, whoever it was that decided to give these PDA's personality, he didn't see why that personality had to be a snarky, wisecracking smartarse. Still, his temporary annoyance quickly morphed back into shock, whatever this creature was, it wasn't native, which meant it had come here as well, somehow, which meant it was probably intelligent, another sapient creature, on this watery hell of a planet.

Ryley gazed down at the alien, the Pegasus, at his feet, reeling with all this information, thinking over what to do. A sapient alien, probably a survivor of another crash like him, another survivor. He still hadn't found any other Aurora crew members since he woke up, just their data boxes none of which had boded well for their fates, but now he finally found another survivor, okay it wasn't his crew, it wasn't even his species, but he'd be dammed if he wasn't going to save someone now that he finally had the opportunity.

Scooping up the Pegasus in his arms, he gently but quickly carried it to his Seamoth submarine, still floating where he had left it right next to the Island. After lowering the alien gently to the bottom of the glass cockpit, he sat himself down in the pilot seat, closed the hatch, and started the long trip back to base.

Violent Meetings

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Rainbow Dash's head hurt.

Now this of itself wasn't a particularly unusual feeling for her, nor where the many aches all over her body suggesting she'd crashed into something. Much as she didn't like to admit it, she'd been through quite her fair share of crashes over the course of all her stunt practices. So feeling like she'd just woken up from one wasn't particularly unusual for her. Though this particular after crash headache seemed more debilitating than most. "What, what happened this time? Did I hit Twilight's castle or something?"

Groaning quietly, she slowly, oh so very slowly, tried to stand up, all her muscles ached, and she felt several sharp pains around her face, neck and upper body, and she fell back down tot he floor, the surprisingly cold floor. That jolt got her to open her eyes, which immediately only made her headache even worse, as her vision was immediately assaulted with lots of blurry white images in between all the light spots she was now rapidly blinking out of her eyes as she now grumbled to herself.

"This is definitely not cool, where am I now anyway?" Her vision was starting to clear up now, more white, basically everywhere, the hospital maybe? She didn't feel like she was on a bed though, what did they just dump her on the floor?

"How did I even crash anyway?" It was all still fuzzy, she remembered something about some magic thingie that got Twilight all excited, and she remembered that Twi had asked her to participate in some kind of test, but the rest? Not a clue.

By now however her thoughts where interrupted by a few other startling realizations, her head had cleared up enough to get see straight, and it was now immediately obvious to Rainbow Dash that she was not in Ponyville hospital, or any hospital that she knew of for that matter. Whatever room she was in, it was round, like the inside of a can, maybe some kind of tunnel, it was also completely empty, no beds, no tables, no lamps, just some very bright light coming from the roof of wherever she was. "What the hay?"

Instinctively she jumped up to try and hover, but as soon as she moved her wings, she felt a very sharp spike of pain from her joints, and she fell back to the ground with a short cry of pain. "My wings haven't hurt that much since I first flew the Hurricane marathon." She recognized muscle fatigue when she felt it, but for it to be that painful, she would have had to of flown at least five times the width of Equestria, she'd done the Marathon when she was just barely past being a filly.

The more immediate concern of where in all of Equestria she was soon distracted her from the wing pains, the tunnel she was in seemed to be closed off at both ends, one was the same plain white as the other walls, but the other was a mix of grey and white with what was clearly some kind of door in the middle, along with a very large and weirdly shaped handle. Snorting to herself, Rainbow trotted up to the door "Somepony is going to regret a lesson beaten into them for this." When she reached the door however, she ran into a problem, the massive handle had a gap in it just barely large enough for her whole hoof to fit in, but it was also pushed in place, she couldn't turn it one way or another. "I'm not gonna let some stupid door stop me," she growled, and then began trying to pull the handle out of the door, she felt it give for a tiny moment, then there was a loud clang from the other side of the door, and the handle remained stuck. Eyes wide, Rainbow gave it a few more forceful pulls, only to get the same result, she then tried pushing the handle, no loud clang but it still didn't budge, then the door, nothing.

"Hey, where am I, who put me here, I know somepony did, is this another one of your jokes Discord? Well its not funny. Open this door!" Ranbow was now running up and down the tiny tube, banging on the walls and door now, bucking and kicking them with increasing speed. But she only succeed in giving herself even more pain, whatever this place was made off it was tough, and the ringing echoes didn't do much for her still lingering headache either. Rainbow was panicking now, resorting to full on ramming the door, only to get another loud ringing clang for her efforts, and another headache.

Then she heard a voice, somewhat feminine but also somehow, wrong, and not speaking any language she'd ever heard of before. It also seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. The shock of it got Rainbow to sit still for a moment, before a hasty plan came up in her head and she quietly rushed to the door and pushed her ear against it. There, hoofsteps, or maybe footsteps, they sounded a lot more like the sounds Spike or Gilda made when they walked than a pony. When she heard the footsteps coming closer towards the door, she backed off a few steps and crouched down, waiting silently.

Ryley, sighed a breath of, well not fresh but slightly less stale air as he closed the hatch behind him, the base AI voice calling out its usual greeting. "Welcome aboard, captain."

"Yeah yeah, welcome me, captain of the empty base." That grumbling however suddenly reminded him that actually, this base wasn't so empty anymore. "Maybe the Pegasus is awake now? Better check on it." So after quickly stuffing the few bits of scrap metal and vines he'd been collecting into the lockers, he made his way round the first corner to the newest extension of his base. He'd added a few more straight segments to put the alien in, lacking a bed, carpet or, well anything really he'd left the creature on the floor, though not before using one of his medkits to patch up its worse cuts. Ryley had then added a bulkhead to separate the Pegasus from the rest of the base, he didn't want it wandering around the place messing everything up while he was gone, but the problem had been on how to keep the creature there.

The Bulkheads where designed to stop a breach from flooding the entire base, so they sealed tight but they weren't meant to be locked, but if the Pegasus could somehow open the door, then the point would be made moot. As for how the Pegasus would open the door he wasn't sure, but he didn't feel like taking any chances, so he'd placed a small block of titanium behind the other handle to stop it from getting out. "it probably resents getting locked up but too bad, my base, my rules and I'm not risking getting this base scrapped because some curious alien started to wander around and pushed the wrong buttons." Not that his base actually had any buttons aside from the radio switch, but still, the point remained, he hadn't survived this long by taking unnecessary risks.

Reaching the door he slowly leaned against it listening for if it had woken up yet, after a few seconds of hearing nothing he decided to knock gently against the door to make sure, still nothing. "Probably still resting, poor bugger." Shrugging, he reached down and removed the titanium block, before pushing the big metal handle forwards and then twisting it to the left, and then pushing the door open.

The next thing he saw was a blur of blue and rainbow rushing towards his head, violently knocking him down and banging his head against the floor as the blur rushed on past him.

Rainbow didn't glance back at the, whatever that thing was (some kind of Minotaur maybe?), and made a dash forwards instead, normally she'd be happy to give whatever creep decided to lock her in a big tin can a good pummeling, but she was tired, and much as it galled her, she knew she was in no position to fight, even with the surprise she had, so she ran. Unfortunately she was finding that there wasn't much to run too, just barely past the door there was a long left turn ahead in the tunnel she was in, along with, she just barely noticed, a very sharp right turn. Making a snap decision she jumped left, bounced off the wall and into the right corridor. It seemed the right decisions when she saw some kind of blue beyond a glass window at the end of this tunnel, and she bounded towards it, intending to smash her way through like one of those superheroes Spike always went on about. Then something flew past the window.

Or rather it swam, Rainbow quickly came to a stop just before she reached the glass and took a moment to properly look out at what was outside. Ocean, beyond the glass was ocean, as far as she could see, very dark ocean at that, with a few strange looking fish things swimming about, but aside from that, it was just ocean.

"What the..." A series of loud shouts from behind snapped her out of the trance, and she quickly remembered what she was doing. "Right, escape now, sight see later, this ways no good, looks like left turn it is." She bounded back to the intersection and now went the other way, not before sparing a glance to the left at the Minotaur thing. It had gotten back up, she could now see it was about as tall as Princess Celestia, if not taller! Its skin was a light brown colour, what skin wasn't covered in some kind of bodysuit. And now it was clutching some kind of spear thing in its hands, it seemed to be holding it backwards though, and it didn't look very sharp.

She didn't spare much more than that glance at it before she went bounding down the winding turn she had previously avoided. This lead to a seeming dead end with a sharp right turn again, and she could see some bits of light from there! Running just a bit faster, she once again bounced her way off the opposite wall, and then stopped.

Ryley staggered back up, seeing something that small leaping for his head, that had brought up some unpleasant memories. "Calm down, you're not in space Ryley, your on a planet, and ocean planet, the murder aliens are all in the ocean. Well, except maybe the one your brought into your own base!" Shaking his head, he looked down to realize he'd whipped out his stasis rifle when getting up, it wasn't a real gun, but the shape was somewhat comforting.

This whole thing had taken barely a few seconds, so he was somewhat surprised when he already heard some more clatter and looked back up to see the Pegasus come running back away from the main hatch, and instead going further along the base, down the unfinished section. "Bad move there little one, though I do have to thank you for running away from the only exit."

Ryley waited, aiming his stasis rifle down the corridor he was sure the alien would come running back down any second now, this wasn't a big base after all. After a few seconds however, he saw no sign, and in fact he didn't even hear anything. "You're not getting me with that trick again."

And with that, Ryley began to advance, slowly and methodically, peeking around the corner, stasis rifle ready, but still nothing. Suddenly a single panicked thought broke out in his head. "Oh shit, the glass tunnel!" And with that, most caution was thrown out the window as Ryley dashed around to the T-junction, took aim and saw...

The Pegasus, just sitting there, hooves on the glass wall, staring out at the ocean, it didn't even seem to have noticed him. Ryley waited for it to do something anything, but it just kept staring, and finally, Ryley decided to end this stalemate, he coughed quietly, and the aliens head turned straight at him, freakishly large red eyes seeming to display a, vacancy. Finally it croaked out, something, probably words, he couldn't understand the words themselves, but the meaning behind them was clear, it was a question. What is this?

Ryley just sighed, lowered his rifle slightly, and gave what he hoped was a universal gesture, he shrugged. The Pegasus just continued to sit there for a moment and then it did something he didn't expect at all.

It started to cry.

Communication difficulties

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Ryley wasn't sure what to do, the Rainbow haired Pegasus was crying, sobbing right in front of him, head held down, staring at the floor. Now Ryley himself didn't really do emotions, at least not the touchy feely variety, if this had been a human crying in front of him, he would have been equally befuddled. The fact that the aliens actions where so, human, just made this even more confusing.

And those eyes, Ryley had never met any Sapient alien before, not really, but he'd always figured if he did, that alien would be very, well alien, not the least bit human. But this Pegasus creature, it's eyes looked to familiar, so human, even despite their freakish size.

"Um, there there? Take it easy, I'm not gonna hurt you." He tried in his best comforting voice, as gently put his rifle down and awkwardly held his arms out in what he hoped was a placating manner.

"Look, I can tell your upset, but there's no need to cry, okay? Okay? Please stop crying." Then his PDA spoke up.

"Pegasus speaks in a unknown language, given this, it is highly unlikely that it understands English, I perhaps try charades instead."

"And why don't you just shut up and get to translating its language, little smart-arse." He grumbled quietly, glaring at the PDA on his waist.

"More audio data required." Ryley was about to retort again when he noticed that the crying had stopped.

Glancing back up, he found himself now staring into the now harsh glare of the Pegasus. It's bright red eyes still moist, but now narrowing at him.

Sparing a quick glance at the Stasis rifle now on the floor, he looked back to the Pegasus and slowly waved one of his outstretched hands.

"Um, hi again."

Rainbow remembered now, staring out into the strange, alien ocean, she remembered how she got here, she didn't remember much, but she remembered enough.

Twilight had found some weird portal thing, and she'd said it could allow them to travel to another world. Rainbow had been ecstatic at the idea. She could go exploring, discover strange treasures and ancient civilizations, like Daring Do!

It had taken a while for Twilight to get the portal working but once she did, Rainbow Dash was the first pony through. From there, something went wrong, the portal closed behind her stranding Rainbow at it's exit. It had only taken a glance at the night sky, as well as a few face slaps to make sure she wasn't dreaming, before she knew she was at the least on another planet. Last she'd checked Equestria didn't have a giant red moon as well as the regular one, the stars had all been wrong too.

At first she had waited, but after a few days of waiting on the small, barren, empty island the portal stood on she heard a faint bang, like an explosion in the distance. By this point Rainbow had tired of waiting, she'd already taken a few short flights around the island, there weren't any other islands nearby that she could see while keeping the island the portal was on in sight. And so when she heard the distant bang, she made up her mind, waiting around for somepony else to save her had never been Rainbow Dash's style, so she picked up her bag, pulled out her compass to remember which direction she had come from, and flew.

That flight had taken days, there where only occasionally any clouds low enough to rest on, and she was very quickly eating her way through her food supply. Occasionally she had considered landing in the water for a quick rest, but she always felt this strange sense of dread when she considered it, like if she went into the water, she wouldn't be taking off afterwards, and when one night she saw a large glowing shape seem to move just below the surface, she stayed away fromt he water for the rest of the flight.

Finally, after nearly a week of constant flying, where she was sure she'd gotten lost, she saw a flash of green, and then yellow, and finally another bang, much louder this time. She saw the explosion in the sky, and made a beeline straight for it, something that made things explode in the sky probably wasn't friendly, but it had to come from somewhere, and Rainbow was well and truly exhausted by that point.

And then at last she saw an island, with greenery and some kind of structure attached to it, she flew in towards it, tried to land, crashed instead, and then woke up in the tunnel- no, in the underwater base.

She had forgotten all that, but when she saw the strange ocean on the other side of the glass, she remembered, she remembered just how far from home she was. She would never admit it to her friends if- when she got back home, but she had cried then. The stress of the last few days, the pain she still felt from waking up, and the sudden memory of what happened just broke her, and so she cried.

She wasn't sure how long she had been crying when she heard the almost-minotaur again. But it shook her out of the melancholy for a moment. "Pull it together girl, can't let this thing see me wussing out."

Wiping her leg across her face to clear away the tears, Rainbow took a moment to steel herself, and turned her best glare on the almost-minotaur.

Now that she had a better look at it, it was only really a minotaur in its upright stance and arms. It's head was much flatter and thinner, and it had no horns. It's face had no fur, but except on the top of its head head, and frankly looked a bit like a monkey's. The fur on top of its head was black with a small line of green in the middle. Aside from its face only its hands, the same light brown and furless skin as its face, where visible, the rest of it was in some kind of bodysuit, which didn't look very tough.

Rainbow narrowed her eyes further, an alien then, okay. She stood up. "Alright buster, I have a few questions right now, and if you don't want wake up feeling worse than me you'd better answer them!"

The alien looked at her for a moment, then it shrugged again. Rainbow frowned.

"I'm serious, why are we underwater? How did I get here?"

The alien kept staring, then it spoke very slowly. "Mi ne povas kompreni vin." Rainbow shook her head.


"Mi ne povas kompreni vin." This time it shrugged and shook its head with that statement.

Rainbow sighed, it couldn't speak equish and she definitely couldn't speak whatever gibberish that thing was spouting. This was going to be a long conversation.

Ryley frowned when the Pegasus seemed to give up on the conversation, he sympathized with its frustration but as long as it was talking the PDA was translating. Despite knowing what the answer would probably be he he asked the device a question. "How many words have you figured out."

"No words of Pegasus subject's language can be confirmed as of now, perhaps you should get it to speak more than three lines." The cool synthetic voice spoke out. Ryley wasn't quite sure if he was ever going to get used to the PDA's sense of humour, or its annoying about of sass.

"Veavi isigu?" Ryley looked back to see the Pegasus looking at him curiously. It pointed at his PDA with a hoof. "Veavi gilusi sapuli?" An idea came to him.

Ryley picked up the PDA and held it in front of himself, the transparent interface facing the Pegasus. "This, he said pointing at it, "PDA." He tapped it with a finger "PDA."

The Pegasus slowly pointed a hoof at the device. "P, D, A." It said slowly. Ryley grinned and nodded. Then he pointed at himself.

"Ryley," he said slowly. "Ryley Robinson."

"Rii-lae Robensan." Ryley frowned.

"Ry-ley. Rob-in-son." He repeated even more slowly.

"Ryley. Rob-insom." It repeated. Ryley pondered for a moment.

"Eh, close enough." Then he nodded and smiled. He also noted the Pegasus was, if not smiling, at least it wasn't scowling. Now Ryley slowly pointed at the Pegasus. It caught on quick.

Pointing a hoof at itself it announced "Rainbow Dash." Tapping its own chest somewhat proudly, then it or said some other stuff way too fast for Ryley to follow before repeating, "Rainbow Dash."

"Rainbow Dash." Said Ryley, still pointing at the Pegasus, and it smiled and nodded. Ryley glanced back down at the PDA with a smirk. "How's that for translating you dinner tray."

The PDA said nothing, and then Ryley saw the Pegasus- no, Rainbow Dash, staring at him quizzically, its head cocked to the side. Ryley coughed quietly and put the PDA back on his belt. "So we know each others names, great, now what?" He wondered, eyes rolling up as he pondered the thought. Up to see the first sparks of daylight shining on the surface, he grinned.

"Rainbow Dash." It hadn't stopped staring at him, it now looked more confused than ever to be frank. Ryley pointed up. It's eyes followed his fingers to the surface. He asked again. "Rainbow Dash, up?"

It looked back at him, then at his still pointing fingers, and nodded.

Getting to the surface proved to be a challenge, first the window turned out to be a hatch, and Rainbow had panicked quite a bit when the Ryley opened the hatch, rushing back into the corner of the base, but when a torrent of water flooding the base had failed to materialize she managed to calm down. Though it did take Ryley a few more demonstrations of opening and closing the hatch till she actually stepped through said hatch into the ocean. Rainbow Dash didn't know how the hatch prevented water form getting inside when it opened, she wasn't an egghead but she was pretty sure an open hole into the ocean usually leads to a flooded ship, or base in this case. She ended up just chalking it to magic, Twilight had done crazier things before.

Getting to the surface also proved to be a little challenge, Rainbow Dash had never been a bad swimmer per-se, but she usually relied on her wings when underwater swimming, and with her wings still aching from fatigue, that option was out. Instead the Ryley had to grab Rainbow Dash and drag her to surface, degrading as it was. Fortunately it was a strong swimmer, Rainbow noticed some fins seem to sprout from its feet when it entered the water, maybe the rest of the suit did that?

When they breached the surface of the water, the very first thing to catch Rainbow Dash's eye was, well, she wasn't sure what it had been before, but right now it was definitely a wreck, a very, very big wreck. She remembered seeing it in the distance just before she crashed, but even then, she didn't think it was this big. "That thing is huge, it's bigger than Canterlot castle! Is that a spaceship? Is that what Ryley came from?" It was mostly white with some orange patterns, though she could see many rents and gashes all along it that ruined the paint job a bit and some much larger holes that exposed the black metal superstructure.

She turned to stare at the Ryley, pointing at the wreck. "Did you crash here in that?" It looked at her for a moment. "Right,
can't speak." But it seemed to get the message, it nodded slowly, then pointed at the wreck.

"Aurora. Crash." Rainbow stared at the wreck again for a few more seconds, before finally tearing her gaze away from the wreckage and looked around. There where tiny little things flying around, they looked a bit like Birds, except their wings where less, well winglike, they looked more like flaps attached onto the flyers than actual wings, but whatever they where, they seemed to work well enough. Rainbow decided to look for something else before she got jealous.

But aside from the wreck, there wasn't much, there was a small metal ball thing floating nearby, it seemed very similar to the giant wreck in colour, except, well it wasn't a wreck. "Maybe a lifeboat?" Nothing else was nearby aside form the raft, looking to the right away from the wreck Rainbow could see what might have been an island, it was too far to tell, but looking directly opposite the wreckage, she could see another Island, one that looked a bit more familiar. "That's where I crashed, its not too far from here."

Then Rainbow Dash remembered something, something very important.

"My bags! They weren't with me when I woke up!"

Glancing back at the Ryley, she saw it was just looking at her, probably seeing how she would react, it was a bit creepy honestly with its mask and everything but right now Rainbow had other things to worry about. "My saddle bags, did you bring those back with me?" It blinked at her, she growled. "If only Twilight where here, she could cast some magic to make this so much easier."

"Rainbow Dash, carrying something, you see?" It blinked again, then shrugged.

"Mi ne povas kompre-" She shoved her hoof in its face.

"Yeah yeah, you don't understand me, I get it." She though for a moment, then remembered the PDA thing, looking down she saw it still had it and some other things attached to its waist. She pointed at them. "Ryley Robinson, carry." It looked down at its own waist, then it slowly picked up, something, it wasn't the PDA but that didn't matter to Rainbow.

"Ryley carry?" It pointed at the thing in its hand, then at its waist. Rainbow Dash nodded rapidly.

"Yeah yeah, now. Rainbow Dash, carry." She pointed at her own back as she said so. Ryley looked thoughtful at this, eyes down, at least, Rainbow thought that was thoughtful, it could well be hungry for all she knew. Whatever it did it took its sweet time doing it before looking back up at her.

It pointed at her back, "Rainbow Dash, carry." Rainbow nodded, then it shook its head. Rainbow frowned.

"Assuming it understood me, then my bags must still be on the Island." She looked back at the tall Island, its mountain jutting into the sky. "If I could still fly that would be a breeze, but right now." She looked back at her wings, then at Ryley.

"Rainbow Dash, up." She pointed at the mountain island in the distance. Ryley looked that way, then chuckled.

"Rainbow Dash, iru, sed," it held up its hands as Rainbow started to glare at it. "Ryley Robinson, iru ankaŭ." It pointed at the Island. Rainbow looked at Ryley for a moment, then she smirked and nodded.

"Okay then, lets go."

Mountain Mysteries

View Online

Ryley hadn't had much time to rest and relax since the crash, his time had been spent finding food, constructing his base, and avoiding all the things in the ocean that tried to kill him. Because of all that, he sometimes forgot just how majestic this ocean could be.

At least, the parts that didn't try to kill you.

The massive kelp forests had been passed a little while ago, and they could now see the base of the island itself in the distance. Rainbow Dash had spent the entire trip staring at everything in wide eyed wonder. Pointing and shouting at everything she could see, from floating rocks to Gasopods and even the giant Reefbacks in the distance, everything seemed to catch her interest. It made the cockpit significantly smaller, a Seamoth was meant for one pilot, and just the pilot, and certainly not an extra hyperactive tiny horse as a passenger.

It hadn't been hard to get rainbow into the Seamoth, while she had a rather amusingly startled reaction to him resurfacing with it, she quickly caught on to his meaning, and climbed into the cramped confines to the Seamoth cockpit. She had seemed slightly unnerved when he went straight down with the seamoth, but after that the ocean proved a handy distraction.

That was also around the time he started thinking of Rainbow Dash as a she. He didn't have much to base that on honestly, the voice which could be the deepest most masculine voice there was among Pegasus as far as he knew. But it sounded feminine to him so she it was, it was better than referring to Rainbow as it anyway.

So anyway, Rainbow Dash, a she, and she while at first she had spent the trip suspiciously staring at him, now she was taking this little trip to gawk at practically everything they saw in this strange ocean. In some ways it was starting to bug Ryley, but on the other hand, he could understand it, if he hadn't been so busy trying to survive he probably would have spent more time gawking at this strange ocean himself. "Honestly I probably did gawk a little at a few of these things at first, definitely stared at the first Reefback I saw." But more than that, it was nice to just see anyone aside from himself do anything in this ocean, Rainbow Dash's wonder just served as a small reminder that he wasn't alone on this planet anymore, okay Rainbow wasn't human, but she wasn't some stupid alien fish either.

There was also the fact that Rainbow kept chatting about everything she saw, now of course Ryley couldn't understand a word of it, but the more Rainbow talked, the more data his PDA acquired and the sooner they could have proper translated conversations. "Then we won't have to play charades every time we want to talk about something."

It also helped that Rainbow looked genuinely adorable as she did all this, it was almost enough to make him forget the little ambush she'd pulled in the base.


By this point they'd cleared the second kelp forest and now there wasn't much to see, except for the rising pillar of stone in front of them. "We're here." He said with a flourish, grandiosely waving his arm in the direction of the Island.

Rainbow Dash stared at him for a few moments until he lowered his arm sheepishly, then turned her head to stare at the approaching mountain. "Still charades, okay then."

Compared to the ground around it, the underwater part of the island wasn't impressive, the same dull grey as the sea floor surrounding the island, but it's size certainly made it stand out, and it was at least interesting enough to keep Rainbow's gaze as they approached. Ryley hadn't explored too much of the island when he was last here, the impending arrival of the Sunbeam and the Alien structure that had ended up shooting it down had been somewhat distracting, he did remember that the nearest beach was a but further past this part of the Island, so he drove on past despite the questioning glance from Rainbow Dash as he did so, though she didn't do much more than that. And as they started to rise, getting closer to the beach, an idle thought stuck him.

"I wonder if she remembers the alien monolith?"

The submarine itself that they where in was pretty cramped, with Rainbow Dash having to squeeze herself up against the glass cockpit at Ryley's feet. And it would have been humiliating if she wasn't distracted by the ocean around them, and honestly it was pretty cool. Rainbow wasn't an egghead like Twilight or a big animal lover like Fluttershy, so maybe some of the appeal was lost in her, but right now, exploring a strange and far away ocean, she felt a bit like Daring Do, and that was never a bad thing in Rainbow's book. The fish where weird, like the ones with massive eyes filling pretty much their entire heads, or the big cow looking fish with the giant butts that farted had all the time, that had gotten a snicker out of her.

Then there had been the massive kelp forests, with the sharp toothed fish who went swimming around carrying pieces of metal in their mouths. Some of them had tried to attack the sub which had given Rainbow a good look at their long mouths full of sharp pointy teeth. After that had been some much bigger predator fish, some of them swimming along the sea floor, all flat looking or even buried in the sand, before bursting up to charge and gobble some other unfortunate fish. Then there where the big armoured fish with heads a bit too similar to dragons for comfort. They had swam right up to the sub, and Ryley went about making a few turns to get out of their way, he didn't seem quite so amazed with this ocean either, (she was fairly sure Ryley was a he by now).

Eventually though, she saw the big cliff in front of them before being startled when Ryley suddenly loudly said something in that weird language of his and pointed his arm at the cliff, eventually Ryley eventually let his arm down after a short bit of awkward staring, and Rainbow just decided to file that under weird alien things. But when the Submarine started to rise up she realized what he was probably going for. "That must be the island, weird way to say that."

When the sub surfaced Rainbow was immediately greeted with the sight of, well it looked a bit like a mountain, except it was really, really small. I mean sure it definitely was the tallest thing she could see right now, but given she couldn't see anything else above water, in fact when Rainbow looked back at the wreck in the distance, it honestly looked a lot taller that this tiny mountain. Yes Rainbow had seen it before, but from a distance and all by itself it had looked so much bigger, to what it actually looked like now, it was honestly pretty disappointing.

But while Rainbow was comparing the mountain and the wreck, the sub had kept moving, and when Rainbow turned around disappointment was suddenly the farthest thing from her mind.

The sub was now past the "mountain" part of this island, coming up on a beach, but behind the beach, previously obscured by the mountain, was, well, an alien tower! And not the same kind of alien as Ryley and the wreck, Rainbow wasn't an architect or a fashion designer but even she could immediately see that this alien building was her, very different from Ryley's alien things.

It was completely black for one, and for another it was blocky, very blocky, no curves on it anywhere she could see, just blocks attached to other blocks. It was also pretty tall, obviously not as tall as the mountain, which yes Rainbow had been complaining was small, but that was small for a mountain, which was very clearly what the thing looked like. This alien building was tall for a building, it looked a bit like a tower.

Even though she was pretty sure she'd know the answer, she still turned back to Ryley, wide eyed, and pointed at the alien tower in front of them. Ryley looked slightly smug at her face, but she saw his expression fall rather noticeably when he looked back up at the Tower. He shook his head and shrugged, Rainbow was starting to get really tired of that reaction.

When they finally landed Rainbow was the first to scramble out, desperate to stretch her legs on dry land, and to take a look at the big tower. She immediately ran off towards the alien building as soon as her hooves had touched the sand, forget exploring the ocean, an alien ruin? That was absolutely like Daring Do. She didn't get far though, before she heard some shouting from behind her. She looked back to Ryley. "What?"

He pointed at the Alien tower, shaking his head emphatically. "Rainbow Dash, carry, ne." Then Ryley pointed at the mountain. "Rainbow Dash, carry."

Rainbow simply stared at Ryley, she'd been doing that a lot lately, then she hesitantly pointed at the Tower. "I wasn't going to carry, ohhhh." Understanding slammed into her like one of Pinkie Pie's surprise parties. "We're here to get my bags and I'm pretty sure I didn't crash into that thing." Then she looked back to the tower. "But that tower looks so cool, the kind filled with booby traps and treasure and everything."

Eventually, and unfortunately, reason won out in her little internal argument and with a heavy sigh she turned her head away from the Tower and to the small boring mountain instead. By then Ryley had caught up with her and was now standing with her staring at the mountain. It was then that another problem made its presence known.

Rainbow Dash hadn't eaten anything since her last stop, and while she herself didn't know exactly how long ago that was, she had been flying for one and a half days straight when she crashed into this island. After that she had been sleeping in that weird base, and then she had woken up and done all this. So needless to say, Rainbow was pretty hungry, and while before the adrenaline, the sadness, and then the wonder at everything around her had been sufficient distractions, now her stomach refused to be ignored.

And so it was that as Rainbow was staring at the mountain, wondering how long that would take to climb since she still couldn't fly, with the Alien Ryley standing right next to her, that a loud growl echoed from her belly, and a sharp pang of hunger struck her.

There was a moment of silence after that, before Rainbow broke it with an embarrassed chuckle. "He he, guess I better get my bags so I can finally eat huh." Her cheeks felt a bit warm as she turned to look at Ryley, who it appeared had jumped back eight hooves and was now crouched down holding his weird blunt spear thing again. This time Rainbows chuckles where far more sincere and amused, and later accompanied by some snickering.

"What, never heard a hungry hungry pony before?" She pushed out between snickers, he looked offended and about to retort when her stomach growled again, and Rainbow clutched her guy with one hoof. Ryley started to reach for its belt before he seemed to the no better of it, then he started talking to his PDA thing, much to Rainbows confusion.

"What are you talking abo-" Ryley loudly shushed her and held up one hand with a single finger raised, then started listening to it's PDA, this time to Rainbows annoyance. "Hey don't you shush me, what are you-" Then Ryley pulled out a knife from its belt.

This time Rainbow leapt back in alarm. "Hey, what's the big idea!" But Ryley just ignored her and instead made its way to one of the weirdly small trees, which it proceeded to stab with its knife, and pulls off a strip of bark. Alarm had given way to confusion now, as Ryley, knife back on its belt, strode over to Rainbow and held out the bark. She stared at it, then sniffed it cautiously, it smelled a bit more moist than most bark, and a bit more tangy, but it was otherwise just bark, alien bark but still bark. She looked up at the aliens face.

"What's this for?" He sighed, ripped off a small piece of the bark with its hands, then stuffed said piece into his mouth. Realization then dawned on Rainbow Dash, horrible, horrible realization.

"You want me to eat BARK! Are you kidding me!"

Ryley seemed unaffected by her outburst, instead simply shoving the bark closer to her face while chewing in a very overt fashion. Rainbow pulled her head back away from the bark, eyes fixated on the piece of wood in front of her. "No way! That's disgusting." The bark was pushed closer and Rainbow took a step back as it did so.

"You like that bark so much you have it!" She desperately twisted her head around, keeping her mouth as far away from the bark as possible while Ryley kept step with her, still holding out the bark. That was when she remembered something very simple about this Island that could solve her current problem.

It was covered in grass.

And so, as Ryley took yet another step forwards, Rainbow Dash reached down, and took a big mouthful of grass from the ground. Then she looked back up at Ryley, and started to chew enthusiastically. Still chewing, she bragged, "see, grass, I can eat this, don't need bark, nooo way." She grinned around her current mouthful. Ryley just stared at her in confusion this time, then he threw away the bark in his hand in exasperation, ranting about something, and waving his hands around while kicking a tree as he walked past it.

Rainbow sighed in relief as Ryley turned back to the mountain, bark now forgotten, and began to get into another conversation with his PDA thing while Rainbow started to graze. "This is actually really nice grass."

Finding Rainbows bag was far less challenging that Ryley had thought it would be. There was a path up the mountain marked by weird alien lamp things, which lead up to a small clearing up the mountain. Said clearing had a severely damaged tree and a crushed bush in it, which had made it fairly obvious where Rainbow had crashed.

The bags themselves looked a bit strange, more like waist held bags around a belt, but it probably made sense for a Pegasus. The bags were also rather better off than he would have thought they'd be, it seemed like the Cave Crawlers had completely ignored them. But when Rainbow opened the bags, she was rather unhappy, and it didn't take any charades to guess why, something was missing.

And so, after Rainbow explained she was missing some kind of crystal, which did take a few rounds of charades, they had started to scour the entire mountain and all its caves. There where a few surprises in the caves, firstly yet more of the strange lanterns, and strange alien cables built into the walls. A more pleasant surprise had been finding the mountain full of lithium and shale rocks, which held among other things things, more lithium, gold and diamonds! Rainbow wasn't happy when he kept stopping to collect/smash all of these, but was quickly distracted by a far less pleasant or surprising thing in the mountain. Cave Crawlers, everywhere.

"Fuck off!" Ryley cried as he batted another leaping crawler out the air with a swing of his rifle, it would have been a waste of charge to shoot them, but he and Rainbow had already collected more than enough little scars from the crawlers for the both of them to be fed up with the things. Rainbow immediately set upon the downed crawler, crushing it underfoot (underhoof?) with particular vigour. Being the smaller of the two and lacking a Rifle with which to bat them away, she had taken the lions share of bites from the crawlers, and her initial shock at seeing him viciously stomp one to death had very quickly morphed to enthusiastic participation.

That said the crawlers bites where not deep, or poisonous or anything else that might make them dangerous. Just painful and annoying, so they didn't slow their progress down very much. Also Rainbows constant grumbling was providing the PDA with a nice supply of words to help it's translation along.

And so with the latest annoyance dealt with, and another helpful flow of what Ryley was pretty sure where yet more expletives and swears. The two continued on in search of the one particular gem that was just soo important.

"Rainbow coloured gem, rainbow coloured gem. Maybe a memento? A family relic?" It was thoughts like that which had been running through Ryley's head when he wasn't busy dealing with Crawlers. It was obviously important, given Rainbows continued determination to search for it in spite of all the crawler injuries she had received, but in what particular way he wasn't sure.

It was at that moment that Rainbow let out another sudden shout. Ryley whirled around rifle held in a batting grip as he prepared to fight off yet another Crawler, but instead saw the tail of Rainbow Dash as she rushed around a corner and out of sight.

"Hey, wait up!" He knew she couldn't understand him, but he hoped the shout would get the point across. Still he quickly ran after her, not counting on it. And as he rounded the corner she had disappeared behind he quickly discovered what had gotten her attention, as she was now cradling a large Rainbow colored glowing rock, about the size of his fist and perfectly smooth in her hooves. But even as he sighed in relief at this little adventure in the mountain being over, he noticed that Rainbow was not looking at the gem, but was instead staring wide eyed past a corner he had yet to see.

As he walked over to take a look for himself Rainbowdash suddenly took off running straight for whatever she had seen, Ryley let out another sigh, this one of exasperation, before he jogged round to catch up. And suddenly stop to gawk at what he saw.

The room had an opening in the roof where daylight shone down into a room full of alien structures, there where more lanterns along the side leading to a natural bridge, Hanging from the roof on either side of this bridge where two massive roof lights, which reached down to nearly level with the bridge itself. And on the bridge stood a large alien arch.

The archway itself stood over the middle of a short pathway the sides of which was lined with more of those strange alien lamps/signs. On the path just before it went under the arch was a pedestal, which reached just above waist height. All in all it wasn't the most impressive alien structure Ryley had seen, that want to the giant gun platform just outside, but it was still a bit of a shock, not to mention he had no idea what it was for. "What the hell where these aliens doing here?"

Another portal.

Rainbow had come into this cave thinking that maybe the glow might have come from the communication gem, she hadn't expected to see a practically identical portal to the one that had brought her here on this weird island. She immediately turned to Ryley, pointing at the portal. "That's what brought me here, that portal thing! How do we turn it on?"

But that very quickly seemed to be a lost cause, it was hard to read Ryley's alien features, but there by now she was pretty familiar with what confusion looked like on his face, and that was how he looked at the portal. Rainbow decided to give up on that and ran over to the deactivated portal, stopping suddenly as the pedestal in front of it opened up to lift a black box just as she got near it, but she quickly ignored that and ran on to the archway itself.

"This, this is how I got here." That just made the confusion worse. "Grrr, remember Ranbowdash, he can't understand you." Staying calm and slowing down wasn't really her strong suit, but this definitely needed the delicate tough. "Okay."

Rainbowdash pointed at herself. "Me."

Ryley nodded.

"From far away." She waved her fore hooves vaguely up in the air.

Another nod.

"Portal." She pointed at it.

Slow nod.

"Here." She gestured to herself and the ground.

Ryley paused for a bit, seeming to think that over, then he pulled out his little tablet, no, PDA and said a few things to it, the weird voice spoke up and he nodded before looking back at her. Then he pointed at the portal and spoke, and as he did so the voice also spoke, but in Equestrian.

"You, come here, through that."

Rainbowdash paused for a moment, shocked before she quickly began to nod. "Yeah, yeah! I came here though the portal, well probably not that portal but another one just like it. And since when can the weird P-D-A thing speak equestrian?"

Ryley held up a hand, then spoke again through the tablet. "Not many words. Still learning. Stop down." Rainbow snickered, Ryley frowned.

She shook her head and turned back to the portal, the smooth obsidian surface felt very cold to the touch, and the strange patterns felt engraved into the surface. Ryley spoke up behind her. "How it work?"

She shook her head, "Twilight used some fancy unicorn magic on it, I can't do that." But then she remembered something, and turned back to the pedestal in front of the archway. "But I remember she did something to that." As she walked over to it. Ryley also walked up to meet her at the stand as Rainbow looked it over. It opened up again as she neared, the top sliding open to lift a black box up. The pedestal and the box where covered in the same strange patterns as the rest of the device, but something about it was wrong. "It didn't look like this, it was covered in wires and stuff and the box was open." But as she reached out to the box, running her hooves over it, she couldn't seem to find any seams to open it with.

Ryley looked over the pedestal, before pulling out another strange device from his belt, a strangely shaped ring with a lightly glowing blue edge. He pointed the glowing part at the pedestal and a pale blue light emerged, washing over the pedestal. He then walked over to the arch and repeated the process before pulling out his PDA and looking it over. Ranbow watched in curiosity as he quickly poked and flicked at the tablet, before looking back at her and pointing at the pedestal. "Need to turn on. Need potenco."

Rainbowdash grumbled. "I know we need to turn it on, but how do we do that?"

Ryley looked at the archway for a moment, then looked up at the hole in the ceiling, before looking back at Rainbowdash. "Turo, ekstere."

"What?" He facehooved (facehanded?) Then he pointed at the long cables attacked to the side of the portal.

"That, go, out." Then he held his hand up high, palm facing down. "Turo."

Ranbow stared for a moment, before realization struck. "Oh, the Tower." Ryley nodded.

"Yes, Tower."

Tower of Secrets

View Online

The climb back down the mountain was easy enough, the cave crawlers continued to be annoying little pests, but by now they had a pretty effective routine at bashing them down. The tower looked as menacing as ever, actually scratch that, it looked way more menacing now he knew it transformed into a GIANT FUCKING GUN, and was most likely responsible for him being trapped on this deathworld.

He has looked inside the first time he came to the island, but it had been a quick search which hadn't revealed anything of interest except a bunch of strange glowing cubes that he had ended up taking back to base. There where also some strange computer terminals which his PDA hadn't been able to fully translate. Nevertheless he hadn't finished exploring it before running outside to see the Sunbeam, and now knowing it was an alien weapon platform, he shuddered to think of what kind of internal security it possessed that he had missed. Hopefully they had assumed the forcefield at the front was enough, and hadn't installed any extra, more lethal security.

"Course these are the same aliens that blew up the Aurora and Sunbeam."

Best be careful.

Rainbowdash had stuffed the gem into her bags, and was now had spent most of the walk back talking to him, he only caught a few words but the fact that she was currently feeling chatty was good, with any luck they would be able to have proper conversations before long. However most of that conversation had stopped once they had exited the cave and she saw the tower again, and now she was staring at in in open awe. "Come on, its getting late and I'd rather finish this up before nighttime if possible." he was certain the translator didn't catch most of that, but clearly she got the gist as soon she was quickly trotting down with him towards the tower entrance. It was indeed starting to get dark, the sun starting to dip down over the horizon, only making the tower even more menacing to Ryley.

He shook his head at the thought, "I'm probably gonna have to shut that thing down anyway if I ever want to get off this rock, might as well get it over with."

Making his way back down the mountain path, now that he wasn't busy searching for that gemstone, Ryley had a chance to get a better look at the tower. It was connected to the island with a long covered bridge made of the same material as the rest of the building, and looking down from above he could probably walk over to the gun from the outside. Maybe an explosive charge then? "But the PDA doesn't have any weapon blueprints, maybe I could scratch build something?"

However his musings about how to make bombs was interrupted by a short shout from Rainbowdash, who then proceeded to leap of the side of the mountain. Ryley barely had time to shout out in alarm before her (tiny) wings unfurled from her sides, and suddenly she was gliding down, leaving a gawking Ryley standing on the ledge, arm outstretched.

"How... What?"

The wind in her mane, under her wings, she'd missed this. Her wings weren't good enough to properly fly yet she could tell, but gliding was doeable, but even this hurt her wings a little. Still it was worth it, she hadn't been able to fly up the mountain, but there was no way she was walking down.

A shout from Ryley caught her attention, and she whirled her head around to see him standing on the edge of the pass, hand out and mouth stupidly held open. But a quick look around didn't reveal anything dangerous, the only other things in the air where the little bird like things. Still she spared a glance around anyway, but no nothing else in the air, though she thought she saw something big in the water off the side of the island. She looked back at Ryley, his mouth still held open, and snickered.

"Relax, I'm okay enough to glide, and this way I don't have to worry about those big spider things." Indeed she could see a fee of the annoying creatures scuttling around down on the path. She still wasn't sure where their eyes where, but she blew them a raspberry anyway.

"I'll apologize to Fluttershy later."

And just like that her mood came crashing down once again. But she was comforted by the communique gem now resting in her bag, Twilight had said they could track it and talk to her through it. As long as she held onto ot, they could find her.

Shaking her head from those thoughts, she decided instead to distract herself with the big alien tower. Adventure like this was why she'd volunteered for this trip anyway, her head was already running wild with all the traps and treasures they could find in there.

So when she landed at the foot of the mountain, she quickly raced around to the part of the building connected to the island, she was both excited and disappointed to find a large open doorway with another pedestal sitting just in front of it.

She looked up to see Ryley apparently still making his way down the mountain, slowpoke. Then the careful part of her brain spoke up. "Don't go running into alien stuff by yourself, that's what got you into this mess in the first place." She glanced back up at Ryley, still making his slow way down the mountain, and decided to compromise.

"Hey Ryley I'm gonna take a look inside okay cool." And with that she rushed in.

The interior was all made of the same black material as the outside and the portal, complete with the same weird patterns all over. Rounding the first corner into the structure she could see a long straight corridor towards the tower. Except it wasn't really straight, it didn't turn as far as she could tell but it was zig zagging everywhere, even though it just seemed to and up going forwards.

Rainbowdash slowly made her way down this corridor, silent except for the sound of her hooves echoing on the floor, the creepy atmosphere quickly dimming her initial excitement. The whole interior was lit by dull green glow from the roof, the walls and even the floor, and the colour of that glow brought back uncomfortable memories.

She almost jumped in fright when she suddenly heard other footsteps behind her, as a panting Ryley made his way inside. Quickly composing herself she looked back to Ryley. "Took you long enough, never run before?"

Ryley leaned down on his knees for a bit, before he gave Rainbow an annoyed glare, the strange translation from his PDA missing his panting breath. "Bad place, be careful."

Rainbowdash snorted, "Whatever." Quickly smoothing over any ruffled feathers before he noticed. It's not like she was scared, just, surprised. Still now that she had backup she could push in a bit further, after all Daring Doo had needed her help sometimes, having two ponies would let them explore more of the place even faster.

A pony and an alien. Two beings. Whatever.

It was impossible to see very far in front, there where pillars in the centre of the hall, then walls that jutted out of the sides, her vision ahead was constantly obscured as she slowly made her way forwards. It was almost like somepony had made a maze but had only ever built one path in it. Eventually she made her way around yet another pillar and saw something different, it looked like one of those lamps that had been on the mountain, but it has a panel jutting out in front of it just shy of being horizontal, above the lamp there was a floating green image. It reminded her a bit of those magical images Twilight sometimes made to explain things, but this one was just green, and it didn't really look like anything, the closest she could think of was one of those strange foreign letters, but blockier.

She walked over to it and just as Ryley caught up, touched the panel, suddenly there was a garbling voice coming from the lamp, it sounded a bit like the PDA, but male, and more, wrong. It also somehow made even less sense to Rainbowdash than what Ryley and the PDA said to each other.

After it finished speaking, the floating symbol dissipated, and then Ryley spoke up. "Like PDA, bag that doesn't move." He stopped for a moment, then touched his head. "Informo."

She thought it over for a moment, a bag of information? "So it's like a book?" Ryley listened to his PDA, then gave a shrug and nod.

"Close enough."

Just as creepy as he remembered it.

After watching Rainbow Dash break several laws of physics , he'd had to run down to catch up with her. While he hadn't found any traps last time he went in there, it also wasn't a giant laser.

Fortunately she hadn't gone far inside before he caught up, and now they where standing at the first terminal. It seemed the terminals reset after a period of time, since it had been once again glowing when Rainbow Dash touched it. He remembered from here the path went down several ramps, and pointed down. "There's another terminal further down, and some cube things, but not much else." Seeing her face scrunch up in what was probably confusion he guessed the PDA still had a bit to learn, still she gave a short mm-hm and started trotting forwards, her hooves much louder on the floor than the wet slaps of his flippers. Thankfully this time she decided to walk down the ramps, though she did pause a moment at the top of the first ramp, it wasn't hard to imagine her thinking about it.

The trip down the ramps was taken in silence, and in that silence Ryley found himself thinking about the aliens who built this place. "Why build a giant laser to shoot down ships? Maybe they wanted to scavenge them? But I still haven't met any of the aliens who built this place. And if they where basically pirates why would they make a laser that is stuck on one planet?" They reached the bottom of the ramp and Ryley led them forwards past the somewhat concealed bend up ahead. "Why is this here?"

"Hm?" His thoughts where interrupted by Rainbow Dash, who had her head turned to look at him quizzically, and he realized he'd said the last part out loud. He quickly waved down at her.

"Nothing, don't worry about it."

At that moment they rounded the corner and could see at the end of this corridor, the other terminal, another symbol once again glowing above it. Rainbow Dash immediately started trotting faster towards it, but stopped when a small section near the wall suddenly rose up at her approach, stopping at around her chest height. She looked at it curiously, walking over to poke it a little before looking back at him as he casually approached.

"An Ion cube was on that, green glowing cube about this big." He tried to mime the size of the cube, why did the PDA call it an Ion Cube anyway. She looked at his hands for a moment, then scrunched up her face in what he was starting to recognize as probably her thinking face.

"Like portal cube." He stopped at that.

"Fuck, she's right, its about the size." He hadn't thought much about the cube before now, since he'd needed those purple tablets to interact with the things in this facility. But it was a similar size, how exactly it would interact with the portal was unclear, but it would be worth a try at least. He noticed her face light up at his pause.

"Where is it?" He sighed, and pointed his thumb in the vague direction of the base. Her face morphed into a scowl, another face he was starting to recognize, it helped that they where rather human like expressions, though that raised some other, slightly more disturbing questions. Rainbow Dash shook her head and mumbled something he didn't quite catch, nor did the PDA apparently, and instead turned back to the terminal up ahead, seeming to put the cube discussion behind them.

She did notice the corridor going past the corner before the next terminal, but nevertheless walked up to it and once again, pushed on the screen. And as the strange alien voice spoke out again, his PDA also suddenly spoke up. "Unknown language, attempting translation."

Right, he hadn't actually used this terminal since the Sunbeam had been just a few minutes away. When he pulled out his PDA, he immediately wished he had looked.

Enforcement Platform Schematic

"Enforcement Platform?" What the hell where they enforcing? And why did they need a giant laser gun to do it? Reading over the rest of the schematic didn't really help with his confusion either, it just described.

"What is it?" Rainbow's query shook him from his contemplation, as he saw that she hadn't even moved, just stood there watching him, head cocked to the side. It was honestly kinda adorable.

"Directions, map of this place" He was fairly certain the PDA didn't know how to say Quarantine Enforcement Platform, but at the very least he now had the layout of the structure. He pointed up ahead. "Way down that way."

She stared at him for a little longer, before giving a slight nod and turning around to continue further, at this point they would be going to unknown territory, but the layout said there was an elevator of some kind to the lower levels, which in turn lead to the controls, he didn't know how those controls worked but they where there, and hopefully he could figure a way to shut this platform down.

"Not soon enough for the Sunbeam though."

However they weren't able to walk very far forwards before they reached a dead end, there where no more turns, just what he could see was the beginnings of a shaft that led who knows how far down, no sign of an elevator or a way to call it up either. As Rainbow Dash started making ehr way towards the shaft, Ryley turned to one of the walls and started running his hands over them, searching for some kind of panel or button. "Maybe the elevator broke, the schematic mentioned a moonpool though, perhaps we could use that."

Suddenly he heard a startled yelp, and turned to see Rainbow Dash now slowly floating towards the middle of the shaft. "Seriously?" She looked at him, eyes wide and all limbs frantically peddling.

"It's not me, I'm no- WOAH!" And suddenly Rainbow Dash was falling down with alarming speed, her shout echoing up the shaft.

"Shit!" Ryley raced over to the shaft himself, and leaned over to try and see her, drawing his stasis rifle as he ran. He peaked his head over to see Rainbow Dash's rapidly diminishing form, before suddenly feeling a tug and then he too was slowly floating towards the centre of the shaft. "Wait, stop! No no no no NOOO!" And then he was falling, very quickly.

The walls sped past as he fell screaming down the shaft, some unnatural force pushing him. He screamed as he saw the ground rushing up, and closed his eyes as he braced for impact. And then the falling stopped, and he heard snickering. He tentatively opened one eye and saw that he was now slowly floating towards an upwards ramp, with Rainbow Dash standing there, one hoof held over her mouth trying to contain some very obvious mirth. He continued to stare in confusion as the invisible force pushed him gently forwards, before it suddenly let go, dropping him flat on his arse.

Then the pony started laughing.

"Bwa ha ha ha, *wheeze*, ha ha ha ha ha!"

Sure Rainbow Dash had been surprised when she started floating too, but the fall very quickly slowed down, and when she reached the bottom it hadn't been hard to land on her hooves. Then she heard the screaming, which worried her for a moment until she realized its source, seeing him land on his butt ended up being the last straw. Which led to her current situation, rolling on the ground, laughing like a madmare.

"Ha ha ha ha, *gasp-wheeze*, ah ha ha ha!"

She wasn't sure how long she was laughing like that, probably less than a minute, but when she eventually calmed down, Ryley had gotten up and moved on, leaving her at the bottom of the ramp. She sighed, letting the last few chuckles leave her system before following. "I needed that."

Up the ramp was a massive, well lit chamber, it was extremely tall, enough that her wings started to itch again, but the chamber was aside from that empty, with the exception of the massive pool of water in the middle, a pool which, upon leaning over to inspect the edge, led directly into the ocean. "That's some fancy magic right there."

"Lunoĝejo." Ryleys voice, not the fake PDA voice, she looked to the right see him gesturing at the pool. "Lunoĝejo." Then the PDA started translating as he continued speaking.

"It is used for parking underwater ships, we could swim to my underwater ship from here." She frowned at that.

"Underwater ship, you mean Submarine, I'm not stupid, I know what a Submarine is." There was a pause before the PDA spoke up, not translating something this time, and its fake voice sounding almost condescending.

"Submarine, stupid, thank you for these words." That got a proper scowl from Rainbow Dash. She was about to retort before she saw Ryley wave her off, what looked like a sympathetic/exasperated expression on his face. Snorting in annoyance, Rainbow Dash nevertheless dropped the subject, instead opting to look past Ryley at the large open doorway on the far side of the chamber from the entrance to the ocean. She pointed a hoof at it and started walking, Ryley turned to look, before giving her a nod and also heading that way.

She overtook him quickly, excitement once again returning to her as they found more of this, and made her way through the doorway first, rounding the corner behind it to reveal another chamber full of ramps, these ones going up. A scan of the room however revealed one more interesting thing of not that she could see. To the right sitting below the ramps there was what looked like a display case, with something floating inside. "Hey check this out." She quickly trotted over to it, soon hearing Ryley's footsteps behind her, whatever was inside reminded her a little of that fancy blunt spear/club Ryley carried on his back, except this one was black, and only had two separated rods as opposed to the three connected rods on Ryley's device. "What do you think it is?"

Ryley pulled out his strangely shaped ring device, and again the glowing blue light emerged from it and ran over the thing in the display case. Once that was done it beeped and the PDA spoke in his language, then he said something to it and it started to speak to her. "This is a tool used for hurting."

"Sooo, a weapon."

"Affirmative" Rainbowdash frowned and looked back at the weapon, it didn't look very effective, the ronds looked like they might be sharp, and they ended in points, but she couldn't imagine it being more useful than some kind of club.

"Maybe it used alien magic." Still if that was a weapon, then was the thing Ryley carried a weapon too. She was about to ask him when she noticed he had moved on, and was now heading to the other corner of the room, and Rainbowdash soon saw why. Sitting in that corner was a small pile of glowing green cubes, one larger cube with the others seemingly attached to it, as they apporached it the floor beneath it rose up to just below her neck height.

"Hey! Is that Ion Cubes?" Ryley nodded, and reached out to pick up the cubes, lightly tossing them in his weird alien hands before reaching back to put it in one of his bags. "Hey wait, we can try to use that on the portal right?" He paused at that, then nodded again more slowly this time.

"Later, first." His hand pointed up. Rainbow grumbled a little at that, but it made sense, they where already here, might as well check the rest of the place out.

"Well at least let me hold onto that." Another pause, then he nodded and handed it to her own outstretched hoof, it was slightly warm to the touch, and left her hoof feeling a little tingly, but once it was in her bag, she didn't notice anything.

The climb up the ramps took a few minutes, on the first level above theirs there was a strange tablet with glowing purple lines on it sitting on a pedestel which Ryley immediately picked up, only telling her it was "Important." A bit further up there was another display case with a small diamond shaped thing that had a circle in it. Ryley's face went noticeably pale when he moved the blue light over it, and he refused to say anything else about it, though the PDA helpfully told her it was a "Very very very powerful weapon."

Eventually they got to the top with no more ramps heading up, and to the right end of this platform, it looked like a glowing green energy shield. It didn't seem to surprise Ryley though, he simply walked up to it, then stopped at a small pedestal just tot he side of this shield, which opened up to show a slot that looked very much like the tablet they had picked up earlier, it even had purple lines in the same pattern as on the tablet. He placed the tablet into this socket, the pedestal closed and the shield flickered and then dissipated, revealing another room with a raised path that turned right very shortly. "Cool." But neither Ryley or the PDA seemed to notice as they immediately walked inside.

"Hey! Wait up!" They didn't seem to notice her shout either, so instead she ran inside after them, catching up to him just as he reached the right turn of the path.

"What's the big idea?" But when she turned her head to follow his gaze, further questions died on her lips. Ahead of them at the top of another ramp, was a column, except the middle of the column was nothing but bright green light. There was something about that light, when compared to everything else in this structure, that made is seem almost, powerful, and sinister. When she spoke next, her voice was barely above a whisper

"What is that?" She asked, not really expecting an answer. Which left her all the more surprised when she got one.

"The Controls." And he once again started walking, with more purpose this time.

"Controls. To what? Do you know what this place is." As he stepped closer, two lights lowered from the ceiling, and when he got to the top of the ramp, a separate pedestal just in front of the column opened up, a section rising above the rest, upon it a circle and below that, a square, both of glowing green light. As she followed him up the ramp, Ryley paused for a moment in front of the circles, and then, after a moments hesitation reached out his hand towards the square.

But just as his hand was about to reach it, two rods emerged from the pedestal just below his arm, sliding up to either side of his arm. Just as Ryley started to pull his arm back, a faint green glow emerged from between the two rods, and suddenly Ryley seemed stuck, he was obviously tugging at his arm, but it didn't move, like it was held in place. Next the circle emerged from the wall, attached to the end of a long segmented wire attached to the rest of the pedestal, it reached close to his face, moving around, its movements uncomfortably serpentine, and accompanied by a very disturbing hissing, before it shifted and with a click a small spike emerged from its centre. Before either of them had any chance to do anything other than shout, it plunged the spike into Ryley's arm.

"Gah." His short shout of pain was about as short as the rest of the process, for almost immediately after stabbing him, the spike pulled out and the device returned to its socket, the rods also clicking back down, and the red square glowed red. As Ryley pulled back his arm, clutching it around the wound, the same fake male voice from the other terminals spoke up with its weird garbling nonsense, and then the pedestal completely folded back to how it was.

"What was that, are you oka-"

"Shhh!" She was about to retort to that when she heard the PDA speaking to him, and decided to at least let it finish. But when Ryley's face went even paler than she had ever seen it before, those thoughts also dispersed. He hastily pulled up the white ring from his belt, and this time ran the blue light over himself, after which he looked at the ring, and started to murmur to himself, the PDA helpfully translating for her even though she was pretty sure she didn't need it for this bit.

"No, no no no no NO!" Then he whirled over to her, pointing his hand in her face. "You, need to Skani you!" She jerked her head back from his hand.

"I need to do what?" He quickly shook his head.

"Won't hurt, important." Normally if anyone who wasn't her friend, or her boss, or a princess etc. made that kind of demand of her, she would tell them exactly where they could shove that demand, but there was something off about Ryley right now. Even in the very short time she'd known him, she could see the desperation in his eyes. She slowly nodded.

"Okay, but if that was a lie I'll beat those crap right out of you." She could tell he didn't really listen to her, since he immediately moves the blue light of his hand ring over her as soon as she nodded her head, honestly this was all getting very unnerving. It felt a little strange, but he was right, it didn't hurt. But she definitely didn't like the way he completely did not seem to calm down after that. The PDA didn't translate his next string of mutterings, though she felt pretty sure she could recognize his word for "no" by now, and then he pointed at the pedestal.

"You, you try." She balked at that one.

"And get stabbed, no thank you." And then he got in her face, eyes wide.

"IMPORTANT! FOR BOTH OF US!" She narrowed her eyes.

"If it's that important you can ask." After he heard the translation he seemed to shake for a bit, and Rainbowdash felt herself crouch down in preparation for a fight as he raised his arms above his head. Then he seemed to deflate, arms sagging and eyes downcast before looking at her once again.

"Please, it is important." Great, now she felt sorry for him.

"See, that wasn't hard was it." She tested her wings, they where rested enough to let her float a little, so she flew up to about Ryley's height then hovered in front of the pedestal. It opened up again as she neared it and started to reach her hoof towards the square. "Calm down girl, it's just a needle, a big needle but still, a needle." Still even knowing it was coming she instinctively tried to pull her hoof back when the snake cord thing emerged but found her arm locked in place between the two rods, like it has been sealed in a wall. The pain was thankfully brief, and when the cord pulled back the square again glowed red and the whole thing folded back in.

Shaking her leg lightly she touched down, her wings already aching again and turned to see Ryley was now sitting with his back to one of the paths walls, leaning over his PDA, tapping it furiously. She watched for a moment before imaptience caught up with her. "So, what was the point of that, what happened." Ryley didn't answer, but his PDA did.

"Ryley has been confirmed to be hurt, inside." She scoffed at that.

"What like his feelings?"

"No, physical hurt, inside." Now she was slightly concerned.

"A broken bone?"


"... He's sick?"

"Yes, and so are you."

Coming to Terms

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Ryley furiously scrawled through the PDA, eyes running over several lines repeatedly.

WARNING. Infected individuals may not disable the weapon. This planet is under quarantine.

Self-scan complete. Bacterial infection of your system is progressing. Detecting skin-irritation and immune system response. Further data required to identify bacterial strain.

He could think of an infection. The one that made the glowing green spots on those fish. It didn't look pretty, and from what the scanner had told him those fish didn't have long to live.

But how was he sick? He'd avoided those fish, never even touched them. And how was Rainbowdash, she'd eaten hardly anything except grass, since when does grass carry infections?

"I guess alien grass does, or maybe she are something else before we met?" None of it really mattered now anyway, they where infected, now it was a question of what to do about it.

Rainbowdash and the PDA where busy in some conversation, the PDA was probably explaining the situation to her, given Rainbowdash's increasingly aggravated responses. Eventually she looked at him and the PDA switched back to translation.

"So we're sick, that just means we need to get off this planet even faster. You have doctors that could fix this right?" He grimaced at that, then pointed at the control panel.

"That is a weapon. It won't let us leave until we aren't sick." But how the hell where they supposed to cure themselves without any proper medical equipment, or trained doctors, or anything other than basic medkits.

Rainbowdash looked back between the terminal and him, before pointing at the column behind it. "Use your thing." He frowned.

"What thing?" She grumbled to herself before pointing at his belt.

"The blue light thing." He followed her hoof to that oh so useful if tools.

"The scanner?"

"Yeah, that." He thought about it for the briefest moments, before shrugging.

"Might as well, it's not like it could make it her any worse." Standing up, he walked back to the column behind the terminal, which did not open up this time almost as if to spite him. He shook that thought away, now wasn't the time to get distracted, and ran the scanner over the large column. His eyes went wide when he saw the results.

100MT nuclear explosion?! "And I was gonna try blowing this place up!" Well that rather definitively ruled out that option, unless he could go, very, very far away.

"But I still don't know what else is out there, the PDA said the biomes where unusually concentrated in this area. There might not be enough to survive out there." An idea for another time then.

Still at least he had an idea now, and wasn't just lamenting facts that he couldn't change. "Right, focus on what you can do."

Then the PDA buzzed in his grip, and he found more to cheer about when reading the new logs.

Intercepted background data regarding further alien facilities elsewhere on the planet.

"Disease research facility? Thermal power plant!" Maybe they could figure a cure in the research facility, or even shut down the gun at its source. They where definitely long shots, but they sounded better than triggering a 100MT nuclear explosion. He was so lost in thought reading the data that he almost dropped the PDA when Rainbowdash remained him she was there.

"So, what does it say?" He ruminated on that for a moment, all it really said was possibilities, there was a good chance none of these ideas would work, he didn't know how this alien technology worked, and if the aliens research facility has a cure, they wouldn't have put this planet under quarantine. Calling his ideas long shots was really an understatement.

But still.

"Ideas, maybe a cure, or maybe a way to shut this down." However Rainbowdash seemed to be thinking about something.

"What about the arch, maybe we could go to my home, fix us there." Right, she came through a portal, another idea, didn't seem likely to work, the arches whee obviously built by the same aliens, and it said this entire planet was under quarantine. But all of his ideas had plenty of holes in them too. He nodded.

"Worth a shot." She lit up at that, and immediately started to, prance (? It looked like prancing) before running towards the exit.

"Where are you going?" She looked back as she reached the turn.

"The arch, remember." Ryley frowned as he stood up, watching her impatiently prancing in place.

"Is that the arch you came from?" That out an end to her prancing, and he felt rather guilty as her face fell.

"I'll take that as a no." He sighed and walked over to her, lightly patting her head.

"It's probably best if we head back to now anyway, it's late, and I'm thirsty, we can come back tomorrow. But it's still worth a try." She nodded glumly, then shook his hand off and continued toward the exit. Ryley followed, giving one last look at the control room.

"Next time I come here, I won't leave without shutting this down."

The walk back to the pool was done in silence, neither of them felt particularly talkative at the moment. It has taken a bit of talking, but eventually Rainbowdash figured out the general idea of what was happening.

She and Ryley where sick, very sick, the lethal kind of sick. And the aliens who built this place wouldn't let them leave until they weren't sick.

But it was weird, she didn't feel sick, sure her wings still ached a bit but that was because of the long flight. And when could she have gotten sick, the PDA said it probably happened when she are the grass or when she was bitten. But that only happened yesterday, this was fast.

She was so lost in thought that she almost missed Ryley's little cough as she made her way to the air lord. She quickly turned her head back in concern, was it the sickness?

That concern swiftly vanished when she saw his slightly pale face as he pointed at the lift, shaking his head. She smirked. "You're not still scared are you?" The PDA translation couldn't quite cover the tiny squeak in his voice as he replied.

"No, *cough* no, but I think it would be faster if I brought the Submarine here."

"Going around the island is faster than going over it?" She didn't bother to hide the skepticism in her voice. But he nodded nonetheless, patting the large cylinder with handles on his side.

"I can swim fast, I bring the Submarine here, then we go to base, eat and rest, come back tomorrow." Well he wasn't wrong, he did swim fast with that thing. Still.

"And what am I supposed to do, just wait here?" He nodded.

"Won't take long." And with that he dived straight into the pool, leaving Rainbowdash's last retort to die before it even left her mouth.

"... Well now what." She glanced around the chamber, looking for something to do. Sure she could go back to see if they missed anything, but...

Well Ryley might worry if she wasn't here when he got back. After all, she didn't want to stress that poor monkey out anymore than he clearly was. It definitely wasn't that this place creeped her out now that she was by herself.

Yup, definitely not that.

She decided to quickly test her wings, they still stung when she moved them, but she could fly, if she wanted too. Looking back up at the empty, featureless roof, she decided to play it safe. "I'll fly when we get back here tomorrow."

Unfortunately, that still left her with nothing to do, so, out of options, she decided to rummage through her bags.

If the supplies she still had left, most everything edible was gone, eaten by herself during the flight, or by those spider things after she'd crashed. She idly rubbed some of the cuts on her neck, those things hurt, she'd apologize to Fluttershy later, but crushing them was still immensely satisfying. Most everything else was damaged in some way, the telescope, the compass, the water bottles, even the already useless radio, nearly everything broke in the crash. Only the gem had survived.

Pulling it out she rolled it around in her hooves, it was the shape of a dodecahedron, and very dimly pulsed every few seconds. "Twilight will figure out a way to talk to me, she's the smartest pony I know." She knew eventually that Twilight would figure out a way to get to her, but until then Rainbowdash was hardly going to sit on her haunches and wait. Besides, it was probably for the best that she couldn't go straight back, she was sick with something very bad, and the last thing she wanted was to get Equestria sick with some alien disease as well.

Besides, this way she could still help Ryley, they had just met, but he'd helped her, maybe even saved her life, and seemed overall pretty cool, the least she could do was try to help him get home too. Yeah, Equestria would have to wait a little while, first Rainbow would have to take care of this planet.

Just then, the gem changed. From its usual full pulsing rainbow coloured light, suddenly it glowed a steady blue. Rainbowdash wasted no time, picking it up immediately and holding it to her face. "Hello, who is this? Is Twilight there."

But what she heard wasn't even close to what she hoped to hear, or wanted to see either. Four massive floating blue eyes seemed to appear in front of her, along with the faint outline of a strange body, a head with multiple protrusion and a long body. First she heard a strange clicking sound, and then, all around her, a deep, but feminine voice asked.

"What... are... you?"

Now Rainbowdash had used these gems before, when they where testing to see if they worked. What was supposed to happen, was the gem would glow the colour of the callers aura, and then the callers voice would emerge from the gem. So when all of this happened, it was naturally quite far from what she had expected.

"What am I! What are you? Who are you? Hey, answer me." But only silence met her shout. She shook the gem in her hooves.

"Come on! What was that?" But the gem simply returned to its faint rainbow coloured pulsing. She scowled and shook it some more, she knew that really, this wasn't helping, at all, but it definitely made her feel better. However, as she was doing this, she almost missed the bright blue flash at the edge of her vision. Nevertheless she did catch it, and whipped her head up to see... something floating in the water just where the pool met the ocean. And it wasn't Ryley.

Floating in place was a strange creature. Most of the creature was a dark purple colour over its head and back, but the front of its body was a transparent pale blue, she could even see what looked like organs and bones in there. It had six tentacles at the lower end of its body, two of them transparent, the rest the same dark purple as its back, and it had two arms which ended in large spikes. Its head was round and flat at the top, with four glowing magenta eyes staring right at her.

She dropped the gem and ran to the pool, stopping in the shallow edge, and shouted. "Was that you? Or one of your friends?" It did nothing, just staring at her. She slammed her hoof into the ground, which only produced a far less dramatic splash.

"What do you want? Did you make this place? ANSWER ME!" The creature continued to stare for a moment, and then just as Rainbowdash was considering diving into the water to fetch the creature herself, it was suddenly engulfed in a bright blue sphere, and then disappeared.

"You get back here we're not done talking yet!" But there was no response, and no sign of the creature. She waited for a moment before snorting and stomping her way back out of the water. She picked up the gem where she'd dropped it, giving it another once over before placing it back on the ground, and repacking her bags with everything else.

She had just finished when another light glow emerged from behind her, and she whirled around to see Ryley and his submarine entering the pool, lights shining from the front.

Ryley returned to the moonpool to find Rainbowdash looking very, agitated. Her fur and feathers where poofed out, and she moved with particular force, shoving items very roughly into her bags, before strapping them on and only then moving to smooth over her fur.

"What's wrong?" She paused, giving him a strange look, before answering, pointing to the dark ocean behind him.

"I saw something over there. And I think it talked to me." Ryley frowned, glancing back behind him to see the empty ocean, he hadn't seen any creatures since getting in the Seamoth, but he had thought he saw a flash of blue when he rounded the island. He turned back to Rainbowdash who was now in the process of smoothing over her feathers.

"It talked to you?" She paused again, before nodding slowly, as she reached down to pick up her gemstone.

"Yeah, then it diaghsaa." He looked down at the PDA, then back at her.

"Say again?" That seemed to make her angry, and she sat down on her haunches for a moment, frowning in, what looked like a mix of concentration and frustration.

"Blue ball, the gone." Well that didn't help, and once again at these crucial moments, the PDA decided to chime in without translating.

"Hallucinations are a common indicator of psychological discomfort and/or insanity." Sometimes he wanted to slap that thing.

"Well whatever it is, it's gone now. Come on, lets go." She still looked annoyed, but nevertheless she plucked the gem up in her mouth, and climbed inside the Seamoth. After getting himself as comfortable as he could, he closed the hatch, and set off back to his base.

"Never been this way around the Island before, wonder whats over here."

Meet the Reaper

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Sometimes you get used to something unusual for so long, you forget it's exactly that, unusual. Like for instance, the simple fact that the ocean was very dark at night.

Ryley was used to staying in the shallows, which where full of bioluminescent fauna and flora, which ensured the nights where never dark, in fact, they where often quite beautiful. But out here?

The only light he could see was the two beams coming out of the front of the Seamoth, which didn't seem to light up much of anything except the side of the mountain to his right. It gave Ryley time to think.

If Rainbowdash had talked to something, then maybe the aliens who built the gun where still alive and on this planet, that was a chilling thought, given how they seemed to kill everything that got anywhere near the planet. If they found out that he and Rainbowdash where still alive, who knows what they would do. "And I still can't make any weapons, the best I have is a stasis rifle and a knife, but these aliens can harness the power equivalent to a 100MT explosion! Even if I had my old army gear I still don't think I could match that, the fuck can I do about it now?"

As Ryley continued to stew in increasingly darker thoughts, Rainbowdash sat at the front of the cockpit, and was simply clutching the gemstone, staring down at it as she held it close in her hooves. The rest of the bag was sitting on the bottom of the cockpit, its remaining undamaged contents of no interest to Rainbow, who just twisted and turned the gemstone in her hooves. She hadn't said so much as a word since they'd gotten back in the sub, and as Ryley's inner doom dialogue continued she had still said nothing.

As such it was quite a shock and a surprise to Ryley when she suddenly shouted in what could only be described as panic, alarm and a very good chunk of fear. But despite the surprise years of insticnt kicked in and he reflexively twisted on the wheel of the Seamoth, jerking it to the left in a sudden turn.

This proved to be quite the fortuitous course of action as after that the Seamoth was suddenly and quite violently hit on its right side and sent flipping off to the left. All of this action coinciding with a deep and terrifying roar.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" Cried Ryley as his vision, along with the rest of him, was sent spinning head over heels, this problem was made worse as Rainbow Dash, who did not have the fortune to be seated on a pilots seat or gripping onto a wheel, was sent hurting all about the cockpit, hitting Ryley more than once, as did some of her personal items. The gemstone in particular was an unpleasant shock, and the clanging and cracking as the gem went bouncing around the cockpit simply added to the confusion and panic Ryley felt as he desperately tried to level out the sub while simultaneously slamming forwards on the acceleration to get the hell away from whatever had hit them.

By the time the sub had settled Rainbow Dash was laid out across Ryleys lap, her gem was embedded in the seat just inches away from his head, and Ryley himself was just able to make out that his current acceleration was about to send him crashing into the side of the Island.

Ryley twisted the sub in another hard left to get away from this, accompanied with a good deal of shouting and cursing from both him and Rainbow Dash as she was sent into the side of the sub, and looking thoroughly pissed at this point when she opened her eyes to glare at Ryley, only for those eyes to widen in panic and her hoof to point to the other side of the sub with another shout of alarm. Ryley's gaze followed that hoof, to see a giant, red and white head surrounded by four massive mandibles come bearing down on the Seamoth.

It smashed directly into the tiny sub, mandibles wrapping around the Seamoth in a vice like grip, pulling it and its occupants towards its head. Four massive pitch black eyes stared at the occupants, and its giant mouth opened to reveal far too many sharp teeth as the creature let out a massive roar at the helpless occupants of the sub. The beast then twisted its head about, mandibles still tightly holding the sub so its occupants still saw nothing except its horrid face. It roared again, Ryley screamed, Rainbow screamed, and the sub was shaken about as Ryley desperately twisted the wheel back and forth, pushing the engines as far as it could go, desperate to escape the death grip of the monster.

Then the monster turned its head with one more, final twist, and Ryley felt a brief impact as the Seamoth was slammed into the side of the mountain, before the glass cockpit shattered, along with the rest of the sub, and all his sense of direction was momentarily shattered with it.

Ryley flailed about in the water, desperately trying to figure out which way was up. However all the time he'd spent swimming seemed to have improved his sense of direction, as he soon righted himself, hastily tugging the Stasis Rifle off his back in the process. Just as he pulled it free he caught a glimpse of a long pale serpentine tail out of the corner of his vision, but as he turned to look it disappeared into the darkness.

In that moment he considered starting up the seaglide and booking it, but then he remembered his passenger.

"She doesn't have an oxygen mask!"

He quickly turned around, eyes scanning for his little Pegasus friend(?) Soon catching sight of a small light blue shape against a massive cliff face, wings flapping in the water as she made her way up. He almost breathed a sigh of relief, before that echoing roar reminded him of his more immediate problem. Whirling back away from the cliff he finally caught his first good look at the creature.

It was serpentine in shape, with four pointed caudal fins attached to the end of its tail, and two ventral fins on the underside of its tail. Along the top of its back where two long dorsal fins, and a further two large pectoral fins near the front. It was a pale almost white colour on is body, with all its fins and much of its back a blood red colour.

Its head was extremely large, with a large frontal red horn above a large mouth filled with teeth. It has two pairs of eyes below the horn and two pairs of massive maroon mandibles ending in black claws behind its mouth.

It was also quite large. Its head alone was about as big as he was and that was while ignoring the mandibles, each of which alone was as long as he was. It was hard to tell under the circumstances but it's body seemed to be at least 50 metres long.

Seeing this monstrosity properly for the first time, Ryley nearly dropped his rifle in shock. It didn't help that the creature seemed to be almost mocking him as it slowly circled at the edge of his vision, moving side on to him almost as if to flaunt its massive size. But that massive head with the four black eyes was always tilted just so slightly to let him know that yes, it was looking at him.

The creature slowly circled around, with Ryley constantly paddling to keep it in front of him, rifle pointed at it, eventually ending with the HUD of his mask telling him the creature was now directly between him and the lifepod, and therefore his base. "If we get past it can we outrun it? It was fast enough to catch the Seamoth when I was surprised but I don't know how fast it is." Then he received a helpful reminder that, on this planet, even thinking things seemed to incur Murphy's law.

Just as it neared the cliff the creature suddenly turned to face him head-on, let out another echoing roar, and charged him. And now he had an answer to his earlier thought, it was fast.

Almost on instinct Ryley pushed down on the trigger and the familiar blue bell of energy started to form at the end of the now spinning three rods. He almost fired the shot right there, but again years of training kicked in and he managed to hold firm. "The bigger the creature, the bigger the required charge, this is the biggest I've seen so can't risk anything less than full charge."

But he wasn't sure he'd get that time, the creature closing in fast, the four mandibles flexing outwards, preparing to grab him. To buy himself that extra second, and also put of sheer panic, Ryley started paddling backwards frantically. All thoughts of the base, of the island and even escape disappearing as his world narrowed down to that giant head rapidly closing in on him, and the hum of his charging stasis rifle, a moment that seemed to last forever, but in reality was likely seconds.

Finally, humming reached its crescendo, fully charged shot, and Ryley wasted no time releasing the trigger and watching the crackling blue ball of energy fly towards its head.

But as that shot flew forwards towards the creature no more than fifteen metres away, the head suddenly jerked to the right, away from the cliff. Its massive body following with surprising agility, and the Stasis round flew harmlessly past.


Ryley furiously started backpedaling, charging up another round, even knowing the futility of it. The creatures momentum momentarily stalled, it turned its head back to Ryley, and charged again, mandibles flexing out and mouth opening wide.

"So this how I die, another forgotten casualty on this ocean deathtrap of a planet."

Then, just as the creature closed the last few metres, there was a blur of blue in the corner of his eye. And suddenly Rainbowdash came shooting in from nowhere to slam into the creatures side just behind its head.

Now Rainbowdash was far too small to hurt or particularly inconvenience the creature in any way, even with the surprising burst of speed she had shown. But the surprise force of the blow was enough to divert the creatures heading just a bit to the left.

Ryley watched as the massive head of the creature was jerked left, and where it had looked like it was about to just bite him head on, instead the creature sailed past his left. However as it did so, its mandibles where still outstretched, and it was still going very fast, so before Ryley could move the edge of one of its mandibles sliced through his left thigh.

He howled in pain as he felt the clawed top slice deep through his leg, and the force of the blow also sent him in a small spin through the water, which unbeknownst to him pushed him away from getting slammed by the tail as it swam by. Still, Ryley had dealt with worse pain before, and he quickly kicked himself back to a stationary stance with his uninjured leg. Immediately he began looking for the creature, gritting his teeth against the pain.

He did spare a quick glance at Rainbowdash, who was now paddling her way up to the surface, which he still didn't know how far away it was. She must be running out of breath with that push, and he briefly considered making a break for it now, and then he heard the roar again.

Grimacing he turned his attention back to the ocean, where the beast had disappeared too yet again. After seeing its speed first-hand, he was now certain that they would need a head start to outrun it. Rainbowdash had given them another chance, he had to make the most of it.

"I just better not miss this time." Another roar, this one sounded closer. He pulled the trigger, and the rods started spinning again.

Then it emerged again, bursting out of the gloom and this time wasted no effort on circling, instead gunning straight at him, mandibles out and jaw wide open. Ryley tried to calm his breathing, and then took aim. It had already displayed impressive agility, if he wanted to make sure this shot landed, it had to be closer. He couldn't count on a second miracle save.

Again the gap closed quickly, the creatures speed very impressive. He tried to tune out its roars, focusing instead on the steady him of the Stasis Rifle, as he waited for the right moment. Its head got larger and larger in his vision, those four black eyes staring at him, another reminder of old times, still he waited.

And then it happened.

As the creature reached about fifteen metres away, it suddenly jerked to the right ever so slightly, still aimed at him, but just so slightly out of the way. Behind his mask, Ryley allowed himself a slight smirk, shifted his aim, then fired.

The creature tried to shift out of the way again, but this time it was already committed, the slight jerk had stalled it, and now, especially at this distance, there was no missing. The small ball of crackling energy slammed into the creature head on.

On impact the energy ball rapidly expanded, suddenly encompassing most of the creature and for the briefest instance, Ryley was worried it hadn't been enough. But that moment soon passed as, despite the end of the creatures tail sticking out of the ball, it had clearly stopped, mid charge, staring at him just ten metre away.

Ryley wasn't sure how long the field would hold it for, and he wasn't particularly eager to find out. He immediately flung the rifle over his back, yanked the seaglider off his belt, and turned to fetch Rainbowdash.

The seaglider was a small cylindrical device with a propeller inside, a front facing torch, two handles at the sides, and a flat board at the back to lie on. It had a small holographic display between the handles which showed him its power supply and a small 3D map of the nearby area. But all that was relevant to Ryley at this moment was its speed, it had a speed of 36kph in the water, which Ryley hoped wouldn't be slowed too much by the added weight.

He rushed straight at the still flailing Rainbowdash, rushing straight through the water, one arm outstretched. He caught her leg and then immediately went upwards, straining to control the Seaglide with one arm. It didn't take long to break the surface.

Rainbowdash immediately spat water as they breached, coughing and sputtering and looking absolutely miserable, before taking in a huge gasp of air. Ryley pulled her forwards and held up the arm he had been holding her with. "Hold on!"

She spat and breathed for a moment longer before looking at his arm, grimacing slightly, but then threw a quick glance behind them and wrapped her hooves around it, allowing him to once again grab the Seaglide with both arms. He quickly searched for the beacon to the lifepod before turning the Seaglide to it and sending them along the surface straight to base, not even daring to look back. The giant red moon looming overhead and the wreckage of the Aurora a landmark in his sight, as they left the island, giant laser and murderous monster behind them.

What Now?

View Online

It was so dark. Why was it so dark?

Everything was wet, had she gone swimming? Something was falling, a strange rock, the colours of a Rainbow. She opened her mouth, and the taste of saltwater rushed in. She was underwater, in the ocean.

She looked up, or was it down? It was so dark, she couldn't tell. She started kicking, but she didn't know where she was going.

Suddenly there was a roar, echoing, seeming to come from every direction. Was that fear? Yes, now she was afraid.

She kept looking, turning in every direction, then a flash of blue light, and another roar. And for a moment she saw something, large, pale with red streaks. Then it was gone.

She couldn't breath, where was up? Where was the surface? She kept kicking.

Another flash of light, another roar, this one sounded louder. She looked back, but saw only another glimpse of white and red.

Her lungs where burning, she needed to breath, but where was the surface? More roars, more flashes, she kept kicking.

Then her hoof kicked something, fleshy, but strong, she looked down and saw the giant serpentine body, pale while, rimmed with red. She gasped, a mistake.

The water rushed into her lungs, she was downing! She kept looking, and at last she saw it, the glimmering blue light of the surface. She started kicking towards it, but now she wasn't moving. She was sinking, the surface getting further away.


She kicked harder, felt herself rise again. She was gonna make it.

Then she heard the roar again, this time from below, she looked down.

Four massive claws around a gaping toothy maw, and four black soulless eyes rushed up towards her. She started kicking harder, desperately trying to reach the surface, but the monster was faster. And just as she dared to hope and the surface was juts in reach, the jaws of the monster filled her periphery, and then slammed shut.


Rainbow Dash awoke with a start, cold matted fur stuck to her skin. She looked around and saw the stale white walls, and sighed. Right, Ryley's place, not underwater.

Okay technically she was still underwater, but inside a base.

Look the point was she could breath.

For a moment she lay down, considering trying to get some more sleep, but as soon as she closed her eyes she felt it, the water in her lungs, that roar, those eyes. Rainbow Dash groaned, rolling onto her side, looking up at the stale white light coming from the roof. "What time is it?"

The trip to the island had taken maybe ten minutes in the submarine, the trip back from the island has taken over an hour, an hour spent getting water constantly splashed in her face, and constantly worried that the Sea Monster might be chasing them.

A shudder ran up her spine when she thought about it again, that thing, it wasn't like any monster she'd seen before, and the way it managed to sneak up on them, she barely saw it in time as it was. And it had still nearly killed them.

"Nothing that big should be sneaking anywhere."

Being stuck in the open water with a Sea Monster and not even being able to breath was hardly an experience that Rainbow Dash wanted to relive. That creature was large, fast and strong, very strong. She'd put everything she had into knocking it off course when she saw it charging Ryley, and it had just barely been enough.

And then the drowning. Feeling that water rush into her lungs, Rainbow Dash had been through a few scrapes before, plenty of crashes and even a few fights, but drowning. That was an experience she could do without. She'd spent her whole life in the sky, in the air, but underwater? Rainbow Dash had never felt so powerless, so helpless.

She shook her head, standing up and starting to wander around, there where no locked doors in this base this time, so that was nice, but it all felt, claustrophobic. A quick test of the wings told her they were healed enough, and so she started to leisurely hover her way through the base. Passing what looked like large glass lockers filled with mostly metal things from the looks of it.

"And to top everything off, I dropped my bags and the communication gem, so I'm right back where I started only now my stuff's being guarded by a Sea Monster!"

It didn't take long to get to that families corridor, and she dropped down to look out at the alien ocean once again. The immediate vicinity was mostly sand and rocks, with many corals around, some large tubular and colored the same as the rocks, and others bright red plates sitting on the edge of those rocks. There where weird purple mushrooms, and strange wavy reeds with glowing blue tips. The fish where especially strange, and most of them seemed to glow in some form or another, some had giant eyes, others where shaped like boomerangs. She'd gotten a look whilst in the submarine, but staying here right now, one hoof against the glass, it reminded her again how strange this ocean was, as well as distract her from her previous thoughts.

"Fluttershy would have loved this." Great, back to sad thoughts then. The thought of her friends was just perfect for getting her down again, the thought of them, worried about her. She shook her head, that's right, she couldn't let them worry, they where absolutely trying as hard as they could to reach her, she couldn't let them down. Now was no time to be mopey, now was the time for action!

"Right, I just need to get it back again, treasure guarded by a sea monster? That's just like a Daring Do book, and that stuff's why I came here in the first place." She felt a slight smile creep across her face as she muttered to herself. Then she looked back up as she shook her other hoof at the ocean and started to shout.

"You hear that ocean!? You haven't beaten me yet! I'll get that gem back, and then I'll find a way home to my friends, just you wait!"

*Knock Knock*

"Ghaa!" She jumped back as she heard a loud knocking on the glass behind her, and whirled her head around to find Ryley currently floating in the ocean right behind her, one hand held in a fist and the other one waving at her, a smile on his face behind the mask. She let out an embarrassed chuckle, quickly smoothing down any ruffled fur or feathers before looking back at him. He was waving over to the left, where she remembered the exit was, before then swimming over there himself.

"Probably wants to talk, and we need to figure out a plan." She turned to make her way to the hatch, then stopped int he middle of her first step.

"Wait, why do I need to make a plan with him?" It was strange to think, they where still both aliens to each other, come to think of it they'd only met yesterday, and she'd paid him back for saving his life, so why doesn't she just head off on her own? Her wings where better. Why does she need to make plans with him? Why would he need to make plans with her?

"Because he's all I've got." She frowned at that thought, but it made sense. They had only just met, but he was the first creature she'd met that seemed in any way intelligent, and thinking about heading back out there without any company, honestly it scared her. True there was that thing that had spoken to her at the base, but she had no idea where it was or if it was friendly, not to mention no way to talk back, at least Ryley wasn't overtly hostile.

Besides, he had let her stay in his underwater home, which was much better than sleeping on clouds in that open untamed weather. They had only just met, but he was the only company she had at the moment, and that was worth something.

"I just hope he feels the same way."

Any further musings where interrupted by the sound of the PDA voice in the air, saying something in Ryley's weird language, before that loud clicking sound filled the space, and she rounded the corner to see Ryley closing the hatch behind him, his other hand removing his mask and body still dripping with water.

He gave her only a brief wave before walking to one of small modules attached to the wall, his slight limp in his left leg making her wince. The wall module was around his chest height, and when he approached it opened up to reveal a small bench in front of him and show a bunch of glowing symbols. She flew up to look as he placed a bunch of metal objects on the bench. "What'cha doing?" He turned his head slightly to look at her, then suddenly jerked back with a shout. Rainbow Dash backed off reflexively, then started looking around in confusion.

"What is it?" Ryley held a hand over his chest and took a few deep breaths, reminding Rainbow Dash very much of what Twilight did to calm down. Then he said something under his breath, but the PDA was much louder and clearer in its translation.

"Right, it breaks the laws of physics, of course it can fly here." She scowled at that as Ryley's eyes widened ever so slightly before he glared down at his tablet.

"And what's that supposed to mean?" But he just shook his head and waved her away.

"Not important, trying to make something important." And he looked back to the wall module placing a few more objects on it, these ones looking more like coral. She thought about pressing the issue, but ultimately managed to hold her tongue.

"Working together. Working together." Instead she silently watched as he touched a few of the floating images and then stood back from above to blue lasers shot down and started to wipe out the objects. Once that was done, the blue lasers started to form the outline of a small object, before that outline was rapidly filled.

Once the arms stopped moving where once there was a collection of metals and wires, now there was a tiny black object attached to a hook shape which Ryley picked up before crouching down and holding it to her.

"In the ear. Let us talk better." And he tapped at his left ear, which Rainbow Dash could just make out had a similar small object placed inside as well. She gave the small device in his hand a quick once over, the object in the middle was round and it seemed straightforward, there was two hooks which seemed like that clipped together around her ear.

It's probably like some kind of radio." Eventually she nodded and held out her hoof. Ryley however just stared at the outstretched hoof, opening his mouth as if to say something before stopping, leaving him just silently staring. Rainbow Dash let the awkwardness hang for, well honestly just a moment before she got impatient and scowled.

"Well give it to me already." That seemed to shake him out of, whatever just happened and he dropped the device onto her hoof. She slipped the device over her own left ear, looping the hooks over the top before clicking them together whilst leaving the round object sitting in her ear socket. Once it was there she felt it move ever so slightly, pushing in a little but not uncomfortably. This done she looked back at Ryley who again had what Rainbow Dash was now deciding to call his, stupid surprised face, eyes slightly wide and mouth slightly open. She frowned at the silence, then asked.

"So what does this do anyway?" That seemed to shake him out of it, almost literally as he shook his head, and then he replied.

"It should tell you everything I say, does it work?" And sure enough it did. Usually Rainbow Dash would just hear gibberish and then waiting for the PDA to translate it for her. But this time she heard him speak his language, but also then heard his voice in her ear, in her language, at nearly the exact same time.

"Whoa cool." She started poking at her ear as Ryley continued.

"So that means it works yes? The telling you in your words still won't be good, missing a lot of your words, but deal with that later. For now I think we need to start thinking about what we do next." That got her attention, and stopped her prodding to look straight at him.

"Right, yeah, I wanted to talk about that too." He nodded.

"Good, okay, first our problems." He raised one of his hands, and raised one finger like she'd seen Spike and Gilda do when they where counting.

"We need to get home, we can still try the portal, but from what I found out at the alien tower they aren't letting anything leave because of a sickness. We should try the portals but they where also made by the aliens, so probably won't work, still worth a try." She nodded, so far what she expected. Ryley raised a second finger.

"Second problem, my people cannot save us until we shut down the alien tower, it is a weapon that kills any spaceships that come near this planet." She almost simply nodded along with what he said, before she fully processed what he'd just said.

"That whole alien tower is a weapon? That shoots down spaceships! Who builds weapons that big? Why did they need to shoot down spaceships?" Suddenly that tower felt even more ominous than it had when they'd left it.

As Rainbow Dash continued to think she noticed suddenly that Ryley hadn't said anything else, and she looked back up to see him looking at her, hand waved in her direction.

"Oh, right. Well Twilight's working on a way to help, and so are my friends, and I'm sure the Princesses are helping." She trailed off as she noticed his face going blank. Right, he didn't know who any of those pony's where, probably had no idea those where even names.

"Ahem, yes, my people are trying to help." He nodded.

"So they will send a rescue." She almost answered immediately, then she remembered something that made her hesitate.

"Well, yeah, but I was trapped here by accident, so it might take a while for them to work something out." He sighed.

"Thought so, anyway." And he held up a third finger.

"Third problem, we are sick, it will kill us, don't know how long that will take, but eventually it will probably kill us. It probably killed the aliens too." Suddenly, Rainbow Dash jerked her head up as a rather bleak thought came to her head.

"Wait, if the disease killed the aliens, and they made all those really powerful portals and weapons, then how bad is this disease?" Ryley said nothing, so Rainbow Dash continued.

"What if... What if we get everyone else sick when we go home? What if they can't fix it when we go home?" Ryley frowned, looking down at his PDA, which wasn't the answer Rainbowdash was hoping for. Equestrian healthcare was very good, she knew from personal experience, magic, medicines, heck Twilight had once mentioned that Equestria was the world leader in healthcare. But these aliens, they made portals that could reach other planets, built a laser that could shoot down spaceships, from everything she'd seen they were pretty powerful aliens, but if they couldn't stop this disease, then maybe...

She was interrupted as Ryley suddenly shook his head. "Lets not think about that right now, just part of the third problem, solutions will come next. Anyway current problem's, I don't have a submarine, and we're still not sure how to use those portals." She frowned, but dropped the subject, she wasn't exactly sure what solution they could come up with, but she supposed it was worth it to sort things out one at a time.

And then he added the dreaded question.

"Anything else?" She squirmed for a moment.

"Uhhh, well..." Ryley raised an eyebrow at that, but gestured his hand for her to continue. She sighed.

"I dropped the communication gem with the Sea Monster, and I need to get it back." Ryley just stared at her for a moment, then he sighed.

"Okay, get gem back from Sea Monster." He placed his hand over his face in a manner very reminiscent of a face hoof. Then he abruptly pulled it away and looked back at her.

"Okay, now I can make a new submarine no problem, and we have a good guess to what makes the portals work. But that still leaves us with the big problems."

"So the submarine is an easy fix, good. That means we won't have to swim everywhere." Further thought was interrupted as what Ryley said next suddenly peaked her interest.

"In the Alien tower, I found out where a few more alien bases are. One of them is a disease learn to fix base, and the other is a power base that powers the others. If we get to the power base we can maybe turn the weapon off, then we might be able to get a ship off this bad planet." But that wasn't what interested Rainbowdash.

"That alien disease base, you where saying research right? If we go there we might be able to find a cure for this disease! Then the aliens might let us leave!" He stopped at that, looking down again for a moment before looking back at her.

"Maybe, but we still need to go to those bases, and they are down, very deep down, way too deep to swim and far deeper than any submarine I can currently make can go."

"...Currently?" A nod from Ryley and he started to point down.

"I might be able to find the parts to make other submarines, ones that can go much deeper, deep enough to reach the alien bases. But we need to find the parts to know how to make them, and the parts to actually build them." Now Rainbowdash was starting to get excited, and she felt the slightest tugs of a smile on her face.

"Sounds like an adventure." Another nod.

"Maybe your people can save us, mine certainly can't, and maybe the portal will take you straight home. But if the portals don't work I don't want to just wait around, so I think we should go down to those bases ourselves. But we will need to prepare, I don't know where we can find all the parts or if they are even all here, but we need to look." This was all sounding much better to Rainbow Dash, a proper adventure, the reason she went through that dumb portal to begin with. She leapt up to her hooves.

"All right, that's a plan I can get behind. So, what do we do first?" Ryley also stood up, holding a hand out as if to try and calm her down.

"First, we need to get you some swimming gear."

Voices from the Walls

View Online

"87. 88. 89. 90." After that kinda plan had been sorted out, Ryley had stated a few other things they needed to do. the first thing he'd done had been to take a few extra scans of Rainbowdash.


"91. 92. 93. 94"After that he then told her he had been collecting the materials, but just needed to go out to get a few more things if he was going to make her a swimsuit. The prospect of finally getting to explore the ocean herself had been exiting enough to get her pumped, but then he told her that she wouldn't really be able to help, on account of not having a swimsuit.


"95. 96. 97. 98." But then he'd managed to talk her into sorting out another of their problems, communication. At first when he told her it was as simple as talking to a wall, and she'd thought she'd gotten the easy job. And it was definitely easy, but there was one major problem.


"99. 100. 101. 102." At first she'd tried to tell stories, mostly about her own daring feats and her friends, but then the stupid wall voice had started telling her what to say, stating that it wasn't learning enough 'important' information (apparently she kept reusing words like awesome, which she didn't see anything wrong with). So instead it has just started asking her what words meant what things, like she was a dictionary. Eventually, after what felt like hours (but was probably just 10 minutes) had led to her current situation. Staring at a wall, counting.


"Subject Rainbowdash, please be advised that we are aware that 'bored,' is not a number. Unless 102 is as high as you can count, please continue." Rainbowdash wasn't sure where exactly the voice was coming from, since it sounded like it was from everywhere, and while it had the same voice as the PDA, Ryley had taken that with him. So she wasn't sure where to direct her current stinkeye, and wound up just glaring at the roof. The infuriatingly calm and fake voice of the PDA didn't help with how annoying it was.

"Come on! Isn't that enough? Can't you figure out the rest from there?"

"Possible differences in pronunciation cannot be ignored, and these numbers will be necessary for explaining distances and times, which could be crucial for both your own and Captain Ryley's survival. At minimum it would be best if we have every number up to 1000." Rainbowdahs went wide eyed at that.

"1000! Are you kidding me?"

"PDA's do not kid, or joke, or make things up, now please continue. You where at 102." Rainbowdash grumbled to herself, and threw a quick look around to see if she could catch sight of Ryley, but alas, he still wasn't here. And with nothing else left to do, she hung her head in defeat and continued.

"103. 104. 105. 106."

"Bet Ryley's having more fun than this."

"Goddamit let go you son of a bitch!" Ryley grunted as he struggled to wrestle another piece of wreckage from the jaws of a Stalker. Stalkers where a very annoying fish in this ocean, one of the few that didn't glow, about as long as he was, with about a third of that length being a thin, tooth filled mouth. They where very aggressive and Ryley had been bitten more than once by them, and they had this very annoying habit of grabbing anything made of metal. Which led to his current situation, being stuck in a tug of war with a stalker over a piece of wreckage.

"Git! Go away!" He reached over the metal, flailing his knife around to try and chase it off, but something else he was learning today, Stalkers where quite strong. This one in particular kept flailing the large piece of scrap between them which in turn, kept knocking his knife hand away.

The Stalker snarled at him from behind the chunk of metal, and then with one last tug, tore it from his grasp. Ryley could do little more than curse to himself as it swam away, a single pointed tooth drifting down the only sign left of their little tug of war. Grumbling to himself he turned away from the Stalker and started to once again comb the seafloor for metals.

Most of the titanium he had used to make his base had come from pieces of shipwrecks, the rest he had managed to find in pieces of limestone scattered across the ocean floor. Ryley knew it wasn't an infinite supply, he'd already exhausted the limestone outcrops near his base, but for now it was good enough. The Stalkers strange habit of biting and carrying around any metal they found was at least somewhat helpful in this regard, especially since the Stalkers didn't guard any of the metal they took, usually just letting it fall to the seafloor until they or another Stalker decided to pick it up again. This did mean having to go diving into the Creepvine forests with the Stalkers though.

Ryley allowed himself a small smile as he spotted another chunk of limestone on the seafloor, gently pushing another large piece of creepvine out of the way as he prepares to smash the chunk with the surprisingly sturdy scanner. The Creepvine itself wasn't really anything special, basically just kelp, however the leaves and seeds of the Creepvine had proven quite useful for making suits, hence why he had a few leaves and seed clusters hanging off of his belt. Of course the dense forests of Creepvine did make visibility a problem, hence how Ryley had the newly freed ball of titanium snatched away by the sudden rush of another Stalker, nearly taking his fingers with it.

"Son of a Bitch!" Ryley shoved himself off of the seafloor reaching out to grab at the Stalkers tail. Stalkers weren't particularly fast creatures, with his fins Ryley could usually outswim them without too much difficulty, however at the moment Ryley was somewhat weighed down by the sheer amount of Creepvine material he was carrying, and the Stalker quickly disappeared into the forest from sight.

He grumbled to himself again before kicking his way up as the PDA reminded him of his lowering oxygen supply. At present he was carrying enough seed clusters and leaves to make the swimsuit, which did weigh him down a bit. The fabricator only made things from pre-existing blueprints, and while it could adjust those blueprints slightly to account for different sizes, it couldn't adjust for completely new body shapes. Rainbowdash was completely not the shape these suits where designed for. Even if the PDA had downsized and slightly reshaped the suit to match her, it wasn't perfect, and it still didn't have holes for her wings, he had considered the possibility of cutting holes in them himself but that might damage the more high tech features, hopefully she wouldn't mind and he wouldn't need to make the holes.

Fortunately the oxygen mask wouldn't require any modifications, especially since he wasn't sure what he even could do to fix that very crucial issue. And there shouldn't be any problems with the oxygen tank, so long as he could get the titanium necessary to make it that was. And the fins would attach to the bottom of the suit anyway, it would be a little awkward but should be fine.

He barely restrained himself from another string of curses when he smashed open another piece of Limestone only to find a chunk of copper inside, he pocketed it anyway, he'd always need copper. Even so...

"Figures I'd get copper when I'm not even looking for it."

It took another ten minutes of searching, getting bitten and smashing open limestone before he finally found Titanium and managed to not get it stolen by a Stalker.

"952, 953, 954."

Life had become meaningless.

"955, 956, 957."

There was no hope, no joy.

"958, 959, 960."

There where only numbers.

"961, 962, 963."

But at the very least.

"964, 965."

It was almost over.

"966, 96-"

"Welcome aboard, captain." Rainbowdash couldn't stop a yelp of surprise as a deep, fake voice was suddenly ringing in the chamber. It was so surprising she nearly didn't hear the sharp hissing of air she recognized as the door opening.

Ryley stepped inside, closing the hatch behind him, but now he was carrying all manner of items. His waist, in addition to holding his usual collection of weird alien objects, was also covered in small clusters of seaweed, and small bulges that she knew was where he put small chunks of metal like he had done in the caves. And when he stepped inside, he quite visibly sagged, the weight no longer being supported by the ocean.

"Finally! That took forever, it was so BOORING! That PDA thing is a real jerk you know? She made me sit here and just count for a thousand!" Ryley didn't respond at first, owlishly blinking at her, and Rainbowdash almost hit herself when she remembered the language problem, the whole point of of her past minutes of boredom. Then he replied.

"Well it's good to hear that you where doing something useful." This time Rainbowdash paused for a moment, before there was always a lot of dissonance between the translation and the alien gibberish when Ryley spoke. Now the translation happened nearly at pace with what he said, meaning she heard this weird double voice from him. It reminded her of Chrysalis a little, which was not a memory she wanted to bring up while she was stuck on an alien planet without her friends.

"Yeah... I guess we did get something done." She threw a glare at one of the box modules of the wall, the one she had mostly been speaking at. "PDA is still a jerk."

The silence that followed lasted just enough to become awkward before Ryley clapped his hands together. "Okay, well now its time to see if this works I guess, hold still please." And with that he knelt down and pulled out his scanner device, which she now knew was what the large Ring with the blue light was called, before said blue light washed over her, leaving a weird tingling sensation as it went. As he did so Rainbow noticed small bloody cuts all along his arms and hands, piercing the suit he wore and leaving small holes. And in one of those holes her eyes spotted something on his right hand.

"Um, hey. I don't know much about your species but is it normal for your skin to be green right there?" He froze for a moment, then slowly reached over with his other hand, slipping his finger into one of the holes on the back of his hand, and gently lifted it up.

His normally light brown skin was a bit darker on his hand, at the moment it was also marked with multiple small lines, cuts, fresh and old, red and white. But many of the white lines didn't match scar marks, they criss-crossed his hand, looking almost like a spiderweb. However the most unnatural part was in the middle, it had been barely peeking last the wetsuit before, and now that she saw it it looked barely more than a dot, except for the fact that it was bright green, and glowing.

Ryley stared at the dot for a few seconds, breathing slowly but deeply as he did so, before letting do of the wetsuit letting it gently slap back over the dot, once again nearly completely covering it, save for the faintest green glow peeking around the open hole. He sighed before looking back at her. "Nothing for you to worry about, we'll deal with it later, for now..." He stood back up and walked over to the wall module with the blue lasers, the Fabricating, or Fabricator? The PDA hadn't been very clear about which was right.

Deciding to take Ryley's advice, Rainbowdash instead focused on the Fabricator as Ryley got to work. Once again the device opened up, and Ryley began placing the many objects from his waist onto the opened shelf, letting the strange blue lasers disintegrate those objects, and then create something completely new. Eventually her curiosity got the better of her. "So the PDA said magic isn't real, which is stupid, but if that isn't supposed to be magic then what is it?"

Ryley didn't respond though he did at least acknowledge her question with a glance, but it was the voice of the PDA that responded to her question. "The Fabricator breaks down and rearranges objects on the absolutely smallest level, allowing the creation of anything without the costly construction of more primitive times, requiring only raw resources and a power supply. This technology was the start of the Great expansion and remains the Backbone of modern society and is commonplace in every household." Rainbowdash frowned at that, still unsure. "Its sure looks like magic to me."

"'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' Quote from Arthur C. Clarke, 1973. Likely your society relies on many advanced technologies they don't understand and simply refer to them as magic."

"Hey! Are you calling ponies stupid!"

"No, I was implying that they are ignorant."

"How is that any dif-"

"Done!" Shouted Ryley very suddenly, swiftly derailing Rainbows rising indignation before she focused in on what he was now holding.

It looked very much like his wet suit, but smaller, with a larger centre piece and the sleeves for legs where both wider and uniform in length. It had the same colouration as his suit, mostly black and grey, with yellow lines along the limbs and a large yellow piece around the chest shoulders, and flopping around in his hand she realised that the yellow bit was a bit mroe solid than the rest of the suit, holding a bit more of a shape. The front sleeves had holes in the front while the back had the same kind of flat shoes that she recognized on his feet, but a bit smaller, that was probably the missing flippers that he was holding in his other hand which she now saw would easily snap onto those shoes. Also in his other hand was a transparent mask with a yellow then black rim and then a black bulge at the bottom of the transparent section that had two side nozzles sticking out of it, it looked much like his mask but rounder.

The earlier annoyance at the PDA was now quickly replaced with excitement as Ryley handed the suit and its accessories over to her. She placed the other objects on the ground before hovering up to give the suit a full inspection, as she suspected the yellow part was much harder than the rest, but sticking her hoof inside it seemed it was only that way on the outside as the inside was a uniform smooth texture, not exactly silky smooth but not very uncomfortable either. But as she ran her hooves all over the suit, she realized it was missing somethings, two things to be exact. She looked back up at Ryley, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly.

"My wings, where do my wings go?" Ryley slowly placed his hand on the back of his head, giving her a grin that reminded her a lot of the grins Spike gave her when he was nervous about something.

"The suits aren't exactly designed for that, I figured you could just leave them inside the suit, the fins will give you all the speed you need under water." Her gaze shifted to a full on glare and he took a half step back.

"I mean I could cut some holes but that would damage the suit, make it work less well, right now it can protect you from severe temperatures and keep track of your food and water needs, cutting holes in it would risk its efficiency." Her glare intensified as she hovered slightly closer.

Ryley sighed. "Fine, if its that important to you." And he held his arm out to her, which she quickly dropped the suit onto, watching as he sat down below the fabricator and pulled out his knife. "This will take a minute." And with that he got to cutting.

Now satisfied that the biggest problem had been sorted she went back to inspect the fins and mask. The fins looked a lot like the fins sold back home except they had a very slight intent in the middle at the end. They where mostly a bright orange with black outlines, but the orange of the fins created a big U shape behind the indent, much bigger and rounder than the actual shape of the fin. Still they didn't look particularly special, so instead she turned her attention to the mask.

Behind the black rim where six straps that all connected into one solid piece at where the back of her head would be, the straps themselves where very stretch and she was worried the mask might be a bit loose. So she tried it on, the mask was very easy to fit over her head, the straps being as easy as she expected, but once it was on she felt a slight tightness around the straps, not uncomfortably so but it felt tight enough that it wouldn't come off very easily. And when she moved to take it off, it resisted at first, but once she had it slightly free the straps once again became incredibly easy to stretch.

"OK, this is pretty cool." It was much easier than her flight goggles, and much less likely to leave markings on her face once she was done with it. Having now finished with her inspection she turned her attention back to Ryley, who it looked like was applying some kind of cream(?) to a pair of holes in the suit. She hovered close to get a better look.

"Whats that for?" Ryley jumped a bit before sighing.

"Personal space please, and this is to make sure these holes don't chafe your wings, it needs to be tight but I imagine you don't want it to rub your wings off." Rainbowdash backed off, nodding emphatically as she watched the bright, pale cream swiftly darken until it matched the black of the suit, Ryley held onto it for a few moments longer before handing it back to her.

Now satisfied that the most important issue was sorted, Rainbowdash reached for the back zipper that she found at the neck and pulled it out before slipping inside the suit. It was tight fitting, a lot like her Wonderbolts flight suit, but not suffocating or restrictive, also like her flight suit, except this suit stopped at her neck, unlike her flight suit. It was also surprisingly comfy, and warm too, Rainbowdash was used to more extreme temperatures than most ponies but it was nice to not be cold for once in a while.

Zipping up the suit she found that Ryley had apparently cut a hole for her tail as well, which was a nice comfort. Her hooves where the weirdest parts, her fore hooves where completely uncovered while her rear hooves where now a lot larger thanks to the shoes, and very weirdly shaped, which threw of her gait when she tried a few test steps, and she resorted to once again hovering off the ground. Fortunately the holes for her wings where large enough and in the right places to not restrict them, though they where tighter than the ones on her flight suit, so she managed to once again hover in the air quite easily.

She ran her gaze over herself once more, it definitely reminded her of the flight suit, form fitting and streamlined, made for physical activity. Of course it didn't compare to her Wonderbolts uniform, it was a lot more drab for one, the orange being the only standout colour. "Wait drab? Colour? Who am I, Rarity?" Shaking those errant thoughts out of her head she turned back and picked up her mask and fins, placing the mask loosely over her head before struggling to try to attach the fins to her shoes, but she couldn't manage to keep them attached and after about a minute of useless effort she looked back up to Ryley, who was weirdly staring at the box with the red light on it. "Hey, little help here?"

That seemed to startle him out of it and he was quick to grasp her problem, quickly attaching the fins to her hooves, a sharp clicking sound accompanying them as they attached and this time stayed stuck, as a few test kicks soon proved. With that she nodded and finally attached the mask over her head, strapping it in place after which a bunch of weird symbols appeared in the lower left corner of her vision. "Hey whats with those circles?" There was a moment of silence before she glanced back at Ryley, who seemed to be staring at her. "Hey, buddy, I asked you a question."

That snapped him out of it, and he shook his head quickly before answering. "Uhh, right, that's you Heads Up Display, or HUD for short, it keeps track of your air, food, water and how healthy you are, useful for keeping track of things."

"Oh, cool... So which one is which?"

"The green is your air, orange your food, blue water, and red is healthy." She nodded as she looked down, trying to memorize them, it seemed easy enough, she almost missed his next question. "Uh by the way, how did you do that?"

She looked back at him confused. "Do what?"

"Use your wings, to attach the- you know what never mind, lets just get the last thing sorted then we can go for a test swim." Confusing half question ignored, he turned back around and this time pulled out a large rounded cylinder with two small black hoses attached. "This is your air tank, it'll attach to your back easily enough but I think I'll need to fix it to your mask, it doesn't hold much air but you can refill it by going back to the surface, or the base or the submarine." He said while walking over, Rainbowdash nodding eagerly as he prattled on.

"Yeah yeah just hurry up already, I want to try this out!" It took another minute or two, way too long for Rainbowdash, though Ryley said her squirming caused the most problem, but eventually he had attached the tank to her back and attached the two hoses to the nozzles on the front of her helmet. A few experimental shakes proved that it wouldn't fall off, and he finally stepped back.

"Alright, I think we're ready."

"Finally, lets go already, I've been cooped up here forever."

Ryley just chuckled as he stepped over to the hatch. "Okay okay, you go on ahead, I'll be right behind you." And with that he opened the hatch and Rainbowdash shot out once again into the strange alien ocean.

Ryley watched bemused as Raindowdash dived through the hatch. Before turning his attention back to the Radio. He faintly remembered the PDA telling him he had a new message just after the Sunbeam was shot down, but with everything that had happened since then he had forgotten all about it. "Probably another lifepod."

When he pushed the receive button, he got something he had never heard before. First a strange clicking sound, and then a voice, robotic but, stranger, spoke out. Not all of it was translated, but what was, well, Ryley certainly didn't like what he heard.

"▀▖┗▛Ten new biological subjects designated. Mode ▄▖▜▚┣: hunting/analyzing.
Sharing subject locations with other agents."

New Trails

View Online

The safe shallows is what the PDA called it, the area in which Ryley had made his base, and for the most part he had to agree with that name. The safe shallows where as the name implied, very shallow, the deepest it got was about 80 metres down but some parts where just barely a metre below the surface, in fact he was pretty sure there was one piece of Coral that actually stick above the water. It was very rocky area, covered in outcrops, pits, arches and even small caves scattered about the place. Most of it was covered in sand but there where lots of corals and plants in the area as well.

His base sat in one of the shallowest parts of the Safe Shallows, barely five metres from the surface. The area in front of the base dropped to about thirty metres down and was generally more devoid of flora and fauna than the space behind the base, and the seafloor was smoother in front, smoother being a relative term here. It was this space in front of the base where Rainbow Dash had been practicing, with his oversight. There was just more space, and less chance of Rainbow Dash swimming into rock or particularly big piece of Coral.

Watching her swim had itself been quite amusing, at first she seemed to just be trying to fly underwater, flapping her wings a lot and barely kicking at all. But after listening to his advice she seemed to get the hang of it, more focused on kicking with her back legs, instead using her wings for steering to where it now seemed like she was gliding through the water. No longer having to help her he ran out of distractions for the recent series of terrible events his life had become.

"First my ship crashes on an unexplored planet, then my rescue ship gets shot down, then I turn out to have gotten infected with an alien disease, then I get attacked by a giant Sea Monster, and then I find out we're being hunted by more aliens!" At this point he was just trying to compartmentalize these things and not freak out about everything. Though a glance at his left hand reminded him that that wasn't really going to solve anything (did it feel itchy?). But if he had any chance of getting out of this alive he needed to keep a level head.

"Hey, are you in there? Hello." His gaze refocused to the sight of Rainbow Dash right in front of him waving a hoof in front of his face, having apparently swum over during his internal monologue.

"Sorry, you said something?" Ok, that pout was actually adorable.

"Yeah I did! I asked what that was?" He followed her hoof to see two large fish swimming in their direction, bigger than Ryley and much fatter, they had two round eyes on their relatively small heads with big mouth tubes hanging below, two large pelvic fins on either side of their fat bodies, and a massive bulbous tail covered in glowing greenish-yellow spots.

"Gasopods, just keep your distance and you'll be fine." Rainbow threw a quizzical glance at the big, fat fish.

"That thing? It doesn't look very dangerous."

"It's not, so long as you leave it alone. Now why don't you go and explore this area, the PDA can answer any questions you have about this place, just stay in the shallows and stay out of the caves." Rainbow Dash squirmed an eyebrow at him.

"Okay, and what are you going to do?"

"I'm going scavenging." And with that he turned around and swam off. Maybe he shouldn't be leaving her alone, but he needed to make a new Seamoth, and he wasn't quite sure how much time they had. Besides this was a still the Safe Shallows, so long as she listened to what he said she'd be fine. And the PDA could answer any questions she had about the local wildlife, he was pretty sure he'd scanned everything around here.

What made the Safe Shallows safe was the wildlife, there where no Stalkers, no Sandsharks or Bone Sharks, and no giant Seamoth eating Reaper Leviathans. Most creatures here had their names given to them by the scanner which choose a memorable name after it has scanned them. And Ryley had been scanning everything he met to make sure he knew as much as possible about everything here, well, almost everything.

His left leg twinged at the memory of the thing that had attacked them, with most predators around here he just shot them with the stasis rifle and then scanned them while they where frozen. However Ryley hadn't had much desire to scan the creature that attacked them, even if in hindsight a fully charged stasis rifle shot probably froze it for long enough. It wasn't as if he'd been thinking straight or academically at the time. However one of the empty lifepods he had found had made mention of extremely aggressive leviathan class predators, said the scanner had called them Reapers. He wasn't certain that the creature that attacked them was the same kind that had attacked lifepod 4, but for now at least it felt like a safe enough bet. He wasn't sure he could take there being more kinds of Leviathan predators on this deathball.

But in any case in this area there where only two creatures that could hurt Rainbowdash here, the suicidal exploding Crashfish and the Gasopods. But the Crashfish lived exclusively in caves and he'd already warned her about the Gasopods.

Well there was the possibility of a Stalker swimming over from one of the Kelp forests. But, no, the worst those things did was give a nasty bite, and from watching her swim he was sure she was faster than them. "I can't be coddling her, so long as she doesn't do anything reckless she'll be fine."

The water frothed around her as she thrashed about, creating a writhing mass of foamy water and flailing limbs. She struggled to breathe, even in those brief moments her head rose above the water, and she couldn't see anything through the tears in her eyes.

"Bwaha ha ha ha ha ha!"

"Subject Rainbow Dash, continued proximity is I'll advised. It is suggested that you take your distance from the poisonous gas."

"Ha ha, don't you-pfft ha ha. Don't you mean the poisonous farts? He he he."

"The gas released by the Gasopod is not its stomach wind. It is created by the algae living in the specialized algae glands grown on its rear."

"You mean it's butt, he he."

"No fecal matter passes through that part of the Gasopod, it would be more accurate to refer to it as a tail." Rainbow Dash finally stopped laughing and glanced back into the water.

"That's a pretty fat tail."

Rainbow Dash had been following Ryleys advice, she'd swim around asking for the names of all the fish, coral and plants around, and kept her distance from the Gadopods. She's even stayed out of the caves, which, when she asked the PDA, turned out to be because they had suicidal exploding fish in them, which did sound cool but also pretty painful. But as she had been swimming around she stopped paying quite as much attention to her surroundings as she usually did. At some point a Gasopod had actually swam towards her, and she didn't realize until she swam up for air and nearly bumped headfirst into it.

At that point the Gasopod employed its defensive strategy, releasing loads of yellow bubbles from its rear, which then exploded into little yellow gas clouds. Or as Rainbow Dash preferred to think of it, farted. After that Rainbow Dash quickly made her way to the surface, keeping her distance from the gas, and proceeded to cackle like Pinkie Pie for the next few minutes.

"The gas expelled by the Gasopod is extremely corrosive, contact would burn through you suit, fur and skin in seconds. Keeping your distance is advised."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it, silent but deadly." She tried really hard to keep a straight face after that, and managed for about two seconds before another chuckle escaped her lips.

"Pfft, he he." *sigh*" Having finally calmed down she took a moment to look around. There wasn't much to see however, to the north was the mountain island, standing tall above the waves but still barely visible. In light of what happened there it almost looked a little sinister. She shook her head an turned away before more, uncomfortable memories could surface and instead she turned to look at the only other visible landmark, the wreckage of the Aurora.

It really was massive, much bigger than any island she had seen on this planet, and it looked like half of it was missing.

"... Hey PDA, how many uhh, humans, where on that ship?"

"The Aurora had a crew of 157 individuals including 23 command crew, 85 engineers, 40 support crew and 9 passengers."

"And, how many of them survived the crash?"

"Unknown, many of the Auroras lifepods where launched before impact, however it is extremely unlikely that many of the crew managed to escape before impact." Rainbowdash deflated at that, then perked up slightly as the first part of that statement sunk in.

"But some of them did right? So there might be other survivors out there right?"

"Possible, however Captain Ryley has already investigated four other lifepods and found no survivors as well as evidence of their likely deaths." And with that she deflated again, still.

"But there might be some other survivors, right? In lifepods he hasn't checked."

"Currently only the locations of two other lifepods is known, both are at depths currently inaccessible to Ryley and yourself."

"Okay, but if some of the crew did survive what would they do?" Rainbow Dash thought she heard a tint of exasperation in the PDA's next reply.

"Standard procedure would be for the highest ranking officer to provide a rendezvous point nearby, on this planet most likely a place of dry land, and gather there. However there where no crew at the previous island." Rainbow started to slowly swim towards the lifepod, an idea forming in her head.

"But if there was another piece of dry land?"

"The Aurora is currently a radiation hotspot due to the detonation of its reactor core, the crew would not rally there." She paused just as she was starting to climb up the lifepod, now throwing a concerned look over to the wreck.

"Um, I'm not sure what radiation is, but it sounds bad, how far does that reach?"

"Prolonged exposure to nuclear radiation has multiple negative effects up to and including death."

"Oh... Should we move?"

"Current distance is sufficient protection from the radiation for now."

"Well that isn't ominous." Rainbow shook that thought away for another time and climbed up to the top of the pod, shaking the water from her wings as she looked around. "Well I wasn't talking about the Aurora any way, I meant what if there was another island, would the other survivors have gathered there?" Satisfied with the short inspection she turned her gaze to the south.

"Possibly." She grinned and crouched down wings flared.

"Good." And then she leapt from the pod and flew.

Flying in the suit was definitely more difficult, it was much heavier than her flightsuit after all and that was without the added weight of the oxygen tank. In fact the weight was a such a surprise that she nearly crashed straight back into the water before she managed to correct herself and climb up higher. But once that small hiccup was out of the way she began a steady climb.

Rainbow had crossed a few islands on the way to the mountain where she met Ryley, but most of those where very far behind them. However among those she faintly remembered seeing another island relatively close to the mountain island, though she wasn't sure exactly where it was she did have a good idea that it was somewhere west of their current position. So she flew straight up at first, stopping at about 500 metres above sea level, and cast her gaze across the sea.

Sure enough her memory was correct, to the north stood the mountain island, but to the southwest, a bit further away and surrounded by low clouds there was another island. This one didn't have a big mountain but rather two smaller mountains, more like steep hills honestly, it also looked larger in terms of space and it also didn't seem to have any massive alien structures on it. However it was hard to make out details from this distance, but it seemed to be the only other landmass she could see, with the only other noticeable sight being a rolling storm front moving in from the south. Rainbow allowed herself a small grin and she started flying straight towards it, though she did keep an eye on the storm front, which seemed to be moving towards the same Island she was. "Better make this quick." But as she started to get closer she noticed there was also something else, something she could just barely make out as she made flew closer and closer.

"Those look a bit like Ryleys base!" Sitting on top of the two hills there looked to be small structures, like pieces of Ryleys base has been taken off and planted above ground, two tubes with what looked like glass balls on the end. But as she got closer and started to come in for a landing something else started to stand out about these buildings, something much less promising.

These structures looked old, not the pristine white of his base, they where dulled, grimy, dirty, even the glass was filthy, covered in grime and hard to see through, though from what she could see there did look to be something inside. And as Rainbow Dash zeroed in, the PDA spoke up in her ear. "Picking up multiple faint energy signatures on the Island Surface."

She didn't respond , instead landing next to one, taking in the extremely rusted exterior, there was a desk inside the glass section which stuck out somewhat over the edge of the hill, probably some kind of observatory, a plant pot, and something else, what looked like a small glowing object a lot like the PDA device that Ryley held. "Probably that energy signature." A jolt of thunder to the distance reminded her of the small time limit she had, the storm wasn't big enough that she would have normally worried about it, but between the heavier load she was carrying and the fact that her usual Pegasus magic didn't seem quite as strong here, she didn't really want to try flying through the storm, nor did she relish the idea of waiting it out either.

As she made her way around to the extremely rusted door she glanced over the rest of the Island, noting the other observatory, and looking down between the two hills, a large pool, and another structure, that one looking much bigger, and also more damaged that the observatories. She also noticed with a grimace several skittering Cave Crawlers, the same creatures that had caused her so much annoyance on the mountain. "Just another reason to make this quick."

Rainbow Dash turned her attention back to the current observatory, approaching the massive but heavily rusted door she gave it a very close examination. Aside from the obvious age, it looked almost exactly the same to the doors in Ryley's base, same size, same proportions, and even, through all the muck, same colours. "PDA, did another spaceship like Ryley's crash here before the Aurora?"

"Official records indicated no, but the wreckage of other ships have been located on this planet, giving strong evidence that the Aurora is just the second most recent ship to crash here." Rainbow frowned, poking the door, noticing it wasn't budging, and then gingerly stepping past it into the dark interior of the observatory, only the dimming light from the glass and the blue glow of the tablet providing any light, giving the interior a decidedly creepy look. There where two pots with alien plants in the short corridor, and then a desk and chair with the glowing tablet sitting on top.

"But if ships have crashed here before, then why did the Aurora come here?" She slowly made her way towards the tablet, the closing storm in the distance the only thing she could see through the glass ahead.

"The Aurora was only supposed to perform a gravity slingshot around the planet towards its actual destination before it was struck down. There are no previous records of the Alien who built the defense platform and no records of any surface exploration of planet 4546B, Alterra didn't know that the Aurora could be shot down."

"But other ships have crashed here, how come no-creature came to investigate those ships?" She picked up the tablet examining it as she twirled it around in her hoof, it looked almost identical to Ryley's PDA.

"There are no records of any survivors from planet 4546B, all other crashes likely resulted in the deaths of all their crew. And planet 4546B is at the edge of Trans-System Federation space, it is not unusual for ships to go missing in such circumstances." Rainbow glared, in no particular direction, as she made her way back outside, noticing the storm moving much faster than before.

"So space ships just go missing, and no one tries to find out why?"

"Attempts would have been made, but it would also have been difficult to identify planet 4546B as the crash site. Also many of those rescue ships might have in turn, been destroyed by the defense system, and classified as lost in space." Rainbow wasn't very happy with that answer, but with the storm coming closer she resolved to put it aside for later. Probably just ask Ryley, the PDA was using a lot of word she didn't really understand, like Alterra, and besides, there where more pressing matters right now anyway.

As she slowly took off, flying back towards the lifepod indicator on her mask, she glanced back down at the tablet in her hooves, it had words on it, not that she could read them, but aside from the dull glow it didn't do very much. "What does this say?"

"Playing, prerecorded message."

Final Fates

View Online

Whilst Rainbow Dash had been making startling revelations about planet 4546B, Ryley had been doing what occupied most of his life these days, collecting materials. Seamoths are complicated machines and even with the vastly simplified process afforded by fabricator technology there was still a fairly decent shopping list that Ryley had to complete in order to replace the old Seamoth. Glass and lead where easy enough, and he'd already gathered a bit of copper in his last outing. Titanium too there was no shortage of on this planet, at least not in the region that Ryley had been lucky enough to crash land in, he didn't even have to go to the Creepvine Forests for that.

Unfortunately for Ryley, he did have to go there to acquire rubber and lubricant, resources he could only make from the Creepvines themselves, this had necessitated another series of short and annoying encounters with the Stalkers, and while their metal biting was a rather annoying habit of theirs, they were also still predators, and when he entered their territory, they never hesitated to try and take some bites out of Ryley himself. Of course by now Ryley was well and truly familiar with the Stalkers hunting methods, so much that he never felt in any real danger when he entered their lair, but their bites still hurt, a lot. And so it was that when Ryley finally returned to his base, he did so once again marked in bites and scratches from those oh so annoying Stalkers, and thoroughly annoyed.

"Alright Rainbow Dash, I just need to assemble the pieces and then I'll make the new Seamoth, meet me back at the base." He started the long process of refining his raw resources, converting the raw leaves, seed pods, and metal ores into the far more refined ingredients, it took about a minute before he could start making the components themselves, a power cell and a condensed titanium ingot, before he finally took note of the silence from that minute, and he raised his hand to his ear radio.

"Rainbow Dash? You there?" No response. He started making his way to the hatch. "PDA, where is Rainbow Dash? Is she hurt?"

"Subject Rainbow Dash is currently unharmed. She is currently approaching from 800 metres to the Southwest." Ryley stopped and turned in that direction.

"Wait, how far? Activate her Radio beacon." A small circle appeared in his vision, strangely at the very top of his vision, though not 800 metres away, but 700.

"600 metres." Ryley followed the fast moving circle as it drew closer and closer while the PDA decided to helpfully inform him of the rapidly shrinking number of metres away she was.

"500 metres. 400 metres." It was at this point, amidst all the confusion, that Ryley finally realized what was happening, as he quickly stepped through the hatch and into the sea.

"300 metres."

"I said learn how to swim and stay close to the base." A swarm of bubbles filled his vision as he swam out and looked back up at the surface.

"200 metres."

"So how does she manage to do the exact opposite and fly very far away from the base!"

"100 metres."

"Why would she even go out there anyway?" And with that there was a large splash from above, and Rainbow Dash came spearing through the surface of the water at a very alarming velocity, nearly smashing into some of the many rocks just metres from the surface.

After a short moment of concern he pushed that aside as she slowed and then stopped, and after a brief moment of visible confusion, centered her vision straight at him, and started swimming towards him. Ryley opened his mouth to start scolding her when she suddenly burst out talking.

"RYLEY RYLEY! THERE WHERE MORE HUMANS HERE! NOT FROM YOUR SHIP BUT A DIFFERENT SHIP THEY CRASHED HERE EARLIER AND WOUND UP ON AN ISLAND THAT'S JUST A LITTLE BIT THAT WAY AND THEY MADE A-" Ryley quickly held up a hand in a desperate attempt to stop the verbal tirade, which had in addition to the yammering in his hear he'd heard also resulted in the fastest speaking PDA he'd ever heard. Fortunately it seemed the hold up gesture was somewhat universal as Rainbow Dash quickly stopped talking though not before she had nearly swum up right into his face, she was a fast learner. He held a hand to his head for a moment as he tried to process what parts of the rapid fire speech the PDA had managed to translated for him.

"Okay, okay. I have a lot of question that suddenly became even more questions so lets just start with that thing you said. There were more humans here who weren't from the Aurora?" She nodded emphatically and held out a PDA she had been holding in her hooves (somehow, that was still weird) to him.

"Yeah, I found this next to an abandoned base that looked like yours except more old-abandoned-ruiny. Like a long lost temple kind of thing, and there were people talking in this thing and the PDA said its a voice log from a ship called the Degasi."

A now thoroughly confused Ryley picked up the PDA, and tapped replay on the only recording on the PDA. He listened in silence and read the attached transcript as a trio of unfamiliar voices spilled out from the device. Sure enough at the bottom of the transcript read the phrase 'Degasi Voice log #1'.

He stared at it for a few moments afterwards before his brain finally managed to process the first part of what she had said. "Wait, you mean there's another Island out there?" She nodded again.

"Yeah, just a quick ways to the southwest of here." He quickly leaned in, more thoughts rushing through his head.

"And did you see anyone else on that Island? Any other people?" She shook her head this time, but her voice didn't lose any of its previous energy.

"No, and the place looked pretty old, but I didn't have time to check the whole island, there's a big storm there right now, but do you think that maybe?" The transmission he had heard earlier began once again playing in his mind, overall it had been a rather ominous message, but the start of the transmission, the number, maybe...

His PDA beeped its oxygen reminder to him, but by then he was already swimming back to the base, a small sense of optimism finally surging through his heart as he called over his shoulder. "Come on, we have work to do!"

After the initial excitement of the discovery, the ride in the new Seamoth had become an extremely quiet one, fueled partially by the recent discoveries, and partially by the environment. After going leaving the Safe Shallows and passing through a Kelp Forest and then a red Grassy Plain, the sub was now passing through a vast empty space, few plants or even animals where in sight, and though the PDA had announced that this area appeared to be devoid of many life forms, the vast open spaces reminded both Ryley and Rainbow Dash far too much of their encounter with the Reaper Leviathan. So as the two spent most of their time nervously scanning the increasingly dark ocean around them, it gave Rainbow Dash plenty of time to think.

After listening to the recording Ryley had been extremely quick to action, immediately constructing a new Seamoth using a floating platform called a Mobile Vehicle Bay, which had as far as Rainbow could tell, simply ate the materials Ryley had provided it and then materialized the new sub right in front of it with four floating 'drones.' No matter how much the PDA kept boring her with all that talk about 'atomic fabrication technology' it still definitely looked like magic to Rainbow Dash.

From there Ryley had insisted she ride with him on account of the storm, which she had agreed to (also on account of the storm). But now after ten minutes inside the cramped submarine, the tense atmosphere and ringing silence was starting to get Rainbow Dash rather antsy. They had made a quick stop inside a small canyon to check out a lifepod, though this one unlike Ryley's pod had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and had a very large hole on its side. Ryley had left Rainbow in the sub for that, as apparently the pod was too deep for the Seamoth, but it hadn't taken Ryley long to swim down collect whatever he had been after and make it back.

He did come back with a few scratches, having been attacked by 'a plant and some leeches' while he was down there, but he had insisted they where minor injuries, and also came back more determined than before to make it to the island, sharing with Rainbow a recording of a 'Second Officer Keen' (she guessed it was a he from the voice) talking with the captain of the Aurora, which had ended with an ominous explosion, and a second data pad which the PDA told her was orders from Keen to meet up at some attached coordinates, with a new marker appearing on the mask HUD (the 'Aurora Redezvous Point') which just so happened to be in the same direction as the Island they where heading towards.

That brief stop aside they had continued towards the island in silence, passing into more dark empty waters, Ryley once again scanning the surrounding area, while Rainbow Dash, now well and truly fed up with the silence, spoke up.

"So do you know anything about the Degasi?" Ryley didn't stop watching the ocean (for that matter neither had Rainbow Dash), but he did give the question a few seconds of thought before answering.

"I know it was a Mongol ship, and that is had at least three crew, and that it crashed here a few years ago." This time Rainbow looked away from the ocean to Ryley, confusion writ across her face.

"Seriously, that's it?" Ryley just shrugged at that and continued driving, leaving Rainbow to stew in her thoughts again, this time she got bored after just a few seconds, and asked a new question.

"So what is Mongol?" This time there was a lot more silence as Ryley seemed to put much more thought into this question, his 'thinking face' on display long enough that Rainbow started to wonder if he was ever going to answer before he finally spoke up.

"They're another Trans-Gov, like Alterra, but they're a bit different, they're not a corporation, but they do have corporations. They're competitors, but they also buy Alterra products, I don't really know all that much about it to be honest, never been much into politics. I just know we were building the Phase Gate to do it before the Mongols."

"So wait, Alterra is a country, and a corporation. How does that work?" Another shrug.

"I can't really explain, it makes sense to me but I've lived in Alterra all my life so I don't really know how to explain it to someone else. I'm a citizen of Alterra, but I can also work for it as an employee, I don't really understand how people live another way, but the Alterra way works, for a lot of people at least." Rainbow Dash stewed on that thought for a bit as she stared back out into the ocean, a country but also a corporation?

"Would that be like living in a country run by Flim and Flam?" She shuddered at the thought, before another question came to her.

"So the Mongol's, what're they like?"

"Hmmm, they're independent, religious, stubborn, honestly I haven't met very many Mongolians, we had one on the ship but we weren't supposed to talk to him very much, but he was nice, I suppose." This time Ryley shook his head before looking back at Rainbow Dash. "What about you? What's your country like, I'm guessing its not a corporation." Rainbow couldn't resist laughing at that.

"HA, no, not a corporation." She leaned forwards into the cockpit and began to wave her hooves around as she started to reminisce. "It's a kingdom, the kingdom of Equestria, where a thousand years ago all three tribes came together in friendship and harmony to save each other from the Windigoes. It used to be run by Princesses Celestia and Luna, but then Luna became Nightmare Moon and Celestia sent her to the moon, but then Nightmare Moon came back so me and my friends blasted her with the Elements of Harmony which turned her back into Princess Luna, so it was the two of them. But then Twilight figured out some really cool magic and became an Alicorn and the Princesses said they where going to retire so now Twilight is the Princess of Equestria and she runs the country but we help so I guess we help her run the country now." She took a deep breath and sighed as she wrapped up, leaning back once again.

"Well I guess I'm not really helping right now." She stared out the cockpit for a moment, before noticing the dead silence and looking back at Ryley to see him for once not looking out the cockpit, but instead staring at her, wide eyed.

"What?" That shook him out of it and with a jerk Ryley redirected his gaze at the surrounding ocean.

"Oh, uhh, nothing. That's, a lot." Rainbow frowned but did not press the matter, talking about Equestria was starting to depress her and so instead she returned to scanning the surrounding ocean, at least until Ryley spoke up again.

"So, the moon huh?" She rolled her eyes.

"What about it?"

"Celestia sent her sister there. On a rocket or something?" Another eye roll.

"No, she trapped her there with the Elements of Harmony for a thousand years, her face was on the moon while i was growing up."

"Ah. Okay... Makes sense." Now she stood up to glare at Ryley, who was now scanning the ocean with much more focus than before, even as he kept biting his lips and scanning every part of the ocean that faced away from her.

"Well whats that supposed to mea-" Suddenly the Seamoth sopped in place, sending Rainbow tumbling into the glass, bumping her head against it rather painfully. She stood back up with a grimace holding her head gingerly. "OW, what the heck?" Ryley just nodded upwards, where his gaze was now focused.

"We're here." Rainbow turned her gaze to the front where she now noticed a very different ocean than the one they had been driving through for the past few minutes. Ahead of them was a forest floating spotted blue balls, each glowing and attached to the ground by four long tethers, the ground they were attached to seemed like an underwater mountain, or mountains, it was hard to tell from this perspective. But the most startling sight was what lay above them, a massive floating island.

The island looked quite large from down here, and from this angle was far less flat than above, with dozens of small rocky spires pointing down, so many that Rainbow Dash was worried some of them might fall on top of them, but none of those spires reached down to the bottom, and looking around she could see no indicator that the Island was at all attached to the seafloor. Instead all along the bottom of the Island there were a series of massive pink glowing blobs stuck to the bottom, similar to the ones she had seen holding up rocks in the Safe Shallows which the PDA had called Floaters, but these where those floaters had been the size of a small ball, some of these floaters looked larger than Ryley's entire base!

"Uh, Ryley. Is that, common on this planet?"

"... No, at least I don't think so." Was all Ryley said as he slowly drove them up towards the underside of the island. As they neared the underside Rainbow Dash could see that many of the spires and rocks where covered with small corals, and she could also see that above along the surface, rolling waves and a grey sky above, the storm it seemed was still in full swing. Ryley started to back the Seamoth away from the island as he started to look for a safe place to surface, but as they neared the top the effects of the storm became more and more pronounced as the swirling currents began buffeting the submarine around, which made the interior significantly less comfortable as Ryley struggled against the currents.

In the first attempt to surface they had been afforded a brief glimpse of the storm wracked island, covered in heavy rain and swirling winds pulling on the various plants across the island, before the viscous currents pulled them down and nearly hurled them into the island, with Ryley swiftly descending to safety after a near impact. The second attempt accomplished even less as the sub didn't even breach the surface before it was hurled into one of the pillars below the island, the impact ringing in the ears of the subs occupants as Ryley again descended another sixty metres to safety.

It was then that Rainbow Dash, now leaning against the glass, finally saw it, looking at the actual marker of the 'Aurora Rendezvous Point' she spotted something odd, (well something else that was odd when dealing with a floating island anyway). "Hey Ryley, you see that?" He followed her foreleg to look towards the centre of the Island, where there was not only was the rendezvous maker, but also where a small circle of light pierced the ocean surface.

"A hole? In the middle of the island?" Rainbow nodded, looking from Ryley to the hole, and taking careful note of water around and inside said hole.

"Do you think maybe it might be easier to bring the Seamoth up there?" Ryley looked between the hole, and then back at the swirling waters above them, and sighed.

"Worth a try, its probably better than getting smashed against the rocks anyway." And began to drive the Seamoth under the island towards the hole. The hunch proved correct, in a sense at least, while the waters weren't calm nearing the hole, they were substantially less rough than around the island, weak enough that the Seamoth itself was able to automatically compensate for the issues.

After ensuring that the Seamoth wouldn't wind up smashing against the island once they left it, Ryley once again brought the submarine up to again breach the surface of the water. Surrounding the hole was a circle of rocky overarching walls, making the hole even smaller up above, there were a handful of plants visible as they leaned over the edges, swaying violently in the wind, at the bottom there was mostly more sheer rock, however there where two small sandy beaches, and most importantly, a small cave to the right of the Seamoth.

As Ryley opened the hatch and the two climbed out, Rainbow Dash immediately noticed the relative lack of wind, which she immediately took advantage of as she took flight circling the small opening, though being careful to stay inside the hole. The rain fell heavy and slick against her mane and wetsuit, annoying but at the same time strangely comforting considering how much time she had spent underwater recently. Nevertheless she quickly rushed to the cover of the cave.

Leaving Ryley to slowly paddle to one of the beaches she explored the rest of this natural cave, the water followed the tunnel until it made a short turn to the right before a transitioning into a slow upwards slope, leaving the ocean behind. The cave walls and floor starting here where covered in short green grass, and dotted with a handful of other plants, ferns some with red glowing tips, purple mushrooms, purple mushrooms vines and lichen all the way along the tunnel. A steady trickle of water also flowed down this slope, which Rainbow followed to finally lay sight on the tunnel entrance, the island opening up beyond it overlooking the ocean. Smiling Rainbow called back down the tunnel behind her.

"Come on up Ryley, this cave leads up to the rest of the island." She dropped to the tunnel floor and stepped up to the cave entrance sticking her head out into the harsh wind and rains to look about. Despite the storm she could still make out the glowing fires of the Aurora in the distance, but looking up she also noticed small breaks in the clouds, through which she could see the dimming sky, the storm was dying down, Rainbow guessed it would still last another hour or so but the worst of it was over (though it was admittedly hard to tell on this alien planet) and more importantly it looked like it was getting dark outside. "Eh, we have torches anyway." She looked back behind her but neither saw nor heard any sign of her human companion.

"Ryley?" No answer, grumpy and a little concerned Rainbow quickly made her way back down the tunnel to see Ryley sitting against the wall on the beach, staring at the floating Seamoth, his PDA hanging in one of his hands. No, not his PDA. Confused Rainbow hovered over to him.

"Is that another Degasi recording? What does it say?" Ryley said nothing, not even looking up as he stared into the water, except, looking closer his gaze seemed, vacant. After a few moments of being drenched in the rain Rainbow was about to ask again before he let out a deep sigh and held the PDA out to her, still not looking up. Now a bit grumpy and annoyed at Ryley she took the proffered PDA and after a moment of asking their PDA what it said, played the recording of the 'Rendezvous Voicelog.'

What followed was a short conversation between a CTO Yu (voice sounded female) and Second Officer Keen, arguing about boarding the Aurora to repair something on it, though against the idea Keen eventually decided to go with Yu to the island. "I guess we just missed them." But as she was about to say as such to Ryley, the PDA recording interrupted her.

"Received emergency transmission from Second Officer Keen two hours after last activity." After which the now (worryingly) tired voice of Keen spoke out again.

"Rendezvous was a failure. Intercepted a transmission from Alterra HQ, seems they sent a data package to the Aurora. We were intercepted by a leviathan class predator before we could reach the ship. Consider the CTO and I lost at sea. Be safe. Keen.. out."

The rain suddenly became far less of a concern, Rainbow quietly lowered the PDA and took another look at Ryley, who still had not moved. Ryley's face was still alien to her but she had been finding it tended to show remarkably pony like expression thus far (just with much smaller facial features) and she felt she was by now decent at guessing his facial expressions. This expression had been hard to read before, but now looking at it again, the distant but hard stare, the otherwise motionless face, she felt she new exactly what he was displaying right now, resignation.

"Oh..." The rain seemed much more appropriate now.

Floating Island

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He wasn't sure how long he sat there, probably just a few minutes. It felt like hours.

This had been the best lead Ryley had yet found, coordinates for a Rendezvous point, a location all survivors where supposed to gather at. Instead all he found was little more than a testimony to the last acts of the last of his crew.

"They're dead. They're all dead."

Truthfully he'd suspected as such for a while, all the life pods he had found thus far had painted pretty grim pictures of that, none of them had been in working condition, and every log told of some problem for its passengers. And when he'd gone to the mountain island and no-one else had joined him, he'd pretty much given up at that point.

Then that stupid alien broadcast had to go and get his hopes back up.

Ten new biological subjects it had said, ten!

"Probably just an old message, like all the life pod distress signals." Ryley still wasn't sure exactly how long he had been out when the pod crashed, how much of this happened while he was unconscious, and how many of his crew he just barely missed. Ultimately the exact time made little difference, it was too long, he'd missed them, and unless someone else was hiding on this island (unlikely) then they were all dead.

"Forget what you can't change, focus on what you can."

A deep sigh escaped his lips as he finally looked up from his spot on the ground, the storm was dying and the day was ending, he could see it through dimming light in the small gaps of the clouds above, the large red moon visible through some others. Standing up he looked back down to see Rainbow Dash looking down at the ground, ears usually swivelling around now pinned to her head, it looked both adorable, and quite sad. Another sigh.

"Come on Rainbow, it's not going to get any brighter for a very long time." She looked up and almost for a moment seemed like she would say something, then thought better of it and started heading towards the cave she had already gone through. They walked up in silence, which suited Ryley just fine, he wasn't exactly very emotional at the best of times anyway, but when they left the cave and he finally got his first look at the island proper, his first impression was the sharp biting wind blowing across the island, his second impression however, was that of wonder.

This floating island was even more lush than the mountain island, anything that wasn't a cliff or a beach was covered in plant life, from grass, to small shrubs to large glowing trees. And looking up with the last of the faint light he could see with, Ryley spotted one of the observatories Rainbow Dash had mentioned, sitting at the very top of a small but steep mountain. He looked back down at Rainbow, who he noticed was making no effort to fly at the moment, contrary to what she had usually done ever since her wing had been fixed. He held out his hand to let the wind run between his fingers.

"Wind too strong?" She nodded glancing up at the sky above whilst shaking some of her blowing mane away from her face.

"For now, I think its gonna die down soon enough, but until then best not to risk it, my wings still aren't fully healed, otherwise I'd take this storm no problem." Ryley arched an eyebrow at that, looking at her small form and then back up at the billowing trees, some of them bending despite what looked like 40cm thick trunks.

"Right, well anyway for now I guess we shouldn't climb any of the mountains either, you said you saw three structures right, two on the mountains and one in between?"


"Right, well then let's check out that place first, hopefully at least by then the winds will have died down."

"And that'll give us shelter until then." Rainbow nodded again and the two set off around the island.

Searching the remaining structures on the Island did not take particularly long. First the base in the centre of the island, which had sat in a small gorge between the two mountains. The two story structure mostly consisted of the same tubular design as Ryley's base, except that the back half of the lower level was made of a large circular structure, this back half was partially buried under a landslide from some time ago, the top level was broken open at the back half as well.

After quickly dispatching the few Cave Crawlers that surrounded the structure this base had proven a treasure trove of edible plant life, surrounded by glowing 'Lantern Trees' and sitting next to a small farm filled with 'Marblemelons' and the more recognizable Chinese Potatoes. After scanning the base and collecting the few PDA's they found inside the storm outside had died down to a reasonable level, enough for Rainbow Dash to go back to flying and for Ryley to safely climb the mountains, however other than a few batteries and water bottles, these observation posts only yielded more PDA's and more blueprints for the base.

Now Ryley was back down by the central base reading all the data entries they'd found across the island, trying to piece together what happened. The overall story was familiar enough to him, Paul Torgal, Bart Torgal and a security guard named Marguriet crashed here some time ago. From what he gathered from the entries this Paul Torgal was some big shot company boss, and had been travelling with his son before they took a short detour to this planet, presumably only they and Marguriet survived the following crash. After that they had found this island and built a base here before being forced to relocate into an underwater cave due to deteriorating weather conditions. The bulk of what the logs told him wasn't particularly interesting to him, they had a few arguments, Paul and Marguriet especially, and they'd discovered a purple tablet like the ones from the Quarantine Enforcement Platform. The most interesting (and concerning) data log was the last entry of Bart Torgal, the voice of the young man filling the abandoned base as Ryley let to play yet again.

"This is the first time I've seen sunlight in months. After all that time in the deep I'd been dreaming of it. Now that I'm back here, I'm finding it hard to enjoy alone. Father was right: we should never have left this place. We shouldn't have gone so deep. They do not want us down there.

Despite my best efforts ill-health is taking hold of me. The visions are getting worse.

Marguerit and father are now part of the ecosystem of this incredible planet. It's reassuring to know that when I go, I'll join them.

Until then... well, there's always the view."

Briefly Ryley considered playing the recording for a fifth time, until finally placing the tablet down on the half buried table next to him. He looked out to the night sky beyond, watching the two moons glide over the burning Aurora, before his gaze drifted down to the bits of ocean he could see.

"'They do not want us down there.' Who? What did you find down there Bart?" That line in particular was stuck in his head, did he find the alien builders? Or was there something else? Maybe he just meant the fauna. His gaze drifted further down, until he was looking at the ground itself, or more precisely, the marker on his HUD for the 'Alien Thermal Plant.'

"It's not like we have much of a choice." Ryley had already come to accept that good news was scarce on this planet, and realistically all this new information meant was that they'd have to be a bit more careful going down themselves. And besides it wasn't as though all the information had been useless.

"PDA, show me the proposed coordinates for the second base." There was no verbal response, just a small ping from the tablet in his hand, and then a new marker appeared on his HUD, closer to his base than this island, and 200m deep. With any luck that base might yield new blueprints, and even if it didn't, according to Marguriet the cave system it was located in was rich with mineral deposits.

"And so the scavenger hunt continues." It'd be funny if it wasn't so dangerous.

Further internal musing where interrupted by the sounds of wing beats as Rainbow Dash landed outside of the base, she having flown around the island to search for any signs of his crew, Ryley didn't bother looking up. "Let me guess, you didn't find any more humans?" The ensuing silence told the story well enough.

"Why'd you fly here anyway? The radio piece can easily reach across this island I would have heard you wherever you asked." This time he did look up to see Rainbow Dash looking at him with another of her unnervingly human expressions, but this one was harder to read, there was sadness quite clearly, but also something else. Rainbow cleared her throat.

"I know, but I figured it would be better to tell you in person about, well, I guess you already know." She looked away for a moment, and Ryley almost went back to his PDA before she looked back and spoke again. "Anyway I did find something else, another arch like the one on the mountain." That got his attention.

"Another one. Where?" She gestured behind her towards the rest of the island.

"In a cave around the island, looked almost exactly the same, I thought if you're done here and there was nothing else on this island that we should check it out before we leave." She threw another strange look at him, but Ryley's mind was already on other things as he stood up and looked outside. Day Night cycles where much faster on this planet than standard Terran time, it would almost be daytime soon, which would be as good a time as any to head back to base. He packed up the PDA's and scavenged supplies and gestured to Rainbow Dash.

"Lead the way."

Silence was becoming as recurring theme on these trips, that and bad news, a far cry from her usual travel experiences with her friends. Still Rainbow hadn't found it in herself to break it as she led him to the newest arch, Ryley was hurting, and she couldn't help but feel partially responsible. Ryley had been so eager to come here after hearing about it, Rainbow had been convinced that there would be more humans on this island, and it seemed that Ryley had believed it too, instead all they'd found was a graveyard and ghosts. It all felt like a joke, a very very cruel and uncool joke.

"If only I'd actually searched the island when I first came here, at least then..." Truthfully, deep down, Rainbow understood that it wouldn't have really changed anything, but that was what sucked the most about all this, how little she could change. Right now the way Ryley was acting, it seemed like a classic problem she and her friends would have dealt with back home, but Rainbow Dash had no idea how to help this one, what could she possibly say? His ship had 157 creatures on it, and now Ryley was the only survivor, Rainbow couldn't think of any way of addressing that, it sucked, it just sucked and there was nothing good about it that Rainbow Dash could think of.

So instead they made the trip around the island and into the cave in silence, not a word between the two until they were finally inside the cavern overlooking the pillars and arch that looked oh so familiar. A series of rectangular alien pillars surrounded a large platform on top of which an Arch sat, all the structures where made of the same dark black with green stripes alien material as the previous alien sites, all looking equally ominous. Ryley quietly looking down from the small path that ran along the top of this cave, looking down at the alien objects, before making his was down the small narrow path across the cave wall down to get a closer look, Rainbow Dash flying down alongside him. Eventually it was Ryley who finally broke the long silence between them.

"You said you came here through an arch like this?" She nodded, looking closely at the strangely ominous archway before them.

"I think the once I came through was a bit bigger, but yeah, it looked a lot like this one." She watched as he stepped forwards onto the platform of the arch itself, running a hand across the structure. "Why'd you ask? I thought we couldn't even try to go home until we'd ended the Quarantine enforcement thing." He nodded pulling out his PDA and he half mumbled his response to her.

"It's just that if these arches are for transportation, I'm wondering about where they all go, this one looks almost identical to the one on the Mountain Island, but you say its smaller than the one you came through, so maybe these ones just lead to other places on the planet." Rainbow pondered that thought, thinking back to the arch inside the mountain, she knew there was something different about these two arches, though she couldn't quite figure out what, but they were very similar, still.

"So what, you think we could travel to the other arches with these?" He nodded, running his scanner over the arch as he did so.

"Maybe if we can somehow get these arches to work we could find new places, maybe some of them lead to the facilities down below, it would certainly save us a lot of effort." Rainbow thought about that as she flew towards the platform as well.

"That seems, too good to be true." He let out an amused scoff at that.

"Probably yeah, it just a theory anyway, doesn't matter unless we can figure out a way to turn these on anyway, and I have no idea about that." It was then that Rainbow finally realised what was different about this arch.

"The podium!" Ryley looked back at her quizzically as Rainbow Dash hovered excitedly over a space still on the platform but a few metres away from the actual arch. Seeing his confused face she elaborated.

"The arch back on the mountain island had a podium about here, and it opened up when we got near it, that's what's different about this arch, and maybe that's how these things work." Now that she was thinking about it the bigger arch back on Equestria also had a podium like that, and Twilight had attached loads of wires and cables to that podium as well. Ryley nodded at that looking around slowly.

"Maybe, it might be worth looking into that later." Then he shook his head. "In any case it's not relevant right now, we've found just about everything we can on this island, time to head back." And just like that the small scraps of energy and excitement Rainbow had been getting vanished into the wind as Ryley made his way back out of the cave up to the island, Rainbow Dash following again in silence.

This silence didn't last nearly as long though, as they exited the cave Rainbow quickly flew in front of Ryley stopping him in his tracks. "So what did we get from this island then huh? We got something right, this wasn't just a waste of time."

Ryley looked her in the eye for a moment before turning his gaze out to the ocean and nodding slowly. "It wasn't a waste, we got blueprints, crops and some new coordinates to check out, the Degasi survivors built another base which might show us more clues." A small wave of relief washed over her as she heard that, something useful came out of this venture at least, and she couldn't prevent a small sigh escaping her. But as she followed his gaze out to the dark ocean beyond, her gaze inevitably drifted towards the massive wreckage of the Aurora, and her mind drifted back to the massage they had first found on this island.

"Keen." She muttered this under her breath, but this time she forgot about the PDA, and she almost winced as she heard it repeat her quiet murmur loud enough for half the island to hear. Ryley looked back down at her, his face dropping slightly as he did so.

"What about him?" Rainbow internally cursed both the PDA and herself for bringing this back up, but now that it was in the air she decided to press on with it.

"Keen said Alterra sent a 'data package' to the Aurora, what is that?" Ryley didn't answer for a moment, mulling it over, evidently he had forgotten that particular detail, not that Rainbow Dash could blame him, but eventually he answered with a slow nod.

"A data package is information, like these PDA's we find." He lifted his gaze again, but this time it was clearly focused on the Aurora, Rainbow Dash glancing between the ship and Ryley.

"So if Alterra sent something to the Aurora it must be important right?" He said nothing merely nodding out of the corner of her eye, and so she continued. "But how are we going to get it if the Aurora is surrounded by radiation." He glanced back at her, surprise evident on his face, before slowly nodding again.

"Yeah. Yeah it is, but I can make a suit that would let me survive that." Again he looked back to the Aurora. "At least long enough to fix the reactor core." Rainbow nodded quietly, following his gaze out to the burning wreck.

"Next stop the Aurora I guess."

Take a Note

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The next few days since the Island had been rather mundane by comparison, as the two had settled into what Ryley had explained had been his usual routine, swimming out to collect whatever resources they could find, metals, stones plants and other strange things throughout this alien ocean. Ryley had expanded the base, adding a few observation posts and some large rooms, as well as reinforcing several walls around the base. Inside the large rooms he had placed several planters into which they had now placed their new crops from the floating island, which had grown at remarkable speed, and already the islands Lantern Fruit, Marblemelons and Chinese Potatoes had become staples of their diets, something Rainbow was extremely grateful for as the Creepvine she had previously been eating had been pretty disgusting.

Once the farm (if it could even be called that) was sorted out the rest of the following days had been spent gathering materials, something which typically saw them splitting up to cover more ground, with Ryley heading out in the Seamoth to gather more obscure materials and Rainbow Dash spending her time mostly in and around the Safe Shallows. For Rainbow Dash these trips generally consisted of looking for the oddly shaped rocks to smash open, picking up scrap metals and crystals, as well as occasionally dodging Stalkers, large sharp toothed fish that she often found herself racing with over whatever scrap metal she could find.

Today had largely consisted of another one of those scavenging trips for Rainbow Dash, as she frantically paddled away from a pair of Stalkers whilst dragging a large chunk of scrap metal behind her.

"Would you buzz off already I found this first!" Sadly this shout proved just as useless as the many previous (and one-sided) arguments she'd had with these fish over the last few days, the Stalkers where large fish, longer than Rainbow Dash in length, and their bites were extremely painful. However between explanations from the PDA and her own experiences it had become clear to Rainbow Dash that they weren't actually trying to eat her, they were just extremely aggressive, this had turned the initial worry (not fear, obviously) into annoyance at their constant attacks, hence why she had taken to shouting at them. It also helped that she knew by now that whilst she couldn't out-swim them, she was more agile than them and could easily dodge out of the way when she saw them coming.

Of course that was when she wasn't being dragged down by a big hunk of metal, like she was right now. As the Stalkers caught up and latched onto the piece of salvage, dragging it, and with it Rainbow Dash, back down towards the Creepvine Forest, a small part of Rainbow Dash was tempted to grab on and pull back, but having gone through this song and dance several times by now, instead she resigned herself to the loss and let go, watching as the two Stalkers instead began to wrestle with each other as they dragged the piece back down. "What do you even want with that stuff anyway?" Naturally they didn't answer, and Rainbow Dash instead slowly paddled towards the surface.

As she waited for the oxygen tanks to refill she found her gaze drifting towards the Aurora, looking towards the destroyed front half of the ship in particular. "Hey PDA, has Ryley made it inside yet?"

"Unknown, the radiation surrounding the Aurora interferes with transmissions, contact was lost seventeen minutes ago, if Captain Ryley managed to maintain his planned course then he would have made it on board by now." Rainbow was glad that the PDA managed to refrain from its typical sense of humour this time, Rainbow Dash was feeling angsty enough about being left out of this trip as it was.


"What do you mean I'm not coming, why the heck not?" Ryley didn't even bother looking back as he rifled through the lockers.

"I don't have a suit for you, the radiation would kill you."

"So? Just make another suit like you did with this one." She held out a black coated leg for emphasis, however as Ryley was already shaking his head.

"That suit is a patch job, a radiation suit needs to be completely sealed with no imperfections, if there's even the smallest gap the radiation will seep in." He stood up now with items in hand and made his was towards the hatch even as Rainbow Dash flew in front of his face.

"So I'll just tough it out, just a little bit of poison won't be a problem. Come on don't leave me out of the alien spaceship!" This time he did stop, causing Rainbow Dash to overshoot him for a moment, and after a short pause looked her straight in the eyes.

"You've never seen what radiation does to a person have you?" Rainbow leaned back slightly, put off by the sudden intensity in his gaze.

"Well, no, but-"

"Well I have, it doesn't take much, and trust me when I say it's definitely the worst possible way to die. Very slow and very painful." Ryley didn't wait for a response, pushing past Rainbow Dash and stepping out of the base, leaving her hovering inside.


Rainbow Dash only asked one more time that day, with similar results, after that she hadn't pushed the subject any further, he seemed extremely unwavering about this point.

She'd also asked the PDA about the symptoms of radiation poisoning as well, and suffice to say, it never held back in its explanations.

"I swear I'm gonna get nightmares from just those descriptions." Further rumination on those rather horrific mental images was fortunately interrupted by a beep from the PDA itself.

"Seek fluid intake." A sigh escaped her as she glanced down at the HUD, for a moment she'd thought it might be an alert about Ryley. Still now that it was brought to her attention, she was thirsty. After a quick glance to confirm the oxygen was full, she dived right back down into the ocean below.

Surrounded as they where by a massive saltwater ocean, clean water wasn't exactly easy to acquire. Currently they had two methods. One was taking salt and fragments of the massive coral tubes and turning them into bleach, and using that to disinfect the water.

The other method was a bit more, unusual. It involved catching a strange fish with two big pink sacks along its back and belly (the PDA called them Bladderfish), and then, processing them in the fabricator, which ended up with a bottle of water. She wasn't entirely sure how a fish turned into water, and the PDA had given a more complex explanation about it but even without the language barrier, most of it flew over her head, all she knew was Bladderfish into fabricator made water.

Rainbow wasn't too fond of the second option, it wasn't so much the deaths of the fish that bothered her, Rainbow had eaten fish before (usually with Gilda looking back on it) though the taste wasn't much to her liking, she had no real moral qualms with it. Even so it was hard not to feel a little bad for the fish, especially with how easy they were to catch.

That said however it was the much easier and faster method, despite being in a saltwater ocean, actual salt deposits where surprisingly hard to find, and Bladderfish where both plentiful and slow. And as she plunged back into the ocean she remembered another advantage of Bladderfish, their large pink bladders made them rather easy to spot.

A short swim later and two small Bladderfish where wriggling in her hooves (which definitely did not make her feel much better about this), and Rainbow turned back towards the base, at which point she suddenly noticed two things. Firstly the short chase of the Bladderfish had brought her right next to the creepvine forest again. Secondly (and a bit more prudently) there was now yet another Stalker swimming right at her, jaws wide open.

Frantically she kicked back, but the Stalker was already on top of her, and even now she could tell she wouldn't be able to dodge it. The Stalker closed the last of the gap its gaping jaws snapping shut, before it turned right back around and swam back into the creepvine.

Rainbow blinked in confusion as it swam away without even nipping her, before looking down at her now empty hoof, the Bladderfish having been snapped right out of her hoof by the Stalker. "Huh, that's weird." She looked back towards the Creepvine before remembering that she still had another Bladderfish, and turned around to paddle slowly back towards the base, lost in thought. But about halfway back to the base, already on high alert, she noticed a small shadow over her shoulder and spun around again to see.

The same Stalker from earlier swimming up to her again, except now with a giant piece of scrap metal in its mouth. The sight of that alone was enough to get Rainbow to stop for a moment, allowing the Stalker to catch up, whereupon it immediately dropped the piece and swam right back around to the Creepvine, leaving Rainbow floating in place dumbfounded.

"Uhm, PDA, has that ever happened before?" A short beep sounded before the response in her ear.

"Clarification required. What happened?" Rainbow turned her head to look at the device in shock.

"What do you mean what happened? A Stalker gave me a piece of metal, how do you miss that?" There was a slightly longer pause after that before it responded.

"This device does not have any optical observation features, information is processed through readings from the suit and general scans of the surrounding area, specific details are not observable without the use of a scanner. Back to your previous question, there is no recorded data of a Stalker giving Ryley or yourself a piece of salvage before."

Again the PDA didn't elaborate, but this time Rainbow had stopped expecting it to, instead as she swam back to the base, she looked down at the two objects in her hooves.

"Welcome aboard, Passenger."

The loud voice of the base welcomed her as it always did when she stepped back inside the base, and once again it annoyed Rainbow Dash that she was referred to as 'Passenger' while Ryley got to be 'Captain.' Vice Captain would be way cooler, or First Mate, or really any kind of crew member, she was pulling her weight around here after all, but apparently despite Ryley being the Captain, he couldn't make her part of the crew, something about 'contracts' and 'species not recognised by Alterra Corporation.' She'd also tried to get the base to stop saying anything to her as well, but then the PDA had started droning on about 'mental health' and 'the welcoming spirit of the Alterra corporation.' And so as with many of her gripes with the PDA, Rainbow Dash had resigned herself to this annoyance, She had at one point considered the PDA's suggestion of submitting feedback to the Alterra corporation, but Ryley told her that Alterra never responded to any of those complaints (and also that no one would be able to read it anyway).

And so it was that Rainbow Dash limited herself a little bit of quiet grumbling as she quickly processed both the scrap metal and the fish. Packing away the new lumps of titanium while sipping away at the new bottle of water (and trying very hard not to think about what it was moments before, as per usual) Rainbow instead took note of the many empty shelves in the designated 'titanium locker,' it was barely half full now, despite it being the item they found most frequently. Ryley said they always needed more titanium, but the more they gathered the further and further out they had to go to find it, apparently when he'd first crashed here the shallows had been full of limestone outcrops to be mined for titanium, but now according to Ryley the most reliable source of Titanium was the Creepvine forests, as in Ryley's own words, "Those toothy bastards always manage to find scrap metal from somewhere."

Of course those very same 'Toothy Bastards, where also what made collecting all of those scrap pieces so challenging, for the most part Stalker's weren't a lethal danger, they usually just gave it one painful bite before swimming off, of course if you swam into a group of the creatures...

She paused for a moment, staring at the empty shelves, and thinking back to a few minutes ago. "Maybe."

Rainbow approached the Creepvine forest tentatively, a small peeper in her grasp. The PDA had said that the Stalkers seemed to prefer hunting Peepers over any other fish in the ocean, and for that matter Ryley preferred Peepers as well, greater nutritional value or something like that. They were also like most fish in this ocean rather easy to catch.

She stopped just outside of the forest and waited, eyes peeled for any sign of movement, and it wasn't long before her watchfulness was rewarded. The familiar shape of a Stalker emerged from the Creepvine on a beeline straight towards Rainbow Dash. However unlike every other time this had happened, Rainbow ignored her instincts and held her ground.

That decision was rewarded when instead of clamping down on her hoof, the stalkers jaw snapped up the peeper and swam back into the creepvine. Again Rainbow waited in place anxiously keeping an eye out for any more Stalkers, she didn't have any more bribes for them. Eventually the creepvine shifted and parted again, revealing the same Stalker swimming towards her, holding a massive chunk of metal in its jaws, before depositing it right in front of her.

"Okay, let's see if I got this right." Rainbow muttered as she cautiously swam down towards the metal, eyes never leaving the Stalker which was now floating in place, eyes locked on her. The stare-off continued as she slowly picked the scrap up and then began to back away towards the base, waiting for the Stalker to rush her, to change its mind.

Instead the massive fish silently watched her for another few moments, before turning around and swimming into the forest behind it.

Only once it was completely out of sight did Rainbow Dash finally let out the enormous sigh she had felt building inside her chest. "Ughh I don't know how Fluttershy does that." Then she glanced down at the scrap piece in her hooves, and felt a chuckle escape her lips.

"Heh. Hehehe ha ha ha ha! Oh wow that was stupid!" Fluttershy had warned her about feeding wild animals, it had happened soon after Rainbow had moved to Ponyville.

"But you do it all the time!"

"Yes, but I'm good with animals, I can tell when they're grumpy or hungry or happy or scared, you can't. Animals can be very unpredictable, especially when it comes to food." It had been a rare moment of Fluttershy assertiveness, before Twilight and the Elements of Harmony.

"You probably could have just asked it nicely couldn't you Flutters?"

She shook away yet another moment of reminiscence as she stepped inside the base, also shaking the water off for good measure as she was met with the familiar greeting.

"Oh right." She turned her head back.

"So I gave the Stalker another fish and it gave me another chunk of metal, soo now we know. Take a note I guess?" Her hoof awkwardly rubbed at the back of her head as she looked down at the PDA Tablet.

"Great and now I'm talking like Twilight."

There was no beep of acknowledgement, or any kind of reaction really, just the voice speaking in her ear. "Noted."

After an awkward moment of standing there, Rainbow eventually just stepped up to the fabricator and began disassembling it.

"Maybe I should give that Stalker a name...

Forced Entry

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The ocean surrounding the Aurroa was barren, most of it was empty sand dunes with the occasional scatterings of smaller wreckage, supply boxes and coral tubes. Much of the Seafloor had obviously been displaced here by the impact, as evidenced by the lack of any other plant life, though the Coral tubes certainly threw into question just how high the Seafloor had been before the Aurora's impact. The fish where few in number as well, small fish scattered about but never in enough numbers to be considered a shoal, occasionally a Sand Shark would burst from the ground after those scattered few, but even they where a rare sight during the trip.

Behind the Aurora was a different story, there the seafloor dropped dramatically into dark empty depths, almost nothing to see beyond small shoals of incredibly tiny fish and the jagged hull pieces of the Aurora superstructure. It was at the edge of this drop, staring into that darkness that one could now make out a small little submarine, the brand new Seamoth, lights off and completely still, staring into those murky depths, with its singular human passenger. Ryley had the controls in a death grip, while his eyes where scanning the ocean from behind the tall radiation helmet.

The trip here had been uneventful, the lack of life had been expected, given first the initial crash, and then the leaking reactor. Honestly Ryley was surprised to see as many creatures as he did along the way, perhaps the local fauna has higher tolerance to radiation.

Anyway the Sand Sharks were never a real threat to a Seamoth, too slow, the most they could do was damage the hull slightly, which was always and easy repair, and that only happened if Ryley stuck close to the seafloor. Everything had been as expected, manageable. And then he heard it.

In hindsight Ryley had heard the sound many times before now, it had always been reasonably intimidating. But it had also always been distant, of no immediate concern, and Ryley hadn't particularly cared to find out what it was. Now though, after the events of a few days ago, he was acutely aware of what was making that sound.

"There's a Reaper down there. There's a reaper and I have to go towards it." That was the thought dominating Ryley's mind as he stared into the the trench carved by the Aurora. See Ryley had been driving along the side of the Aurora partially for direction, but mostly in an effort to find some way inside, it had ultimately been futile but that was what he expected, and not really a concern because he knew for sure where he could find an entrance, the massive hull breach at the front of the ship. At least that hadn't been a concern until he found out about the Reaper.

His fingers started to drum away at the handles as he kept scanning, he had to get onto the ship, that was non-negotiable, but the hull still continued as far as he could see towards the deeper waters. He could go back and search around the rest of the Aurora for another entrance, but the odds of finding one he could access where slim, heck he wouldn't even be thinking about boarding the Aurora if it weren't for the massive hull breach. Besides, there was not telling what else was out there around the ship.

"... Fuck."

Slowly, ever so slowly, the Seamoth edged forwards as Ryley pushed it forwards, it was still light above so he could see fairly deep into the water without issue, which was good because he really didn't feel like turning on the Seamoth's own lights.

The ground below continued to decline as he took the sub along the hull, his eyes rapidly flicking back and forth between the hull and the deeper ocean. As the ocean floor kept dropping, and the hull kept remainin whole, Ryleys own nerves grew tenser as he drove further towards the sounds of danger. Eventually the (mostly) pristine white hull gave way to the charred black superstructure, maybe he wouldn't have to drive around the entire hull, maybe there'd be a gap here in the superstructure.

It was not long after this thought had crossed his mind then two things happened soon after one another. Firstly his hopes where answered, as a gap in the hull large enough for the Seamoth finally came into view, then secondly, as he accelerated towards this gap, he finally saw the end of the hull, as well as a large serpentine body swimming just by that edge. He almost brought the sub top another stop right there, except that bringing a Seamoth to a dead stop in the ocean wasn't exactly possible without ramming into something. And secondly, after the initial split second freak out, his rational mind quickly reasserted control.

"It's far away, at least 100 metres, and it wasn't headed towards you, calm down." Instead Ryley slowed, but did not stop the Seamoth, as he drove into the hull breach, trying his best to keep an eye on the Reaper even as it disappeared into the murky waters, and as he was forced to turn away from the Reaper as he searched the breach.

The former interior of the ship was about as intact as the rest of the ship. Actually scratch that, it was even worse. The formerly internal structure, not built with the same durability of the outer hull, had not survived the transition from interior to exterior particularly well. The inner structure was now a mangled mess of metal, at some points he could make out where specific floors had been, but at others the now unsupported floors/roofs had mashed together into a multilayered messes of metal. Most of it was no longer connected to the exterior hull, just hanging off into the water, creating a general downwards slope from the rest of the relatively more intact ship. The parts above the water where less mashed together, however they where also mostly on fire. This jagged mess created quite a few obstacles for Ryley to navigate around as he searched this mess for a clear path into the ship.

Here the shadow of the Aurora forced him to flick on the Seamoth's lights once again, with Ryley desperately hoping the mangled mess around him would keep his tiny sub hidden from the massive killer fish behind him, and if that failed, hope that the wreck was too cramped for the Leviathan to follow. The constant creaking and groaning from the hull wasn't very helpful here either, muffling the occasional distant roars behind him. So Ryley kept finding himself peeking over his shoulder behind the Seamoth

It was under such circumstances, as well as the constant loud creaking of the metal frame around him, that you will be asked not to judge Ryley for the little jump (and shriek) he made when the PDA suddenly beeped, before he managed to calm down as he realised the PDA was just giving him an update. "Lifeform readings in this region are sparse. The Aurora's radioactive fallout will have devastating effects on the alien ecosystem if not contained within the next 24 hours."

Well, perhaps calmed down should be taken as a relative term here.

"Good news on good news on good news." A sigh escaped him despite the tension he felt, and he redirected his full attention back to the ship. The wreckage was less dense the closer it was to the surface, so Ryley steadily brought the Seamoth into an ascent climbing up along the wreckage, until he saw what looked like a relatively flat piece of intact floor, just dipping into the water. There he brought the Seamoth up to the surface and saw a large intact piece of flooring with only a few small pieces of scrap metal lying around on it.

Reasoning this was probably his best shot Ryley brought the sub back down spinning it around, finding to his relief there was no Reaper staring up at him. Finding a nook where the Seamoth would be sheltered from any currents (he hoped) Ryley packed up his gear and swam to the surface.

The floor was slightly bent downwards on the side facing towards his parked Seamoth, creating a ramp into the water. Stepping on and climbing up Ryley took a moment to get a proper look around. This relatively flat piece of flooring was still sitting at a slight angle, though it was still level enough for a great many objects to sit on it. Most of those where pieces of scrap from other parts of the ship, however there where also a bunch of crates, pods and small debris, many of which where on fire. And scuttling between all these obstacles where several bright Cave Crawlers. Fortunately Ryley had a new toy, which while not intended for these, would probably be quite useful.

Reaching around to where he usually strapped his Stasis Rifle, Ryley instead pulled out a large bulky round cylinder with two handles on the top and at the back, as well as a trio of rounded prongs at the front. He'd found the blueprints for these on a bunch of underwater islands near the volcano island, and while he himself had never used one, he remembered the crew talking about how much fun the Propulsion Canons could be.

"Let's see what all the fuss was about."

Taking aim at the first Crawler to come scuttling towards him, Ryley and pulled the trigger. Immediately three streams of blue energy burst from the prongs, merging together and then streaming out to engulf the Crawler, which was then lifted up by the energy and then brought up and suspended in front of the Cannon.

Ryley watched for a moment as the Crawler flailed about in the energy, unable to reach anything, then he hefted the Cannon around, pointing it towards the open ocean, flicked a switch, and pulled the trigger again. In the blink of an eye the Crawler was suddenly propelled out into the ocean, landing with a distant splash.

First there was a chuckle, then a giggle, and finally a laugh some might describe as maniacal burst from Ryleys lips.

"I get it, I get it." He turned back to the rest of the Crawlers scuttling about, took a quick look at the battery charge of the Cannon 95% plenty. Then he got to work.

Shooting Cave Crawlers out to sea was extremely cathartic, though it lacked the same impact of bashing them with a rifle or knife, seeing the annoying critters sent flying was a pleasure all of its own.

It had also helped to calm his nerves, given he was about to try and enter a broken but still functioning nuclear reactor, he certainly couldn't afford to make mistakes.

Now that he had a clear moment of (relative) safety he finally sat down to take stock. Aside from the Cannon which replaces his Rifle, Ryley had packed extra supplies of water, cured fish and what remained of his nutrient bars (all in special containers to reduce the risk of contamination) along with extra medical packs. Aside from those the rest of his kit was the usual, a knife, seaglider, laser cutter, repair kit, and importantly, a scanner, the Aurora was practically guaranteed to have some fancy equipment lying around for him to scan. All of these where bright and sparkling new, they definitely weren't coming back to the base with him. He'd also packed a few fire extinguishers, which between them and the propulsion Cannon he'd hoped would be enough to get through any obstacles in the ship.

"I'll probably have to throw all this stuff away once I'm done."

Clearing out the Cave Crawlers hadn't just been because he hated the little things (though he did hate them, he really really did), rather the bigger concern was that they might damage the suit. Ryley didn't much relish the idea of entering the drive core with a hole in his suit, if the radiation was bad enough for him to need to wear a suit to get within 200 metres of the Aurora, past all the layers of metal within the ship...

Well, Ryley just hoped the suit could take it.

The next minute was spent searching the few intact supply crates lying around, inside of which there where some water bottles, a spare battery and a medkit, all of which he packed away. The crates where built to be sturdy, so hopefully their contents weren't irradiated, (though just to be sure, he separated them from the rest of his supplies and made a note to use them last if necessary). This last bit of procrastination finally done, he at last turned to the entrance of the ship.

He'd spotted it whilst clearing out the Crawlers, but hadn't taken a proper look at it before now. There was a relatively open passage into the ship, relatively in the fact that while there was debris blocking the way, the hallway itself looked intact from what he could see, but the debris wasn't an issue, that's what he'd brought the cannon for. Using it to clear away the larger crates and boxes was different from the cave crawlers, for one most of these boxes where too large to be lifted very high or close by the cannon, instead it just kind of dragged them a bit closer. Still it was enough to get them out of the way, and the fact that he wasn't firing them away afterwards did conserve power (24% now, but that's what he'd brought the spare batteries for), and after a few moments of this, Ryley at last had a clear path into the Aurora.

He tentatively stepped up, glancing down the sloped hallway to see the orange glow of a fire down at the end. There, in the entryway of whatever hallway this had once been, the PDA beeped yet again.

"Warning: ship's structural integrity is low. Fire suppression equipment and laser cutters may be required. Exploration is conducted at your own risk."

"No problems there." He looked back outside, at the calm rolling ocean behind him, trying no to think about the leviathan lurking below the surface. He started to check his supplies yet again before stopping himself, taking another deep breath, and then looking back down into the ship.

"Well, this is it." And with that, he took his first steps back into the Aurora.