My Little Steam Punk Is Magic
Chapter 1- End of the Everyday.
Ironcloud MacHoof always considered himself to be an ordinary pony living an ordinary life; though its start may have been something exemplary. One day, in the town of Little Whinning an Iron Storm like any other ravaged the steel and copper houses like it would at any other time during the peak season, this storm however left behind a small earth pony in a place where a small earth pony had no right being.
Sixteen years later and that small pony had become a valued, if not completely unassuming member of Little Whinning’s society.
Every morning Iron would wake up and look out the seventh story window of his home within the Steam-Tree; a massive architectural masterpiece of a building remaining upright by the constant movement of its lower sections and steam exhaust. He would walk to his window and look out over the town (or the wasteland, depending on which side his room decided to face that morning) and breath in the richly humid air as the town’s generator triggered deep within the core of his home.
Turning on Little Whinning’s powerful sun sphere.
A marvel of technology, developed by a ancient group of ponies when they came to find a dark and desolate surface resting above their underground homes. The artificial sun (which was some kind of pretend star; Ironcloud never really understood the concept) would brighten the town and reach out far enough into the wasteland to meet the light from the next town, and so forth, until all of New Equestria was covered in light.
Iron would then slide down the pole in the middle of his one room apartment; making sure to grab his MK III Titus Helmet in his teeth before taking the plunge. Seven stories straight down through the other rooms and hallways would take the colt to the entrance of the building. Where today, like any other day, he would toss his helmet up over his head and allow the gears to whirl to life. One goggle, with its tiny buzzing would lower itself down over one eye casting half the world in an orange tint as it zoomed in an out on things of interest; the other would slide down and darken the view pointing out mineral deposits and the occasional gas cloud. The engines and gears whirling loudly just behind and above the ears so as to avoid too much distraction while puffs of steam shot from two exhaust ports located just above the base of the neck.
MacHoof would say good morning to Madame Maresworth as she argued with the mail pegasus about why her husband hadn’t sent any mail from the Capitol City, as well as a courtly “Mornin’” to Copperpenny, the Steam-Tree’s doorman. Whom would in term reply with a hearty: “Looking to find it big today!?”
Only to get a cocky half smile from Iron and a eager nod of his head. Trotting out of the door before him Iron would, just like any other day find himself greeted with the great boom of the steam whistle. Another work day had started in Little Whinning.
Ironcloud would take off at a gallop towards seven (some lucky days eight) massive towers of steam coming from the north end of town, the mining district. As he did the shop keeps opening their doors and the children getting away from their parents to play in the streets would cheer to him or throw him food for his long day at work; hollering him on. It was encouraging to the colt, making him sprint all the more through the foggy streets as the steam of buildings coming to life filled the air.
Little Whinning was first and foremost a mining town, and thankfully a fairly successful one. It allowed ponies of all skill and talent to create and experiment with the steam-tech that they had all become accustomed to in new and exciting ways. No two homes where the same- neigh, no two windows the same. Even for visitors from the Capital City Little Whinning could be fairly overwhelming to the eyes.
But not to Iron, to him the bizarre colours and shapes had always been a comforting chaos; a constant reminder that their world was set upon a precipice that at any moment could alter and shift with the desert.
Entering the mining compound like he would every day he’d reach up a hoof and tip his hat to his supervisor: Pyremane the Cobbled. The three legged mare, her fourth and artificial leg whirling and twisting its golden and copper parts along time with her helmet would bark a command at him about being late and order him to work; never noticing him looking back for a quick glimpse as the haggard mare smiled at him hopelessly.
Not bothering to reply with more than a cocky smile, Iron would toss himself down the pole at the mouth of the only massive crater without steam billowing from it. Each day the pole required extension, and each day it hurt his legs a little bit more to slide down its length. He had given up hope on his wounds ever callousing over; he just wasn’t built for it.
Gripping the well lubed pole tighter as he approached the darkness Iron would tilt his head and knock one of the gears into motion triggering a low light vision over his right eye. The infrared beacons flared up under the new vision type; a unique paint made out of a commonly found insect in the wasteland.
50 metres.... 100 metres... 120 metres... 150 metres.
Iron gripped tightly with his legs, all four; forcing himself to a grinding halt, just feet above his machine. Tilting his head down and raising a hoof up her flipped a switch and turned a gear; loud cranks had to be cranked and a lever tugged before the settings were perfect and light began to beam from the lining around his goggles. Looking down into the light now Iron was able to see his mining rig, ass up, the way he had left it the night before.
“Mornin’ Delilah.” He said in his young soprano voice kicking off the pole with a skilled hoof; landing right on ‘her’ ass as he had ever other morning for the last six years. Giving a large black panel a sharp kick up it gave way to Iron’s hoof and the mechanical whirring of the drill caused the rear doors to open.
With a small hop MacHoof found himself inside Delilah like he did every other day, the light from his helmet illuminating his rig perfectly as he walked over and around core samples, lunch boxes, and the occasional magazine. Another lever pulled down by a sturdy hoof and the power door to the control console hissed away, allowing Iron to slide down into his seat. Looking up at the black window it was one of the few times a day that Iron was able to see himself.
His auburn mane just poked out beneath his helmet against his charcoal mane; his coat getting thick near his hoofs covering them in a loose dark brown. Iron couldn’t make out his eyes beneath the helmet as he turned knobs, cranked the cranks and smacked the panels into place which would bring Delilah to life. It had been so long since he had seen his eyes he had forgotten the specific shade of green they were.
Giving his neck a twitch Iron would catch a glimpse of his cutie mark before slamming the machine to life. An iron cyclone cloud with a massive drill on top, a very basic symbol for a pony who was a very basic miner; it suited him well though and was an apt description of his talent with the iron miners.
Delilah roared with the artificial life given to her by the engineers of Little Whinning, and with the tender loving care that Ironcloud had always provided. Her mechanical chair wrapped around his body; arms of tainted steel wrapped along his, coating him in a metal exoskeleton. Powerful muscles tightened in his shoulders as his hooves began to crank the necessary gears to start the drill; the unpony howl of the machine became as alive as anypony.
“Okay girl, let’s call up make sure we’re clear.” he said in his playfully voice. A hoof pulled down a bugle like device which hung off to the right of the drill’s ceiling. “Eh, boss? We clear to start diggun’” he called up into the horn, yelling loud to beat out the drill.
“Yes, yes! Dig already you lazy donkey!” Pyremane bellowed down through the same contraption which was beside her foremen pedestal.
“Yer, yer!” he yelled up giving the device a punch with his metal covered fist. “Okay girl, we’re a good fifty meters ahead of everypony else, lets dig deep!” He bellowed then set Delilah’s twin drills to digging.
Now had this day gone like any other he had the pleasure of living he would have dug a good fifty meters, found some decent ore, maybe a rare gem, if he was really lucky some old pieces of tech from those lost civilizations that once populated the stone beneath the crust.
If it was a normal day he would drill for nine hours straight then take a short break in Delilah’s hull to enjoy a snack that was thrown to him by one of the townspeople earlier that day, then work for another five hours before calling it quits.
Ironcloud would have loved for this to had been any other normal day, a day like any other, without incident.
Unfortunately that was not this day.
Or any day after it.
Ironcloud watched as the meters sunk deeper and deeper down, approaching 200 deep. Iron would admit to anypony he asked how excited he was with the purr of the drill beneath him, going to depths that nopony else had ever drilled too. The New Equestrian record was 180 meters, and he had broken those three meters ago; no time to gloat, only to dig further. Deeper and deeper into the unknown, the drill hit 190 and Iron could feel his pulse hammering in his veins.
Letting loose a hoot of excitement he punched the drills into overdrive; ignoring some rare metals and ore veins which illuminated on his goggles. Too close now to bother with them, he thought to himself, marking it though with a casual flick of his leg; the infrared paint spraying lines over spots rich with ore.
195 meters and he could begin to feel feedback, there was a choking gauge biting against his drills. “Don’t fail me now Delilah!” he swooned to his drill. Gauges and lights flared as the drills fought against the barrier; it was a type of enchantment, something from an ancient civilization that had long been lost, and something that only set Ironcloud to dig harder.
Iron took a copper bit into his mouth, it was malleable, easily bent; allowed the miners to really grind their teeth into their job with minimal damage to their teeth. Punching his legs and hooves into a series of buttons and switches which activated a secondary mode for the drill, Ironcloud found his machine coughing and sputtering the boiling hot stream in response.
Delilah’s twin bits spun in a different circle the metal parting with great puffs of steam which mixed with the constant inferno like exhaust spewing from her behind; the drills spun and crossed dividing into three mini-drills on each arm; the teeth a different colour of metal, a brilliant yellow which glinted purple whenever the light from the drill hit them. It was a special metal, extremely rare called Arcanyte. Almost unique to the northern wastes where the desert is slightly more temperate the stone once ground down and refined was able to cut through those ancient magic barriers like nothing else.
And tear through the magic it deep.
Brilliant multi-coloured sparks jumped from the earth as the stone gave way to the new Delilah tools; their colours ranging from the darkest magenta to the purest white.
199 meters, Ironcloud was so close he could practically taste what was beyond the barrier. So carried away was he that he bunched forward at full throttle forgetting one of the first rules of mining.
Never dig almost straight down at full speed.
With a crashing boom the sides of the almost perfectly circular hole began to collapse violently setting Ironcloud into a miner’s panic. Many ponies die to hitting a void in the stone and falling down to their death, and much more expensive, many a drill are totalled.
Punching hard at the controls and flexing his legs out fully before him he took on a hind legged stance as Iron desperately tried to stop his Delilah from crashing into the void. Her arms spun to the side violently, the drills reaching out to grasp the wall and lock the three tonne machine into place. To Iron’s eternal gratitude the metal bit deep into the stone and stopped the fall into the dark.
MacHoof’s heart was firmly lodged in his throat by this time and his heartbeat was causing his ears to throb against his helmet painfully. Aware of every ounce of blood in his body and drop of sweat in his coat the only sound louder than the screech of metal on stone was the panting of his breath.
Slowly, terrified to move, he reached up to punch the horn again. Delilah quivering at his touch making his heart stop for just a moment before he yelled, full voice.
“Boss, hit a void. I got’er stable but I need a lift up pronto!” He bellowed gripping the controls as tight as hooves would allow it; trying to keep the fear out of his voice.
“Buck! Yeah we got you, give us five!” Pyremane bellowed down into the horn, Ironcloud was too deep to hear the sirens for the emergency team to assemble but he was sure that they were.
Iron closed his eyes and counted down the seconds; a miner trick he’d learned from the older foals. It takes the mind completely off the situation making them focus on an inward ever changing presence, much like the wasteland itself. The time passed slowly, as if Iron’s heart had been beating so fast that it had moved beyond the realm of time.
Then the thud of a hooked line and the Foreman's voice.
“We got you! Secured and tight, all systems green! Bunch recall.” the yell bellowed over the bits and for the first time in over five minutes Ironcloud allowed the controls to lax.
Then a thought crossed his mind, now suffice to say Iron is not the smartest of ponies. Had he never had this thought he would have been pulled up the hole which more than likely would have collapsed in overnight and he would be given a new spot to dig, end of story.
But if that happened… why this story, would not be worth telling.
“Hey gimme a min, I’ma pop a solar flare! See whats in this bitch!” he bellowed up, some grunts and yells (most of which were profanity) came back, but no order not to.
Slowly he dislodged himself from Delilah’s controls, the machine eventually going lifeless. Reaching back he pulled the leaver to activate the harness. Strapping himself in Iron gave a sharp kick into two slots which fit his hooves perfectly. They swelled and reached up, biting onto his leg and gripping him tight as the front panel of the glass lifted up and slid along the back of the drill. Punching his right hoof up he hit the compartment that carried his munitions. Fumbling inside until he found the spherical object her was looking for, Iron pulled it down with both hooves; hesitantly.
Giving his head a shake towards the right he pushed a button against the drill’s hull causing both of his goggles to darken to an almost pitch black. Many a pony has gone blind by careless use with solar flares. Placing the pin between his teeth Ironcloud gave a pull and dropped the ball down into the rank air of the void; thankfully that the solar flares provide no heat and wouldn’t set any strange gases aflame; potentially blowing up all of Little Whinning.
The blast was glorious; Iron could only compare it to what he believed the true sun must have looked like once, long ago when it lived within their sky. The light filled the massive chasm and to Iron’s horror it ran so deep the sun bomb almost didn’t seem to reach the bottom. The wall however ran out, as if it was a long lost mountain which was buried beneath the millions of tonnes of stone which the people of Little Whinning called their home.
Halfway up this bizarre mountain was a massive outcropping with a strange discolouration. At first Ironcloud assumed it was a new type of ore, or mineral that was never encountered at the higher levels; at least that is what he thought until the beast moved.
It shifted and shook sending clouds of dust and debris into the darkness as the light bomb hovered above it, sustained by steam powered hover technology; a local treasure of Little Whinning that was still being alpha’d by the miners. Its massive purple body shook and echoed with vibrations as Ironcloud watched horrified at the spectacle before him.
The Dragon, for it was indeed a dragon which had thought to have been extinct in the waste. So long extinct in fact that they had become something of a legend, had massive green spikes and glistening purple scales that shimmered like a rainbow in the artificial sunlight. It blinked its deadly looking green eyes as if to clear away the weariness of a millennium long nap and yawned viciously; sending plumes of emerald smoke out into the chasm (thankfully setting no form of ancient trapped gas on fire). Iron, though his eyes could hardly believe what he was seeing, could make out other smaller shapes which appeared to be trapped within some kind of crystal beneath the dragon’s stomach.
Just as the initial fear was about to leave his limbs and punch the horn again to try and escape from this hell he found himself trapped in the Dragon turned its head up to the false orb and to Ironcloud himself.
It seemed confused, then angry, then lost; Ironcloud would later think it amazing he was able to translate the facial expressions of such a tyrant so adequately. The beast rolled its green eyes from spot to spot, finding the trapped beings at his base and letting out a triumphant howl of flame which echoed all the way up the tunnel in which Iron had dug himself.
And the Dragon’s voice echoed all throughout the world; shattering the crystals at its feet and releasing the beings kept within.