The Poseidon Project
May 6, 1796, the HMS Daedalus:
The sea had a particularly menacing look about it in the dull lantern light. Night had fallen about an hour ago, and already the stars were partially obscured by oppressive clouds. A lone member of the Royal Navy paced back and forth above the deck, holding a lantern aloft as he made his way around the great wooden construct. The rest of the crew was probably sound asleep below decks by now. The man envied them. A night watch in the middle of the Atlantic was by no means a calming experience. The Daedalus had only been completed a few months prior, and for her maiden voyage she was being sent from England to the West Indies to deliver a contingent of men to a small port town. Hardly the sort of task for a ship of her caliber, but who was he to question the orders of His Majesty King George?
They had passed Spain a few hours ago and had turned south, skirting the Portuguese coast for a few miles before turning back to the open sea as night fell. The wind started to pick up and the man shivered involuntarily. The lantern illuminated the waves off the port side of the ship, which had started getting choppier and larger. The man adjusted his tricorn with his free hand then gave a slight start as he felt something cold drop onto his hand. He shook it off, realizing it was nothing more than a raindrop. A raindrop. That was bad. Almost as if it was waiting for his acknowledgement of the impending situation, a ribbon of lightning arced across the sky, followed shortly afterwards by a deafening peal of thunder. The rain began to come down in full force, and the gentle rocking of the galleon increased in intensity. The man steadied himself on a railing and sent up a quick prayer that the storm would blow over soon. For his efforts, he was rewarded with another flash of lightning even brighter than the first and a blast of thunder that left his ears ringing. The sideways movement of the ship grew violent, and it was all the man could do to keep his grip on the railing. Winds whipped around the ship, and by now men were pouring out from below decks onto the main deck to make a feeble attempt at lashing the sail to the mainmast so it wouldn’t be torn away in the gale. The panicked shouts of the sailors were drowned out by the winds that churned around the hull of the Daedalus.
The man stared in amazement. It was almost as if the wind was only centered on their ship, forming a tight column that surrounded the vessel. Light flashed again, and the man covered his ears, expecting the inevitable crack of thunder once more, but it never came. Instead the light only intensified, and the sound of the wind was replaced by a gentle droning. “It’s almost like music, it is. Am I dead?” thought the man as the Daedalus began to slowly rise out of the ocean and then suddenly winked out of existence.
May 3, 1996, Special Agent Fox Mulder’s office:
Agent Dana Scully brushed aside several of the papers on the desk in front of her. Mulder’s desk was never organized, but it had been especially messy these past few days. Piles and piles of folders were stacked up on the desk and on the floor near it. One of the walls had several documents pinned to it, with bits of yarn connecting each to the others.
Special Agent Mulder’s shirt was crumpled, a five o’ clock shadow was draped across his chin, and dull purple bags had formed underneath his eyes. Scully gingerly picked up a half-empty bag of chips and a paper cup containing a meager amount of cold coffee and tossed the pair into the nearest trash can, which was almost full of crumpled papers and similar food-related detritus. After her hands were free, she folded her arms across her chest and stared incredulously at the agent resting his feet on his overly cluttered desk.
“Well, Mulder? Care to explain the sudden fervor regarding this case? Why you haven’t told Skinner or me about it until now?” Mulder scooted his chair back slightly and pulled his legs off the desk, sending several folders and papers scattering onto the floor. He reached behind him and lifted a folder from the pile to his left. He handed it wordlessly to Scully, who opened it with a sigh, already able to guess as to the nature of the file. She read the title of the paper within and scoffed, looking back at Mulder.
“ ‘Train Disappears en Route to Washington’. Mulder, there are plenty of unexplained disappearances contained within the X-files. Why this one?” Mulder sat a little straighter in his chair and adopted his usual self-assured grin.
“Not just that one, Scully. Look at the date and the name of the train.” Scully sighed. “Disappeared May 6, 1896. The train was a steam locomotive called the Orpheus, I don’t see the significance, though.”
“May 6, 1796. A British ship of the line called the Daedalus that was supposed to arrive in Barbados never shows up. The ship itself has never been found, even with modern equipment.” Scully shook her head. “These are two isolated events, Mulder. Coincidentally occurring on the same date a century apart.” Mulder’s grin grew slightly wider and his tone took in a note of smugness.
“Same date, 1696. A fishing vessel, the Icarus, disappears from the Mediterranean. 1596. Five years after the sinking of the galleon Revenge the British launched the Echo as a replacement. A day out of the harbor she disappears. 1496. The Sisyphus. All the way back to the 13th century, on May 6 a transport of some kind vanishes mysteriously. The 1896 incident was the first time it hasn’t been a maritime vessel.”
Scully nodded, but the expression on her face betrayed a healthy dose of skepticism. “Judging by the names of the previous cases, would it be safe to assume that the earlier ships were also all named after mythological figures?” Mulder nodded.
“The Odysseus and the Prometheus.”
Scully arched a brow. “So, would it also be correct to assume that you’re expecting another of these paranormal events in three days? Even if you were right, how would you be able to determine which of the several thousand ships in the ocean would be affected? I’m sure that there’s more than one ship out there with a Greek name.” Mulder said nothing, but instead pointed to an unmarked envelope meticulously kept separate from all the other clutter on his desk. Scully picked it up and opened it, pulling out the two small rectangular pieces of paper within it. Her face contorted with barely restrained anger.
“The cruise liner Nereid. Mulder, I cannot even begin to outline how rash this was. First off, you haven’t even determined whether or not the event will occur again. Second, you have no idea of knowing which ship, if any, the event will target, and third, you just spent over 700 dollars on cruise ship tickets!”
Mulder chuckled, making Scully even more agitated. “You’re wrong on several counts, Scully. Look at the list of names and tell me if you see a pattern.” He pointed towards the wall with the string-linked documents. Scully sighed and walked over, reading the title of each.
“Prometheus, Odysseus, Sisyphus, Echo, Icarus, Daedalus, Orpheus, and Nereid. What’s so special about them, other than the obvious allusion to Greek mythology?”
“Take a look at the first letter of each and you’ll see it.” Scully read each of the letters in turn, slowing down near the end as the realization of their significance dawned on here. “P-O-S-E-I-D-O-N. Poseidon.” Mulder smiled. “I triple-checked shipping records, train departures, and flights for May the 6th. The only transport with a Greek allusion in its name that started with an N…”
“Was the Nereid,” Scully finished. “Mulder, brilliant deductions aside, you still haven’t told me what’s happened to all these disappeared transports.”
Mulder got up out of his chair and walked to a filing cabinet, opening one of the drawers and withdrawing a beaten leather journal. The black leather was cracked in several places, and from what Scully could see the pages had yellowed with age. Mulder passed it to her. “The night that the HMS Daedalus disappeared, there was a Portuguese fisherman in the same waters. He was bringing his ship in for the night when he saw what looked like a larger ship farther out to sea. He couldn’t really tell because a storm was brewing and the wind wasn’t exactly conducive to his desire to remain out in the water. He saw what appeared to be a beam of bright light illuminate the ship, but it’s the next part that gets interesting. This fisherman’s diary suggests that he’s not the sort of person prone to making up wild claims, but he says he saw the ship lift into the air. The light pulled it about ten feet above the water’s surface, and then it just vanished. Poof. Nothing where it had been. The light disappears and the sky immediately becomes clear. It’s as if the storm never happened.”
Scully scoffed. “Mulder, if you’re suggesting that for the past several hundred years ships have been getting abducted by aliens, maybe you need a cruise far more than I thought.” Mulder picked up the two tickets from the desk and smiled, moving for the door. “Worst case scenario, we enjoy a boring cruise with good entertainment and a 24-hour buffet. Best case…”
“We vanish off the face of the Earth, according to your theory. Are you sure you don’t have the worst and best cases mixed around in this instance?”
“Trust me on this. I’m sure my amazing knowledge of the paranormal will come in handy somehow.” Scully chuckled and moved to the door with him, opening it and heading out into the hallway.
“Mulder, your amazing knowledge of the paranormal is what gets us into these sorts of things in the first place.” She started down the hall towards the elevator and called from over her shoulder.
“Do me a favor. If we’re going on a cruise, have the decency to shave first and put on a better shirt.” Mulder laughed and followed her to the elevator, tickets to the Nereid clutched in his hand.
The Poseidon Project
May 5, 1996, Miami, Florida
Scully rubbed her eyes and blinked several times to adjust to the dim light in the harbor. Mulder had insisted that they arrive as early as possible to the dock, even though the ship wasn’t slated to begin boarding for another three hours and wouldn’t even depart for another two after that. The air was hot and muggy even though it was early in the morning and the humidity was quickly getting to her. She heard the car trunk slam behind her as Mulder finished unloading their suitcases, and she turned around to face the agent. She felt groggy, and her voice reflected it, surprising even her.
“Mulder, your enthusiasm is commendable, but why bother showing up this early? We can’t even get our things onboard yet and your supposed paranormal event isn’t even supposed to happen until tomorrow.” Mulder chuckled and tossed her suitcase at her. She caught it and stumbled, almost losing her footing. Mulder took his own suitcase and began to walk towards the dock where the dark outline of a ship loomed.
“I pulled some strings so that we can examine the ship prior to departure. I figured that you would like the opportunity to make sure there’s nothing wrong with the ship that might be contributing to the disappearances.” Scully hefted her suitcase and followed him, shaking her head.
“Mulder, there’s still nothing that suggests these disappearances were anything more than coincidence. Their unique alignment is something that just makes no sense. I mean, the Echo could just have easily been named the Revenge and still have disappeared. There’s no evidence that it’s the ships’ names that cause the disappearance. And besides, it still doesn’t account for the fact that the last of these ‘linked’ disappearances was a train. Who’s to say it won’t be another train this time?” Mulder held a hand up for her to be silent for a moment, and Scully sighed. They had almost reached the end of the dock now, and she looked up to take in the sight of the Nereid.
The ship was massive, bigger than most of the cruise ships she had seen (though admittedly, most of her knowledge came from brochures about the ships and not the ships themselves). It was a gargantuan white steel creature, with several decks and a gleaming hull. Scully realized that her mouth was open and she quickly shut it, shooting a quick glance at Mulder to ensure that he hadn’t seen her in such a state of juvenile awe. She smirked as she noticed him in a similar position, neck craned in an attempt to see the top of the ship. They were at the water’s edge now, and were greeted at the edge of ship’s gangplank by a man in a neatly pressed white sailor’s uniform, complete with a little white hat. Scully suppressed a grin, thinking that the whole outfit seemed more at home on a 1940s Navy recruitment poster than as the attire for a cruise line employee. He had sandy blonde hair and his slightly crooked teeth were showing as he forced a smile at the two agents. He extended a hand towards Mulder.
“Welcome to the Nereid. My name’s Damian, I’m a member of the crew here. You two must be those FBI agents the captain told us about. He called about an hour ago, said it was important that we let you on early. If it’s not too intrusive, could you tell me why that is?” His voice had a hint of a Southern drawl to it, but it was obvious he was trying to maintain an accent of neutral origin. Mulder kept his face unreadable as he shook the crewman’s hand.
“Just routine inspection. We got word up at Quantico about some cruise liners that failed to present suitable records of their transactions for food and other amenities on the boats. Bureaucracy, really. It shouldn’t take too long.” Damian nodded and made his way up to the ship’s entrance, motioning for the agents to follow.
“I understand the concern. Some of our competitors try to undercut us by buying their foodstuffs for cheap from places of a less than sanitary nature. Doesn’t do ‘em much good in the long run though, what with all the passengers getting sick. Tell you what. Since you’ve got your luggage with you, I’ll take you to your rooms first, then I can show you both to where we keep our records.” He led them through several narrow corridors and up a flight of stairs to a pair of rooms side by side. He then handed each of them a key and stood off to the side while they opened the doors.
“Separate rooms, as requested. I’ll give you folks ten minutes to get settled in and then I’ll come back and show you to where you wanted to go. I’ve got to go make sure the itinerary is all in order.” Damian quickly moved off down the corridor and around the corner, leaving Mulder and Scully alone outside their rooms. Scully hauled in her suitcase and set it on the bed, looking around at her accommodations. Modest, but not overly so. This trip would be fairly comfortable, at least insofar as the room was concerned. She decided to go and check on Mulder’s room and found him relaxing on the bed, arms folded behind his head and suitcase tossed haphazardly to the side in one corner of the room. Scully smirked. To his credit, he did appear to have shaved, and the shirt he wore had less than half the wrinkles of the one he was sporting in his office a few days earlier. She rapped her knuckles on the doorframe and he turned his head towards her. She sat down in a chair near the doorway and adopted a cynical tone.
“So, Mulder, what’s your current plan of action regarding what you consider to be our imminent disappearance? Do nothing and just see what happens?”
“That’s the essence of it. When you say it, it sounds a lot worse, though. Why don’t we just call it naturalistic observation?”
“Because that would imply some scientific element to all this, an element which this case is severely lacking. Do you have any theories as to where these missing transports were taken?” Mulder sat up and thought for a moment.
“Well, given that Poseidon was the Greek god of the ocean, and of earthquakes, it could be that we’re bound for some massive fissure in the seafloor, one that current deep-sea diving equipment is unable to reach. That or it could be a dimensional rift of some sort that spits us out into an alternate universe where the Earth is 90% water instead of 75%.” Scully sighed.
“Mulder, while that would be fascinating if it were true, the fact remains that no trace of the transports that disappeared was ever found again. What makes you think it’ll be any different this time around?”
Mulder stood up from the bed, a slightly somber expression on his face. “Nothing, really. There is a very real possibility we won’t make it back from wherever we go. But if I’m right, Scully, this is tangible evidence that the X-files actually contain truth to them. We’ll have been to somewhere no one has charted before.”
Scully gave him a concerned look. “Mulder, I know you’re searching for truth, but don’t let that search make us into martyrs. Maybe it’s best if we-“ She was cut short by the sound of Damian clearing his throat in the hallway.
“Sir? Ma’am? I’d be happy to take you to the records room now.” Mulder mumbled something that vaguely sounded like an acknowledgement and followed the crewman into the hallway. Scully trailed behind them a fair distance, looking at the walls of the ship. Nothing suggested it was anything but a well-built, sturdy craft. Damian led them down several decks to a part of the ship where the pristine white of the living quarters had been abandoned and replaced with the grey drab of functionality. Pipes ran along the side of the corridor and there was little to no paint on the walls. A dull metallic jingling rang off the walls as Damian fiddled with a ring of keys. He had stopped before a metal door marked only with a small plaque that read “Records” about a foot from the top of the frame. Settling on a particular key, he turned it in the lock and pushed the door open, fumbling to his left in an attempt to find the light switch. It clicked on and the room was bathed in a dull orange light. He turned to face the agents.
“Just let me know if you folks need anything else. When you’re done here, just follow the yellow line on the floor to get back to your deck. We’ll begin boarding other passengers in a bit, so things might get a little hectic.” He checked his watch and moved off down a different hallway, leaving Mulder and Scully at the entrance to a dimly lit room filled with several filing cabinets and a single naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Mulder clapped his hands together.
“Let’s get started, shall we? Lots of boring receipts that we need to look through for the next couple of hours. Why didn’t I tell them we were here to inspect the food itself? That might not have been so mind-numbing.”
Scully rolled her eyes and pushed past Mulder, opening the nearest filing cabinet. She pulled out the front folder and handed it to Mulder. “Let’s get started, Mr. Amazing Undercover Agent. We’ve got receipts to scan and contracts to look over. Maybe in a few hours they’ll give us a lunch break.”
They made it through the first two cabinets before finally deciding to quit, this decision aided by their growing hunger. By then it was about a half-hour to their departure, and other passengers were shuffling through the halls by the time they got back up to their rooms. Scully was exhausted by a combination of the heat and having woken up at an ungodly hour, and as soon as she shut the door to her room she lay down on her bed and drifted off almost immediately.
After what seemed like only seconds after she had closed her eyes, she was awakened by knocking at her door. Mulder’s muffled voice came from through the door. “Scully? You alive in there?” She groaned and rubbed the last bits of sleep from her eyes, then moved to open the door to see Mulder dressed in a horrendous red Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts.
“What time is it?” she mumbled.
“About six in the evening. You missed the welcome address by the captain and our departure.” She snorted.
“What, did he say anything important about our planned disappearance tomorrow?”
“No, but he was so very kind to inform us all that the lower levels of the ship were off-limits, not counting our little excursion to the records room this morning. Now, come on. I’m off to have third lunch. Or is it first dinner? Does 6:00 make it dinner now?”
Scully followed him to the ship’s dining hall. A few passengers were filtering in, seemingly trying to keep normal meal schedules even though the food was technically available at all hours of the day. She didn’t remember what she finally ended up eating, but the food was passable. It was around eight when they returned to the hallway outside their rooms. Mulder opened his door and prepared to enter his room, but Scully touched his arm lightly.
“You’re positive this event will occur tomorrow?” He nodded.
“Could even be as early as midnight tonight. I’m not sure about the time frame.” She smiled sadly.
“I hope you’re wrong, Mulder. I really do. But I don’t take pride in that fact. Your theories haven’t often been wrong in the past.” He nodded wordlessly and slipped into his room, closing the door behind him. Scully felt cold for the first time since they had stepped off the plane in Miami. She shuddered involuntarily and went into her own room. Not feeling particularly tired after her long nap, she sat in bed with a book, reading until her eyelids became too heavy to hold up.
Scully shot out of bed in a panic. The gentle movements of the ship had been nearly unnoticeable when she fell asleep, but now they were so violent she felt as if she could be jostled against the walls of her room at any moment. She threw on a coat and ran out into the hallway, pounding on Mulder’s door. She quickly checked her watch. 4:30 a.m. May 6. Mulder’s door swung open, he was already dressed and didn’t look like he had slept at all.
“Mulder, what the hell is happening?”
“It’s a storm, just like the one in the fisherman’s diary.”
“Well, what do we do?! I’m not just sitting here and waiting to get slammed into the walls below decks.”
Mulder nodded in agreement and pointed to the stairwell farther down the hall. “Let’s try to get above deck. I want to observe this if it’s really happening.” Scully shook her head in disbelief but said nothing, running up the stairwell and finding the door to the deck locked tight. Mulder waved for her to move aside and began to pick the lock. Meanwhile, the ship’s movement had intensified; it was all the agents could do to keep their balance as it moved from side to side. Finally the lock clicked and the door burst open.
Howling winds were whipping across the deck and rain was coming in horizontally from what seemed to be every direction at once. Scully couldn’t make out anything for a moment, but heard Mulder’s laughter. Her vision cleared slightly and she could see him pointing at the sky, where several lights danced above the ship. The lights were of several different colors, each one brilliant and vivid. Scully saw reds, blues, purples, greens, and yellows darting overhead as the rain kept coming down. She lost her balance and slipped backwards down the stairs, her head making a sharp crack as it collided with the handrail. Her vision swam and she lost consciousness.
* * * * *
Scully’s eyes were closed when she became aware again, and her whole body ached. She groaned in pain and heard Mulder’s voice from somewhere off to her left. “Good, you’re all right. Don’t open your eyes just yet, you’re still in a bad way.”
“Mulder, what happened to us? Are we still on the ship?” She heard his voice getting closer as he spoke, but what she noted was the sound of his footsteps. They seemed louder…and somehow more numerous.
“My theory was wrong, Scully.”
“So that’s a ‘yes, we’re still on the ship’?”
“No. My theory about Poseidon. True, he was the Greek god of the sea, but I overlooked another one of his domains.” Scully’s heart sank.
“And what was that, Mulder?”
The Poseidon Project
Scully felt sick to her stomach. What lay in front of her eyes had to be some sort of fever dream, a hallucination brought on by her head trauma. Certainly nothing rational could explain this. The dull gray and white walls of the cruise ship corridor were gone, replaced by colors of such vibrancy that at first they made her blink to make sure it wasn’t just a trick of the light. The air seemed fresher, no longer carrying the salty tang of the ocean. Scully tried to stand, but found that she couldn’t. Her limbs felt heavier than usual, perhaps another result of the concussion she was probably experiencing. Her eyes fixated on the creature in front of her.
It was a quadruped of some sort, and it looked relatively small. For all intents and purposes, it appeared to be a pony, but its coat was a startling lime green and its eyes betrayed a fierce intelligence. Adding to its odd appearance was its dark emerald mane and a pair of what looked like wings folded at its sides. It was regarding her with an air of…concern? Could something like this be sentient? Damn it all, where was Mulder? The creature opened its mouth, and she did a double take when it spoke in a voice that was all too familiar.
“Scully? I need you to stay calm for now. We’re somewhere safe, alright?”
The creature speaking in Mulder’s voice took a hesitant step towards her. She lifted her arms in an attempt to fend it off, but found to her horror that she no longer had hands. Her arms were thicker, and covered in what appeared to be a coat of peach-colored fur, and where her hands were supposed to be she had a set of hooves. She began to feel sick again, and quickly lowered her arms, opting instead to keep her gaze fixed upon the green creature. It spoke again, and raised one of its hooves towards her.
“I know this is a lot to take in, so just try and relax and listen to me for a bit. After the Nereid disappeared, we…changed. I’m not sure how it happened, but those colored lights we saw enveloped the both of us and seemed to enact a string of physical changes. After that, I’m not sure. I blacked out like you, and when I came to we were in unfamiliar mountainous terrain. You were still unconscious, and while I was still figuring out how to move our host encountered us, and-“ Scully interrupted him at this point, speaking in a tone of utter disbelief.
“Mulder. You’re a pony.” He nodded slowly.
“As are you, for the time being.”
“A green pony.”
“Your powers of observation obviously haven’t dulled at all.”
“And you have wings.” Mulder laughed softly and stretched out his wings, flapping them slightly and then folding them back at his sides.
“You have a horn, Scully. Obviously, we’re not the garden variety of pony.” Scully lifted one of her hands…no, hooves, up to her forehead and found that she did indeed have a horn. It was rigid to the touch, not entirely unlike a normal human bone. Mulder trotted over to her and held out a hoof.
“Here. Steady yourself on me and try to stand. Remember you have four legs, not two.”
Scully placed one of her front hooves on his and tried to shift her back legs upwards. It took a few attempts, but she was finally able to get herself up on all four hooves. She took a look at their surroundings. The walls were a pale lavender, and there was a set of shelves off to one side filled with several bolts of different colors of fabric. A sewing machine stood next to the shelves, and a number of pony-shaped mannequins were on the room’s outer edge. Mulder spoke up again, breaking the brief silence.
“This is the upper level of the Carousel Boutique. It’s owned and operated by the person who found us out where we were deposited by the rift. She’s out for a bit, but for now, let’s just work on basics, shall we? Try walking around the room. Alternate your front and back legs.”
Scully shakily began to move around the perimeter of the boutique, stumbling occasionally but eventually starting to get the hang of the new method of movement. As she was walking past Mulder, she noticed something odd. On both sides of his haunches there was an image of an open, lidless eye. She arched her neck to see if she bore a similar mark. It wasn’t an eye like Mulder’s, but rather an Erlenmeyer flask with a caduceus laid on top of it. She opened her mouth to ask Mulder another question, but at that moment the door to the boutique opened and another pony walked in.
Her coat was a pristine white, and her violet mane had been curled and done up meticulously. Like Scully, she also had a horn, and three blue quadrilateral gemstones shone on her flank. Scully’s eyes widened as she noticed a shimmering blue aura around the newcomer’s horn, an aura that also surrounded a basket that was floating in midair about a foot in front of her. The basket drifted down onto the table where the sewing machine lay, and the blue glow suffusing it and the other pony’s horn faded away. The pony turned towards Mulder and Scully and regarded them with her stunning blue eyes. She smiled and spoke in a voice that simply dripped eloquence and sophistication.
“You’re awake. Most excellent. I daresay you weren’t looking your best when I first found you, but you seem much better now. I came across you and your colt friend there while I was out hunting for jewels, and I simply couldn’t leave the two of you out there in that condition.” She nodded towards Mulder.
“Mister…Mulder, was it? And you, my dear, must be Scully. What peculiar names you both have. Anyhow, I brought you a few things to eat in case you decide that you’re feeling particularly hungry.” She gestured with a hoof towards the basket. Scully trotted over and peered inside. There were a few large orange carrots and several brilliant red apples. Scully heard her stomach growl and turned towards her host. She heard the mechanical response as it left her mouth, but her attention was still fixed upon the basket of food.
“Thank you for your generosity. I’m Special Agent Dana Scully and the…colt over there is my partner, Fox Mulder.” The unicorn looked at her quizzically.
“Special Agent? I’m afraid I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean. However, I am Rarity, and I am most pleased to make your acquaintance.” Scully once again turned her gaze to the basket and made a heroic attempt to grasp an apple with a hoof, quickly becoming frustrated as it rolled around the basket, eluding her. Rarity gave her a concerned look.
“Something wrong with your horn, dear?” Scully shook her head.
“I don’t think so. Why?”
“Well, forgive me if I seem rude, but wouldn’t it simply be easier to use magic to lift the apple?” Scully snorted in amusement. She muttered to herself angrily as she continued to fail at retrieving the apple.
“Magic, of course. Why didn’t I think of that before? Probably because it doesn’t exist…but why shouldn’t I be able to use it?” Rarity trotted over to Mulder and whispered to him.
“Is your friend all right? She seems a little…addled.” Mulder shook his head, feigning sadness.
“I’m afraid she’s still in shock. She hit her head pretty hard, so you might have to explain to her what she’s supposed to do.” Rarity gave him a questioning look, but said nothing, instead trotting over to Scully’s side. She tapped the peach-colored unicorn on the shoulder with a hoof to get her attention.
“Now, to lift things it’s rather simple. Just focus your attention on the apple and visualize it moving upwards. It might feel a little strange when the magic kicks in, but it’s normal.” To demonstrate, Rarity’s horn began to glow blue again, and one of the carrots in the basket floated upwards, surrounded by its own blue aura. Rarity shifted the carrot out of the basket and set it down gently on the table.
“There. Now, why don’t you give it a try, darling?” Scully rolled her eyes and laughed softly, but upon seeing the earnest concern on Rarity’s face, she sighed and focused her gaze on the troublesome apple. She held its image in her mind and closed her eyes, trying to ignore all the recent turns of events that by rights should have been impossible. Silently, she willed the apple to move upwards. She shuddered involuntarily as her forehead grew uncomfortably hot for a moment. She opened her eyes and gasped. The apple was floating several inches above the basket, surrounded by an orange glow. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the same glow emanating from her horn. Shaking slightly, she willed the apple to move to the right. It did so. Gaining confidence, she rotated it slowly. She caught herself grinning and quickly adopted a neutral expression, setting the apple down next to the carrot on the table. She turned around to see Mulder smirking and Rarity smiling. The other unicorn seemed genuinely happy.
“There, you see? It’s not too hard to remember, now is it? Just remember to keep the magic active while you’re eating it. I’m not terribly fond of cleaning food off the floor here. I’ve a customer to attend to downstairs, but give me a few moments and I’ll be back up. Perhaps you can explain your situation more fully to me then.” She bowed her head slightly and left the room, shutting the door quietly behind her with magic. Mulder turned to Scully, still smirking.
“No such thing as magic, huh? Then what was that I just saw you do?” Scully flushed slightly and tried to mumble out an explanation.
“Subtle manipulation of the apple’s natural magnetic field in order to keep it suspended. No more magic than a high-powered electromagnet.” Mulder shook his head.
“That doesn’t explain the other spell I saw Rarity do. She managed to locate a pocket of gemstones a few inches deep in the topsoil by literally rendering a portion of the ground transparent.”
“Mulder, I don’t care if she made a dog appear out of thin air and then made it speak Czech. The fact remains that magic doesn’t exist.”
“It doesn’t exist in our world, you mean. From what I’m gathered, we’re most certainly not in Florida anymore. This boutique is located in a village called Ponyville, which is itself part of a much larger region called Equestria.” Scully frowned.
“Mulder, while this is all fascinating, what’s our course of action? I don’t plan on spending the rest of my days as a pony, thank you. I’m still not entirely convinced that this is all real. I mean, honestly. We vanish off of the Nereid and are spirited away to a land of talking ponies, of all things.” Mulder frowned.
“How much more tangible does this need to get, Scully? Do you need me to come over and kick you so you can be certain you’re not dreaming? Would that even convince you? You’re always talking about observable, scientific, concrete evidence. Use your senses. This is our existence for the moment. Now, if you’re done being stubborn, we might actually be able to find someone here who can make sense of the disappearances back on Earth. That’s what we came here for.” Scully snorted at him.
“Really, Mulder? I thought we came here for your tangible proof that the X-files contain truth. You weren’t expecting to actually solve something, were you?” Mulder didn’t respond, opting instead to glare at her and make a point of moving to the other side of the room. They remained in that position for a few tense minutes, neither of them speaking. Finally, Mulder moved to the boutique door and sighed.
“Do you think you could get this for me? Pegasi can’t work magic, apparently, and the doorknob isn’t particularly hoof-friendly.” Scully nodded silently and focused on the doorknob, using the same technique she had tried on the apple. After a few seconds, the familiar orange glow surrounded the door and it slowly swung open. Mulder moved across its threshold and turned to Scully.
“Come on. Staying here isn’t getting us any closer to solving this case.” She trotted to his side and they descended the stairs to the boutique’s ground floor. Rarity was off near the exit speaking to two new ponies that had just entered the store.
The newcomers looked up at Mulder and Scully. The first was another unicorn. Her coat was a rich violet color, and her mane was a dark purple with two lighter streaks running through it. The second seemed to simply be a normal, unremarkable pony, at least as normal as anything seemed to the agents. Her coat was a shocking pink, a color echoed in her curling mane that seemed to be doing quite a good job at defying the effects of gravity. Upon seeing the agents, she gasped loudly and bounced over to them, tail and mane bobbing slightly with each bounce.
“Ooh! Are you the ponies Rarity was just telling us about? Because if you are, then that means I have to meet you, because I don’t recognize you, and if I don’t recognize you it means you’re not from Ponyville, and if you’re not from here that means you must not know anypony, so I have to introduce you to people and make sure that everypony knows you. So, where’re you from, huh? Fillydelphia, Trottingham, Hoofington, Canterlot? Rarity told us you told her that you were Special something-or-others, I don’t remember the word right now, but special is a good thing. Ooh, I almost forgot to tell you name, and if I did that then I couldn’t introduce you to people because you wouldn’t even know my name! I’m Pinkie Pie. Who’re you?” The pony had continued bouncing until the last sentence, stopping abruptly and giving Mulder and Scully an enormous grin that stretched across her face. Scully eyed the pink pony warily and extended a hoof in greeting.
“Scully, and this is Mulder.” She gestured to the green pegasus with her head. Pinkie Pie’s grin somehow managed to grow even larger as she seized Scully’s outstretched hoof and shook it vigorously, leaving the unicorn slightly disoriented for a moment. The purple unicorn laughed and walked over to the three of them, shaking her head slightly.
“Sorry. Pinkie gets a bit enthusiastic sometimes. I’m Twilight Sparkle. It’s a pleasure to meet the both of you.” Mulder bowed his head slightly.
“Likewise, Miss Sparkle. I don’t mean to seem rude after just meeting the both of you, but Agent Scully and I really need to get to a place where we can do a little research.” Twilight’s face lit up at the idea.
“Oh, well, that’s no trouble at all. I actually live in the library here. I’d be happy to take you two there. What exactly was it you needed to research?”
“Teleportation, portals, anything about magical transportation really. I’m afraid we don’t know too much on the subject.” Twilight thought a moment.
“We’d have to look and see. I haven’t read many books about it either. We can go to the library now, if you’re not too busy.” Mulder laughed and shook his head.
“Scully and I don’t really have much planned at this point. Lead the way, Twilight Sparkle.” Scully rolled her eyes and gave Mulder a critical look.
“So what should I call you, Mulder? Lime Jell-O? Cucumber Twinkle?” Mulder snorted indignantly and flapped his wings, smacking Scully in the back of the head. He smirked.
“Oops. Now, with all that aside, shall we get going? We’re burning daylight.” Mulder bowed his head towards Rarity.
“Thank you again for your hospitality. If you hadn’t found us out there, I’m not sure what would have happened to us.” She smiled politely.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to something for your mane before you leave? Not to seem rude, dear, but green is…well, it’s certainly not terribly fashionable this season.” Mulder raised an eyebrow.
“No thanks. It’ll be fine as is. C’mon, Scully. We’ve got a lot ahead of us.” The two agents followed Twilight Sparkle out of the boutique, Pinkie Pie bouncing happily along behind them as they made their way towards an enormous old tree, where hopefully they would be able to finally get some answers.
The Poseidon Project
“This is the library?” Scully failed to keep a note of disappointment out of her voice. It could suffice, certainly, but the number of shelves was a bit disappointing compared to the libraries on Earth. There couldn’t have been more than a few hundred books in here, but if this was the only library in Ponyville, so be it.
The journey across town had been fairly uneventful. Scully had kept silent, despite Pinkie Pie’s repeated attempts to drag her away from Twilight Sparkle and Mulder in order to show her a particularly interesting building, pony, or blade of grass. Scully had to give her credit, Pinkie Pie’s exuberance showed no signs of dissipating, even though she might as well have been talking to a wall.
Mulder, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly, constantly pointing things out to Twilight and asking her questions about everything from Ponyville’s population to the differences between the three varieties of pony. He had quickly become silent as they neared the library, though.
“Yes, this is the library. It’s not quite as extensive as the Canterlot archives, but it’s well-stocked, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Twilight shut the door behind them and trotted over to one of the farther shelves. “You wanted books on magical transportation, correct?” Mulder nodded and followed her.
“That’s right. Anything would help. You might want to give Scully a book on the basics of magic, though. She lived a rather isolated and uneducated life, so she’s still ignorant on how it all works.” He fought to suppress a grin, glancing over his shoulder at the peach-colored unicorn wordlessly glaring at him. Twilight arched a brow and turned back to the shelves, picking out a particularly thick tome and lifting it through the air with her magic.
“Here’s a copy of Magical Mysteries and Practical Potions. Take a look at the first few chapters.” She set the dense volume down with a thud on the central table. Scully trotted over to it and busied herself with attempting to magically open the book. Pinkie bounced over to Mulder and Twilight, almost running into them.
“What kind of books are we gonna find, huh? I love scavenger hunts!” Mulder chuckled softly.
“Anything on magically moving from one place to another. We’d appreciate the help.” Pinkie nodded vigorously and immediately set off towards the shelves, glancing at titles, becoming bored with the titles, and moving to new titles, eventually disappearing up a staircase. Twilight was deep in thought, looking over some books in a particular section of the library.
“Let’s see. Dichromatic Wormholes and the Blue/Orange Contrast. No. Rhetoric and Logic. No. A book about the habits of dragons? No, no, no! Why is nothing where it’s supposed to be?!” Pinkie’s voice drifted down from the upper levels.
“I think I found one, Twilight! It’s called…Movement via Applied Shattering of the Fourth Wall!” Twilight looked up from the shelf, brow furrowed in annoyance.
“Pinkie, that sounds nothing like what we need! We’re trying to do magic, not construction!” Even from a floor away, Pinkie’s sigh of exasperation was clearly audible.
“Fine…if you say so, Twilight.” Mulder turned from the shelves to ask Scully a question, but the unicorn was reading the book she had been given intently, eyes dancing back and forth across the lines. Her horn was glowing softly, and she was turning the pages with magic as though it were second nature. A frustrated sigh from Twilight drew his attention back to the bookshelves. The purple unicorn was pacing back and forth along the line of shelves, frantically checking the overflowing piles of books.
“I can’t find anything on magical transportation in all this clutter. I need my assistant here, but he’s out running errands for the day. Ugh, we’ll never find anything at this rate!” She stopped pacing and turned to Mulder. “I’m sorry, I know this is important to you both, but…” Mulder shook his head.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s not like Scully and I have anywhere else to be, and besides, it looks like she’s enjoying herself over there. If we’re not imposing, we can wait till your assistant gets back.” He trotted over to Scully’s side. “So, planning on destroying us all with your newfound magical powers? Should I grovel at the feet of the Great and Powerful Scully?” Scully aimed a kick at him with one of her hind legs, continuing to read as he sidestepped it, laughing.
“Joking aside, Mulder, this magic is really no more than an intricate innate ability possessed by these unicorns. It’s certainly not all-powerful. It has its own set of rules and limitations, there’s nothing to suggest it’s any more supernatural than, say, a bat’s powers of echolocation or a chameleon’s ability to change color.”
“So it’s really not so preposterous after all?” He gave Scully a smug, satisfied smile. She sighed.
“That’s not quite what I said, but essentially, yes. It doesn’t quite seem so preposterous now that I know a little more about it. In fact, if this segment on what abilities magic confers is any indicator, my strong suit with magic is probably something analytical or medically oriented.” Mulder cocked his head to the side quizzically.
“How do you figure that?” She pointed a hoof at the eye adorning Mulder’s flank.
“Try to overlook the odd name for a moment, but that image is what’s referred to as a ‘cutie mark’. All three varieties of pony seem to get one when they discover what they’re particularly adept at. For unicorns, it affects their magic in slight ways, allowing them to excel at whatever their cutie mark represents.” She thought a moment. “You said that Rarity used magic to find a pocket of gems. Given that her cutie mark was a set of gemstones, that makes sense. However, if I were to try a gem-finding spell, the result would probably be nowhere near as powerful as if she were the one using it, since my talent lies outside of geology.” Mulder nodded, seeming to understand all she had said.
“In that case Scully, should I be careful around you in case your horn magically decides it needs to slice me open and perform an autopsy right here and now?” Scully snorted and aimed another kick at him. She connected with one of his front legs and he melodramatically feigned injury.
“In case there’s actually any real danger of your foot being tragically harmed, I think I can actually do something about it.” The orange glow surrounded her horn again, and a thin ray of orange light shot from it towards Mulder’s leg. As it reached the pegasus’ green coat, it spread out in a web-like pattern, wrapping around the limb and glowing softly for a moment before fading out of existence. Mulder shook his leg slightly, a grin spreading across his face.
“Well, now the only thing that’s mildly injured is my pride. Well done, Doctor Scully.” He turned towards Twilight again. “Thank you for the help you’ve offered us. I realize we haven’t really been forthcoming with the reasons as to why we want this information.” The purple unicorn nodded.
“Of course, it’s no trouble at all. It’s rare that we get any visitors quite as unique as the two of you. What did you say you did again?” Mulder opened his mouth to answer, but found himself at a loss. He thought a moment.
“Um…well, Scully and I are investigators. Specifically, we investigate things that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t happen.” He thought again. “Say that rumor reached Ponyville that a few towns over there was a pegasus pony who could work magic. Now, you know for a fact that only unicorns can cast spells, but several people claim to have seen this pegasus and the magic she is capable of. Scully and I would be called in to see if we can prove or disprove the existence of this magically capable pegasus.” Twilight nodded again.
“I see. Odd that the Princess never mentioned a job like this before. It seems like something I could excel at. There’s been more than one time when I’ve come across false magic.”
“Uh, well…strictly speaking, we don’t operate within the…uh, Princess’…jurisdiction,” Mulder stammered. There was a strained silence as Twilight looked at the agents, puzzled. It was quickly shattered by the return of Pinkie Pie from the upper levels. As always, she seemed to be in high spirits. Scully walked over to her.
“Did you find any books on the subject we were looking for?” Pinkie shook her head enthusiastically.
“Nopey-dopey! I did find some snacks though!” She ran back up the stairs and came back down with a small opaque bag with an image of a sunflower on it. Twilight gave Pinkie a berating look.
“Pinkie, that’s birdseed. The only reason I keep it up there is because Fluttershy asked me to hold on to it for her. I really don’t think you should-“ She was cut short by the sharp tearing sound the bag made as the pink pony opened it. Pinkie scooped up several of the small black and white seeds with her hoof and looked at them a moment before popping them into her mouth, crunching loudly. She made a face and spat the seeds out, coughing.
“Twilight, you really need to get some better snacks in here. Those things aren’t tasty at all.” Mulder laughed and walked over to her.
“They’re very tasty, you’re just eating them wrong. Here, watch and learn.” He scooped up a few seeds and took hold of a single one with his mouth. “You just have to…get the shell off of the seed proper, and then eat it, and…” Unsure of what to do with the empty shell now dangling from his mouth, Mulder let it drop to the floor. Twilight’s ears went back slightly and Scully gave him a disapproving look.
“Mulder, we’re in a library, not your apartment. Pick that up.” He raised his eyebrows and adopted a cynical tone.
“Sure thing, Mother.” He turned to Twilight and softened his tone slightly. “My apologies, I didn’t know where else to drop it, seeing as the floor is one of the few places in here that doesn’t have a book on it.” Twilight’s gaze was icy.
“Uh-huh.” She lifted the shell with magic and flung it out a nearby window. At that moment, the door to the library opened and a small, new creature came in across the threshold. It was walking on two legs, but it would have been a stretch to call it humanoid. It had green and purple scales covering its body, and a similarly scaled tail. It stood shorter than the ponies, but its eyes had the same spark of intelligence in them. It carried a pile of scrolls and quills in its arms as it made its way towards the central table, wobbling slightly. Twilight’s ears perked back up again.
“Ah, Spike! Excellent timing. I need you to get right on organizing the library today. We have some guests here trying to find a specific set of books.” She tilted her head towards the agents. “Mulder, Scully, this is my assistant, Spike.”
“Ah, not only talking ponies, but talking iguanas too? Lovely,” Scully said dryly. Spike did a double take.
“Iguana? What’re you talking about? Haven’t you ever seen a baby dragon before?” This drew a laugh from Scully.
“A baby dragon, right. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you right away.” Mulder nudged her with an elbow and hissed in her ear.
“Be polite. You’re a unicorn, and I’m a pegasus. Dragons are probably an everyday sort of thing around here.” Scully sighed and forced a smile at the baby dragon.
“I meant no offense. I just haven’t seen a dragon in…a while.” Spike shrugged and set down the bundle he was carrying on the central table, then made his way upstairs. Twilight yelled in exasperation at Pinkie Pie, who had been happily eating sunflower seeds throughout Scully and Spike’s exchange.
“Pinkie! Find somewhere else to spit your seeds. Spike doesn’t need more work than he already has!” She shook her head sadly as the pink pony quickly swallowed the seeds in her mouth. “It’ll take Spike a while to get things cleaned here, and we’ll probably only be in the way if we stay here. Let’s go get something to eat while he’s organizing.” Pinkie hopped up and down excitedly.
“Oo! Oo! Let’s go to Sugarcube Corner! I think they have fresh cookies today!” Twilight sighed.
“Cookies don’t constitute a meal, Pinkie. I’m talking about getting some real food.” Mulder’s stomach growled loudly, drawing everyone’s attention. He shifted uncomfortably before breaking the silence.
“That’s a good idea. Scully and I haven’t eaten since…well, since before Rarity found us. Lead the way.” The four of them left the library behind them, Twilight and Pinkie in front with the agents trailing behind. Mulder spoke to Scully as they moved through Ponyville.
“From what Twilight’s told me, the connection to Greek mythology in this case stretches to more than naming. She doesn’t seem to know anything about Ancient Greece, but here in Equestria they apparently have Hydras and Manticores. Not to mention they obviously have pegasi. I think we’re on to something here, Scully. We just need to pinpoint how it was we were brought here and try to follow that lead.” Scully nodded, but didn’t say anything. By that time, they had reached the restaurant Twilight was leading them to.
It was a strange experience for Mulder and Scully, dining in a culture and world so far removed from their own. What surprised them even more was how good the fare tasted to their new bodies, the smell of hay and dandelions had made their mouths water. Dinner was silent for the most part, Twilight muttering to herself occasionally about how she could swear she had seen the books they were looking for just the other day. Even Pinkie Pie was quiet, displaying a voracious appetite unmatched by any of the others, even the two hungry agents.
It was dark by the time they returned to the library. As Twilight swung the door open, they were greeted with a version of the library entirely different than the one they had seen earlier. Gone were the loose papers and piles of books, and all of the shelves seemed to be neatly organized alphabetically. Light snoring drew Mulder’s attention to the staircase, where the purple and green baby dragon they had met earlier had apparently collapsed from exhaustion, a book clutched in his hand. Twilight trotted over to him and smiled.
“Oh, Spike. You always push yourself past your limit.” Her brow furrowed slightly as she saw the book he was holding. It was an ancient, leather-bound tome with a red trim, and gold lettering ran along its spine. “I’ve never seen this one before. Hm…Mankind’s Missing Mythologies: A Multitude of Memorable Mysteries. There’s no author. I’ll go shelve it with the others where it belon-“ She stepped back in surprise as an orange glow surrounded the book and it lifted into the air. The book whizzed through to skid to a sudden stop at the central table in front of Scully. She stared at intently as Mulder walked over to her side, then opened it to its first page. She began to read aloud, her voice shaking slightly.
“The phenomenon now called ‘The Mythology Rifts’ have been in existence for some time. What began as a simple experiment in the workings of magic has now become something else entirely, something that I fear may not run its course for some time. It is now clear to me that my sister will be unable to use this pathway to escape her imprisonment, but in opening the gates in order to test this theory I have encountered an entirely new problem. The barriers between our world and that which the gates have opened onto have never been terribly strong, but only now have things begun to cross over. I fear that I may be responsible for this because of my actions. Reader, if you have come across this tome, I urge you to continue onwards through its contents. Perhaps with another mind’s insight into this problem, it may be resolved. Once you have finished with the tome, I hereby order you to return it to me in the Canterlot Archives that we may discuss your findings.
Silence fell over the library as Scully finished with the introduction. Finally, Mulder spoke up.
“Call it a hunch, Scully, but I think we have some reading to do.”
The assembled ponies grew silent once more as Scully resumed reading from the old volume.
In order for you to more clearly understand what I did, I should start at the beginning. I don’t doubt you have heard tell of the mythical Mare in the Moon. There is more truth to this legend than most would believe. What you should know is that nearly a thousand years ago, I harnessed the power of the Elements of Harmony and sealed my sister away inside the moon. It is prophesized that within the next few decades, the magic keeping her there will fail and I will be tasked with finding a new way of dealing with Nightmare Moon.
While the prophecy may yet come to pass, I feared that my sister would seek another avenue of escape, one that had perhaps eluded my notice. Two hundred years into her imprisonment, I was given news that struck fear into my heart, for it described a possible path for my sister to flee her prison.
There have always been magical enigmas within Equestria, so it makes some odd amount of sense they would gather to each other. There is a pony within Equestria who is a magical oddity. He is now nearly eight hundred years old, yet he retains his youth and his wits. His cutie mark was a special case. His mark failed to appear all throughout what he affectionately calls his “first life”. As he lay on his deathbed, a strange magical reaction was triggered. This pony became young once again, though his appearance and his features had changed slightly. It was then that an hourglass appeared on his flank, fitting given the nature of his existence and his ability to, in a sense, turn back time.
It was this pony that approached me startling news. He had been out deep in the Everfree Forest and had stumbled across the crumbling ruin of my old castle. He had approached the ruin, but as he drew near, a strange thing happened. Reality had begun to bend and shift, and for a few moments he caught a glimpse of a strange world. It was a strange city, one with many more buildings than one usually sees in Equestria. He described it as populated by a multitude of odd creatures.
They walked upright, on two legs instead of four. Their bodies had no real natural coats to speak of, and they all were dressed in clothing covering the majority of their bodies. The informant’s words frightened me. Tales of an earlier rift in the worlds have been all but lost, but my dim recollection of a story I had been told once stirred a quiet fear within me. If my sister discovered that the world walls were weakening, perhaps she could take advantage of it. Nightmare Moon was not a thing I wished upon any world. My sister was my responsibility, and I could not simply stand by if she decided to slip into another world and wreak mayhem there.
I spent the next hundred years observing the new world through careful application of my magic (While more suited for raising the sun, it extends to more figurative definitions of illumination as well). I learned a great deal about the creatures inhabiting it. They were called Men, and their reach spanned the entire planet. Mankind was even more diverse than the ponies of Equestria, though their physical differences were subtle. It was in their culture that their diversity was truly visible.
I also discovered that the walls between our worlds had been weak for some time. Human mythology and folklore included several creatures that existed in Equestria, but no trace of which could be found in the world of Men. It may have been that humans caught glimpses of the creatures in windows such as the one that appeared in my old castle. This troubled me greatly. If both sides were glimpsing each other, the walls were weaker than I initially imagined. I pored over as many texts as I could to find mention of ways to pass through the world walls. My search was fruitless; all the spells mentioned were purely theoretical, and highly flawed at that. It fell to me to create my own through careful calculation.
The process was grueling, and I knew that if my sister had been actively planning escape she would have had a great head start on concocting a spell. I knew that a mistake in my work would be unforgivable. The slightest mishap regarding the borders of our two worlds could result in the destruction of both. I will not outline the process or the spell itself. Suffice to say that it did not function as I had planned it to.
After I believe my spell to be ready, I set out for the Everfree Forest to the ruins of my castle. I found a clearing a fair distance from the castle proper and began my work. Initially, the spell seemed to be working completely as intended, which worried me immensely. The window I was looking through opened up onto an immense body of water. I saw some sort of craft floating upon the water, battered by intense winds. The edges of the window gradually became clearer. Then something happened I could never have anticipated.
I felt the magic slip away from me. The spell I had woven had become so intricate, so complex, and so involved that it had gained a sentience of a rudimentary form. The living spell gave a slight tremor, and the window to the other world became clearer still, the sound passing through it increasing in volume. A trickle of water began to pour from the bottom of the window. Thinking that perhaps I could undo the spell, I hurled myself at the window. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a sharp pain as I collided with what might as well have been a brick wall. Thankfully, even though the spell I had woven should have acted as a two-way gateway, passage from Equestria to the world of men seemed impossible. My relief was short-lived, though. A brilliant light poured forth from the spell, and it was all I could do to throw myself away from the ensuing burst of magical energy.
A searing white light filled my sights, and when I blinked it away I saw the results of my magic. The vessel I had seen in the window lay in a shattered heap in front of me. In the window, I had seen three Men standing on the thing, but they were nowhere to be seen until I turned my eyes skywards. Three globes of light hovered motionless for a moment before shooting off in different directions.
To this day, I have no idea what happened to the three Men who had crewed that ship. I dearly hope that they adapted to their new lives. You see, when Men cross the border between worlds to Equestria through the rifts, they become ponies. But for now, let us return to the clearing near my old castle.
I saw the spell churning in the air before me like some horrible creature. It was a great white fog, the window into the world of Men had vanished. It roiled for a moment before splitting itself into three smaller sections. Each of these slowly drifted to the ground. I stepped back warily as the shreds of fog began to glow softly. As they neared the earth, they coalesced into three pointed stones, pure white as the fog from which they had been formed. They stuck to the earth in a triangular formation, and refused to move from there. I returned to Canterlot shaken, but after a few weeks I ventured back to the clearing where I cast the spell. No matter what I tried, the stones would not budge. They were curious things, each engraved with a different writing from the world of Men.
I was given a brief peace, and for the next thirty years or so I put the spell out of my mind. The wreckage of the vessel had been cleared away by then, I saw to it a contingent of my guard removed it with no questions asked. It was broken down and used as building materials. It is odd to think that some of the buildings in Ponyville had their start in another world. But as peace from war in the world of Men is short-lived, so too was my peace of mind. I had tasked the pony that first informed me of the windows with the overseeing of the stones. Once a month, he was to venture to the clearing and make sure everything was the same. This time he returned with news that one of the stones had begun glowing softly. I went with him the following day to see for myself. It was the northern stone, and the writing on it was a strange harsh lettering, runes of some sort. The stone glowed with the white light it had once possessed, but the writing shone blue.
Anticipating an event similar to the one that had occurred thirty years ago, I gathered members of my guard and waited. After several nights of watching the stone’s gentle glow, our patience was rewarded. The light grew stronger again and the window to the world of Men slowly appeared before our eyes. This time we saw one Man in a small ship, and he wasn’t exactly far out to sea. He was on a narrow stretch of water, surrounded by tall jagged cliffs on either side of his vessel. Again, the vision became clearer and the sounds louder, and water again trickled from the bottom of the window. There was a flash of blue light, then silence. The window was gone, and the small vessel we had seen was sitting intact before us. I looked up to catch a glimpse of a single sphere of light shooting off into the distance. I immediately sent two of my guards to track it down, then set about the task of dismantling the ship with the others.
The two guards returned several hours later with an unconscious bruised and battered grey pony. He awoke the following day, but despite our efforts to calm him, he panicked and escaped deep into the Forest. I went after him with several guards and we eventually ran him down. I took the liberty of explaining to him where he was and that he had brought here by magic. All told, he seemed to take the news well, even offering his services to me. I set him to work explaining to the builders in Canterlot about the ship he had been travelling on. Thirty years passed, and again the magical event occurred, this time with the southernmost stone. From then on, every thirty years the cycle would repeat. One of the stones would light up, we would catch a glimpse of a vessel through the rift, and then the vessel and its crew would be pulled through to Equestria. I set myself to conducting research again, and through the help of the same pony who had prophesized Nightmare Moon’s return I was able to learn a little more about the stones and the rifts.
Each of the three stones corresponded to figures in the mythologies of three different cultures, thereby determining which vessels would be taken. The northern stone covered in runes corresponded to a mythical eight-legged horse called Sleipnir, the chosen mount of a human god called Odin. The southern stone’s writing was a strange flowing script, and corresponded to a deity named Epona, worshipped by tribes in the center of one of the human continents. The eastern stone was decorated by strange figures, almost like those that adorn the pottery of the culture it corresponded to. This final stone represented a deity named Poseidon.
The rift continued to spit forth Men, each stone lighting up in turn every thirty-three years. The Men we retrieved had all turned into ponies when they crossed over. Some took to it better than others, but they all eventually adjusted to their new lives. Some even offered to help acclimatize those who would arrive thirty years after. Perhaps our greatest boon was a group of several ponies that appeared along with a gargantuan iron craft with several wheels. They helped us to build what is now the railway into Buffalo territory, and gave us the schematics for the “train” that they arrived with. Many of the recent developments in Equestrian transports can be attributed at least in part to the study of the vessels that the rift has pulled in.
The pattern of the abductions seems to almost have run its course, but I cannot be sure. Vessels are abducted for their names, the first letter of each craft’s name eventually spelling out the name of the deity their stone is associated with. The stone of Epona has been dark for several hundred years, and the stone of Sleipnir has darkened as well. There is one more vessel that will be brought in by the stone of Poseidon, but what will happen after that, I know not. Will the cycle start anew? Will Men be continuously pulled into Equestria until the end of all things? But this is not what worries me most.
I fear the boundaries of our two worlds have been weakened substantially by the near-constant activity of the rifts. Slight magical residue has been building in the clearing for around three hundred years now. Energy is building, and its possible purpose frightens me. If a massive outpouring of magical energy were to occur in Equestria, our world would be all but doomed. The barrier between our world and the world of Men is in essence a steep slope. Things tumble down it and into Equestria through the rift, but we find ourselves stuck at the bottom of this valley of the worlds. It is near impossible for us to scramble back up and escape into another world. I hesitate to say with certainty that it cannot be done, but all the evidence points to this being the case.
However, my priority is finding a way to seal the rift permanently. If that is not done with the utmost haste, the two worlds may be lost forever.
The ponies startled slightly as Scully slammed the book shut with her magic. Her expression was grim as she turned to Mulder. She spoke in a strained voice.
“I refuse to believe it’s impossible. There has to be way back to our world.” Mulder seemed dejected.
“But you said it yourself earlier, Scully. Magic has its limits. Not everything is-“
“There has to be a way! Damnit, Mulder, you of all people should be supporting me on this. You’re always the one with the crazy theories, the one-shot plans that shouldn’t work but usually do. You of all people shouldn’t be giving up on this!”
“I’m not giving up, I’m facing the facts, Scully! The author of this account is the ruler of Equestria, and I for one would trust her authority on magic over somebody who hasn’t even been a unicorn for forty-eight hours! What would you know about it?!” His words dripped venom. Scully gave him a stunned look. Mulder’s eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. He opened his mouth to apologize, but Scully was already halfway up the staircase to the upper floor, sidestepping the slumbering Spike and disappearing upstairs. Pinkie Pie trotted over to Mulder, a concerned look on her face.
“Everything okay, Muldy? She seemed kinda mad.” Mulder arched a brow at his new name and shook his head.
“No, everything is not okay, Pinkie.” Twilight walked over to him.
“You…you’re from another world? Both of you?” Mulder nodded glumly.
“That explains your odd mannerisms.” She turned to Pinkie. “You go home and get some sleep, okay Pinkie? Our guests have had a long day.” Pinkie nodded, smiling again. The argument she had overhead seconds earlier seemed completely gone from her mind as she bounced her way out the door.
“See ya tomorrow, Twilight!” The purple unicorn closed the library door and turned to Mulder.
“I’m not sure I completely understand the predicament you two are in, but the preface on that book was pretty specific. I’m actually a student of the Princess. We can get a chariot to Canterlot as early as tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll both want to talk to her about what you’ve read.” Mulder nodded, then made his way up the staircase to see Scully.
The peach unicorn was staring intently at the bookshelves, pointedly not even glancing in Mulder’s direction as he neared her.
“Scully, I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair of me.” She nodded silently, and Mulder continued. “Twilight Sparkle is going to be taking us to Canterlot tomorrow. We can speak directly to Princess Celestia about the rift.” Scully nodded and looked at Mulder. A sad smile played across her face.
“You know what I find funny, Mulder? You completely missed the other two disappearance patterns.” She let out a short, bitter laugh. Mulder smirked.
“Goes to show how narrow our vision of the truth can sometimes be. It’s rare that we ever get to see the big picture, have it exposed in the manner that book did. It came as a shock to me too, if that’s any consolation.” Scully nodded, and the two of them returned downstairs to work out the details of the next day’s trip with Twilight. Afterwards, Twilight set out two bedrolls on the library’s lower level for them. Scully and Mulder lay awake all through the night, desperately hoping that the Princess might be wrong, but plagued constantly with the thought that she might be completely correct. It might be that they could never return home at all.
The Final Chapter
“Come on, come on! Time to wake up, guys! You don’t want to be late to see Princess Celestia, do you?!” Pinkie’s voice jolted Mulder and Scully awake. The pink pony was bouncing around the room excitedly.
“I can’t believe you guys get to see the Princess. She’s so amazing I can’t even describe her! Of course, you did get permission because the book told you so. Did the book tell you so? That seems silly. I wouldn’t listen to a book if it told me to do something. Unless it told me to throw a party, but I do that anyways,” Pinkie took a deep breath at the end of her quick speech. Mulder blinked blearily and shook his head, trying to rid himself of drowsiness. Scully, on the other hand, braced herself on one of the bookshelves and groaned, her eyes half-closed. Pinkie bounded over to her and began yet another long-winded remark.
“Twilight’s outside making sure that the chariot gets here in time so she sent me to wake you up, but you’re already awake, even though it looks like you might just fall asleep again soon, but Twilight wants to make sure that you both are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to go see the Princess!” She paused a moment. “Why does she want you bushy-tailed? I wouldn’t want a bush for a tail. All the leaves would make an awful lot of noise wherever you went, but I guess it’d be kinda neat because then everypony would know where you were. Oo, maybe she wants me to do a spell to make you have bushy tails!” With the final sentence, Pinkie darted towards the shelves and began looking through all the titles.
“You can’t do spells, Pinkie. You’re not a unicorn,” Scully mumbled drowsily. Mulder shuffled over to the central table, where a small dish with a few fruit had been placed to the side of the books. Mulder took a tentative bite out of a particularly shiny red apple, then proceeded to devour it, core and all. He blinked the last bits of sleep from his eyes and took note of the sunlight streaming in through the windows for the first time.
“What time is it, Pinkie?” he asked.
“A few minutes until noon,” the pink pony replied. She had lost interest in her search for spellbooks, and contented herself with bouncing around the perimeter of the room.
“Come on, Scully! You guys are gonna be late!” she chided. The peach unicorn mumbled something unintelligible and pushed herself away from the shelf she had been leaning on. A small apple shakily floated upwards from the dish, the orange glow around it flickering slightly. It made its twisting way through the air to Scully, who missed it on first bite. She shook her head to clear her thoughts and tried again, this time successful in her attempt to have breakfast. She chewed slowly and methodically, gradually becoming more and more awake.
The library door burst open and Twilight nearly barged into Pinkie as she ran into the library. She looked at Mulder and Scully and fidgeted nervously.
“You guys are almost ready, right? We don’t to be late to meet with Princess Celestia. I mean, you know, cause that might give the wrong impression.” Twilight stressed Celestia’s name, trying to convey the importance of this elusive figure Mulder and Scully had read so much about the past evening. Mulder trotted over to her.
“We’re ready to go. Did you bring the book?” he asked. Twilight nodded, raising a hoof to touch a saddlebag she was wearing with the tome inside. She motioned for the two agents to follow her and headed out the door of the library. Scully stepped in at Mulder’s side as they went outside.
“Don’t worry, Scully. I’m sure we’ll find a way out of this,” Mulder whispered. Scully nodded, but didn’t say anything. Her expression was grim as they approached a shining gold chariot drawn by four stark white pegasi. They wore plate armor in the same gold as the chariot, and their eyes betrayed a steely resolve unlike anything the agents had seen in the other ponies. It set Scully slightly on edge, and she eyed the four warily. Twilight had already stepped into the chariot and was waving impatiently at Mulder and Scully. The agents clambered aboard the craft and tried to make themselves comfortable on the hard metal seats. Pinkie Pie had followed them out of the library and was waiting patiently at the chariot’s side. There was a slight jolt and Scully tried in vain to grip the edge of the chariot as the four pegasi guards began to move forward, wings flapping slightly as they gained speed.
“You guys have fun! The Princess is really nice!” Pinkie called out behind them. The pegasi took off, and the chariot shook slightly as they gained altitude. Scully gasped slightly as they came above the rooftops of Ponyville. Mulder was looking over the side of the chariot, absentmindedly flapping the tips of his wings in time with the guards’ own wing beats.
Equestria stretched out before them as they rose higher and higher. Off in the distance behind them, Scully could just make out the edge of a dark body of trees that could only be the Everfree Forest. Ahead of them, an enormous mountain range raked the sky. Mulder whistled slightly as he caught sight of the gleaming white towers that marked their destination.
Canterlot stood in stark contrast to the grey stone of the mountain it sat upon. Several white towers marked the location of the castle. Fields of flowers were planted all throughout the city, intricate patterns of violet, orange, and red standing out against the white marble of the city. This was obviously a place of power, the buildings seemed to all be carved out of marble, and the thatched roofs so popular in Ponyville were nowhere in sight. Several of the buildings had marvelous stained glass windows, leaving Mulder to wonder exactly how one could manage to manipulate glass with hooves. He chalked it up to magic and continued his admiration of the city as they made their slow descent towards the castle. A waterfall made its thunderous course down the cliffs to the side of the castle and into a crystalline lake. The chariot jostled slightly as they touched the ground in front of a large wooden drawbridge. Canterlot’s castle was even more impressive than the city surrounding it. White and gold towers spiraled upwards, and several flowing banners were hung from the parapets. Twilight got out of the chariot and the two agents followed her shakily, both a little rattled from their open-air flight. The pegasi pulled the gold transport up into the sky and vanished quickly behind the imposing figure of the castle.
“Here we are. Canterlot. How does it compare to the cities in your world?” Twilight asked, her face lighting up with curiosity. Mulder was still taking in the sights, so Scully spoke up.
“It’s certainly impressive. Most cities where we come from are much larger, but the craftsmanship and intricacy of the buildings usually can’t compare to the ones here. Would I be correct in assuming that the majority of the construction is done with magic?”
Twilight nodded. “Most of the more impressive construction in Equestria is something that only unicorn magic can hope to accomplish. Though of course it takes all sorts of ponies to build things. Pegasi are especially adept at making some of the taller structures in Canterlot.”
Mulder looked back at the two unicorns and chimed in. “See, Scully? Just because I can’t do magic doesn’t mean I’m completely inept. Just mostly.” Scully scoffed and rolled her eyes. Twilight gasped suddenly.
“I almost forgot! We’re going to be late for our meeting with the Princess!” She darted past the two agents and across the drawbridge. Mulder and Scully followed her, Scully at a full gallop and Mulder gliding a foot the ground, wings flapping intermittently. The crossed underneath an iron portcullis and through a set of golden doors into the castle.
It was a striking example of just how beautiful Equestrian architecture truly was. Scully remembered seeing pictures of the palace of Versailles back on Earth, but to compare the two would have seemed an insult to Canterlot. The beauty of the castle’s interior lay not in its extravagance, but in its elegant simplicity. The banners hanging from the walls were ornate, but not overly so, and the stained glass windows, while certainly larger than those in the surrounding town, were not visibly more intricate. Twilight, Mulder, and Scully cantered up a grand staircase to a large set of doors. They swung inwards to reveal the castle’s audience chamber. Twilight slowed to a trot as she passed through the doors, and the agents followed suit. They made their way down a soft violet carpet to the foot of a glorious golden throne where the Princess sat.
Princess Celestia was unlike any of the other ponies Mulder and Scully had seen. She was at least twice the height of any normal pony, and she was possessed of both a pair of wings and a horn, though her horn was longer and tapered more than Twilight’s or Scully’s. She had a lustrous white coat, and her flowing mane was a mixture of pale green, pink, and blue that seemed to ripple slightly in the air, even though there was no breeze to speak of inside the castle. Her eyes were the same purple as Twilight’s coat and had a strange sadness to them, the sort of world-weary appearance that only comes with a great deal of age.
Twilight Sparkle, Mulder, and Scully kneeled down before the edge of the throne. Celestia eyed the three of them with curiosity, her eyes narrowing slightly when she caught sight of the book’s corner poking out of Twilight’s saddlebag. She stepped down from her throne to address Twilight.
“My faithful student. Would I be correct in assuming that the reason you wished to see me has to do with that book?” Twilight nodded. “And would it also be correct of me to assume that these two ponies were brought through the rift in the final Poseidon event?” Twilight nodded again.
“Yes, Princess. This is Mulder, and this is Scully. They’re from the world you described in the book. Is all of this…is it all true?” Twilight’s voice wavered slightly. Celestia bowed her head slightly and her eyes grew distant.
“Yes, Twilight. It’s true. Through my rash actions all those centuries ago, all that is written in that book has come to pass. The final vessel brought through the rift was a great deal larger than the rest. I’m afraid we were unable to account for two its passengers, but I can see you found them before my guards did.” Mulder cleared his throat and spoke up.
“Pardon me for interrupting, Your Highness, but my partner and I have several questions for you regarding the rift. Specifically, if it’s possible that we can return to our own world. Right, Scully?” The peach unicorn nodded. Celestia thought a moment.
“I do not know. A century ago, I would have thought it impossible, but with the rift acting on the world borders in the way it is, I cannot be sure. It could be easier for you to return to your world, or it could be impossible. We will not know until we perform the spell. We are fortunate that your friend is a unicorn.” As Celestia finished, the three other ponies looked at her quizzically.
“What spell, Princess?” Twilight asked.
“Allow me to explain, my student. I have finished work on a spell that should, in theory, open up the rift permanently on our side, but close it up on the side of the other world. It would render the rift unable to remove anything against its will, and it can easily be guarded after that. However, the spell is extremely difficult and requires three different unicorns, one for each of the rift stones. One of these unicorns must have come from the other world to begin with.” Celestia nodded at Scully. “Odd as it seems, you are the first from your world to become a unicorn upon crossing. In this, we were lucky.” Scully looked at the Princess quizzically.
“So, if I understand you correctly, Your Majesty. If you, me, and Twilight follow through with this spell, Mulder and I should be able to return home?” Scully asked. Celestia nodded.
“Not just the two of you, Scully. I will contact all of the others who were brought through the rift at the same time you were and offer them the choice.” Mulder’s face lit up.
“The choice? As in, we could choose to remain in Equestria?” he asked excitedly.
“Yes, you could. If that is what you desire.” Twilight spoke up again.
“Pardon me Princess, but shouldn’t we be doing this sooner rather than later? The book made it sound like the fate of our worlds depends on us dealing with the rift.” Celestia laughed softly and smiled wryly.
“Perhaps that was a slight exaggeration on my part, Twilight. I merely wanted this book returned quickly, and a little urgency always helps. However, it still is important that we act quickly to seal the rift. I suggest that you and Scully study the scrolls I have prepared in the Archives. They contain the specifics of the spell we will be performing.” Celestia turned to Mulder. “You will have leave to wander the city and castle as you see fit. I will see to it that rooms are prepared for you all tonight. We will depart for the Everfree Forest early tomorrow morning. You will have to excuse me. I have an emissary from Manehattan arriving soon.” The Princess bowed her head to the three ponies and quickly trotted down from her throne and through a side door in the audience chamber, closing it softly behind her.
“Well Scully, shall we? We should make sure that we know absolutely everything about tomorrow’s spell.” Twilight smiled at the peach unicorn. Scully nodded and smiled back.
“Yes, let’s. I’m curious to see exactly how this spell will work.” She turned and began walking down the length of the audience chamber with Twilight. She called at the green pegasus from over her shoulder. “See you later, Mulder! Try and stay out of trouble for one afternoon!”
Mulder snorted as the door closed, leaving him alone in the large room. Curious, Mulder stretched out his wings again and flapped them tentatively. He found that with a little effort, he was able to fly up towards the chamber’s ceiling. Smiling, he did several laps in the air around the audience chamber’s perimeter, speeding up slightly each time. He landed near the exit to catch his breath and laughed happily. Mulder pushed the door open and flew out of the castle, heading to the main city of Canterlot as fast as his wings allowed.
Scully and Twilight saw the green pegasus shoot across the sky in front of them. Scully shook her head and laughed softly.
“Well, let’s just hope he stays out of trouble. How far is it to the Archives?” she asked.
“Not terribly far,” Twilight said. “They’re kept in the School for Gifted Unicorns, which is just down the road from the castle.” Scully nodded wordlessly as they made their way down the road.
A few minutes later, the two unicorns stood at the top of a white and gold tower, looking in on a room practically stuffed with bookshelves. Twilight walked over to a small table where two large scrolls sat. She picked one up with magic and unfurled it, skimming its contents. She beckoned Scully over and pointed to the other scroll.
“That should have your portion of the spell written on it. We should study these carefully. If we make a mistake, whatever happens probably won’t be good.”
“Indeed,” Scully murmured as she opened her own scroll. The writing was the same flowing script she had read the night before in the book, and there were several diagrams spread across the scroll’s length. The two ponies stood in silence, eyes scanning the scrolls intently. They remained like this for the better part of several hours, until the orange glow of the sunset alerted them to just how late it was.
Mulder, on the other hand, had spent his time flying around the city of Canterlot. He had wandered the streets, eyes wide with curiosity. After an hour or two, he had come across a donut shop, and then spent the rest of the day talking and laughing with the owner and eating one too many donuts. Once the sun had begun its descent, he politely excused himself and flew back to the castle. He met Scully and Twilight at the drawbridge, and they made their way to the rooms Celestia had prepared for them. Mulder and Scully both slept well, exhausted from the events of the past few days.
The next morning, they were roused from slumber by guards knocking at their doors. The three ponies made their way to the front of the castle, where Princess Celestia was waiting in a grand chariot pulled by six of her guards. She smiled as the three approached her.
“I trust you all slept well? We’ve got a long day ahead of us.” Twilight nodded.
“Scully and I are ready to help you with the spell, Princess.”
“Excellent. I knew I could count on you, my faithful student.” Twilight blushed out of modesty and muttered: “Scully actually helped me figure out parts of the spell.” Celestia arched a brow.
“Did she now? That’s quite commendable. It gives me a great deal of hope for the success of our spell. Now, let’s be on our way.” The three ponies climbed onto the chariot, and the chariot made its way up into the sky, drifting high above the castle and towards the dark outline of the Everfree Forest off in the distance.
They flew over the forest for several hours, finally touching down at the edge of the clearing mentioned in the book. It was an odd site, whereas the trees had been thick throughout the rest of the forest, nothing grew in the circular clearing except for a small smattering of grass. The three white stones stood in a triangular formation in the clearing’s center. Mulder was surprised by their size, he had imagined a few smallish boulders, but each white stone was an obelisk in its own right. The four ponies got down from the chariot and trotted towards the standing stones. Celestia held out a hoof in front of Mulder as they neared the center of the clearing.
“I must ask you to stand back, Mulder. Our concentration cannot be broken during the spell.” Mulder nodded and took a few paces back, wings folded at his sides. Scully, Twilight, and Celestia moved to the outside edge of the triangle of stones, each pony standing in front of a different stone. Celestia nodded at the two smaller unicorns.
“We will begin now. Try to remain focused, and above all, calm. Panic and uncertainty will cause mistakes.” Celestia closed her eyes, and a faint white glow began to emanate from her horn. Twilight and Scully closed their eyes as well, and soon a purple glow and an orange glow lit up the air as well.
Mulder watched intently as the three magical forces slowly inched towards the white stones. The magic seeped into the carvings on the stones’ faces, making the writing glow eerily bright in the midday light. Mulder suppressed a gasp as a bright pinpoint of light began to form in the center of the stone triangle.
As the three unicorns continued pouring their energy into the spell, the light in the center began to grow. At first it seemed to be a formless mass, but it began to have clearly defined edges, and Mulder could just barely make out the first hints of color inside of it.
The light was now the size of the smaller ponies. Shapes flickered within it, but they confused Mulder. Wasn’t the rift supposed to be focusing? Why was it changing location so often? As soon as the thought entered his mind, Celestia’s eyes opened and she gave out a cry of alarm.
“Stop the spell, you two! The window is destabilizing!” The glow surrounding Scully and Twilight’s horns faded almost immediately, but it seemed that the damage had already been done. The window now offered a clear view onto the other world, but the image kept changing.
The three unicorns backed away warily from the triangle of stones as the window continued to shift. Mulder caught glimpses of several different scenes, not all of which seemed to be entirely earthly in nature. A hooded man in a red cloak locked in a swordfight against a grinning youth, a great tower that looked like it was made of ivory, a shimmering lake reflecting countless stars. Each time the image changed, small orbs of colored light rose out of the window, dancing above it like so many fireflies. The pace at which the images changed slowed after a while, stopping when the window showed what looked like a beach in Florida.
By this point, the lights above the window had become so numerous they almost blotted out the sun. They remained hanging in the air for a minute, then with a sound like shattering glass they exploded outwards across the sky, vanishing from view. The stones surrounding the window shuddered and crumbled, leaving three giant piles of white dust.
Celestia remained silent for a moment, her gaze fixed upon the now stable window.
Scully and Twilight were shaking slightly with exhaustion. Mulder finally broke the silence.
“Looks like we were lucky. It stabilized on our world.”
“Yes, but there’s no telling how many from the other worlds were brought into Equestria. The world walls simply weren’t meant to handle an opening like this. Many of these newcomers could even be dangerous.” Celestia sounded sad, and she cast her eyes downward. Mulder looked at the three unicorns for a moment, his brow furrowed in thought. An idea lit up in his eyes, and he trotted over to Scully’s side.
“Your Highness, the rift here should remain as a viable doorway for quite some time, right?” Mulder asked. Celestia nodded.
“For a few years, at the very least, why?” A sly grin spread over Mulder’s feature.
“Well, it seems to me that you’ve got several dozen, if not several hundred, new ponies in Equestria, who may or may not be unlike anything your subjects have encountered before.” Scully didn’t interrupt Mulder, but here eyes widened slightly and the barest hint of a smile crept over her face as he continued talking.
“Seems to me, Princess, that you might want to find somepony with a little expertise in the unknown. Fortunately, I think I know of a pony or two who might be able to help you locate these newcomers from the other worlds…” Mulder trailed off, a twinkle in his eyes. Twilight looked back and forth from Celestia to the two agents.
* * * * *
Dawn was coming. The small grove at the edge of the Everfree Forest lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.
The most obvious part was a vast, echoing quiet made by things that were lacking. If there had been wind, it would have whistled through the boughs of the trees surrounding the grove. If there had been any other ponies in this part of the forest, they would have talked and laughed to keep the silence at bay. If there had been music…but no, of course there was no music. In fact, there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.
In the center of the grove a pony was sleeping deeply. Lying still in the perfect dark, his rhythmic breathing made only the smallest sigh in the air. In this he added his small, furtive silence to the larger echoing one. They made an amalgam of sorts, a counterpoint.
The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If one listened long enough, they might begin to feel it in the shallow breath of the sleeping pony, or they might see it in the awkward manner in which this pony had lain down to sleep. The pony lay motionless, his sleeping mind waiting for the first pale hint of dawn’s coming light.
The pony had a shining mane of flame-red hair and a crimson coat. Underneath his closed lids his eyes were dark and distant, and on a simple cord around his neck a small set of silver pipes was hung. The image of a lute wreathed in starlight graced his flank.
The third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, holding the others inside itself. It was dark and vast, like the surface of some moonlit lake. It was the patient, hopeless silence of a man who is completely and utterly lost, with no idea what the fates have in store for him.
END of The Poseidon Project
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The X-files, and The Kingkiller Chronicle all belong to their respective owners.