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[Appleloosa] A Mirage in the Desert [PM to Join]


Neoniie
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Today was the day. The sand coloured weathermare would be flying out to Appleloosa to join the relatively new weather team that was being sent to the town. Miarge couldn't say that she was excited to live in the desert-skirting town, in fact, she would have preferred Cloudsdale any day. Her special talent was desert weather, but that didn't mean that the mare had to enjoy the harsh terrain that had absolutely no fluffiness whatsoever.

Mirage sighed as she finished packing up her small suitcase and took one last look at her plush room in the sky. The pegasus had considered taking the Ponyville-Appleloosa train that was both quite close and cheap, but she couldn't stand being in such a confined space for so long. With a wave goodbye to her parents, the pegasi dashed off through the sky, her namesake afterimage left behind her.

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Mirage caught a glimpse of the apple orchards that had brought such development to the new town as she flew across the skies. She did a couple loop-de-loops for fun, trying to take her mind of the cracked desert land that she would soon be in contact with. Taking herself into a dive, the pegasus shot down toward the town, wind rushing at her.

However, her wanton descent had much less control than was usually exhibited by the flying pony and she managed to crash into an unsuspecting pony below. Her momentum stopped immediately as she collided with the unknown pony.

Picking herself off the ground, the pegasus quickly checked herself over for any permanent damage. She was rather sore from the impact, but her wings and limbs were still operational. Then, she turned to the pony, offering them a hoof and saying, "I'm really sorry about that. I don't usually fly so recklessly. Are you alright?"

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Hyphen took in a deep breath as she emerged from her tent. The sun was just rising over the desert, and the plain colour of the sand and brush was painted a vibrant assortment of reds and yellows. The sand underhoof was not yet warm as Hyphen strechted out, and let out a great yawn.

"Mmm... Ah, what a beautiful morning." The yellow mare turned to a bearded dragon who was sitting motionless on a rock near the tent, soaking up the first rays of the morning sun. "You're up earlier than usual, Plato." The unicorn scooped him up gently with her hoof and placed him on her back, and he stretched himself out to absorb as much of her body heat as possible. The unicorn trotted to the edge of the large sand dune her tent was pitched on, and surveyed the area beneath it.

Below was a large dig site. It had been open for about 3 months according to the papers back in Hyphen's tent. The most obvious part of the site the massive obelisk that had been erected in the center, and stood about 15 feet above the sand. All around it were the ruins of ancient buildings, some totaled beyond any hopes of reconstruction, others preserved flawlessly by the merciful desert sands. Hyphen had been called out to assist with the excavation a week in, when they had discovered the very tip of the obelisk poking out of the sand. They were making great progress, but Hyphen was still baffled as to what they had found.

Putting the dig site aside for a moment, Hyphen trotted to the tent that housed a makeshift kitchen. Inside, the cooks were already hard at work making breakfast for the digging crew. Hyphen chatted with the cooks for a moment, then went to check the pantry. After taking a quick stock of the pantry, she decided that they were going to need a large shipment of apples by the end of the week. After taking a snack and thanking the cooks, she trotted over to her hot air balloon, and prepped it for a quick trip to the Appleloosa Orchards.

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After leaving her balloon with the apple farmers to get loaded up, Hyphen decided to take a stroll through the town. She was glad to see it doing well, despite the harsh conditions. The weren't many businesses in town, but the farms had done well enough to attract a few entrepreneurs. Hyphen wandered around the general stores for a bit, before deciding to return to the farm for lunch. Then, out of no-where, a sand-coloured pegasus came flying out of no-where and barreled right into her. Plato went flying off her back, and landed on his feet a few paces away.

Hyphen groaned as she shook her head. She saw the pegasus offering her a hoof. "I'm really sorry about that. I don't usually fly so recklessly. Are you alright?"

"Y-yeah. thanks..."Hyphen took the sandy pegasus's hoof and pulled herself to her hooves. "Ugh... wait, where's Plato?!" Hyphen scurried around looking for her pet lizard, and found him sunning himself on a rock nearby. She scooped him up again, then remembered why he had went flying in the first place. "Oh, I-I'm sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going. That was really rude of me." Hyphen blushed, a stupid grin on her face. "Um, i-if you don't mind me asking, could I get your name?"

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Mirage watched the unicorn's search for the creature she called Plato in confusion. As the unicorn scurried back and forth, she wondered whether Plato was another pony and if she had managed to send another pony flying through the air. She felt a bit embarassed at the thought, putting a hoof behind her head akwardly. She was about to offer her assistance to the yellow pony when she scooped up a nearby lizard. The pegasus found herself suddenly interested in the mare before her. Not many ponies out this far had any sort of pets and what an unusual pet at that.

"Oh, I-I'm sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going. That was really rude of me." Noticing the blush on the unicorn's face, Mirage felt slightly more akward then before, but at least she didn't seem angry at the pegasus' clumsyness. "Um, i-if you don't mind me asking, could I get your name?"

"Oh, yeah. My name's Mirage. And no worries about that whole smashing into you thing, it was my fault."

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"Mirage was it?" The unicorn smiled warmly, then donned a look of excitement as she noticed the other mare's cutie mark . "Oh, you're a weather pony aren't you? They said a few of you would be coming along today. We've really needed a good wind to lift a few layers of dust at the dig site." Hyphen clapped her hooves together once eagerly, then froze and quickly blushed again. "Oh, I-I'm sorry. I haven't even introduced myself. I'm Professor Hyphen, out of the university of Canterlot. I'm currently leading an archeological dig in the desert north of here." Hyphen re-assumed her warm smile. "You must be tired from all that flying. If you want, I could give you a lift in my balloon?"

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Mirage blinked twice before fully digesting the mare's statement. She hadn't actually made it to the weather team's headquarters to get som sort of assignment, but she assumed that this dust clearing at this dig site would be her task anyways. "Yep, I'm actually a pretty new addition to the team. I just flew in from Clousdale today, actually."

"Oh, I-I'm sorry. I haven't even introduced myself. I'm Professor Hyphen, out of the university of Canterlot. I'm currently leading an archeological dig in the desert north of here."The pegasus found this unicorn's mannerisms quite endearing, in a manner of speaking, and couldn't help but smile along with the mare.

"Nice to meet you, Professor Hyphen. I've never met a bona-fied professor before, it must be a pretty cool job." Despite not having the qualifications in the slightest, Mirage had always loved adventure and archaeology was a prime source of adventure. Adventure always brought new ponies and experiences her way and that was why the pegasus had eventually left her weather studies for the practical team. Mirage wasn't a fan of the dry, arid town of Appleloosa, but she loved her job and had to admit that the desert brought much more adventure than Cloudsdale.

"You must be tired from all that flying. If you want, I could give you a lift in my balloon?"

She noticed the balloon of which the professor spoke, looking it up and down. It had been something that fascinated the pegasus, the ability of the non-winged species to fly among the clouds. "That would be great, Professor. Thanks."

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"Please, call me Hyphen. I'm not one for titles, even my own." She said with a swipe of her hoof, as if knocking the formality out of the air. "Just wait over by the balloon, I need to go settle the tab with the farmers." She trotted off to the farmers who were loading up the balloon, and pulled a large sum of bits out of her saddlebags to pay for the apples. After a quick thank you, she trotted back over to Mirage and the basket of the balloon. "Ready to go? You probably want to head to the weather team's base first, since you just got here." Hyphen paced about the balloon removing ropes and weights until the only thing holding the balloon down was the lack of hot air. Well, relatively of course, as the desert town was always fairly warm. After double checking everything, she hopped into the balloon and turned to Mirage. "Here we go!"

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"Oh, okay then Hyphen," Mirage ammended her earlier statement. It did feel much more natural to refer to the unicorn by her name rather than title, so she didn't mind the preference Hyphen had expressed. As the unicorn trotted off, Mirage took a moment to consider her day. She leaned against the basket of the hot air balloon and a pensive look came over her face. As far as moving to an undesirable location had gone, it was better than she thought. Though the environment was harsh and not particularly enjoyable, its residents and visitos seemed to be the exact opposite. If everypony in Appleloosa ended up as nice as Hyphen, she could see herself enjoying her time in the desert.

When she returned, Mirage quickly straightened up in an attentive stance. "Ready to go? You probably want to head to the weather team's base first, since you just got here."Mirage nodded, remembering the suitcase that she had been bringing with her. She found the place to which it had been flung by her collision with Hyphen and picked it up between her teeth again. Returning to the balloon, she followed the unicorn's method of entry. "Sounds good to me. I don't want to be running off through the desert with my luggage." Her words were muffled slightly by the handle in her mouth and she proceeded to place it upon the bottom of the basket. She looked up at the balloon, interested in how exactly the unicorn planned to get them into the air.

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Hyphen smiled as the pegasus looked curiously about the balloon. She had every right to- unlike most balloons, this one didn't have a burner in the middle to heat it up. "It's operated by magic." Hyphen said, seeing the pegasus staring up. "I just make a flame..." Hyphen closed her eyes to concentrate, and her horn started to glow. After a few seconds, a bright orange flame appeared floating about an inch above the unicorn's horn, sending off waves of heat. After a few moments of this, the balloon started to lift from the ground. At this point, Hyphen opened her eyes and the flame dulled to an orange-red. "See? It's much easier in the morning, what with the colder air and all. Now then, do you suppose you could use those wings of yours to send us in the right direction? I'm not sure I can keep the balloon in the air and steer it at the same time when it's this hot out." A blush returned to the yellow unicorn's face. "Flying is not exactly my specialty..."

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Mirage watched the unicorn's spellweaving, finding their ability to create something from nothing pretty amazing. Even the fact that a tiny flame could lift the balloon and basket seemed like a miracle. She supposed that those were the perks of a world of magic. As the balloon picked up, the basket rocked back and forth in the air slightly. As it managed to steady itself into a stationary position beneath the inflated balloon, Mirage remembered Hyphen's request. "Not a problem. Just tell me which direction we need to go." She took a literal flying leap out of the basket, doing a quick circle around the hot air balloon as a quick warmup for her wings. She hovered just outside the basket, flapping her wings quickly. She didn't usually need any sort of pre-exertion exercise, but after that crash she'd had, Mirage didn't want to sprain her wings by not being prepared for using them extensively.

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Hyphen watched with interest as the pegasus flitted around the balloon. Hyphen had always wanted to fly- It looked like so much fun- but any spells she had found to create wings either were far beyond her level, or required such immense concentration to maintain that she wouldn't even be able to focus on enjoying the flight. After Mirage was done her warm up, Hyphen began relaying directions. It only took them about fifteen minutes to get to the weather base. when they were directly above, Hyphen signaled to Mirage to land back in the balloon. "The extra weight will make landing this much easier." Hyphen smiled, then quickly blushed and waved her hooves. "N-not that I'm saying your heavy and all, j-just, y'know,um... I'll just bring down the balloon." Hyphen awkwardly trotted to the center of the basket, and once again lit up her horn. This time, however, a large ball of frost floated above her head, and the temperature in the immediate area dropped. The balloon sunk to the ground, and Hyphen hopped out of the basket. "It's right over there. If you want, I could put in a word or two for you, make sure you get over to the dig site. Only if you want to, of course."

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The pegasus was glad to discover that her steering went off without a hitch and they had arrived at the weather team's base of operations. She wasn't yet used to wooden buildings as much as her preferred fluffy and cloud-like dwelling of Cloudsdale, so seeing such a earthy building was a bit odd. Mirage merely let out a quiet laugh at Hyphen's attempted ammendment of her comment. The pegasus had assumed her meaning correctly the first time and thus found the embarassed correction unncessary, but still appreaciated the gesture.

"That would be great," Mirage said, not weighing the question at all. "After all, I wouldn't want to lose you after just meeting." She began trotting toward the base, excited at the prospect of resuming her weather duties.

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Hyphen trotted after the sand-coloured pegasus, relishing the feeling of the warm sand under her hooves. She really did love the desert- the warmth, the lack of crowds, the strange creatures- every bit of it seemed tailor made just for her. Following Mirage to the desk, she chatted with the receptionist for a bit about this and that, before getting right to business. "Don't forget, we still need to get a weather team out to the northern dig site. A good windstorm ought to help shift the sands without disturbing as much as moving it by hoof. If possible, I'd like Mirage here to be on the team. We could use an expert on desert weather." Hyphen said in a casual tone. After she was finished with the receptionist, she left Mirage to her own devices while she waited outside. It had yet to cool down enough for her to pilot the balloon on her own, after all.

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Mirage trotted off down the hall after aquiring directions from the receptionist to the office of the weather supervisor. The pegasus looked carefully around the structure, trying to begin to memorize what would become her place of work for quite a while. The hallways branched off in several directions, all of which looked the same to the slightly perplexed mare. Hoping that her sense of direction for the building would improve over time, she followed the directions that the receptionist had scribbled down on a slip of paper.

The office was the last door on a right side of the building, a bit more out of the way than Mirage would have suppose such an important place to be. Nonetheless, the plaque on the door proclaimed that it was the weather supervisors office. Dropping her suitcase only to knock sharply on the door, the mare looked around absentmindedly as she awaited the supervisor. It was not a long wait and she was quickly ushered inside. "Hello, I'm Mirage, the desert specialist that was transferred from Cloudsdale." The supervisor nodded, head in a pile of documents as he listened to Mirage talk. "I was just wondering where exactly I should...um...put my things?" With a quick scribble, he wrote some direction to the crew quarters.

"They're jus' temporary," he said. "One night won't hurt tho'. I suggest you get goin', weather team is out in a few minutes and you're apparently on it." With a nod, Mirage picked up her case again and trotted off to the quarters. She could see why they were temporary, since they were only a series of beds stacked against the wall. Choosing one that seemed vacant and placing her belongings atop it, Mirage resolved to find lodging elsewhere as soon as possible. She quickly returned to the front desk and gained a list of names from the receptionist. Assuming that they were her fellow weather team members, Mirage held tightly to the note and trotted out in search of Hyphen.

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Hyphen leaned against the basket of the balloon outside, using the shade to stay out of the midday sun. She didn't mind waiting- there really was no way she'd be able to fly this thing without some assitance. She made a mental note to install a normal burner, if only so that she didn't have to wait for the temperature to drop to fly. After waiting for a short while, she noticed Mirage walk out of the building, and waved her down. "Hey again! Where've you been assigned? I mean, I'm pretty sure it'll be the dig site, but you never know, right?" She asks, grinning.

((OOC:Sorry for the long time between posts, real life has been catching up to me >_<))

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(OOC: No problem, I know how that can be.)

"Yep!" Mirage proclaimed. She absolutely loved her job as a weatherpony and getting to help out a nice pony like Hyphen was a bonus. She stretched her wings skyward, letting them catch the small breeze that whipped past the two ponies. "Which reminds me, are you looking for something particular at this dig site? Did you find treasure or something?" Mirage was always interested in the lives of ponies around her, mostly because she liked to make friends. After all, what kind of friends could you make without knowing them?

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Hyphen's eyes lit up as the sandy pegasus asked her question. She could rant for hours on this subject. "Well, we've stumbled upon what appears to be an old temple. There's a massive obelisk in the middle, and a few different buildings scattered about. It's far older than anything we've ever encountered as well. It predates... well, everything! Even the Princesses are baffled as to what it is. We think it might me a discordian era ruin, but..." She realises she's ranting, and blushes. "Oh! S-sorry, I didn't mean to shove everything at you at once there... It's just... I live for this. Finally, I'm making abig discovery of my own, and the chances are that it's an entirely new civilization..." She has a dreamy look on her face as she trails off. She then turns back to the pegasus. "A-anyway, we should get going. You're going to the dig site now, right?"

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Mirage smiled as Hyphen talked about her possible findings. Though the pegasus was much more suited to legwork than bookwork, she did always make an exception for tales of forgotten civilizations and most of all: treasure. She wasn't actually interested in the contents of the treasures, but rather the adventure that was automatically attached to the search. 'Adventure', if not 'impluse', was her middle name, so to speak. If there was a journey to be had, Mirage would be there as quickly as her wings could take her. "Yep," she answered the unicorn with a wide smile.

"What you've told me so far about this site sounds pretty awesome! Maybe you'll end up being famous someday," Mirage said, filling the preparation time with a bit less silence.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chillwind strode through the desert sands, absolutely unbothered by the beating sun. Little snowflakes fell away from his body as he walked, melting the moment they hit the ground. The gargantuan pegasus, surprisingly, was walking, despite his obviously healthy wings. His icy blue eyes took in the bleak landscape around him, and showed no emotion in blank stoicism. He blinked a few times, making sure that the movement he saw in the distance was no mirage, and then took to the air to investigate, his wings stirring up the sands beneath him.

Within moments he was close enough to notice the strange obelisk sticking up from the parched ground, and within a few more he could see the ponies milling around. Shortly, he flew over the camp once and made note of what he had seen before touching down in an unoccupied spot. Just before he landed, one of the random snowflakes descending from his coat made its way down onto the nose of a yellow unicorn mare.

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