The scorching heat of the desert had reached its peak in the middle of the day, while I flew swiftly through the air a few feet above the ground. My wings hurt from the bruises I had and from the non-stop flying for the past few hours, but I was too much in shock to really feel anything. I simply had to find the ponies who had gone missing. Somewhere in the desert there were all of passengers from my train who had left the wreck behind, and I hoped and hoped that they were following the tracks to either Appaloosa or Dodge Junction. But with no hoofprints in the sand pointing in any direction, I couldn't be sure where the others had gone. All I knew was that I was unconscious for a long time, and by the time I had woken up and discovered myself alone, any prints in the sand would've vanished under the breeze drifting over the ground.
I could've gone back to Appaloosa, the train had probably derailed closer to there than to Dodge Junction, after all. But I was afraid that if there were any ponies wandering in the opposite direction, by the time I got to Sheriff Silverstar and got a search party to come out, those ponies would be in terrible danger. And if the few canteens full of water and several other belongings that were still laying among the train wreck were any indication, they were unlikely to have enough water to last more than a day. If everypony had started walking back to Appaloosa, then I'd end up flying all the way to Dodge Junction in a couple of days, but I was sure I had enough water to make that journey.
Back at the train, I had collected up my belongings in a rush, my saddlebags were completely emptied of their contents, and everything, except for the headband the Buffalo had given me, was discarded in one of the train cars, replaced by first aid supplies and some food that I had found aboard the train. I had picked up two canteens filled to the brim with water, one canteen was originally mine - a gift from Appaloosa - while the other was among the left behind possessions that had been strewn all over the place when the train tipped over and left the tracks. Though it hurt to use them, my wings were okay to fly, and once I felt I was ready, I took to the air and began following the tracks toward Dodge Junction, keeping my eyes open for any lost ponies.
Occasionally, my eyes would catch a tiny movement below, and for a moment I'd think I'd found somepony. In a split second of dread, I'd turn to look, only to see a lizard scurrying away or a vulture flying up into the air to follow me from a distance. While I'd feel slightly relieved that I hadn't found any ponies, it also worried me more as I began to wonder if I was looking in the wrong place, especially as it became obvious that I had flown further than an earthbound pony could normally cover - even with a head start.
I decided to stop and take a break in the shade in order to have a drink and rest. I found a shaded spot near the bottom of a small mesa to land by, and glided down to the ground. My hooves barely catching me as the bruises shot up on pain again.
I slowly sat myself down and took a long drink from my canteen, feeling a little bit better sheltered from the sunlight. Nearby, two vultures landed on a rock, making no secret of them watching me. I stood of up slowly, and walked over to them. "Excuse me, but have you seen any ponies come this way?" I asked them.
The two large birds looked at each other in mild confusion, and then looked back at me. They shook their heads to say no.
"Are you sure? No ponies on hoof, wandering in the desert recently?"
They shook their heads again.
"Oh. Thanks anyway." I turned away from them and started picking my things back up. If none of the animals had seen them, then they were either much further ahead, still, or hadn't come way at all. Whichever the case, it was best I kept going, either I'd find them or reach Dodge Junction, and the sooner I did either one of those, the better.
I took a final gulp of water from my canteen before taking off once more, heading out into the afternoon Sun, following the train tracks through the desert. The vultures didn't follow me, this time.
Survivor Shy Gallery: [link]
Survivor Shy on FimFiction: [link]
My Tumblr: [link]
Not a whole lot to say about this one, other than perspective is challenging and a lizard is actually pretty hard to draw without a good reference. Either way, I'm really happy with how the artwork came out, especially with Fluttershy.
Also, you can always count on Fluttershy to approach a creature hoping for her to become its next meal and manage to have a civil moment of interaction with it.
One more scene to draw, and that shall mark the first full chapter to Survivor Shy on FimFiction, allowing me to make a worthwhile rework of the story on that site. I don't want to update the FimFiction entry until I have a Prologue and 'Chapter One' ready. So, dA and Tumblr users are getting first dibs for now!