I was falling through a deep dark hole. An empty cold that clawed its way through me began to slow down any thought that passed through my tired mind.
Though, the darkness in itself was warm. Comforting even. The deeper I went... the more warmth and comfort it gave.
“So--has anything interesting happened to you four in the past year?” Rarity asked from across the picnic table, sipping her red-wine.
“Other than studying and researching a cure for the disease that has been spreading throughout Equestria,” I said first. “No, sadly. The Princess has been keeping me and the thousands of others that are working on this busy.”
They all looked down, hurt. The disease, nicknamed “1-2-3”, had taken our beloved Pinkie Pie away from us just last year.
“Will you ever change the name? Naming it for how many days they lived, and what it did in each day you had it is simply horrible! It is not even clever.” Rarity said.
“It is just a nickname,” I told her. “Besides, sometimes some can live for up to a week while having it.”
“Um--can-can we not talk about this, please?” asked Fluttershy, trembling beside Rainbow Dash, who had her hooves over her head.
Reason for not naming it in the first place was because the sickness spread quickly enough for most in charge of things like that to not even have time to do so. Everypony, thousands working and striving for the cure, were simply too busy. The last thing that mattered was a name. What did matter was finding how to stop it and taking care of the ponies that had it.
“Yes, yes, alright,” I nodded. “I am sorry, Fluttershy, I am simply used to talking about it to others. Have to on a daily basis.” I turned my attention to Applejack and Rarity. “How are your businesses going, Rarity? And your apple farm, AJ?”
Honesty looked up with sad and weary eyes. The face of a pony who had seen enough.
“Ah think ya know the answer to that,” she began. “With Big Mac an’ Granny Smith gone, the farms is’a strugglin’. At least ah have Applebloom. She is old enough now to help me with what we have to do.”
I frowned. “Why in Celestia’s name did you not tell us this happened?” I asked.
Rainbow’s head came up. She had been crying. She kept her relationship with Pinkie Pie secret until the day her marefriend had died. Then she told us.
“What the hell, AJ?” she sobbed.
“Hey, it is not like ah’m the only pony here to hide somethin’!” she.
“Yes, but I told after Pinkie died! I kept it secret because I did not want you four to think I was a bad pony for liking with a mare!”
“Rainbow, it happens all the buckin’ time! Why in Equestria would we think bad of ya if we see it every day?” AJ responded, using a softer, more gentle tone.
“Girls!” I pushed them backwards. “You two have argued about this too much already! Enough is enough. AJ,” I turned toward her. “We will continue this discussion later.”
Sitting down, I glared at them both, making sure they would not begin to argue again.
“Mine is going--well,” she sighed. “Not too good, Twilight. With all the commotion, not many ponies want to be around others.” she looked around for a moment. “Not even here.. even here, at the park, there are not many ponies out. This place is usually packed.”
Rarity sighed once again and placed her head on the table, frowning, and closed her eyes.
“Rainbow--what about you?” Generosity asked.
Rainbow Dash grunted and looked up at Rarity with a ‘you-should-already-know-the-answer’ look.
Rarity frowned and stood up, making her way around the wooden table and hugged Dash tightly.
Fluttershy quivered, crying for, what we knew, no set reason.
I could tell that the Elements suffered more around each other than they did by themselves.
With us all together, we gave each other the sadness we all felt.
Rarity seated herself back at the other end of the table.
The sleep is still in my eyes, the dream is still in my head. I heave a sigh and sadly smile and lie a while in bed.
Slowly, not wanting to leave the darkness, I opened my eyes. Sun shone through the window to the left, the smell of cut grass in the air as the yellow curtains on the window moved softly in the wind.
I grunted as I pulled myself up, the sheets sliding from my shoulders and into a crumple at my waist. Looking to my side, I let myself a small smile. The device was working properly. I did not doubt that it was not, but it had been quite some time since I had any major injury such as that.
My head shot up as I remembered, wincing as I remembered the pain and feeling of raw magic shoot through me.
Curious, I turned to look outside and blinked. Since when was there sunshine or grass? I sat thinking as the door creaked open, going unnoticed.
I was knocked out of my reverie as a timid “Hello?” came from the door.
Turning to see Celestia, I jumped up and threw up a shield around myself, fueling much more magical power into it unlike last time. Also, just in case, I readied a bolt of magic, shining a bright purple next to me, aiming at her.
She flinched and cringed, stopping at the window, her beautiful mane flowing in the breeze.
“I--I am sorry. I wanted to make sure the Age Dampener still worked properly.”
Age Dampener. Yeah, now you know why I simply call it ‘the device’. I did not even know about its name until some time later.
“Please forgive me?” she ended with.
Something was not right here. She never said please--or asked for forgiveness! Not in this age, anyway. Not many ponies did.
“By trying to kill me?!” I shouted, “How stupid can you be?!”
She cringed, a tear glistening in the sun, slowly making its way down her face.
Something definitely was not right here.
She broke into tears and fell to the floor in a crumple, sobbing the words, “I am sorry,” over and over.
Frowning, I converted the magical needle that hung in the air next to me into a ball of pulsating energy that grew to the size of my hoof. I grabbed it and took a step forward, pushing myself up and letting my shield drop.
“Go fuck yourself, you poor excuse for the Celestia I know,” I told her and reared back, slinging the ball of magical energy straight at her head.
She looked up, fear in her eyes, the ball reflected in her eyes. As it struck, she screamed only for an instant before the reality I saw as itself cracked in front of me.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
More and more began to appear, until I simply thrust a hoof forward. Everything I saw shattered at once and a blinding white light enveloped me. Closing my eyes, I waited it out.
As I thought, it had been an illusion. Hell, even the room looked moderately the same. The window to the room was sealed, but the curtains were, in fact, yellow. The bed I was laying on, was fairly tattered. It had many worn holes in it and quite a few bloodstains on it.
Some of that blood was probably mine. Rarity would have screamed.
Using my magic (such a wonderful thing to be able to use), I snapped the chains that bound me and hopped up, smiling pleasantly to myself.
“Stupid mare,” I mumbled to myself with a grin and pushed open the door, walking out.
Maybe not as stupid as I thought. As soon as I walked through, I recognized the room almost instantly. It was her chambers. She again sat at her table, the single candle lit, basking the room in pale, orange light.
“Welcome back, Twilight.” she told me, her voice soft and pleasant. “Though, did you have to use that much magic? You could have used that simple little needle you made to kill me with. It would have done the same thing.”
“I like powerful magic.”
“Yes, yes, I know you do. Reason I made the Age Dampener so powerful.”
“The device? Powerful? You're joking, right?” I said with a snicker.
“Really?” she asked, seeming genuinely surprised as she turned to face me. “You mean, after all these years, you still do not know what that thing in your chest is capable of? Wow. And here I thought I was ignorant to the things around me.” she said. “I do not get out much, as you can see.”
“What do you mean ‘powerful’? All this does is keeps me alive. What else does it do...?” I asked.
“With time, my little pony, with time,” she said with a smile.
“Why did you want me here?”
“Oh--just to have a little chat is all.”
“A little chat. You're insane, Celestia.”
“Oh I know! That is the fun part of being insane!” she laughed.
“Fine, what do you want to talk about?” I asked her, sitting down in a couch to the right of her chair.
“Why not the last forty years? Got to be something to talk about in all that time.”
Resisting the urge to facehoof, I said, “Fine. You know what happened? Nothing worth talking about. Except yesterday when my husband got home and we had a good night of sex.”
The ruler of Equestria giggled. “Not much has happened here either. Well--I have been training myself in more complicated magic. You remember the earthquake a few years ago?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said slowly.
“Sorry,” she said, grinning.
“So you really do not know what that thing does?” Celestia asked, prodding my chest plate with a hoof.
“Other than keep me alive and steal me of death, no. I doubt it does anything else.”
“Oho, it does. I had many problems with it at first because it kept going off,” she told me.
“‘Going off’?” I asked, looking at her curiously.
“Yes. Now,” she looked over at me. “For the real reason I wanted you here.”
“I was not going to tell you. Ever. But you do have a right to know. A team of scientists and I, years ago, created the virus that spread through Equestria. We created it for the sole purpose for thinning the population. Equestria was getting way too big, we had no idea what to do. Maybe it was not the right thing to do, but it was the quickest and easiest. Once you and your team found the cure, we thought it would be ok. However, many years later, it began to spread again. It had mutated and became stronger. Strong enough to even kill you with the Age Dampener on.
“So we secretly built a warship to fly undetected over Equestria. It sent what you and many others call ‘The Beam’.”
Leave it to Celestia to do something horrific, yet quite obvious and cheesy.
“Ha ha, very funny. Even I know you are not that cold hearted.” I snorted.
“You do not want to believe it? That is most likely best. Though I do not apologize.”
I stared into the face of Celestia long and hard, wanting it all to be some crazy gibberish from the insane alicorn. But something in that face told me it was not.
“You--you are serious...?” I shook my head, feeling many emotions being twisted and turned inside. “You--killed my friends. You killed the mare I loved... why?”
“We knew if we made another cure, it would simply come back. We tried on test subjects and controlled locations. It happened every time. The mutated virus lasted longer and let us give treatment much more easily, but it caused much more harm. Most of the time we had to give an extremely large dosage of the medicine for it to do any good. Only problem with that was that the treatment itself was a poison, so if you survived the disease, you could still easily die.
“It may sound like the wrong thing to do, but this is where the Beam is involved. It would kill off the population quick enough and painless.”
Stunned, shocked, awed, and simply dead in the water, I stuttered, “H-h-how? W-Why in E-Equestria would y-you do that? To the nation that followed and loved you!”
A small frown and sigh is what I received. “It was the only way we could think of. In our state of panic, it seemed like a good, and--well only option we had at the time, you must understand.”
Boiling hate festered within, growing in range throughout my body, seeping and taking over everything. Soon, I could feel, the pressure would become too much.
“There were other ways! There has to be, it is obvious! Sometimes, the first choice is not the best!”
“It was at the time, Twilight,” the regal goddess began. “It was. We did not think of the consequences it gave.”
I had no idea what to say. I did not even know if I could speak. The rage and hate had built to a level almost not worth controlling.
“Why--why would you tell me this?”
“You had a right to know. I am sorry for keeping it from you for so long.”
Swallowing hard, I turned and began my way out when Celestia took on a darker tone.
“Where would you be going?” she asked with a mocking chuckle.
“Back home with my husband.”
“I know you are lying, Twilight.”
Half lying, actually. What I told was the truth, but not the whole truth. I had planned to return to him and tell him what Celestia had told me. Him being a royal guard, he would most likely tell other guards and so on, leading to an uprising against her. If it did not work, I do not know what the hell I would do. I could not hurt Celestia, her magic was much more advanced than mine. To do the simplest thing would give her the chance to do something back.
Not giving an answer, I continued on.
“Guards,” she said.
I focused, wrapping a chair in the corner in a magical field, out of Celestia’s range of vision.
“Do not lay a hoof on me,” I said to the two guards as they approached.
“I am warning you. Do not come any closer!”
When I continued to hear hooves hitting the ground, I swung the chair into the air and slung it as fast as I could at them, turning myself around to watch. The first ducked with a yelp as it soared over his head and smashed into the head of the second, sending it into pieces. The colt collapsed to the floor, a trickle blood oozing out from under his helmet.
I did not stop the now broken chair, I kept them going at Celestia. Even if I could not harm her, I could at least daze her long enough for an escape.
She brought up a shield around herself, many of the pieces simply pinging off it, a ripple spreading out over the bubble. However, the nature of shields proved to be an advantage for me.
A leg from the once beautifully carved wooden chair made it as the shield was created. I grabbed the speeding object with magic and pushed it faster, seeing an opportunity. It made contact with the left side of her head. It shot out the other side and landed with a clatter on the floor some feet away, covered in blood. The princess stood shaking, the light gone from her eyes. A moment later, she fell to the floor in a defeated heap.
Stunned, I fell to my haunches, feeling a mix of complete joy, surprise, and even in the range of hopelessness and the loss of someone that once had meaning in my life.
“Go,” said the slightly shaky yet strong voice of a guard, the one whom I presumed to have ducked when the chair went soaring overhead.
I glanced at him and back to the body of Celestia, shaking.
“Go!” he yelled, “Trust me. If you know what is good for you,” he began in a softer tone, “You will leave. Now.”
Millions of thoughts raced through my confused mind. Tired and feeling sick to my stomach, I turned. The room spun around me as I did so, causing me to stumble. I kept myself from collapsing and slowly, shakingly began my journey back through the ruins of Canterlot.
That was too easy, I thought to myself as I walked across Canterlot. She could have stopped that if she wanted to. Perhaps old age..?
The thought seemed right. Old age and insanity can make even the best pony falter.
I took a deep sigh and tried to set my mind at ease. The perfect opportunity arose. I trotted to the edge of Canterlot and peered over the edge, the roar of a waterfall could be heard in the distance, even seen. It made its way down the mountain, flowed through the edge of Canterlot itself and toppled over the edge in a rough and loud cascade.
The sight was beautiful, even with Equestria in a very low time. I sat myself down and soaked in the sights. Ponyville looked the best. A lot of it had been rebuilt. Other areas, however, were completely lifeless. Such as Appleloosa and most of Fillydelphia. They had been reduced to nothing, a huge fissure now lies where they once were. The Beam was kept there the longest, and it kept digging in deeper and deeper.
Even now, a red glow can be seen emanating from within its depths.
Peace. Something that is quite rare in these times. I could have slept on that ledge as the wind blew through my mane. But things needed to be dealt with, thought over and talked about, seen and heard, and possibly most important of all: Done and figured out.
Taking in one last look of the view before me, I pushed myself up and started the walk home.
It was long, lonesome, and dark.
Darkness set into the world. Even with the magical light emanating from my horn, giving me a path and serenity, I was alone. Alone in the darkness.
I did not mind the darkness, but something in the trees was--haunting. Something that was not meant to be there. The endless feeling of being watched was felt, it sent a shiver down my spine.
I picked up my pace a bit.
The trees rustled in the cool night air as I continued down the narrow dirt path. To my close right, the side of the path ended and a clif is what awaited any unfortunate traveler to slip. It was not the main path to and from Canterlot, it was a scenic path used to enjoy the sites of Canterlot hanging from the edge of a mountain and Equestria beyond. I took it instead of continuing down the main path because I did not want to be watched.
Though--something told me that they, who or what ever they were, were still there. Though I did not feel watched. I felt alone.
Perhaps for the best, perhaps not. It did not matter much, the only thing that did was getting back.
Through the trees, the lights of Ponyville could be seen. Not to much farther, it seemed.
After another hour and a half, I arrived back at Ponyville. Though, not quite the Ponyville I remembered. Ponies ran and darted here and there, filling saddle-bags and other things.
I jumped as a thunderous boom was heard in the distance. The ground shook and I stumbled, but quickly regained my footing. Quickly, I turned as a large mushroom cloud rose into the sky in the distance, lit up by the fire from within the towering column.
“Twilight!” somepony called to my left.
I turned to see my husband running up to me. Before I could react, he pulled me into a deep kiss, hugging me as well. He did not hold it though, he quickly broke the kiss and gave me a stern look.
“Know anything about this?” he asked.
I shook my head, continuing to keep eye contact.
He let me go and stepped back.
“Princess Celestia has been murdered.”
I guess I did know something.