Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind
“Ah!” Soarin writhed in his bed, breathing heavily, and sweating bullets. “Ah! RGH! AHHH!!” he sat up straight, his eyes snapping open, only to meet the darkness of his room. His head was throbbing like crazy and his heart beat furiously in his chest. He reached his hoof over his heart and winced as he felt it pound endlessly. His other hoof went to his head as he fell back down to the bed and stared up at the ceiling.
“Dammit,” he cursed as he rubbed his forehead and took deep breaths. His heart calmed down a little, but his body was burning all over and the mattress and sheets were damp from his sweat. Forget it, he wasn’t falling asleep again. It was hard enough to fall asleep normally. The discomfort would make it impossible.
This was also the fifth night in a row. The fifth night he had the same mysterious nightmare and woke up as he had just moments ago. He was tired of this. His methods of getting sleep despite the inner power had all failed him now. It was also getting awkward bringing sweaty sheets to their laundry manager every day.
He groaned, grabbed his pillow, and stuffed it over his face to muffle a loud growl. If only Dash were with him. Her presence always calmed the dark magic raging within him. Of course he wanted her for other reasons too, but now more than ever, he wanted her for the calming effect. He loved her with all his heart, but her ability to ease the inner power made her even more special to him. She had become a need. His life had actually become hell without her on a physical level. He hoped she’d show up for the tryouts. Who was he kidding? He knew she was going to show. Dash missing something Wonderbolt related was unheard of. It would sooner snow in Saddle Arabia.
“Dash…” he spoke her name softly as he let the pillow roll off his face, “what’s happening to me Dash?” he kept talking as if she were there. More than anything else, he wanted her there for comfort. He wanted her close by so he could go to her, hold her in his arms, and feel at ease.
Every day since he had been restored from the brink of death, the grip the magic had on him seemed to tighten little by little. It was hard to notice at first, but as the days went on it became clear he was slowly losing all control of it. These past five nights had been a wakeup call, literally.
The repeating nightmare? It was identical to the strange vision he had whilst being pulled from the gates of hell:
Back when Celestia imbued him with the dark magic, he found himself stuck in a void of darkness, unable to move. Scraggily black extensions appeared from the dark, restrained him and pulled him in. Then Dash and Spitfire appeared in the vision. The two fought to keep him from being consumed. Spitfire and Dash’s voices reached him, bringing his motionless body to life, and with their help he was torn from the grip of the darkness. Then he awoke in the hospital, body restored, and Dash sleeping peacefully in the bed beside him.
It was a strange event indeed, and he never got to thank Celestia, in fact she disappeared right after. It did, however, lead to the first time he cuddled up with Dash. What exactly Celestia did to revive him, to this day he didn’t know.
This Nightmare he was having was the exact same vision. Yet there was one clear difference: nopony came to save him. He was pulled down into the void of nothing, his whole body searing with pain as if being burned and buried alive at the same time. Then he would wake up, and feel like he was having a heart attack.
He sighed heavily. He was done trying. This was no longer in his control. He feared something bad would surely happen if he kept waiting. He didn’t want to bother Luna, but Spitfire was right, he should have gone to see the princess a long time ago.
He looked at his clock. It read 3 AM. Whatever, he was going now.
He shifted to the side of the bed and took a deep breath as he set his hooves on the floor. He felt his way around the room until he found the door and left the darkness of his room. Forget how late/early it was, Luna was princess of the night. If she wasn’t up and about right now then she’d be slacking.
Dash’s alarm clock blared beside her bed. It barely sounded for two seconds before Dash’s hoof slammed over it and she sat upright, stretching her arms and wings out. She twisted her upper body side to side and cracked her neck loudly.
“Up and at ‘em!” she stretched her arms forward and scooted off the edge of the bed. She trotted around her bed and halted in front of her large mirror. She flexed once with a smirk. “Lookin’ awesome, and only gonna get more awesome!” she stated to her own reflection as she turned and slipped on a pile of towels and sheets that had been growing bigger by the day. She fell face first into the cloud floor. She pulled her face up and blinked. “Not so awesome,” she sighed and looked the pile over. “I should probably wash this stuff today,” she thought out loud. She stared at the pile for only another second before turning away. “Nah.”
She pranced down the stairs into her kitchen, reached up, and threw open a cabinet.
“Now should I have,” she rolled her eyes at the contents. It was stuffed full of boxes of oatmeal, “oatmeal, oatmeal, or oatmeal? I think I’ll go with oatmeal.” She said with a monotonous tone.
Dash had not forgotten Soarin’s advice about nutrition, but compared to everything else he did for her training-wise, it was the hardest thing to adapt to. She pulled open her fridge and pulled out a carton of egg whites and a jug of orange juice while balancing a small bowl full of berries on her nose. There wasn’t much else in the fridge. Because of how hard it was to get used to Soarin’s “super diet” she literally had to get rid of everything else to keep the temptation away. She purposely made it an “eat this or eat nothing” scenario.
She put two pans on the stove, one small, flat one for the eggs and the other for the oatmeal. Scrambled egg whites, oatmeal, mixed berries, and orange juice EVERY SINGLE MORNING. Apparently it was the breakfast of ace Wonderbolts. It sucked, but she was taking every step to be the best she could be, and this was only breakfast.
It was clearly helping though. It was crazy how much faster she built up strength, speed, and endurance after starting the diet. Her body had so much more energy to do anything. Soarin wasn’t just trying to make her miserable, he clearly knew his stuff.
She smiled as the egg whites simmered in the pan.
It was crazy how much he had changed her life. She thought back to how she used to be and cringed. Before him she was lazy, overconfident, and felt like the glory of a Wonderbolt would come to her. Okay, maybe she was still a tad overconfident at times, but confidence was part of her game. She wouldn’t be the awesome pony she was if she didn’t believe in herself and her abilities.
Anyway, she was thinking about Soarin, but her ego got in the way.
She sighed as she refocused on him. The eggs suddenly sizzled a little too much and a large bubble rose up off the pan. A loud POP caught her attention as a small smidge of EXTREMELY hot eggs sprang up from the pan and landed on her cheek.
“OO! AH! OW! OW! OW!” she instinctively turned off the burner before frantically rubbing the small bit of eggs off her face. “EEEEEYAIYAIYAI!!!!” she screeched as she galloped over to the sink, threw on the cold water and stuck her face beneath the stream. After a few seconds, she pulled her head out of the sink and sighed in relief. “Fricken smooth Dash…” She cringed as she felt her cheek, the spot was tender, but it didn’t feel burnt. At worst she probably would have a small mark that was slightly bluer than the rest of her face.
Then she heard another simmering noise: the oatmeal. She whipped her head around just in time to see it boil over the top and spill down the sides of the pan.
“Crap!” she yelled as she glided over and shut off the heat. She groaned in frustration as she slammed the pan cover over it. Not much had escaped, but now she had quite a mess to clean up. This was, admittedly, not the first incident she had while trying to make breakfast. In fact it was one of many. She could mimic ace Wonderbolt techniques and fight off magically imbued mercenaries, but the kitchen was a whole different world that she had barely set hoof into. At least nopony bore witness to her struggles. This was something she could keep to herself.
“HIYA RAINBOW DASH!” a familiar voice made Dash freeze. So much for that. But wait a second…
“Scoots?” Dash glanced towards the hallways exiting the kitchen. Standing right there in her cloud house, smiling as wide as she possibly could, was Scootaloo. Dash just stared, blinking. Was she dreaming? Actually, that would be preferred. That meant she could wake up and redo breakfast without the slip ups. Scootaloo stopped smiling and tipped her head to the side.
“You okay Dash?” she asked. Dash wasn’t dreaming. She looked around, her eyes landing on the kitchen window. She galloped over to it and threw it open, taking a good look outside. The early autumn breeze met her face as she peered out. No, her cloud house wasn’t any closer to the ground than it was yesterday. That meant—
“Scoots,” Dash turned and looked at her little friend in disbelief, “Did you…” she paused as Scootaloo’s smile returned and she spread her wings, which were not so little anymore.
“I flew up here!” she beamed, “It was hard, but I made it up!”
“SCOOTS!” Dash rushed forward, picked up Scootaloo and hugged her tightly. Scootaloo couldn’t get much happier. “That’s awesome!” Dash exclaimed as she set Scootaloo down. “I can’t believe how fast you got it down!” Scootaloo blushed and smiled.
“Hey, if you're gonna work super hard, I ain’t gonna be a slacker,” she said in a tone that was very similar to Dash. Dash lifted an eyebrow and smirked.
“You talk tough kid,” Dash ruffled Scootaloo’s mane with her wing, “Keep talking tough.” She added with a wink.
Wow. Speaking of lives Soarin had changed, here was another one. Scootaloo went from being condemned to a flightless life, to almost achieving full flight. How long did it take? A little less than a year? Like Dash had thought just prior, Soarin really knew his stuff.
“Wait,” Dash realized something else. She looked over at the wall clock. “Scoot’s its 5:30 in the morning, what are you doing up so early?” she asked with a sarcastically stern tone. Scootaloo looked about while trying to find an answer.
“Heh heh, well I was kinda excited to show you. I didn’t sleep too well,” she admitted. Dash sighed and chuckled.
“Well kid, it’s not the best, but you’re here just in time. Want some breakfast?” She offered.
“YOU made breakfast?” Scootaloo looked in disbelief. Dash flinched, but luckily Scootaloo’s surprise was innocent, not insulting. “Wow! You can do anything!” She hopped up and down and fluttered her way across the room to the table. Dash smiled as she watched Scootaloo fly gently over. It was adorable to see it happen, to see a pegasus who had just learned to fly. Dash was sure Scootaloo wouldn’t use her legs for weeks. It’s exactly what Dash did as a filly, the first feeling of flight was pure euphoria and she never wanted to land.
She would find a way. She would find a way to get Scootaloo to Soarin. Soarin typically denounced himself as not being very special. Scootaloo would be Dash’s bargaining chip to prove him wrong about that once and for all. He’d still deny it, because he was stubborn, but he still deserved to see it. He deserved to see the lives he had touched.
Seriously, who has business at this hour? Soarin thought as he paced back and forth in the hall behind the throne room. He’d been waiting for an hour now, fighting off headaches and cursing to himself as the bat guards continued to bar his path into the throne room.
She had five more minutes. If she didn’t get her lunar plot out of whatever was keeping her occupied, he’d storm right back through the palace-to-compound tunnel and make the morning hell for every single fellow Wonderbolt that looked at him funny.
The one downside of Rapidfire being gone: he had nopony to direct anger and annoyance towards. Soarin actually missed that.
He jumped as the doors cracked open and a bat guard stuck his head out.
“The Princess will see you now.” The guard spoke in a monotone.
“About damn time!” Soarin trotted towards the door, but stopped in his tracks when the guard glared daggers at him.
“Right. This. Way.” The bat pony growled at him. That was new. Then again Soarin had never really interacted with Luna’s bat guards before. He was used to the stoic, statues of Celestia’s guard during the day. The bat guards were certainly less stiff, but apparently more emotionally protective of their princess. That or because it was nearly dawn. Maybe this one was just cranky from a long shift. Soarin lurched slightly as the bat pony pushed him in. “Mind your manners with the princess,” he snarled before letting Soarin go on.
“Sheesh, shove the stick a little farther up your—,” he said under his breath as he made his way around the throne. His blinked as he caught glimpse of something leaving the throne room through the main entrance. Three ponies disappeared through the doors as soon as he came around the corner. He didn’t have time to make out color, gender, or type of pony, but Luna DID have business at this hour. He wondered who it could’ve been.
“Welcome, Soarin of the Wonderbolts,” Luna addressed him from the throne. Soarin looked to her, then briefly back at the doors before forgetting about it. Forget whatever Luna was up to, he had his own problems to worry about.
“Sorry about the short notice, I hope I didn’t interrupt anything,” Soarin addressed politely while still receiving the stink-eye from a few of her guards.
“Your timing was sudden, but we are inclined to meet with all of our subjects,” Luna nodded. “What brings thee to us?” she questioned. Soarin thought for a moment on how to word it. He was aware the topic of Celestia was currently a… strange one, for lack of a better word. He had no idea where Celestia was or what had happened to her, and Luna was always put off upon it being mentioned, but he had no choice here.
“I need to ask you something,” he paused as he averted his eyes for a moment. “It has to do with… how Celestia saved my life,” he braced himself. Luna’s expression immediately flattened. He called it. Luna took a deep breath, held it in, and slowly exhaled with a hint of annoyance escaping from the back of her throat.
“Very well,” Luna glared straight forward, but not directly at Soarin.
“What kind of magic did she use on me exactly?” he posed his question. Luna hesitated to answer. “Princess, this is my body we’re talking about. I think I deserve to know,” Soarin pressed as he picked up on her mannerisms. Luna shook her head and let her ears droop.
“It was an illegal forbidden magic,” she began. She glanced to see Soarin’s reaction. He was already surprised and it was only going to get worse. “Our sister claimed to have a vision of a conflict in the future in which you were present. It’s a long story, but our sister has recently predicted all of the major catastrophes in Equestria. Each one was ignored as one would a bad dream. She was determined not to ignore this one, and vowed to have all the pieces of her vision intact. When she heard of your unfortunate incident, and your sure demise, she refused to let it happen,” Luna sighed as Soarin sat down to keep listening. He was curious about this so-called “future incident,” but that could wait. “So she broke the seal on an old necromancy created by the mad king Sombra, and used it to restore you.”
“WHOA WHOA!” Soarin sharply stood up and his jaw dropped. “Hold on a second! My magic terminology is kinda iffy, but I’ve seen plenty of horror movies! Isn’t… necromancy…” he trailed off.
“Using thine own life force to reanimate the dead,” Luna put plainly.
Soarin choked on his own breath. No. It couldn’t be.
“Does that mean… I’m… dead?” he looked himself over frantically. Luna shook her head.
“No, thou art still of this world, just… being supported. If Celestia had not used the magic, you would have perished,” she explained and trailed off slightly. Soarin caught on.
“The way you said that suggests there’s more to it,” he kept feeling himself over despite being told he was indeed alive. Luna stood from her throne and paced away from it while shaking her head some more.
“The magic requires so much life force to cast, that it almost killed King Sombra himself,” she turned sharply back to Soarin. “It was made forbidden by him, not by my sister,” she made the point very clear. A magic made forbidden by an insane king? This just kept getting better and better.
“Wait,” realization hit Soarin in the face, “Celestia used it on me… she hasn’t been around…” Soarin’s eyes widened.
“NO!” Luna stomped, breaking his thought. “Our sister is alive! Do not think such horrible things!” she snapped harshly. The windows shook as her voice boomed throughout the throne room. Soarin was almost knocked over by the force. “Sorry,” she put a hoof over her mouth and quieted down, “our sister is merely… recovering,” she put shakily, “Do not worry yourself on the matter. Now, I’m sure there is more you wish to say.”
“Sheesh,” Soarin sat back down. Great. Just great. He came here hoping for a solution, but it seemed like he was stuck with it, “Well…” he began again while rubbing his head. He described to her the way the dark power seemed to leap from him randomly, about his lack of sleep, about how Dash had an effect on it, and how he had been having headaches recently that have only been getting stronger and stronger.
Luna seemed to react slightly when he mentioned the headaches.
“Headaches?” she thought out loud. Soarin watched as she seemed to ponder it.
“What? Can you tell me anything?” he got up and took a few steps towards her.
“We have… a theory.” she rubbed her chin. Soarin waited patiently for her to say more, but she took her sweet time thinking about it. He quickly lost his patience.
“What theory? Tell me! Tell me something! Anything!” he flinched when she pointed a hoof at him.
“A MOMENT!” she snapped. He sat back down and shut his mouth. She turned away from him and walked a circle around the throne while pondering something. Soarin followed her with his eyes, letting her think, and quickly becoming irritated. One problem he always had with Luna was her long way of doing just about everything. Celestia was always very quick and decisive. They were both apparently thousands of years old, but Celestia clearly had more executive experience.
She finally turned back to him.
“We apologize, this is more of our sister’s expertise,” she began.
“Coulda told you that,” Soarin whispered to himself. Luckily for him, she didn’t hear.
“Let us take a look at you for a moment. Hold still,” she commanded as magic began to glow around her horn.
“Oh jeez,” Soarin stiffened. Sure Luna was only examining him, but after all he just heard? He was a little iffy about letting alicorns near him with all their crazy powerful magic.
The glow around Luna’s horn shone brightly. She opened her eyes, light emitting from them as well. Soarin remained completely still as a small square of blue light appeared above him. It slowly descended, passing down through him. Once it touched the ground, it slowly moved back up.
“Hmm…” Luna’s face scrunched as the light repeated the motion three more times, “we see…” her magic faded and she huffed.
“I don’t like that look,” Soarin’s ears flattened. Luna shook her head.
“No, we believe we know what’s wrong,” she admitted, yet didn’t seem to enthused, “In all of the ancient scrolls we deciphered about this particular magic, none ever mentioned the effect on—,” she tipped her head to the side, “a pony that was not dead. It’s having an interesting effect,” she started walking around the throne again. Soarin grinded his teeth together.
“LUNA,” He growled. She paused and glared at him.
“You are most impatient,” she snorted.
“Forgive me for being eager, I only want to know what’s happening. You know, with all the crazy dark magic your sister decided to pump into me!” he stared flatly at her. Luna flared her wings out.
“WHAT OUR SISTER DID WAS TO SAVE THY LIFE! DO NOT SPEAK LIGHTLY OF IT!” the royal Canterlot voice completely blew him onto his back. Soarin quickly rolled back up, but was surprised to see her sitting, facing away from him, “This is a very interesting and unique case we have on our hooves,” she turned her neck to look at him, “but it is also simpler than you might imagine.” She turned back and let her shoulders droop.
Soarin got to his hooves and approached her. He made a mental note not to bring up Celestia anymore. Luna was already having a hard time in the leader role, the subject of Celestia only seemed to stress her out. As he approached, Luna stood back up and faced him.
“Thy body is now imbued with magic… the same way a unicorn’s is naturally,” she nodded. Soarin blinked,
“A pegasus, yes,” Luna looked him over. “You said the headaches hurt the most where?” She questioned. Soarin put a hoof to his head and rubbed around.
“Around the sides a bit,” he moved his hoof to the middle of his forehead, “but mostly right here in the middle.”
“Then we are correct,” Luna sighed and looked up at her horn, “A unicorn uses magic through its horn. The horn acts as a canal for the magic to be channeled and flow freely when the unicorn sees fit,” she pointed at his forehead, “however, you have no such canal. Your magic is literally stuck within you.”
“Oh great,” Soarin rolled his eyes, but he was also curious, “But hold on a sec, I’ve seen unicorns go for days without using magic. Why is it painful for me?” he pointed out.
“The magic stuck within you was devised by a unicorn with frightening power. We must admit we are surprised it has not completely torn you apart. You should have come to us sooner,” she scolded him. Just like Spitfire had said. He just couldn’t catch a break, could he?
“So now what?” Soarin shrugged, not really seeing any avenue of escape from the power. Luna closed her eyes.
“We are afraid that if you do not learn how to control what lies within you, it will surely consume you in a matter of months.”
Boy, that sure was encouraging. Soarin just stared in disbelief. Consume him? What the hell? He came here hoping to get some pain relievers or something, and now he was gonna get eaten from inside out? If that was gonna happen he was sure he’d almost feel better not knowing! Also, controlling magic? A pegasus?
“Luna, are you forgetting something?” he tapped his forehead, “How am I supposed to control magic without a horn?”
Luna flinched and averted her eyes. She suddenly looked very uncomfortable.
“Luna?” Soarin lifted an eyebrow. She almost looked embarrassed. In fact a small blush had appeared on her face.
Suddenly something came flying down from the ceiling and landed right on Luna’s back.
“OOF!” She grunted as she was forced to the floor. Soarin leapt back and set his hooves hard into the floor. All the bat guards jumped in surprise and stood ready, but—
“YEEHAW! RIDE ‘EM COWBOY!” It was Discord. Luna quickly stood up with Discord still on her back. She frantically looked herself over. She now had a harness with reigns and a saddle on her back. She growled and glared up at Discord, who wore a leather vest and ten gallon hat. Soarin blinked and relaxed, but the five bat guards all charged at him. Discord snapped his fingers as they approached. Strings appeared around one hoof on each of them. They all spontaneously inflated like balloons and dangled above Discord by the strings. “Really Lulu, your guards need to relax. Celestia’s guard doesn’t even try with me,” he tugged on the strings in his paw, bouncing the bloated guards up and down as they flailed and squeaked in confusion.
“Mmmph! MMPH!” Luna tried to yell at him, but the harness kept her mouth clamped shut.
“Oh, my mistake,” he snapped his fingers. The harness and saddle disappeared. He stood beside her free of his vest and hat. The guards all deflated and fell into a disoriented pile. They quickly untangled themselves and readied to make another run at him.
“STOP!” Luna ordered. They all halted and looked to her, “Don’t even try. Save thyselves the humiliation,” she admitted. Discord clapped while chuckling.
“Bravo Lulu! You’ve finally learned,” he draped his arm over her neck.
“DON’T. TOUCH. US.” She snapped. He pulled his arm back.
“Oh ye of little fun allowed,” he mocked her as stepped back and crossed his arms, “Well, go on, I believe you were about to tell him about… it,” Discord snickered. Luna held her breath, puffing her cheeks.
“Um…” Luna bit her bottom lip and shut her eyes tight.
“Time’s up!” Discord snapped his fingers. Luna disappeared and reappeared in the corner of the throne room, sitting on a stool with a dunce hat on her head, and a large, rainbow swirl lollipop wrapped to her hoof with duct tape. Discord put himself in between Soarin and Luna as she tried to shake the lollipop off her arm. “Well then!” Soarin blinked and he was suddenly strapped to a diagonal table. Discord stood beside him wearing a white doctor’s coat.
“Hey!” Soarin struggled, but could not move.
“Let’s see how the old ticker is doing, shall we?” he put on a stethoscope and placed the chestpiece over Soarin’s heart. A hoof extended out of the right eartip and punched Discord square across the jaw. “Oo! That’s a new one!” He said with his jaw stuck three inches out of place. Everything disappeared and Soarin fell back first onto the ground. Discord reclined in mid-air above him. Soarin looked over to see Luna standing up on her hooves, but now freaking out because the stool was stuck to her plot.
“Seriously, how the hell does Celestia put up with you?!” Soarin flattened his ears and brow, “I’m pissed enough as is!” He snarled. Discord sighed and rolled over as if laying on an invisible couch.
“I honestly don’t know how she puts up with all of you,” he waved his paw in the air, “Fine.” He snapped his fingers. Luna was back beside him. She blinked and looked about before realizing she was right back where she started, “let me help Lulu a little with this,” He poked Soarin in the forehead, “You are not the first non-unicorn to be graced with the gift of magic.”
“I’d hardly call this a gift…” Soarin commented.
“Oh you may find it yet,” Discord winked before doing a loop in the air and slithering behind Luna, “I believe the last one was a good three thousand years ago! Quite a gifted earth pony, I’m sure Celestia would recall her well. The catch, is that the lovely princesses here—” he grabbed and pulled on Luna’s cheek. She rolled her eyes, letting him do it, knowing it was unwise to fight back, “—has a certain old device that can help you control the magic,” Luna shut her eyes and shook her head as he brought it up.
That was three times now. Soarin was so confused, what was it about this “device” that had the princess all flustered?
“Well Lulu?” Discord continued to sneer and snicker.
“We… um…” she stuttered.
“Pff, must I do everything around here?” Discord held up his paw. After a dim flash of light, something appeared in his hand. Soarin blinked and eyed the simple object floating above Discord’s claws. It looked like a unicorn horn made of plastic. At least he thought it was plastic. It had a long leather strap attached to it with a small gold buckle.
“A… false horn?” Soarin guessed as he looked it over.
“Yes, but that’s not what it’s called,” Discord bit his bottom lip and smiled mischievously, “is it, Lulu?” He elbowed her in the side as she scrunched her face.
“Keep in mind,” Luna began hesitantly, “This device has been around for thousands and thousands of years… it was named during ancient times. We cannot go back and change thousands of year’s worth of scriptures. Its name… is quite inappropriate in this day and age.” Luna kept dodging it.
“Lulu,” Discord pressed his face against hers, “Just say it,” he said flatly. Luna took a deep breath and sighed.
“It’s called a Strap-On,” she said quietly while blushing uncomfortably. Soarin’s left eye twitched.
---To be Continued---