I woke up in a cold sweat, sitting up quickly, looking around. Lying next to me was my sister, who was still sleeping soundly. I got up on my hooves, and walked over to the window, looking out on the hills that kept a small shadow over the small town of Ponyville. The sun slowly seeped up over the horizon, and I closed the curtains. I walked over to the stairs, and I walked downstairs. I sighed loudly as I looked at the clock. No time for any type of breakfast. I needed to get to the Small building area on the outskirts of Ponyville. Ever since Discord came back the second time, Ponyville needed a makeover. When the famous ponies of harmony defeated him for the final time, many Ponies lost their businesses to the fires that burned the town. That gave the unemployed ponies business, but leaving the rest of us unemployed. Now, being a Pegasus, I was eagerly wanted to help with the rebuilding, but it was harsh work. Waking up at Zero dark thirty was harsh, and most of the time, I didn’t have enough time for breakfast. Throughout the months my Yellow and black striped mane had grown dully grey, and my shimmering grey coat was now droopy, oily and uneven. It had been months since I had any down time. The docks and shipping depots were filled with toxic gas, and it was only a matter of time before I would become like raven.
Let me introduce myself, my name is Lightning Storm. I’m a Pegasus, just like many of the ponies around Ponyville. Well, at least there were many. Many left after the air became polluted. What had used to be Ponyville was now a massive factory town, filled with pollution, sickness, and other harsh things. Many of us had stayed, working to make sure our families had another day ahead of them where they could have a stomach full of food, and a roof over our heads. Everypony who stayed was slowly succumbing to the sickness that we called “Dread”. It was spread through the pollution, and was extremely toxic. It would slowly start to drain your energy, drain you of your colors, make you become a shell of who you were. Finally, the toxins in the air would destroy your mind, making you brain dead. I knew I was slowly succumbing to the Sickness, but I was much stronger than many of the ponies in the factories. I had almost succumbed to the sickness twice before, but made miracle recoveries. Plus, being a Pegasus, I automatically had a strong immune system. This was why mostly just Earth ponies and Unicorns succumbed to the sickness. While many of us recover from the state of brain dead, there a few of us who just shut down, like Raven, or Sweetie Belle. Yes, that Sweetie Belle. It was such a shocker to her family, and her friends, they all pitched in, to try and find a cure. This included Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack. The reason Rainbowdash couldn’t pitch in, was because she was helping with the factory, just like me. We were in the same group, working at trying to sustain energy for Ponyville. We almost had no downtime, and we had grown close over the months we had worked together. Anyway, back to the story.
I walk slowly to the factory, my yellow eyes grey and cloudy. Even though my friends, like Rainbowdash and my sister, Claire, had told me to take some off days, I continued to work. I realized that I was about to enter the shell stage of the sickness, but I couldn’t stop working because of that. It would take me a week to recover from the stage I was at, and that would mean a week without pay. A week without pay would put me back on me being able to make sure me and my sister could eat. Even though she worked 2 jobs, and I had the factory, we were still scraping by. I walk along, smelling the stench of the burning of oil, and the fog of failed attempts at sustainable energy. While we were still rebuilding Ponyville, everyone knew it wasn’t the only thing that Equestria Oil was doing there. Rebuilding a small town doesn’t cause this much pollution. But the way things were going, Ponyville’s beautiful scenery far away from the factories would be a desolate, sickly area. I kept walking, the fog burning my eyes, and the smell burning my lungs, when the factory came into view. It was an amazing, but terrible sight. Then towering oil towers, the drilling platforms. The smoke stacks plunging from the tower. I was one of the few ponies who decided to show up on time, for an extra bonus in pay. Raven was one, but he’s gone now. Rainbow and I are the last of the Ponies that actually have work ethic. She was sitting there, waiting for me as usual.
“I’m always here before you. Did you stay after hours?” I asked to her. She looked tired, and as always, drained.
“Yeah. I needed the pay.” She said, her words slurring a bit.
“I know that feeling. Take the day off, I’ll cover for you.” I said, hitting her playfully on the shoulder.
“No…no. I can work.” Rainbow said, again slurring her words. Her blue coat had been turned a grey, and her rainbow mane had lost its color.
“Go home, Dash. I got this.” I said, nudging her. She finally gave up, and started to walk away, when she turned back around, and hugged me.
“Thanks, Storm.” She said, and then walked off. I smiled, and I walked into the factory gates. She was most likely going to have to take a week or two off, seeing as how she was at the same stage of sickness as I was. I walked quickly to the small building in the compound, which said “Sustainable Energy” on the front plaque. I walked in, using my hoof to open the door. I walked in, and started up the energy capacitors, the oil burning to run the computers, and screens (Technology has improved a whole lot.). I started up the machines, and I put on my lab coat, and my goggles. I noticed some gas masks hanging from a new coat rack. Looks like the administration didn’t want us turning into whatever it was ponies were turning into. I strapped one on, and turned on all the energy vats. They started shifting, and I immediately saw the glowing orange liquid light up. I went back up to the computer station, and started to note down some small notes about what energy schematics. The employees started to pile in, putting on the lab coats, and gas masks. They flew around the room, pouring different chemicals into the vats. Among them was one of the better employees, Derpy Hooves. Sure, she wasn’t the greatest at analyzing the mathematical data, but that wasn’t her fault. She was just never trained in it. She was one of the hardest working of us, making sure all the vats were just right. Even though she was a bit clumsy with her flying, she was still the best out of us. Also, she had some natural immunity to “dread”, which made her key to the high risk operations, like a vat, overflow.
“Derpy, come here real quick.” I asked her, waving her over. She clumsily flew over, and landed.
“What is it sir?” She asked, smiling her large grin. I smiled through the gas mask. I knew she couldn’t see, but she probably knew I had.
“Vat 13, there’s an Accumulative energy source coming from it, and it’s only been stirring for 15 minutes. Check the ingredients, please.” I said, pointing in the general direction of the vat. She nodded, gave me a lopsided grin, and flew off, checking it. I returned back to the computer station, when I saw a spike in energy so great, it was bound to explode.
“Derpy! Derpy come back!” I yelled, but she couldn’t hear me. She was already checking the ingredients, when I saw the vat glow violent orange. Everyone froze in fear, and many of them flew, or galloped back to the computer room. Most of them would have flew, or galloped to the aid of Derpy to get her to safety. But “dread” does some things to ponies you would never imagine.
“Get out of the way!” I screamed, but it was no use, trying to break through the barrier of ponies was useless. I looked at the window that separated the computer station from the rest of the building. It was sturdy, but not sturdy enough to stop an angry Pegasus. The vat was boiling over, when I ripped off my lab coat, and then pulled of my gasmask. I slammed into the window, smashing it into pieces, some of them cutting through my grey coat. I flew towards Derpy, flying as fast as I could. I felt the air friction pulling against me, as I approached the boiling vat. Derpy was frozen in fear, whimpering, as the vat burned, and then, exploded. I reached her just as it exploded, shards of burning hot metal flying everywhere. I was hit with one, and knocked out of the air, coughing. I recovered, and I kept flying, the vats exploding one by one. The flames and energy in the air was so great, I could almost feel the flames licking my coat. Then I realized they were. My left wing was on fire, and it hurt, but I kept on flying, as fast as I could, dodging bits and pieces of shrapnel and fire. Finally, the finishing blow came. The largest vat exploded, tearing off my left wing, and sending Derpy and myself through the wall. I made sure my back was turned to the wall, as we smashed through. We skidded to a halt, and I saw that Derpy was alright. I pulled myself off of her, and my vision blurred. I was dimly aware that the explosion had cleared the sky of pollution, due to the massive explosion. I coughed loudly, spurting out blood. I looked around, seeing multiple Pegasi bring rain clouds over to the top of the Energy building, jumping on them as fast as they possibly could. The fire was put out pretty easily, and Medical ponies came over, to check on the situation.
“Storm! Storm!” Derpy screamed, looking into my eyes. I couldn’t respond, my body shutting down due to the pain. The last thing I remember is tears streaming down Derpy’s face, as she was pulled away. I passed out, the pain sliding away from me.