60w, 4dHuman in Equestria
55w, 7hSpacebattles Bronies
8w, 6dProtect Celestia
53w, 4dHumans Aren't Bastards
55w, 1dSB Fic.Group
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33w, 4dG1 Ponies: Credit Where It's Due
22w, 2dShining Armor and Cadence
12w, 4dFriends Of All Generations
18w, 4dPonies aren't Monsters
18w, 2dFirst Contact Stories
15w, 10hVallett's Private Library
8w, 23hThe Good HiE List
5w, 1dMegan is best pony
4w, 6dThe Peacekeepers
6d, 16hFillies Celestia and Luna
It had been a rather long day for Princess Celestia. She plodded along the halls of Canterlot, wings folded close to her alabaster-white body. And her colorful mane and tail, normally flowing as in a stiff breeze, merely wafted about.
Two Pegasus ponies in golden armor stood at the bottom of the stairs leading up to her bedchambers. They both stiffened to attention and threw out their wings in salute as Celestia approached. She dipped her head at them, half from courtesy and half from exhaustion. She placed a hoof on the first step and-
Celestia started as a spike of magical energy brushed against her senses. It was a tiny spike, almost unnoticeable save for how familiar it felt. A sigh threatened to escape Celestia's lips, but she swallowed it and raised her head, pasting a smile onto her muzzle. "I'll be right back," she said to the guards before turning on a hoof and cantering off.
The princess quickly exited the tower and galloped away, ignoring those who stopped and stared at her as she made her way across Canterlot to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Her horn glowed and the front gates sprung open, allowing Celestia to quickly enter and reach one of the smaller study rooms.
She entered the room and found a small Unicorn filly sitting at a lone table, books strewn across the room and haphazardly scattered on the marble floor. The filly sat there with her cheek resting on a hoof, a book open before her. She looked up just as Celestia entered and her violet eyes widened. "Princess Celestia!" Twilight Sparkle said, tilting back in her chair. "WoooaHHHH!"
Celestia grabbed her with telekinesis and righted her, halting Twilight's spill. "Whoa, there!" she said. "Not a good idea to get a concussion so early in life." She looked around the room and snorted. The books floated up and began rearranging themselves. "Although I thought I taught you more respect for literature than this," she stated flatly.
Twilight blushed, her violet coat turning almost pink. "I'm sorry," she half-whispered. She motioned to one tome on the floor. "It's just... my mother gave me this ridiculous book to read about some old mare's tale called the Mag'ne or som-"
"The Mag'ne?" Celestia interrupted. She eyed her prized pupil. "What about the Mag'ne bothers you?"
Twilight shifted under her mentor's gaze. "Well... it's just so fantastic and unbelievable! Some creature from across a bridge of fire comes with arcane knowledge and tools, accompanied by the 'Dannile' and 'Molye'." She shrugged her tiny shoulders. "It's just some old myth that Mom tried telling me about." She hung her head. "We got into an argument and I got all these books to prove her wrong about it."
Celestia nodded. "I see." She turned and unfurled her left wing, motioning to the door. "I think there's something you should see, Twilight. It should answer some of your questions."
The young filly swallowed and sweat beaded on her forehead, right below her horn, but she slid out of the chair and followed Celestia out of the room. The pair made their way to the back of the school to a large steel door embedded in the stone wall. Celestia's horn glowed and the door slid open, allowing them to descend down several flights of stairs into a stone corridor. A small gasp escaped Twilight as they walked down, the modern school left behind for ancient architecture. The way was lit not by electric lamps but torches, the floor beneath her hooves not tiles but roughly-hewn stone squares. She looked around nervously as they went around a bend in the corridor and approached another steel door.
Three ponies in plate-armor stood in front, an Earth pony, a Pegasus and a Unicorn. Swords were hung from shoulder and a shield on their barrel. The Pegasus looked up at Celestia and snarled, armored horseshoes on his hooves sparking as they ground into the floor. "Halt!" he shouted. He took a step forward. "Password?"
Twilight's mouth opened in a small 'o' and her eyes took on the approximate size and shape of saucers, but Celestia merely nodded. "The future," she stated. She looked down at Twilight, a grave expression on her face. "Twilight, this is the Vault. There are very few others who know of its existence. Here is the basis of our technology, our government and our very civilization."
Each of the guard ponies stepped up to a control panel and placed a hoof into a depression on it. They all looked at each other before twisting their forelegs in sync. A large red light mounted in the panel flashed before turning to green. The door slid open.
Celestia paused at the threshold, turning to the guards. "Thank you for your diligence, Captain. It is most appreciated."
The Pegasus dipped his head, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "I-I appreciate that, your majesty."
Celestia and Twilight walked into a huge room, easily twice the size of the Royal Library of Canterlot. As Celestia entered the room, torches flared and ignited. Three of the four walls were lined with bookshelves, each one stuffed with books and scrolls. Over a dozen freestanding units were scattered almost haphazardly about the Vault, each one also loaded down and groaning with literature.
One of the books floated over to Celestia. It hovered in front of her and opened up, the pages glowing faintly. "The pages are sandwiched between passive shield spells," she explained as the book floated down to Twilight's eye level. "They're rather old, you see."
Twilight squinted at the diagram on the page. "Jet... engine?" she read. She looked up to her mentor. "What is it?"
Another book floated over and opened up, this one showing a diagram of a basic arch. "Tradition say the Mag'ne gave these books to the first civilized ponies. They formed the bedrock for our entire society." Celestia looked up at the back wall and pointed at it with her foreleg.
The entire back wall was covered from floor to ceiling with a massive mural, dominated by a cloaked bipedal figure holding a book in one paw and a long metal stick in another. Various ponies of all three kinds were scattered about it, a Pegasus near the book and an Earth pony near the long stick. The sun was shining over in one corner and the moon in another. And on the top of a mountain was clearly an early version of Canterlot, more a fortress than a city.
"The Chosen One," Celestia explained, a wistful note in her voice. "The mural was done not long after she left for the final time across the Rainbow Bridge. Or the 'bridge of fire' as it's become," she said, chuckling. Her voice turned serious as she glanced at Twilight. "Perhaps this is the first true lesson in the hidden knowledge I teach you, my prized pupil." A single eyebrow arched. "Can you figure it out?"
Twilight rubbed her chin and sat down. She mulled ideas over in her head before finally speaking. "I guess... maybe some old tales have to start somewhere?" She continued at Celestia's encouraging nod. "That deep down, maybe there's some truth to them?" She suddenly stood up on all four hooves. "All legends start somewhere!"
Celestia craned her neck down and nuzzled Twilight. "Very good, Twilight!" She lifted her head and looked back to the mural. "There are legends of her return as well, but they're less substantial." The princess turned on a pair of hooves back to the door. "Shall we?"
Twilight nodded and trotted along behind Celestia as they left the Vault. "I think I'd better go see Mom," she said, head drooping and cheeks flushing slightly. "We... didn't exactly leave on the best of terms."
"Indeed you should,"Celestia said. Her eyes twinkled slightly. "Perhaps that should be the next lesson I teach you..."
"Spike, Spike!" Twilight shouted from her bed. The book laying in front of her floated up and snapped shut, flying onto the top of a pile at the foot of her bed.
Spike walked in, rubbing his eyes and yawning. "What's up? Besides us at too early an hour for a Saturday," he groused. He walked over to a dresser and grabbed an alarm clock off of it.
Twilight chuckled slightly. "I thought my number-one assistant had no problems with early mornings?" The clock jumped out of Spike's claws and landed back on the stand. "It's nine o'clock, silly." She shook her head. "Anyway, I've finished up all my books and we'll be heading back to the library for some more!" She hopped out of bed and reared back on her hindlegs. "To the library!"
Spike looked askance at Twilight. "You're kidding, right?" He walked over to a window and threw it open, letting in sunshine and a light breeze. "It's gorgeous out and Moondancer has a party tonight!" He looked back at the purple unicorn. "Do you really wanna just stay in and why am I having this conversation for the tenth time?" His tiny shoulders drooped and he walked over to a stack of books. One rather large tome with a brown cover and a stylized horse's head on the cover caught his eye. He picked it up and held it facing Twilight. "Hey, what's this one?"
Twilight narrowed her eyes and walked around to the baby dragon. "Wait, I don't recall reading that one." The book jumped out of Spike's hands and opened, the pages flipping through. "The Mare in the Moon?" she read. She looked at the spine and the lettering there. "It's from the Vault!"
Spike rolled his eyes. "Oh, it's probably some old-"
Twilight bit her lip. "Tell you what, Spike. I think I'll head out, like you said. You stay in and get some more rest, since you're a baby dragon." She flipped through the pages. I wonder if any of this is true?
One year Later...
It was supposed to be a nice afternoon in the small town of Ponyville. And for the most part, it was. Celestia's light bathed everypony in warmth, and only a few stray clouds dotted the sky, like cotton candy. Birds flitted about while the ponies went about their business, selling wares or going about other tasks.
But over the neighboring Everfree Forest, trouble hung in the air in the form of black smoke wafting up from somewhere beneath the branches, coalescing into a thick cloud that drifted on the untamed winds.
A small cyan-colored female Pegasus with a rainbow-colored mane and tail darted about the cloud. She wore a pair of goggles and headset radio. "Eagle One to Mothership, Eagle One to Mothership!" she said into the tiny microphone on the headset. "Am over target area and awaiting further instructions. Over."
A groan rumbled in Twilight Sparkle's throat. She and her faithful assistant Spike stood in the basket of a hot-air balloon as it floated at the edge of the Everfree Forest. She sat down on her haunches and gingerly clicked on a button on the headset. "Dash, you can just say 'Twilight'!"
Dash's voice came over the headphones, causing the unicorn to wince. "Aww, come on , Twi! We're on a mission here and the Royal Guard uses callsigns! It makes us sound important and cool!"
Twilight leaned forward and peered through the telescope mounted on the basket's rim. She spied Dash hovering near the cloud as it slowly but steadily increased in height and width. "And we don't have time for silly games," she snapped back. "Now, just remember to stay there and whatever you do, don't fly down and pick a fight with the dragon."
A low chuckle came over from Dash. "Heh, no way, Twilight. I remember what happened last time I picked a fight with one of Spike's cousins." There was a pause before she continued. "Ah... the little guy can't hear me, can he?"
Twilight bit her lip and glanced down at the tiny dragon. She instinctively nodded as she spoke. "It's all set, Dash." The smile dropped away and was replaced by a rather serious mien. "Keep tabs while we ready... Weapon 'F'."
A snort and long laugh caused the unicorn to wince. "Weapon... W-weapon 'F'? Who came up with that, Pinkie Pie? Oh, no. Had to be Spike. Just had to!" There was another pause. "He... didn't hear that bit, did he?"
Twilight's lips curled and her right eye twitched. "Maybe he did, Dashie. Over and out." She clicked on the headset and leaned forward again. She quickly spotted her friend once more near the smoke. "Stay away from that, Dash. I don't think he'll be so forgiving if you plant a kick to his chin like the other one." Her horn glowed and a dial on the headset ratcheted over. "Twilight to Applejack. Is... Weapon 'F' ready?"
Spike piped up, grinning from ear to ear. "Thanks for using my codename for Fluttershy, Twilight." He puffed up his tiny chest and pointed at it. "Almost as cool as the one who came up with it, right?"
Twilight arched an eyebrow, but simply spoke into the mike once more. "I repeat; is Weapon 'F' ready?"
Four ponies stood near the rough boundary of the Everfree Forest. The first one, an orange Earth pony with a stetson hat, tapped a headset nestled under the hat and growled. "How in tha' hay do you work this thang?" Applejack grumbled. She pushed the mike with her hoof, bending it to her mouth. "Twilight, can ye' hear me?" she half-shouted. She groaned and sat back on her haunches. "Ah, horse apples!" She looked up to the balloon as it hung overhead. "TWILIGHT, CAN YEH' HEAR ME?"
Her hat suddenly floated off her head, followed by the headset. The hat plopped down onto Applejack's head, flattening her ears slightly while the headset floated over to an alabaster-white unicorn with an expertly-coiffed mane and tail of varying shades of purple. "Applejack, such a device requires a delicate touch," Rarity said. The headset touched down upon her head right behind her horn and wobbled slightly. "I wonder if I could spruce this up a bit?" she thought out loud, rubbing her chin with a hoof.
Applejack narrowed her eyes. "Just talk on the dag-burned thing already!"
Rarity eyed the Earth pony back, but simply spoke into the mike. "Twilight, can you hear me?"
"T-this is... Spike! Ah, s-sorry but Twilight is massaging her ears right now and shouting 'What?' while blinking." There was a pause before, "So, what are you doing... later that you need heavy lifting for? Just in case you need a big strong dragon to-"
Rarity winced as there was a slight hiss of static over the earphones. Twilight's voice came over. "Sorry about that, Rarity. Spike was being... Spike." There was a pause. "Is Weapon 'F' ready?"
Rarity glanced over her shoulder at a nearby bush and sighed, her head drooping. "Give me a minute." She walked over and around the bush to find Fluttershy lying on her back, all four legs in the air and a frozen expression of wide eyes and her upper lips curled back in a frozen expression of pure fear.
Her eye moved about, finally focusing on Rarity. "S-so B-b-b-big!' she quavered.
Rarity pasted a smile on her face as Applejack and Pinkie Pie, trotted over. "Oh, darling! It'll be all right!" She patted Fluttershy on the shoulder. "Remember the dragon you faced down on the mountain?" She swept her arm dramatically towards the far-off mountain ranges on the horizon. "When all hope was lost, you flew up, looked the dragon in the eye and convinced him to seek out another home! And here, you must do the same. You must!"
Applejack walked around to Fluttershy's hindquarters and grabber her tail by the teeth. "I don't think yah can help 'er," she grunted out between pulls. She looked to Pinkie Pie as she stood there, head cocked slightly to the side. "Lil' help, sugar?"
Pinkie Pie bounced up and down on her hooves, already wide eyes growing larger. "Oh, I know what to do!" She ran off, leaving a trail of dust behind before suddenly appearing with a tray balanced on her head. Several measuring cups full of sugar rested on the tray. "I have white, brown, refined, barley-"
"Not the kind of-ah, hayseed!" Applejack said. She dragged Fluttershy around in a circle so the Pegasus could see the Everfree Forest and the cloud of smoke now threatening to spill into Ponyville skies. "Listen, sugarcube. We all know how scared yah are o' dragons, but this one's gonna need a talkin'-to just like the last one. And there's no scary mountain to climb up this time!"
Fluttershy's expression relaxed somewhat and her legs wobbled slightly. "That's true. And my friends do need me." She rolled off of her back and stood up straight. She brushed the long strand of her mane hanging in front of her face aside and stared up, first at the balloon hovering at the edge of the Forest and then at the tiny blue dot near the center of the accursed land. "And I won't fail them! I'll look that dragon straight in the eye and-"
The center of the Everfree Forest erupted. Trees trunks flew straight into the air as a hundred-meter tall dragon covered in emerald scales emerged. His long, sinewy neck darted back and forth, pale yellow eyes looking around. He spotted the balloon and snorted. "Ah, there is the thief!" he shouted, rattling the air with his voice. He jabbed a talon at it. "You stole from me, pest! Now vengeance shall be mine!"
The dragon reared back. he shot a long stream of fire shot from his mouth, directly at the balloon. The blue dot of Rainbow Dash shot along the trail of flame. A rainbow contrail behind her as she raced the ribbon of flame. She reached the balloon seconds ahead of the flame. Just as she arrived she, Twilight and Spike to be enveloped in fire, along with the basket and balloon itself. The canvas and wooden basket incinerated, raining down a fine powder of ash onto the ground.
The four ponies at the ground waited, waited for a rainbow streak to emerge, to fly from somewhere overhead. They waited and waited... and nothing came.
Pinkie Pie's mouth opened as she looked at the ash on the ground. Her mane suddenly straightened out, drooping down almost to the ground while her color faded. "No..." she whimpered.
Fluttershy's heart hammered in her chest and her eyes welled up with tears. She dropped to her knees and elbows as time slowed to a crawl. "Twilight... Dash... Spike... "She tilted her head back and inarticulately wailed.
Rarity took a few hesitating steps over to the fine powdery remains of her friends and sat down, pawing at it with her hooves and kicking up the dust. Tears streamed down her cheeks, ruining her mascara and she didn't give a damn. "No..."
Applejack merely snorted and dug at the ground. Her cheeks turned red. "I'll kill yah!" she shouted, running off in the direction of the dragon and not caring about the consequences.
Rainbow Dash soared through the air near the cloud of smoke, staying as far away so she could breathe while keeping her eyes peeled on the smoke. She adjusted her goggles and sighed. "Come on!" she cried out. "I need some sort of-"
The forest below suddenly exploded and the dragon burst forth. Dash's wings blurred as she dodged the debris raining down. "Whoa!" She tapped the headset. "Eagle One to-Ah, crabgrass! Twilight, what the hay's going on?"
The dragon roared and looked around, finally settling on the balloon. While he spoke, Dash's mind worked overdrive. Okay, kick him in the face and become the fastest cloud of ash in Equestria or fly over to the balloon and - Her ponytrail of thought was interrupted as the dragon reared back and shot a stream of flame at the balloon.
Instincts kicked in. Rainbow Dash shot off to the balloon, wings barely visible as they pumped her forward. Must get to Twilight and Spike must get to my friends come on body move it move it MOVE IT! She passed by the flame. Familiar pressure built up on her face as the air around her distorted. Energy built up as she reached the basket, the unicorn and dragon within. She barely noted Twilight's horn glowing as she grabbed them in her forelegs. And she, Spike and Twilight all vanished in a bright white light.
Dash's senses stretched out as she floated, fell and stood still. Twilight's muzzle stretched out into infinity while Spike's entire body folded in on itself. The blackest void wobbled before the seams in non-reality split apart and Dash shot forward, momentum kicking back in on the disoriented Pegasus.
She hurtled out over blue sky, quickly plummeting down to the ground below. She passed over a small section of forest before coming upon some strange-looking houses and a series of paved roads. Dash twisted around in midair as she nosedived into the backyard of one of the houses, letting herself take the brunt of the impact.
Pain exploded around her wing joints and back as she hit the lawn, Twilight and Spike tumbling from her grip and rolling away. Dash rolled about, keeping her wings tucked in so they weren't ripped from her hip, her hindquarters where the wings were attached to her torso.
Dash finally stopped rolling near the back of the house. She struggled to her hooves and groaned. "Everyone... all right?" She blinked away the blackness encroaching on her senses and saw Twilight and Spike staggering to their hooves and feet, respectively. "Good," she said, smiling. She glanced around at the strange house, so big with oddly-shaped windows and a strange, one-piece door.
A shadow fell over her and she twisted her head around, instantly regretting it as waves of dizziness and nausea assaulted her. She saw a... creature standing before her. Shaped somewhat like Spike with two arms, two legs and standing upright. It wore clothes similar to what Applejack or the Appaloosan settlers might wear. It – she? - held out her hands. "Are you all right?" she asked, concern clearly etched on her face.
Dash managed a smile. "Never better!" Blackness soon overtook her vision. Shock from the exertion and simple exhaustion gripped her, and she said no more.