The next few days passed with everypony getting ready for the upcoming war. Several scouting parties were sent out to monitor Twilight’s movements. For every three scouting parties sent, one would return. Their reports came in with nothing but bad news. Twilight was increasing the size of her army. Somehow, the mare was cloning her troops and she was very efficient at the process. Able to double her force every day. The greatest tactual analysts they had gave an estimated attack date of one week. Meanwhile the same old arguments played out in Luna’s court.
“We should attack now!”
“We should flee.”
“We should seek help.”
Luna knew these were coming, as such; she invited a guest this time around. In the middle of a particularly boring debate, Rainbow Dash made her entrance and the entire chamber went quiet. As Rainbow walked in, every pony in the room instantly shut up. All of them too afraid of losing their tongue to the cyan mare with the golden wings. You could hear a pin drop from the other side. Rainbow walked to the center of the chamber and turned to address the assembled ponies.
“You're all afraid of me.” It was not a question.
“You should be.”
Audible gasps crossed the room, to put in mildly, that was not the answer these ponies expected to hear. Most were expecting some sort of rousing speech about how they all had to band together.
“I'm not my wife, I'm not tactful, caring, or good with words. What I am is blunt, rude, foul-mouthed, and quick to anger as you all should know by now. I'm also blessed with the powers of supersonic flight, healing, extendable blade wings that respond to my very will, and apparently the ability to achieve near-light speed. What does all that make me? It makes me the most dangerous mare in this room, one that you do not want to piss off.”
Rainbow paused for a minute to let all of that take in.
“I'm also deathly afraid of what is coming.”
If it were possible, the room seemed to get even quieter.
“However, if we fail, if we do not stop Twilight here, there is nowhere else. This is our now or never moment and I will fight here. So if you want to leave, leave. Nopony will stop you. However, if you stay, you will shut the hell up about all this useless crap. This has been nothing but a huge waste of time and I just got here. How much time have you wasted before now? Days? Weeks? Good bucking job.”
Everypony in the room was quiet; if there was one thing they all agreed on, it is that nothing was being done. It took a pony that they could not talk back to in order for them to understand that they were the problem. Nopony likes to have the hoof pointed at them, but nine times out of ten, that's where it belongs.
“So I will say this one time and one time only, if you want out, if your goal is some bucking political power grab. Get out now, unless you want to see my bad side again.”
To their credit, nopony moved an inch. Rainbow looked around the room; a small smile crossed her face. It was not much, but at least she made her point. Rainbow turned and nodded to Luna before she took her seat next to Princess Cadance who was seated next to her son, Prince Radiant. As Luna began addressing the ponies in the crowd with a slightly more motivational speech, Cadance began talking to Rainbow.
“Thanks, but for me no time has really passed.”
“Yes, the best I can describe it is waking up TO a bad dream. It was sudden, heartbreaking, and unbelievable.”
The Princess of Love wrapped a wing around Rainbow Dash. Despite herself, despite the tough exterior she put forth, despite all the ponies around the room that were terrified of her, Rainbow Dash started crying. She did not know if she would ever stop. So much had happened, so many soul-crushing things, she wanted... no, needed Twilight. She needed her wife with her.
Princess Cadance sensed all of this and more. For the Princess of Love, seeing this, seeing true love broken in half by events out of their control, it was tragic. All she could do is be there for Rainbow. It was such an important gesture, the weight of it could not be denied by either of them. However, for Cadance, it felt so small. For her, it was pathetic, ‘is this really all I can do for her?’ Tears began falling from her eyes, not from the events of the past few days, but because she knew, even with all her power, the answer was yes. She could not help Rainbow carry this burden. Only Rainbow could face Twilight in a fight and have any hope of winning. Only she could face her one true love. At times like this, her thoughts turned to the cruelty of the world, and briefly, she wondered if it might be better if they all lost. If the world could be this cruel, this evil, was it even a place worth living in?
The next voice she heard gave her the answer to that question.
“Mom, are you all right?”
Yes, the world was cruel; it would give you everything you want just to snatch it from you in the worst possible ways. However, there was great beauty in the world also, and great love. Like that of a son who loved his mother, and a mother who loved her son. “I will be Radiant.” He did not seem convinced by that. She snatched him up in her other wing, she snatched the one physical thing Shiny left her in the world and included him in the hug. As Rainbow held onto her left side, she whispered in Radiant’s ear. “Whatever happens, take care of this one, ok? And yourself.”
Radiant’s embarrassment from his mom’s very inappropriate love of personal displays of affection was soon forgotten at that comment; he looked down at the mare hugging his mother’s left side. ‘Rainbow Dash is the fastest mare in the world, she has the endurance of ten ponies, wings that can grow and shrink as she wishes, and can create wind blasts that I have personally seen cut building’s in half.’ However, at this moment, she looked as weak as a newborn foal.
Understanding crossed his face; yes Rainbow was the toughest, strongest, and fastest mare alive. However, she was also hurting, the burden they were all placing on her, it would destroy any other pony. She carried it all with more on top of that, and to make matters worse, she was expected to win. It was too much for any pony, even her. She would push herself. She would fight, however, she could not do it alone. Cadance saw that, and now, he did too. “Ok mom, you can count on me.”
Princess Cadance leaned down and kissed her son on the forehead. “You have made me so proud Radiant, and I know, deep in my heart, Shiny would be proud of you to.” Despite himself, all the training and conditioning Radiant Star had undergone in his life, he could not stop a few tears from falling loose. “Thanks mom, I... I.... I miss him.” Cadance squeezed him tighter at that. Burying her head is his back as she shed a few tears as well. “I know son, I miss him too.”
While everypony in the room soon found their attention dragged to the three ponies on the side. It was a mark the respect they had for Princess Cadance, Prince Radiant, and the fear they had of Princess Dash that they all tactfully ignored it.
Shimmering Night laid back in bed, her sister Aurora Flash curled up at her side, asleep. So many unbelievable events had occurred in the past few days, it was too much to take in. Night started to cry again. She did not know if these were tears of happiness at her mom coming back from the dead, or tears of sadness at all the pain she felt. Her stupid, idiotic, numbskull, arrogant, brave, and reckless husband had almost killed them all. ‘How big of an idiot do you need to be to do a sonic rainboom inside a building? Much less a hospital. Even Rainbow wasn't that dumb.’ The death toll from the collapse had yet to be fully tallied. However, Night knew it would be in the thousands. All laid at the feet of her husband, the biggest idiot in the world: Bright Dawn.
Twilight had him; Spike had told her as much the other day. When the building collapsed, he was already ejected from the window. The remaining shadowbeings swarmed around him and dragged him off to Celestia… Luna knows where. The idiot was so concerned for her safety he failed to take into account his own. She did not understand why he would do something like that. He was never that brave, never that rash… was he? Memories of that final race came back to her mind. He was so willing to put his life on the line for her. Rainbow almost killed him over it. Perhaps he was that brave, or just that stupid. No, the common factor in all these scenarios was Night. He was not that brave, stupid, or reckless. He was that much in love.
Aurora woke to the sobs of her sister, without realizing it; Night’s crying had intensified. “Sis?”
“Sorry, Aurora I didn't mean to wake you.”
She reached up with a hoof and wiped a tear from Night’s eye. For Night, the gesture was even more touching with how scarred Aurora's hoof was. It was obvious that moving hurt the pegasus. Yet, that just increased the significance of the event. Had Night been able, had she been able to move her hooves, she would have hugged her right then and there. As it was, she could only repay her sister with a small smile and more tears.
“It’s about Dawn, isn’t it?” Aurora asked.
Aurora reached up and hugged her sister, accomplishing the gesture that Night was unable to do. Somehow, this made her feel worse, not better. “Does… does that make me an awful pony?”
“What, how could you think that?"
“Well, we lost Rainbow, Dayspring, and then Twilight turned evil. Yes, we got mom back, but… but all I can think about is my husband. Tell me, am I awful for that?”
“Listen to me right here and now.” Aurora broke the hug and stared face to face with her sister, their nose's inches from one another. “This is the official word of your big sister. You are not an awful pony, don’t ever think that. It’s ok; it’s ok to be hurting over Dawn’s absence. I saw as well as everypony else just how much you two loved each other. Yes our family is hurting, however, you still have the right to your own feelings. Never forget that.”
“And if you do I will knock some sense into you, once you're healed that is.”
Before either of them could make another comment a nurse walked in with a plate of food for Night, she smiled warmly at the two sisters and sat the plate down for Aurora to feed her sister. An arrangement she had insisted on. ‘If someone is going to take care of her, it will be me.’ No pony could argue with a royal decree like that. Besides, for the first time since the Titan attack, Aurora seemed to be regaining her spunk.
At times like this Night was beginning to lament that fact. Aurora seemed to enjoy taking care of her little sister far, far too much. Going as far as to play the ‘pegasus game’ with her food. “And the pegasus flies into the hanger to make a ten point landing.” It was cute, annoying and degrading, but cute.
“You know I’m not a baby, right?”
“You always will be my baby sister to me, I don’t care how big you get.”
Night found it hard to argue with that, and with little other recourse left to her, she played along, finding herself slightly enjoying this. It had been so long since she and her sister had spent any real quality time together. It was a shame that the precursors to this had to be so extreme. Without warning, the game came to a sudden end. Aurora noticed something and looked over to Night.
“What, what is it?”
“Can, can I have your cookies?”
Shimmering Night stared down at the last item of food on the tray, sure enough, two chocolate chip cookies were sitting there. “Sure Aurora, they are all yours.” Tears started falling down from her eyes and for the first time in days, Shimmering Night could not stop herself from smiling.
“It was a good speech and all, but it does not solve our problems.”
Luna looked over to Radiant as the two walked down the hall; she simply nodded to the young unicorn. Over the past few days, his council had been invaluable. It was his idea to use Rainbow to keep the council ponies in line. It was a good one too, even though it had not been her objective, the fear she instigated in them kept all of them in line. Briefly, she reflected why Cloudsdale did not immediately withdraw its support. She learned after the fact that Captain Firestar had taken command. Her official statement of what happened to Tsunami went along the lines of ‘Karma’s a bitch.’ Of course, that was the PC version; the actual report was several pages long and definitely NOT for viewing by more sensitive ponies. Luna had a copy of it posted in her room. She would often fall asleep reading it.
“What about you?”
“We heal quickly, a side effect of the moon always being out. We are able to draw upon its strength for our own use. Do not worry, when the attack comes, we will be more than capable of playing our part.”
“It’s not our part that I'm worried about.”
“Indeed,” Luna knew exactly who Radiant was worried about, as she was heading there now.
“Luna, will she be ok?”
“We do not know, however, we wish to help her as much as we can right now.”
“How much longer do you think we have, before she comes?”
Luna considered this, her council advisors said they at least had a week, however, she was not so sure. Besides, if there is one-thing advisors succeed at, it was being wrong. “We will estimate, in the next three days time.”
“Three days huh… will everything be ready?”
“You know the answer to that Radiant, however, we both know that our defenses mean nothing, only one pony can end this, this one pony will decide if we win or lose. The rest of us are simply here to support her.”
“Who knew fate could be so cruel?”
Luna commented no more on that subject, she knew more than most, just how cruel fate could be. In a thousand years solitude you learn quite a lot about the cruelty of fate. The two paused as they reached Rainbow Dash’s room. Luna turned to look at Radiant; “We thank you for your company, however this is something we must do alone.”
Radiant raised one hoof and placed it on Luna’s shoulder, “Good luck.”
Luna nodded as she watched him turn and leave. What was about to happen, she wanted nopony else to know about it, morale was a dangerous thing. It alone could lead armies to victory or defeat. If these ponies knew just how bad off Rainbow was, it would cost them the war.
Luna undid the spells she had on the room and walked in. As expected, Rainbow was still in bed. She had not moved from that spot since Princess Cadance teleported her there from the council room earlier that day. It seemed the weight of the past events were finally catching up to the mare. She did not even look up when Luna entered the room.
“Sleep well, Rainbow?”
“Alright, I guess.”
Luna knew for a fact that was a lie, the pegasus had not slept since she first awoke from her healing trance all those days ago. She doubted Rainbow could fall asleep, not on her own, at least.
“Is it time?”
“No Rainbow, our scouts report that we have a few days more to go.”
“Oh, then why are you here?”
“To help you.”
“Help me?” Rainbow turned and looked at the princess, the bags under her eyes, the frown of her face. It was depressing to see the once proud mare in such a condition. “I'm forced to fight my wife in a few days, and you’re here to help me? How?”
“We have a gift for you.”
“What sort of gift could poss-”
Luna touched her horn to Rainbow’s head, causing the cyan mare to instantly pass out on her side. Smiling, Luna lifted up their one hope for the future and lay her under the covers. This spell never worked on Twilight, she was too powerful for it. However, while Rainbow was just as powerful as her wife was, she was so in other ways. Her body could not immediately cancel the effect of this. Luna’s most powerful sleep spell. It allowed the caster to instantaneously put their target into a deep slumber. With, whatever dream they wished upon them. The caster could wake them up anytime they wanted and regardless how much time had passed; they would wake up fully refreshed.
As Luna turned and walked out of the room, she looked back at the sleeping mare on the bed. “Sweet dreams, Rainbow.” The smile on Rainbow’s face confirmed that fact for Luna. She closed the door and cast the strongest spells she had on it. Whatever happened next, Luna was happy she could give Rainbow this one moment of true peace. With all they were asking of her, it was the least they could do.
When they made their last stand, when Rainbow was needed, at least she would be ready.
A cyan pegasus and lavender alicorn flew together through the sky. It was the perfect time of day, the sun had just set, but the night was not fully here, it truly was twilight time. The two crisscrossed flight paths more times than either could count. Their energy trails crossed back and forth with one another, leaving a design written in the sky that spoke of the love they shared with each other.
After hours of flying together the alicorn began tiring out, she landed on a cloud under the most gorgeous rainbow either of them had ever seen. A yawn escaping from her mouth. The cyan pegasus landed right next to her and wrapped a golden wing around the mare. The alicorn looked up at the pegasus and smiled, her simple reply came in the form of a kiss on the pegasus's cheek.
“What was that for, Twi?”
“Do I really need a reason?”
“You only need to be you.”
“Promise me this will never end.”
“For you Twi, I promise the world.”
Twilight nuzzled her head into Rainbow's side, breathing in the very scent of the mare she so loved. Rainbow squeezed her tightly with her wing, as she noticed the tell-tale signs of Twilight about to fall asleep.
“Good night, Twilight.” Rainbow rested her head near the alicorn, preparing to join her wife in blissful sleep.
“Good night, my love.” Came Twilight’s reply.
As Rainbow lay in her bed, several tears began falling down her face that were accompanied by a wonderful smile of contentment. Several hundred miles south, in the mind of Twilight Night, a similar scene played out, as for the first time in two months Twilight Sparkle found herself asleep. Her tears and smile matched that of her wife, as they shared the same dream.
The Night snarled at this new development, ‘I will have to expedite my plans then. You will not be able to keep her in there for long, Luna. I don’t know how you did it, but I will make you pay for this.’
Princess Cadance smiled as she watched Luna leave Rainbow's room and walk down the hallway. While Luna had simply meant to put her into a deep sleep, Cadance augmented that with a little spell of her own. She connected Rainbow with Twilight in their dreams by the love they shared. Cadance had finally found the one thing she could do for Rainbow and it was enough to make her happy. Even if the tears were still there.