Twilight Then, Twilight now

by Paradise Oasis

Chapter 26

Chapter 26

It was only a few hours after the once-great city of Tambelon had vanished, that the units of the Equestrian defense forces began to arrive on the scene. It wasn't long before makeshift tents were set up, and the pony medical corps began treating the wounded. The few hundred traumatized survivors, who had made it out of the city alive, stumbled around in a daze. The shock and horror of all that had occurred weighed heavily on their fragile minds.

At the edge of the crater, Chancellor Sky Runner looked out first over the gaping hole in front of him, then at the ragged and scarred survivors of Grogar's assault.

"Everything we had worked and fought for... all of our hopes and dreams... all gone in an instant." He muttered ruefully to himself.

It was then, that a unicorn soldier trotted up, and bowed to him. "Sir, most of the survivors are in stable condition, and will be physically fine. I do recommend we send to Canterlot for psychologist ponies and grief councilors."

"Make it so." Sky Runner replied grimly. "Any sign of the laboratory created ponies?"

"Most of the jewel-eyed ponies have been located among the survivors. But there are no traces of the Flutter Ponies or Sea Ponies." The unicorn shook his mane. "Also, Midnight has requested to speak with you, sir."

The white unicorn nodded, and trotted over to the guarded tent where the bound Midnight was being held. As Sky Runner trotted inside, he saw the pitiable sight of the unicorn he once called friend. Midnight was bound and laying on the ground, a magic-blocking ring on his horn.

"I excepted you to come, sooner or later." The black unicorn muttered. "So did you come to gloat at your victory?"

"I came to see if you were all right." Sky Runner replied. "That was quite a blast you took back there."

"It was no more than I deserved." Midnight replied guiltily. "For the betrayal of my kingdom and my race."

"So I see the poisonous fog of the rainbow of darkness, has been lifted from your mind." Sky Runner snorted. "Do not blame yourself for what happened, old friend. Your mind was not your own."

"But I allowed my own creation to poison my mind once." The black unicorn whinnied sadly. "What's to stop it from happening again?"

"The Midnight I knew at university would never repeat the same mistake twice." Sky Runner replied with a smile. "I have absolute faith you are still that same pony."

Midnight closed his eyes. "So what will happen to me now?" He asked grimly.

"Well, after you've helped with the cleanup, and have had some mental counseling, I believe we can get you home to that wife of yours. Might be a few years confinement for you first, though." Sky Runner snorted.

Midnight's eyes went wide. "Than I am to go unpunished?" He whinnied in shock.

"As I see it, you were only partly responsible for your actions." The white unicorn smiled at his friend. "I believe Celsetia will be more than willing to lay the blame for this whole catastrophe at the hooves of Bronco and Grogar, given the circumstances."

"And what of the rainbow of darkness?" Midnight asked in a worried tone.

"You shall keep it, old friend. From now on, it shall be your burden to bear." Midnight narrowed his eyes. "As the one pony who has been possessed by it and come back, you are the pony most qualified to bear it's horrible weight upon your hooves."

"Thank You, Sky Runner." Midnight replied humbly. "I shall do my best not to disappoint you hopes."

Midnight nodded, then trotted out of the tent.

As he walked among the other tents, he noticed many of the Tambleon ponies trotting up to him in a group. The one in front of the dozen or so equines motioned with his hoof for Sky Runner to stop.

"Chancellor, may we ask you something?" The spokespony of the group, whom Sky Runner recognized as a unicorn researcher from the labs, enquired.

"Yes, my good mare, what is it?" The stallion responded.

"We are all well aware that we have seen and heard far too much to return to Equestrian society as is." She whinnied nervously. "So I must ask you... what is to become of us?"

Sky Runner closed his eyes, and took a breath before speaking. "Princess Luna has arraigned for the creation of a sanctuary kingdom for all the survivors in the everfree forest. You are all to be sent there, along with your families, where you will be free to resume your lives as you see fit."

"But we're not allowed to ever return to Equestria again, are we?" She asked skeptically.

Sky Runner hesitated for a moment, then shook his head. "As far as the rest of Equestria is concerned, Tambelon was destroyed in an explosion, taking all ponies in the city with it. The public must never learn of Princess Luna's experiments. And to that end, Dream Valley is to be an isolated kingdom along the southern border of Equestria- nopony outside top government officials will even know it exists."

"So the inhabitants Ponyville will never know that there is a thriving kingdom right next to them, inside the everfree forest." The mare gave a rueful laugh. "But what of the mutant ponies? How will you cover their existence?"

"There have always been legends of Sea Ponies and flutter ponies, so any pony that encounters any of them will assume their species has always existed." Sky Runner snorted. "And I doubt any of the mutates will bother to correct that notion."

The mare hesitated for a moment, then bowed to Sky Runner. "Thank you your excellencey, for answering my questions."

"A pleasure, my dear." He replied, returning the bow.

As the group of Ponies trotted off, Sky Runner noticed five ponies he recognized as the harmony bearers sitting over in a tent by themselves, staring silently into space. As he approached them, the white unicorn noticed their eyes looked glazed over. The sixth one, the orange earth pony who represented honesty, was lying unconscious on a cot nearby.

"Excuse me, Miss Twilight Sparkle?" Sky Runner asked, trotting up to them. "Are you all right?"

"Pointless... it's all so, pointless..." She muttered. "...Hey Booker, wanna read a book with me?" She said allowed, as if speaking to a pony that wasn't there. "Aw, you got me a new spelbook? Aw, you're the best, Booker!"

"Miss...Sparkle?" Sky Runner asked nervously, but the mare didn't even seem to notice he was there.

On the cot next to hers, a Yellow Pegasus giggled to herself. "Awww, Avian, that's such a sweet little birdie you brought me!" She nuzzled empty space, as if a pony were sitting next to her. "Don't you worry, we'll nurse him back to health together!"

"Wheee, Hopper! Let's throw a party for baby Pound Cake!" The Pink one yelled.

"Oh, Slick, darling... it's such a lovely engagement ring!" The white unicorn said batting her eyelashes.

"L-ladies?" The bewildered unicorn asked.

"You're wasting your time, mister." The blue Pegasus with a rainbow mane and tail told him, looking through bloodshot, tear-stained eyes. "Their minds are gone... and mine's not in much better shape, either."

"You're Rainbow Dash, aren't you?" Sky Runner asked her. "What's wrong with your friends here?"

"We all lost some stallions we cared about a lot today." Dash replied, trying to stop herself from crying again. "We met the loves of our lives when we came here to Tambelon... and now we've lost them, just as quickly."

"Lifemate Separation Anxiety disorder." He thought to himself worriedly. " They've been separated from their life mates, and they don't know if they'll ever see them again. Couple that with all the trauma and violence they've suffered, and you've got four ponies with shattered minds."

Sky Runner thought for a moment... they would be miserable for the rest of their lives with this pain in their hearts. And despite Twilight being Celestia's top pupil, it was questionable if they’d be allowed to return to Equestrian society anyway. Weighing his options carefully, The Nocturnal Chancellor finally made up his mind.

"Booker... Where are you..." Twilight moaned, tears streaming down her face. "Please come back... I don't wanna be alone..."

"Don't worry, any of you..." Sky Runner said aloud, as his horn began to glow. "It was my mistakes with Tambelon and the experiments that caused this... so it's up to me to set things right."

There was a flash of light in the tent, as Sky Runner cast his spell.


The Dark dimension... an eerie realm of shadows and shades, a place of mist and smoke. This pocket of in-between space was a black void, in which there seemed to be no up and down, no forward or backward... unless one was on a solid bdy of mass. It was a timeless place, in which one could lose oneself in the silence of the void. It was here, that the city of Tambelon- along with all of it's current inhabitants- found themselves trapped.

Grogar was in the town hall, having made a makeshift throne out of several of the tables. He was 'holding court', as the new ruler of Tambelon, while his goblin servants patrolled the streets, killing any pony stragglers they found.

"We found this one cowering beneath one o' the desks in th' lab, sir!" One of the goblin's snapped, dragging a sniveling donkey in, and throwing him in front of Grogar.

"No! Please no hurt Bray!" The sniveling donkey whimpered. "Bray serve big goat now!"

"So, Midnight left his donkey underling behind." Grogar mused. "Hm, perhaps you can be of use to me..."

From the shadows, a magically concealed unicorn and his five friends watched the goat tyrant gloat at his triumph.

"Can you believe that donkey!" Slick whispered to the others. "He has no dignity, if I do say so myself!"

"I think dignity goes out the window, Slick, when your neck is on the line." Avian whinnied.

"As sorry as I am for him." Hopper noted. "I'm more worried about what we're gonna do about us."

"I almost hope we run across that, traitor, Bronco!" Sureshot snorted. "I'd love to kick some horse sense into him!"

"Okay, boys... we don't have time for this!" Booker told the others. "We need to..."

"Booker can you hear me?"

The unicorn stallion stopped, shocked that he heard a voice in his head. What was even more shocking, as that he recognized the voice.

"Sky Runner?" The bewildered unicorn asked in shock. "What's going on?"

"Booker, Listen, I don't have much time!" Sky runner came across in his mind. "I'm using your link with Twilight Sparkle to reach out across the dimensions to speak telepathically. If you have something to say to her, say it now!"

Booker caught on quickly. "Twilight, listen! I'm all right, and so are the others stallions! I think I know a recall spell that can get us home, but it could be years before the dimensional interface lines up properly again!"

"Booker! Oh thank Celestia!" Twilight replied telepathicaly. "The girls and I thought we'd lost you and the rest of the boys!"

"Twilight, we'd never willingly leave any of you!"The unicorn thought quickly. "Tell the other girls that their stallions miss them, and we'll get back to all of you as soon as possible!" He looked around, and saw a goblin coming. "We'll stay alive, and hide from Grogar as long as we can. Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle, until we are together again! I will always love you!"

Twilight Sparkle stared straight ahead, her gaze transfixed on empty space.

"Twilight?" Sky Runner asked her. "Twilight, are you going to be okay?"

"Yes… I think I am." Twilight replied, looking over at him with a smile. "I think I'm going to be fine."