• Published 29th Sep 2013
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Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire - Nebula Star



Midnight Star was given a second chance to be happy without the horrors of her memories; but those memories were never truly gone. They are only the beggining of her struggles however, Equestria is about to face a new threat; The Frozen Empire

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Chapter 21: The Other

Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star

Part 3: Equestria at War
***
Chapter 21: The Other
***

Celestia paused outside of Midnight's tent feeling uncertain. It was just before sunset on the evening the day after the battle and Midnight still hadn't waken. She'd avoided coming here most of the day, occupying herself dealing with the aftermath of the battle instead.

What remained of the Frozen Empire's army had surrendered and were currently under guard in the flat-lands below the pass. They'd allowed themselves to be placed under a magic suppression field and had surrendered their weapons so they were little threat now. But they still presented a problem in what to do with them.

She had also overseen the gruesome task of recovering their dead; both from the battlefield as well as from the ruble of the rock-slides. She didn't have an exact count yet, but the loses on their side were likely near a thousand; not nearly as bad as it could have been, but still a terrible loss that pained her deeply. Even so, she had preferred those tasks to what she faced now.

She sighed, knowing she couldn't avoid Midnight and those who cared about her forever. Reluctantly, she entered the tent.

As large as the tent was, there were still enough ponies inside to make it feel a little crowded. To one side was Luna standing and watching in silence. Not far from her were Valor Spellbound and Rainbow Dash, who were resting, lying side by side and talking softly, sometimes glancing toward Midnight. Opposite them was none other than Chrysalis. The changeling queen look rather out of place among them but she shared the concern the rest of them felt for Midnight. Finally, surrounding Midnight who laid on a low bed, still unconscious, were two pegasi and an earth pony that Celestia recognized as Midnight's closest friends.

Wind was lying by Midnight's side, his wing stretched over her, holding her protectively. While Copper and Sky laid side by side watching over her. As she watched, Sky nuzzled Copper's neck seeking comfort.

Celestia watched for a moment, feeling the guilt she'd been avoiding for more than a day now, the guilt of what she'd manipulated Midnight into doing, as well as for what she may have to do now.

“Has there been any change?” Celestia asked her sister softly as she stepped to Luna's side.

Luna shook her head. “Her cutie mark continues to shift and change, sometimes becoming more black, sometimes almost returning to the silver.”

Celestia nodded and watched Midnight for a few moments in silence. “She struggles to hang on to her identity,” she said softly and Luna nodded in agreement. Then Celestia looked down regretfully. “If the star goes completely black, then we will have no choice but to banish her before she wakes.”

“NO!”

Celestia looked up startled to find Wind Blade had leaped between her and Midnight and was glaring at her with such fury as she had not seen directed at her in years.

“I won't let you do that to her!” He growled and it was clear that he didn't care that she was the princess of the sun and an alicorn, he would still try to stop her and Celestia felt that with his determination alone he might just succeed.

“Wind, you don't know what the black star means, who she was before...” Celestia tried to calm him.

“I know exactly who she was! I know she's from another world, that she was a tyrant there and that she tried to kill you! She told us everything!” He shouted back. “That's not who she is anymore!” Celestia stood stunned, unable to get a word in as Wind continued shouting. “She's changed! AND I WON'T LET YOU PUNISH HER FOR SOMETHING YOU DID TO HER!”

Celestia was speechless, how many years had it been since anypony that wasn't another alicorn had had the courage to speak to her in such a manner? It was clear this young stallion would do anything to protect Midnight from further harm.

“Wind...” Sky said in a soft calming voice. With one last glare, he turned away from the princesses and returned to Midnight's side.

“It doesn't matter anyway because it won't come to that. Midnight won't fall to the darkness; she's too strong for that.” He declared and then laid down by Midnight's side once more, wrapping his wing around her.

“He's right,” Luna said softly. “We have no right to pass judgment on her now after what we asked of her.”

“But Luna, you know what she's capable of, the damage she could cause,” Celestia objected but her younger sister merely looked her in the eye.

“We have no right, Celestia.” She repeated firmly and Celestia understood. Even Luna would stand against her in this. She could only hope that Midnight would pull through on her own.

~~~

It had been a long and tiring flight riding in a chariot the entire way. Twilight usually preferred to fly herself, unfortunately her wing was still at least a week from being strong enough to fly again. But they'd finally arrived. Twilight wasted no time in jumping down from her chariot and didn't even wait for her guards to unhitch themselves before she was rushing toward the camp.

“Princess Twilight!” A young lieutenant said in surprise and immediately bowed.

“Take me to Midnight Star,” she told him shortly.

He nodded. “Uh, yes, of course,” he stammered. “The general's tent is this way.”

It didn't take long to reach Midnight's tent. There she found Celestia standing just outside, looking up at the moon. She was so deep in thought that she didn't even notice Twilight until she was only a couple of steps away.

“Twilight!” She gasped in surprise seeing her. A flicker of guilt in her eyes was all Twilight needed to confirm what she'd been afraid of. She had been at least in part responsible for what had happened.

“Where is my daughter?” Twilight demanded, her voice cold.

Celestia averted her eyes. “Twilight, I...”

“Where is she!?”

“In here, Twilight,” another voice she recognized answered from within the tent. Twilight stepped past Celestia and entered the tent. Midnight was there, lying on a low bed next to Wind, with Sky and Copper lying nearby. “She hasn't waken since the battle,” Wind told her softly looking down at Midnight.

Twilight watched Midnight for a moment worry filling her heart. She was only vaguely aware of the others in the tent as well as when Celestia entered. But then there was one thing she wanted to know. “What happened?”

“We... I asked too much of her,” Celestia answered, regret clear in her voice.

“What did you do?”

Celestia lowered her eyes, and in a soft voice explained not keeping anything back. When she was done, Twilight was glaring at her.

“You mean you put the entire battle on Midnight's shoulders? Even after she told you she was afraid of losing control?!”

“Yes.” She admitted. “Ponies were dying. And those that weren't were being forced to do things they'd never forget. I thought that... it would be the best way to end the battle.”

“By sacrificing Midnight!?”

“I was going to help her through the repercussions. I just... Twilight, I'm sorry.”

Twilight glared at her a few moments more going through everything she'd said. “Why didn't you do it yourself?”

“I couldn't,” she said looking down. “I couldn't have done what Midnight did.”

“But you could have fought!” Twilight growled through clenched teeth. “You could have done something!”

She shook her head. “Nothing else we could have done would have ended the battle so quickly. I just wanted to stop the suffering.”

“So you push it all onto one mare's shoulders?”

“Twi...” Rainbow Dash put a hoof on her shoulder. Twilight looked at her seeing for the first time how haggard she looked with bloodstains in her mane that she hadn't been able to wash out and the haunted look in her eyes. “Celestia was just trying to protect as many as she could. I... I've killed other ponies, Twi, I... She was just trying to save us from more pain.”

Twilight's eyes softened. “But it wasn't right to push it all on Midnight. I know it must be hard, but that's why the burden should be shared, not forced onto one.”

Slowly Rainbow nodded understanding. “I don't think Celestia forced her, though.”

Twilight looked over at Celestia, still angry. “Probably not, but she also knew that Midnight wouldn't refuse if she asked.”

Celestia just lowered her eyes, confirming Twilight's accusation. Twilight glared at her a moment more then spun around to face Chrysalis. “And you! What are you even doing here!?”

Chrysalis seemed surprised to be the target of Twilight's ire so suddenly but her eyes narrowed quickly in anger. “My changelings and I fought and died alongside your precious ponies to win this battle...”

Twilight waved a hoof dismissively. “I'm aware of the alliance and all that; I meant what are you doing here, in this tent?”

“Can I not be concerned for Midnight Star? She is the first pony to show me kindness knowing what I am in a very long time. She has already done more to repair the damage caused by my own stupid mistakes than I had ever hoped.”

“Really?” Twilight asked in surprise

Chrysalis just nodded.

“Well then, I'm sorry for snapping at you, and thank you for being concerned for my daughter.” Twilight said sincerely. “And I assure you, if anything were to happen to Midnight; I would honor the agreement she has made with you myself.”

Chrysalis looked slightly surprised then and nodded. “Thank you. Let us hope it doesn't come to that.”

Twilight gave a slight nod in agreement then finally went to her daughter's side. “How is she?” She asked softly.

“She won't wake. Her cutie mark keeps shifting, changing back and forth between black and silver.” Wind answered, deep worry clear in his voice. She looked over at him, seeing the pain and fear in his eyes and slowly smiled. She'd suspected for some time that he and Midnight were becoming more than just friends. “Is there anything you can do?”

Twilight sighed heavily. “I don't know, but I have a few ideas,” she said then leaned down close to Midnight so their foreheads almost touched.

Though her horn was broken and would take months to regrow, Twilight could still sense magic and she focused her senses on Midnight now. What she found was as she'd expected. There were two sides to Midnight's magic; one made up of harmony, the other mostly chaos, and they were at war inside of her.

“She's fighting to remember who she is now...”

Wind looked up at her. “But back in the Everfree, she chose harmony...”

Twilight shook her head. “She came to understand harmony, true, and she found a balance for a time, but that balance has been shattered. We have to guide her in piecing it back together.”

“How?” He asked desperate to help.

Twilight put a hoof on his shoulder. “Talk to her, remind her how much you care about her, how much you love her. Tell her how much you want her back.” She looked up at Sky and Copper. “You too. We all need to let her know that we still love her and we want her back.”

They nodded and moved in closer as Twilight laid down as well, Then Wind pulled Midnight into his hooves, holding her gently. “Midnight, please, come back to us,” he whispered softly. “Come back to me. I love you, Midnight.”

~~~

There was nothing.

No. that's not true, I am here. But what is I? I is me, but then what is me? That's not right... What... what am I?

A pony... yes that's right. I am a pony, a mare. I'm a... a unicorn... no I was a unicorn, but what am I now? An alicorn? Yes, that's right. I had a name... Midnight? That's it Midnight Star... But, who am I?

I have a mother. She's an alicorn too. Twilight! That's her name. She raised me my entire life... but I don't remember anything before I was eight years old...

Bit by bit Midnight remembered the details about herself, piecing together her identity and as she did she began to take shape in the void. Finally, after what seemed an eternity she had managed to bring herself back together enough that she found herself with a body once more floating in the blackness. She looked around, but there was nothing to see. “Where am I?” she spoke into the void.

“Midnight, please, come back to us.”

Midnight turned toward the sound, she knew that voice. But who was it? Wind? Yes; Wind Blade, that's his name.

“Come back to me, I love you Midnight.”

Midnight felt warmth flood through her entire being. Wind loves me?

Another voice joined the first, Sky, and then Copper as well expressing how much they cared for her, calling her back to them.

Then another voice spoke. “Midnight, darling, please don't leave us. Just come home. You can always come home. I will always love you.”

“Mom...” Midnight breathed recognizing the voice. She looked up toward where the voices were coming from and saw a light shining in the darkness. She wasn't sure how, but she reached for the light and felt herself moving toward it. She knew the light would lead back to her mother, to her friends, to Wind... She just had to reach it.

“NO!”

The word seemed to echo painfully through the emptiness. And suddenly another figure appeared in front of her, blocking her way. She was a unicorn, with a ragged mane and tail, any more detail Midnight couldn't see as she was silhouetted by the light that she was preventing her from reaching. Only her eyes shone with anger in the darkness.

“Who are you? Why are you stopping me?” Midnight asked softly. “They're calling for me, can't you here it? They want me back.”

The unicorn's eyes narrowed and her entire body seemed to be trembling with barely contained rage. “Who am I?” She repeated in a dangerous hiss. “Who am I!?” She threw her hooves out to her sides.

“I AM THE REAL MIDNIGHT STAR!”

“EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!”

“EVERYTHING YOU ARE!”

“YOU STOLE FROM ME!”

Each line was punctuated with a wave of pure anger that threatened to tear her fragile, pieced together existence apart. But no more than the realization that hit her in that moment. A realization that nearly shattered her in an instant. The other Midnight was right.

She had access to all their memories, it was true. But she had never lived through them. She wasn't the one that had been born, that had been given the name Midnight Star. She wasn't the one that had grown up in that horrible world, she didn't know what it was like to truly live through the pain of those memories. She hadn't even existed then.

“But... then what am I?” She asked softly.

“You are nothing! Nothing but a collection of memories that should have been mine!” The other Midnight shouted back, more waves of her anger washing over Midnight, threatening to sweep her away into the nothing once more.

Midnight lowered her eyes sadly, “What are you going to do?”

“What do you think!? I'm going to take back my body! Take back my life! Take back everything that should have been mine!”

“But what about me? Don't I deserve to exist?” She asked looking up at her with pleading eyes.

“No!” The other Midnight screamed but as she went on her voice faltered slightly. “No... I... It's my life! It was meant for me!”

Midnight looked down again. “But... if you go back there without me, they'll know something is wrong, they... they'll be afraid of you. They might even banish you.”

“Your life was meant for me!” She cried.

“But you won't have my life. Even if you can convince them you've changed, you're still not me. They... they'll blame you for taking me away. I don't think Twilight would ever forgive you for that.”

The other Midnight glared down at her a few moments more tremors running through her body. Suddenly Midnight realized there were tears in her eyes and at that moment the other Midnight collapsed to the non-existent ground, hung her head down, sitting on her haunches as she began to cry.

Midnight watched for a moment stunned. Then the other Midnight looked up at her once more

“Why!?” She cried. “Why can't I be happy!? Why won't they let me?”

Slowly Midnight approached her. This was not what she'd expected. This Midnight wasn't what she'd thought at all. “All this time, I've been thinking of you as my darker side; the evil within my heart,” she said softly then reached out and gently touched the other Midnight's shoulder. She looked up at the touch, tears in her eyes. “You're not evil are you? Twilight removed the anger and hatred in your heart.” She nodded sadly and feeling ashamed Midnight went on. “But I've gone and made you angry again, haven't I?”

She sniffed loudly. “You took everything... I was the one that Twilight knew. I was the one that she wanted to help. Everything she did, she did for me. But then she went and locked away my memories, and I wasn't me anymore. How can a pony be the same pony without their memories?” She shook her head. “Instead she created you, and you got everything that she had meant for me, while I became nothing... not even a memory.”

“I'm sorry,” Midnight said softly.

She sniffed once more and looked away sadly. “They're calling you,” she said softly. “You're right, they'd only hate me if I came back. So... so you should go.”

Midnight didn't move. She knew that if she left now, that this other Midnight would never bother her again; she'd given up. But at the same time Midnight knew that it wasn't right. She knew that she'd be losing a part of herself if she left this Midnight behind. There had to be another way. “What if you came back with me?”

The other Midnight looked up at her surprised and hopeful at the same time and Midnight smiled to show she meant it.

“I'd still be there so nopony would worry. Then we could enjoy our life together. We can both be happy.”

The other Midnight stared up at her seeming to think that this was too good to be true. “You... you'd let me come with you, even after all I've done to you? The trouble I've caused?”

She nodded. “You had every right to be angry with me. I promise, I'll never try to shut you out again. We'll share our life, every moment from now on.” She smiled. “We may be separate in many ways, but we're still a part of each other. Don't you think it's about time we accepted each other.

Slowly she began to smile. “You... you'll have to let me be in control sometimes; you have to let me live too, not just watch.”

“Of course,” She said then sat back, “I promise. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye,” she said making the appropriate hoof gestures. “Will you promise me as well?”

She nodded eagerly. “I promise, I'll never try to shut you out and that we'll always share our life with each other. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

Midnight smiled at her other side. “You know, even made here, I bet Pinkie will know and hold us to those promises.”

The other Midnight grinned back, then jumped up, throwing her hooves around Midnight's neck in a tight embrace. “Thank you.”

Midnight hugged her back smiling. “We probably should try to keep this a secret though.”

She laughed pulling out of the embrace. “Yeah, probably, or they'll thing we've gone crazy.”

“Well haven't we?”

“Perhaps a little.”

Midnight laughed and pat her shoulder. “What about you?”

She shrugged. “I'm not as bad as I was; I might be a little different still...”

“Just enough to make life interesting?” Midnight asked.

“Yeah.”

“Sounds good to me.” Midnight smiled once more then stood. “So, what do you say we go home?”

She smiled happily and nodded. “Thanks... Midi.”

Midnight put a wing around her as the both turned toward the light and began to move toward it together. “You're welcome, Midnight.” She said, then blinding light filled their vision.

Author's Note:

Yes, Midnight is going to have a split personality from now on. Essentially by the time her memories returned, her two sides were too different to truly merge.

There's just one more chapter left and a short epilogue that I will be posting together sometime next week. As a bonus I will also be including a 1 chapter preview of the third and final story in the main series. Midnight Star and the Father of Light. Also some time next week there will be an update for the side story to the series, After Midnight.

Anyway, hope you're enjoying Midnight's story so far. Tune in next week for the conclusion of The Frozen Empire.