• 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 3: Cutie Marks

Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star

Part 1: Shadows of the Past
***
Chapter 3: Cutie Marks
***

With a gasp Midnight sat straight up in her bed. Her heart was racing, her breathing labored, and she was once again covered in a cold sweat. Laying back she rolled over and with her face in her pillow, she screamed in frustration. It had been a few nights since the last nightmare and she had actually begun to hope that they'd gone away for good. She felt like crying, and with nopony around to see, she saw no reason not to. For several minutes she cried into her pillow.

Finally though she calmed herself and looked over at the clock, only to realize that it was still far too dark to see. So she cast a simple spell lighting the tip of her horn. It was still an hour before sunrise.

She sighed and was just about to put out her horn and try to get some more sleep when something else caught her eye: Black marks on the wall.

Raising her head she looked to see what it was and as she did an icy fear began to creep up her spine. Drawn on the wall in black ink was her cutie mark, twice; once with the center star just outlined, and the other with the center star filled in with the black ink. The drawings were rough, and looked like they'd been done in a hurry. In several places the ink had dripped, running down the wall.

She had security spells on her home though; nopony could have gotten in without her knowing it. The only explanation was that she had done it in her sleep, but what really frightened her was what was written under the drawings of her cutie mark. It was one word: 'Forgotten.'

Midnight stared at the wall feeling almost ill. What did it mean? What had she forgotten? Something about her cutie mark? She glanced back at her thigh. It was exactly the same as it had always been ever since it had first appeared. A cluster of six stars, the large center star silver and the five surrounding stars red. The center star was silver, so why did one of the drawing have the center star filled in black?

Unless they weren't both her cutie mark. Twilight's cutie mark was exactly the same shape as hers, but hers had the center star in magenta. Not black, but certainly darker than silver. So was it her cutie mark and Twilight's? But then what had she forgotten?

She'd always known it was unusual that she and Twilight's cutie marks were identical in everything but color. It was almost unheard of. Even ponies who's cutie marks had the same content representing the same or similar talents; they were still slightly different in some way. But what did it mean that theirs were almost the same?

They had the same talent for magic. Midnight knew that for certain. But even so, their cutie marks shouldn't be identical. At the very least one or two of the stars should be positioned differently. They weren't though. They were exactly the same except for color.

Midnight looked at the drawings on the wall again. 'Forgotten...' Was there some connection between her and Twilight? Something she'd forgotten along with the rest of her past? Did Twilight know? Midnight knew she'd lost all her memories from before Twilight had taken her in. Twilight had told her as much when she'd first waken in the princess's care. Was there something Twilight knew, something about Midnight's past, about who she was that Twilight wasn't telling her? If so, why would she keep it a secret?

Midnight couldn't believe that her mother would keep secrets from her maliciously. If she kept secrets, it would have been to protect her or because she felt Midnight wasn't ready for them yet.

Midnight shook her head, she was jumping to conclusions. There may be some other explanation for this, Twilight may not be keeping any secrets from her... With one last look at the wall she put out her horn and laid her head down. She wouldn't get any more sleep that night though; not with all the questions spinning through her head.

~~~

Catching a thermal, Sky Slice effortlessly climbed up above the clouds. She always enjoyed morning flights; the air was so crisp, and the sun so warm. And now, with the enchanted necklace glowing softly around her neck and creating the magic goggles to protect her eyes from the wind, it was even more enjoyable.

She spun as she reached the second level of clouds, tucking her wings in and letting herself begin to fall back down toward the town below. Unfortunately this had the side effect of deactivating the goggle spell.

Closing her eyes she continued to spin, enjoying the feel of free-fall all the same as she plummeted toward the ground. Then when she felt she'd waited long enough, she snapped her wings open and pulled out of the dive just above the rooftops.

She dropped down and began weaving between the houses, only a few feet above the ponies walking along the streets below. Many ducked startled as she sped past but she just grinned. Near the edge of town she pulled up slightly, giving herself some upwards momentum. Then she tucked in her wings, closing her eyes as the spell deactivated again, and going completely vertical, she threw herself into a spin. After several rotations she snapped her wings open ending the spin facing back the way she'd come and stopping herself completely in the air.

She smiled seeing several ponies along the road watching her. She knew she had a reputation for her acrobatics around town, and not in a bad way. There were many around Ponyville that would always stop to watch her when she was flying. She certainly didn't mind the attention.

Looking around she realized she'd stopped just down the road from Midnight's house. That in turn made her remember that she hadn't seen Midnight at all for a few days. They'd thought she must have come down ill or something when she'd never shown up out at the falls. A little concerned, she decided to see what was going on. Landing lightly on the path to Midnight's front door, she knocked and waited to see if Midnight was home.

A moment later the door opened. “Oh, Sky. What are you doing here?” Midnight asked.

At first Sky was almost certain that Midnight had been ill. Her mane, usually elegant and flowing was ragged and unkempt, her coat looked like she hadn't washed in a couple days and her eyes were bloodshot making them more red than normal. Sky smiled. “I was a little worried about you, Midnight. We haven't seen you in days. You alright?”

“Yeah, I'm fine,” she said a little too quickly.

“You don't look fine,” Sky told her honestly. “What have you been up to? We all thought you'd come down ill or something.”

“No, I've just been studying, that's all,” Midnight told her.

Sky gave her a wry grin. “That's some serious studying, Midnight. Maybe you'd better take a break for a bit. Mind if I come in?”

She shrugged and stepped back opening the door for her. The entry room was about as Sky had expected based on Midnight's condition. There were books scattered throughout the room, many in stacks on the floor. She could only imagine that most of them had come from Twilight's library. In addition to the books though, there were also several plates and silverware around the room. Undoubtedly from whatever meals Midnight had had the past few days.

With a sigh, Sky shut the door behind her. “Midnight, sit down; I think we'd better talk.”

Midnight looked at her. “About what?”

“About whatever it is that's bothering you,” Sky told her firmly. Midnight tried to put on an innocent face, but Sky held up a hoof to silence her and then gestured firmly to one of the cushions nearby. She waited for Midnight to sit, then pulled a second cushion over and sat down as well facing her. “Now, what's wrong, Midnight? You never study like this unless something is really troubling you.”

She looked away seeming reluctant to answer, but Sky continued to gaze at her intently until she finally gave in.

“My cutie mark is identical to Twilight's except for color...” She said finally.

Sky raised an eyebrow at that. “Okay, so...” She said not understanding why that would distress Midnight.

“Don't you know how rare that is!?” She levitated over several of the books in the room and Sky saw that they were all studies on cutie marks. Selecting one of the books Midnight flipped open a page. It was clear she was very familiar with the book and knew exactly what page she was looking for. “Everything I've read, everything! Says that no two cutie marks are the same shape. They might depict the same things and be for the same talents, but they are never identical in shape.”

She held the book up for Sky to see and she carefully took it in her wings looking at the page it was open too. There were several comparisons of cutie marks on the page. Two were simply hammers, that looked nearly identical, even in color, but the book pointed out that the angle the hammers were at was slightly different, and the handle of one of the hammers was slightly longer than the other.

Another pair were from a couple of hoofball players, both depicted the ball of the sport and again looked almost identical. But once again the book pointed out that the pattern on the ball was slightly different on one of them, as if the ball were rotated back just a little.

Sky looked up from the book. “Okay so it's rare, but why should that bother you?”

“It's unheard of!” She exclaimed. “In all of recorded history, it's never happened before!”

Dropping the book, Sky reached out her wings and grasped Midnight's shoulders gently. “Midnight, why is this bothering you?” She asked firmly.

Midnight looked down for a few moments and Sky began to wonder if she would answer. “I think there's some kind of connection between Twilight and I... Something she hasn't told me about,” she said finally.

“Some kind of connection?” Sky repeated. “What do you mean?”

“I don't know!” Midnight whimpered. “I know next to nothing about who I was before Twilight took me in. Nopony in Ponyville had ever seen me before. Even my grandparents had never seen me before the first time Twilight took me to visit!” She looked up at Sky, her eyes pleading. “What if I'm not who I think I am? What if... what if I'm not a normal pony? What if I'm some kind of clone?”

Sky snorted, Midnight was letting her imagination get carried away; probably due to a lack of sleep considering the rest of her condition. “Midnight, don't be silly.”

“Twilight's never told me about my family except that they were gone...” She insisted almost rambling. “What if I never had one...”

“Midnight!” Sky almost shouted using her wings to force Midnight to look into her eyes. “Get a hold of yourself!”

Midnight looked into her eyes a moment then finally took a deep breath, seeming to calm down.

“Good, now if this is really bothering you then why don't you just ask Twilight about it. You know she'd never keep secrets from you without good reason. She is your mother after all.”

She looked down. “I... I'm afraid,” she said softly.

Sky snorted. “Well that's a first. Midnight, you have nothing to be afraid of; I'm sure of it. Ask Twilight. If there are secrets, I'm sure she'll tell you if you let her know it's troubling you.”

“That's what I'm afraid of,” she said softly; “that there are secrets... and what they might be.”

“I'm sure it's not as bad as you're imagining, Midnight,” Sky assured her. “But you'll never know unless you ask.”

She looked down and reluctantly nodded.

“You'll talk to Twilight then?” Sky asked to get her to commit.

“Yeah, I will...” Midnight agreed finally.

“Good, but before you do, there's something else you should do first,” Sky told her.

“What's that?” Midnight asked looking up.

She grinned. “Take a bath! Twilight would have a heart attack if you showed up at the library in your condition!”

Midnight blushed looking down at herself. “I guess you're right...”

~~~

That evening Midnight paused for a few moments just down the road from the library. She was still nervous. She knew there were secrets about her past. Despite Sky's assurances, Midnight feared what those secrets might be. She almost didn't want to find out; but she knew that if she didn't ask it would torment her for weeks to come.

She sighed and looked up at the familiar tree-house library that had been her home for over ten years. She'd grown up, lived and played within those walls and never cared how she'd come to be there. She'd had a wonderful family: Twilight, Spike, and even Owlicious were all important parts of it. She'd never worried about the family she'd lost, she didn't remember them. But now she worried they may not have existed at all... She had to know; she had to be sure of who she was, and what she was.

Taking a deep breath, she headed down the road. For better or worse, she had to know.

Two of Twilight's guards were of course nearby. Though as Twilight had insisted, they weren't in armor and tried to act casual, watching the library from a distance. Everypony in town knew who they were, though. Midnight waved at them as she approached the library door and got a wave in return, then she knocked on the door.

It was Spike who answered. “Oh hey, Midnight!”

Midnight smiled down at him. Spike was the one constant in all the years she'd been growing up. He had grown in the eleven years Midnight had known him, but only a little; barely enough to be noticed. Twilight had discovered that Dragon growth, when not spurred by greed, was exceptionally slow. It took a dragon centuries to grow into adulthood if they didn't give into their greed. For that reason very few dragons ever had held out and reached maturity at the natural rate. When Spike had found out, he'd become determined to be one of the few, even if it meant it would be years before he could be considered anything but a hatchling.

“Hey, Spike. Mom home?” Midnight asked though she could sense Twilight inside.

“Yeah, she's here,” he said opening the door to let Midnight in.

Midnight stepped inside and looked around smiling as the many happy memories she had of the Library came flooding back. She'd been glad to move into her own place, but that didn't mean she didn't miss the library at times.

Twilight was sitting at her desk with a quill held in her magic and a stack of papers in front of her, but she looked back over her shoulder when she heard the door shut.

“Midnight!” She said happily and put down her quill as she got up to give her daughter a hug. Midnight gladly returned it. “What brings you here this evening?” She asked as she stepped back again.

“I need to talk to you,” Midnight said softly.

“Oh,” She glanced over her shoulder at the desk. “I'm sorry Midnight, can it wait? I'm in the middle of reviewing some important research documents...”

Midnight looked up at her sadly. “I haven't been sleeping...”

Twilight looked at her concerned. “Is it the nightmares?”

She shook her head. “Not exactly.”

Twilight looked at her a few moments more seeing the distress Midnight was in and then slowly nodded. “Okay,” she said softly, deciding that her daughter was more important that a hoof-full of documents. Then she nodded toward the stairs. “Let's go to the bedroom, so we can talk without being disturbed.”

Midnight nodded in agreement then followed Twilight up to her bedroom. For the first couple years she was living at the library as a filly, she'd had a small basket bed like Spike's and had stayed in the bedroom as well. Because of that, it had always been a place of comfort for her.

With her growth as an alicorn, Twilight had been forced to get a larger bed, but otherwise the room was almost unchanged. Midnight smiled as she looked around at the familiar setting. Then taking one of the cushions, she sat down as Twilight did the same.

“So, what is it you want to talk about?” She asked gently.

Midnight looked down for a moment, it would be best to get strait to the point. “Why are our cutie marks the same?”

Twilight looked surprised and Midnight thought she saw a shadow of worry cross her expression. She took a moment to collect her thoughts before she spoke. “Spike told me you'd borrowed quite a few books about cutie marks. I take it you've been doing some research?”

Midnight nodded. “Everything I've read says that they're never the same shape, not exactly. They sometimes can be the same color, but never the same shape... But ours are exactly the same, only the color is different. That's not suppose to happen, and I can't help but think that there's some connection between us, something you've never told me.”

Twilight took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Midnight...”

“That's not all!” Midnight interrupted. “Nopony had ever seen me before you took me in. Not here in Ponyville, not your friends, not even grandma and grandpa. You told me we had been like sisters before, but how could we have been that close and everypony else close to you not even know about me?”

Twilight reached out her wings and embraced Midnight to stop her. “Midnight,” she said softly, holding her gently in her wings. “This is something I've considered telling you many times, but I wasn't sure if you were ready.”

Midnight felt herself trembling as Twilight's words confirmed that she had kept secrets from her. She had almost hoped she was wrong. “What is it?” She breathed, afraid of what the answer would be.

Twilight gently pushed her back and looked her in the eyes. “Are you sure you want to know? Some of this may not be easy for you to hear,” she warned looking concerned.

Taking a deep breath to gather her resolve, Midnight nodded.

Seeing her daughter's desire to know, Twilight slowly nodded. “Alright then,” she said softly then took a few moments to collect her thoughts while Midnight waited with growing anxiety.

“You remember what I told you when you first woke up?” She finally began.

Midnight nodded. “You said that you'd saved me from a powerful evil spirit and that what you had to do to save me had erased my memories.” She looked up at Twilight expecting her to say it was a lie.

“That was the truth, Midnight,” she said then held up a hoof when Midnight was about to object. “But it wasn't the whole truth.”

Then Midnight understood. “What didn't you tell me?”

Twilight took a deep breath. “When I saved you, I didn't just save you from the evil spirit. I also saved you from another world as well.”

“Another world!?” Midnight repeated confused. “What do you mean another world?”

Twilight held up a wing, and Midnight fell silent waiting. “Eleven years ago, I came across a theory that there's not just one world; one reality; but infinite worlds, each different in some way,” she explained and Midnight couldn't help but be intrigued by the idea. “I decided to investigate the theory and tried to devise a spell that would let me see these other worlds. And it worked,” Twilight went on. “I saw countless worlds and many variations of Equestria, where history had played out differently than in this world.”

“And I'm from one of those other worlds!?”

Twilight nodded. “I was a little too enthusiastic and kept the spell going far longer than I probably should have. I lost control of the spell and before I could stop it, the spell had somehow brought you, as well as an evil spirit into this world. The evil spirit then possessed me and tried to take over Equestria, but with the help of my friends, I was able to break free and defeat the spirit. And in the process, I saved you as well.”

Midnight looked down as her mind processed what Twilight had said. She was from another world, and Twilight had brought her here to this Equestria on accident. “But that still doesn't explain why our cutie marks are the same.” Midnight said looking up again.

Twilight nodded. “There's one other thing I didn't tell you about when my friends and I saved you,” she explained. “Your memory loss wasn't the only side effect, the spell also reduced you in age.”

She looked up sharply. “Reduced my age!?”

“You were the same age as me,” Twilight told her softly.

“But...” Midnight looked down again as she put together the pieces. “If I was the same age as you, and I'm from an alternate world... and we have almost the same cutie mark...”

“That's right,” Twilight said softly, seeing Midnight was figuring it out. “You were that world's version of me.”

Midnight's breathing was irregular, almost panicked. “But, if I'm another version of you, then is my name...”

“No,” Twilight cut her off gently. “Your name has always been Midnight Star. The worlds I saw varied a great deal, and the many versions of me, of us, varied as well. Sometimes they'd have the same names and appearance, but many had different names and colors. The only real constant was that they all had the same talent and of coarse, the same shape cutie mark. We're different versions of each other Midnight, we're not the same,” Twilight told her smiling reassuringly. “You've proven that often enough.”

Midnight looked up and slowly smiled, but then another thought occurred to her. “But if I'm from this other world, then does that mean... could my real family still be alive there?”

Twilight sadly shook her head. “No.”

“How do you know?”

“Because you told me,” Twilight said gently. “Before all the chaos with the evil spirit.”

Midnight looked down sadly. “I see...” For a time she sat staring at the floor taking in all that she had learned. It wasn't as bad as she had feared, but it was still a shock to learn where she'd come from. That she'd once been older and another version of Twilight.

Then she felt Twilight move closer and wrap her wings around her in a comforting embrace. “I know this must be hard for you to take in,” She whispered softly. “That's why I never told you before; I just wasn't sure if you were ready. I didn't want to burden you.”

Midnight put her hooves around Twilight returning the embrace. “Thanks for telling me.”

Twilight gave her a gentle squeeze. “You going to be alright?”

She nodded against Twilight's shoulder. “Yeah, I think so... Is it alright, if I still just call you mom?” She asked softly, fearing that knowing the secret now would change their relationship.

Twilight sniffed, tears coming to her eyes. “Of course, you will always be my daughter, Midnight,” she said with conviction. “I will always love you.”

Midnight felt tears coming to her own eyes as well, but she didn't care. “I'll always love you too, mom,” she said softly, and at that moment she knew; it didn't matter where she was from. This was her home now and forever, because this was where her family was.