• Published 26th Dec 2013
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Fragments of Memories - Starwin

After surviving a spell that merged Twilight and Dash into a single being, the two mares are still struggling to get back to as normal a life as they can have. Except, didn’t they used to have more friends? Why is it so hard to remember…

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Chapter 01 - Beyond the Veil of Thoughts

Fragments of Memories
By Starwin

Chapter 01 - Beyond the Veil of Thoughts

Twilight Sparkle was afraid. She could feel her muscles tense, as if begging her to run. Her stomach tightened up like it was trying to hide inside her. Every fiber of her being trembled as she stood transfixed by the ominous sight before her.

The massive golden sun stretched from one horizon to the other, filling all of her view. Yet, it was not the sun she feared. At its heart, there was a tiny point of absolute darkness. A darkness, that was coming for her.

Twilight tried to step away, but her legs would not move. It was as if she had forgotten how to walk.

The dark spot grew larger as it approached, until there was more shadow than sun. Then, what it had nearly eclipsed the golden-white disc, the darkness began to take shape.

It moved and shifted, twisting like nothing alive. At last, it settled upon a shape both familiar and foreign. Pony, yet, monster. Mentor and enemy.

"Twilight Sparkle," said a harsh voice. The words reverberated through Twilight, echoing like a shouting inside her mind. "For your crimes you are hereby banished from Equestria. From this day onwards, you shall no longer be welcome here. Your name shall be wiped from our history. Your memory erased from our minds. It will be like you never existed at all."

Twilight tried to move, to kneel before this shadow shape and beg for forgiveness for what she had done. However, the heavy chains around her hooves and neck kept her pinned in place.

The dark and terrible form moved forward, the sun blazing at its back. It looked down upon Twilight, its eyes filled with the most terrible expression the unicorn had ever seen: disappointment.

"Please!" begged Twilight, her voice finally coming to her aid far too late. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! Please don't send me away!"

However, the shadow was no longer listening. It was moving away. Not walking, but slowly becoming more distant, retreating back into the sun from which it had come. Soon the shape was nothing more than a faint line, then a distant dot and finally nothing – like it had never been at all.

"Please!" cried Twilight desperately. The heavy chains tightened and pulled at her, dragging her back towards the dark abyss. Twilight collapsed to her knees, unable to continue standing. In the distance the massive sun began to set and soon even that was gone.

Twilight Sparkle was left behind in darkness. She was completely alone. Chained, trapped and abandoned. She felt cold tears come to her eyes. She deserved to be here, to be like this.

"No, you do not, Twilight," said a soft, kind, voice. Twilight looked up, her face wet with freshly fallen tears.

The soft white glow of the Moon now filled the sky in place of the blazing sun. It cast its light upon Twilight, bathing her in shimmering silver. Standing in front of the Moon, looking down at her, was Princess Luna, although there was something odd about her. She flickered in and out of existence, like a ghost.

“So, I find you here once more,” whispered Luna quietly. The tall mare lifted a hoof and lightly touched the chains that bound Twilight. The links broke and dissolved into smoke before being whisked away in the wind. Yet Twilight remained where she was. “Why do you punish yourself?”

"I don't deserve to be free," whispered Twilight, looking away from Luna. "Not after what I did."

"I do not believe that to be so," said Luna kindly. "Your actions were noble and true, not selfish and corrupt. What you did, you did for all the right reasons. You have sacrificed more than anypony could have asked of you."

"But not what anypony would have wanted!" exclaimed Twilight, a bite of anger in her voice. Luna’s shape became more out of focus at the harsh words. "I gave up everything! I sacrificed everything! And I failed…" Twilight looked at her hooves as though seeing them for the first time. "I failed everypony…"

"That remains to be seen," said Luna, her expression impassive. "For now, the only comfort I can give you is this." Luna lifted her hoof into the air. Twilight watched it with wide eyes. Luna shimmered away and a moment later the moon suddenly exploded with light. The world around Twilight burned away into the glow of the morning sun.

Slowly, one eye opened to the soft pink light of the dawn. The purple iris contracted slightly against the rays of light streaming in through the window. Gently the lid half closed against the glare. The pony attached to the eye tried to lift a hoof, to shield against the day, but the leg wouldn’t move. The limb was paralyzed in place.

Yet this was nothing new, nothing to be alarmed about. Mornings almost always seemed to start like this, trapped inside a motionless body. Unable to do anything but look, the eye turned away from the sunlight.

Overhead the ceiling was moving slowly past. A faint memory played across their mind remembering back to the first moving ceiling they had encountered. Now, moving ceilings were normal. They saw it every morning. The eye closed and the ceiling vanished.

In the moment of waking, things were still disconnected. Twilight was awake, but they were also asleep. Half of their thoughts were filled with the morning Sun, while the other half was lost in distant dreams.

They were flying, looping high above a crowd who oh-ed and ah-ed. They were in both places, awake and asleep, in dreams and reality.

A cloud wall suddenly loomed in front of them. With a yelp that carried from the realm of dreams and into the waking world their other eye, with an iris of pink, snapped open. Their body became stiff, shaking slightly with an impact that had existed only in their mind. Then they settled back down, coming to terms that it had only been a dream.

"Yeah… a dream," they said, their voice dull and tired. "Are you awake then?" "We are," answered the exact same pony, talking to herself. "Just five more minutes?" "No. We should get up," they answered. The pink eye closed tiredly. They could feel the edge of sleep attempting to return. "Dash! Come on!" complained the pony, lifting a hoof to shake themself. The pink eye snapped open.

"Okay, okay, we're up!" they said. Stretching with both hooves they let out a long yawn. Then, slowly, carefully, they sat up.

Around them was a somewhat odd sight. There were in a multileveled room, with a loft on one side and bookshelves on the other. From their perspective however they were right in the center, except much higher off the ground than they logically should be.

This was an upper room in the public library, which had been built inside a living tree. The room had once belonged to Twilight Sparkle. Now, it was their room. They shared it because there was simply no other choice. They had to share it just like everything else. It was their room now.

While the room hadn't changed too much from when Twilight Sparkle had lived there, a few things were indeed different. It was slightly more messy than usual, yet that mess didn’t’ include any books. Some of the furniture seemed to be made from clouds, rather than wood, like one of the bookshelves. However, the most drastic of the changes was that the bed had been removed. In its place, at least some of the time, was a bed made from clouds. The cloud bed hovered near the roof of the room. It liked to float around during the night.

They gave it a gentle tap with a hoof and it descended slowly to the floor. They hadn't made the bed, flying and weather control were still too difficult for the moment. Their friend Fluttershy, with the help of two other pegasus, had made the bed for them.

Softly, the cloud mattress bumped against the floor and the pony with the mismatched eyes, rolled out of bed. The moment they were off, the cloud floated away once more. They watched with a slight frown as it drifted back to the ceiling above.

"We really should work on our flying," said the pony to herself. "Walking first," the pony answered. "But flying is so much cooler annnd faster! Come on, just try!" "No, we've been over this. Walking first! Now come on, we should wake up Spike." "Aw, do we have to? Can't we let him sleep in?"

They paused for a moment, their argument with themself halted as they thought. Deciding things wasn't like it had been. It was more… complicated now. What they wanted wasn't always what they actually wanted. It wasn't like voting, or weighing the options, it was more like… finding the right answer in a stormy sea of possibilities… more like… guessing.

At last, they finally came to a conclusion, together.

"Okay, we can let him sleep a little longer," said the pony to themself. "We guess we can manage a few things without a checklist." The pony rolled her eyes. “What?” exclaimed the pony. “We didn’t say anything.” “Having a proper checklist is important, especially now! It helps us stay on track and keep focused!” “We didn’t say anything!” they repeated. “Now let’s get a move on before Spike gets up!”

The pony took a deep breath, preparing for the great challenge ahead of them: the walk to the bathroom.

It was odd, before they had fused together simple tasks, like walking, had hardly ever been thought about. Now, however, things were more… complicated. A term they had repeated endlessly in recent memory.

"Left hoof first," said the pony. They nodded. Carefully, they took a step forward with their left hoof. They remained standing. A good start that usually went quickly wrong. "Okay, back hoof next." And it was going wrong. The hoof on the same side lifted and they felt themself toppling sideways. "Steady! Steady!" they cried, but it was too late.

They stumbled across the floor, their hooves moving automatically beneath them, catching them with each step before they could fall. They slammed into a bookshelf, causing it to wobble dangerously. Books toppled down out of it and the pony stumbled away, in the opposite direction, narrowly avoiding being hit.

They couldn't seem to get their hooves under them or stop themself. They collided with an end table and knocked the lamp off. It fell to the floor with a crash of glass. Their direction changed again, they were almost galloping forward now.

Their head moved far out in front of their body as they charged across the room. The wall loomed up in front of them, but they tripped on their hooves and toppled forward. They slammed into the floor before sliding to an uncomfortable stop. Their face was planted against the ground while their rump was sticking up in the air.

"We said back hoof!" complained the pony to themself. "That was our back hoof!" retorted the pony.

"Uh, Twilight?" asked a groggy voice from the top of the stairs. On the ledge of the upper level of the room was Spike. He had been Twilight Sparkle's assistant and friend since before she had come to Ponyville. Now he was… it was complicated. "Are you alright?"

"We're fine," said the pony. They put their hooves under them and tried to push themself up, only succeeding in rolling over to their side. "And it's Twilight Dash now!" they insisted.

"Sorry," apologized Spike. "I'm still not… I'm sorry." He hung his head.

"Oh Spike, it's alright," said Twilight Dash with a smile, looking up at him from the floor. "We're sorry, we weren't trying to wake you." Spike descended down the stairs.

"Yeah, I can see," said Spike looking around the mess of the room. He let out a sigh. "It's not like I'm not used to cleaning up since… you know." Spike stopped beside the pony lying on her side. "Here, let me give you a claw." With a great deal of effort, he helped the mare back to her hooves. She stood, slightly wobbly for a moment.

"Thank you Spike," said Twilight Dash with a smile. "We should be able to manage from here."

"Are you sure Twilight?" asked Spike, his eyes swept over the chaos strewn across the floor.

"Yes, WE are sure," said Twilight Dash. "Dash!" exclaimed the pony. "Sorry," they apologized to themself. "He just keeps forgetting that there are two of us!"

"I'm trying," apologized Spike again. "It's hard for me too, you know?" They could feel a retort come to their lips, words that wanted to say he had no idea what hard was. However, they were able to stop the hurtful sounds before they could make it. "Come on, let's get you to the bathroom. Left hoof first."

Slowly, Spike helped them make their way across the room. Together the three of them had worked out a system. Spike would touch each leg in turn as it needed to move. This was a very slow way to travel but it worked. It certainly had less crashing in any case.

After a few minutes, they reached the bathroom. They stopped in front of the sink first, to brush their teeth, which Spike had to help them with. When they had just been Twilight… no, when she had been Twilight Sparkle, she had used her magic to do it. Now magic was… complicated.

They looked at their reflection in the mirror, the unfamiliar, yet completely as they expected it to be, face looked back at them. Their fur was lavender, with the slightest hint of blue shine in the right light. One eye was vibrant pink, while the other was a dark purple. They had a unicorn horn atop their head, surrounded by a mane of rainbow colors.

Although they couldn't see them, they also knew that there were wings on their sides. And that they had a mismatched tail of deep purple, with a pink highlight.

Silently, they looked at themself in the mirror, while Spike brushed their teeth for them. They felt… sad, seeing how they looked now. Only a few days ago they had been two separate ponies, Rainbow Dash, a fearless, sky loving, daredevil pegasus. And Twilight Sparkle, a book smart, checklist obsessed, egghead, unicorn.

"Egghead!" cried Twilight Dash indignantly, drooling out some of the toothpaste onto themself. "Sorry," they apologized to Spike as he gave them a strange look.

After the brushing was done, Spike helped them to the shower. He closed the bathroom door behind him, to give them privacy - or at least as much as could be expected, with a second pony in their head. They sat, as it was much easier than standing, and turned on the water. It took another five minutes of fiddling with the knob before they could agree on a temperature setting.

Dash was not used to showers. Rain clouds and waterfalls had always sufficed before. The feeling of standing in a very small enclosed space and spraying water on themself was an odd, uncomfortable notion for her. A feeling that they both felt now as they sat under the spray.

As they sat, their mind began to wander. At first it drifted over the simple events of the morning. They recounted parts of their faded dreams, the feeling of flying, the look of disappointment in the shadow pony's eyes, the cheers of the crowd, the glow of the Moon.

Slowly their mind began to travel further back, to the day before that they had spent with their friends trying to comfort them. And the day before that when their friends had tried to help them remember how to walk. And the day before that when… when they had given up the element of magic.

An uncontrollable shudder trembled through their body. At first they hadn't felt anything, perhaps a little less warm. But as time had passed, as they went on, the sensation began to grow worse. It was like a hole within them had been opened. A hole that was getting larger and deeper. They wrapped their hooves around themself.

"Twilight Dash?" asked Spike from the other side of the door. "Are you alright in there?"

Their eyes snapped open and they shut off the water. Their hoof was shaking slightly and their breathing was uneven. They swallowed hard. How long had they been sitting here? They had completely lost track of time.

"Fine," came their shaky voice, sounding more of Dash than Twilight and not sounding fine at all. "I'm fine."

Spike had once again helped them to dry off before escorting them down stairs. Stairs were the trickiest part of all. They descended sideways, their jaw clamped tight around the railing with each step.

At last they made it down to the kitchen and were seated at the table, while Spike prepared food for them. They sat, still lost in their own thoughts, although they were hardly thinking about anything.

"Breakfast is served!" announced Spike, placing a bowl of oats, topped with lemon grass and dandelion petals, in front of them. They looked at it, both hungry and disinterested. Spike's smile slowly faded as he saw their expression. "Do you not like it? Do you want me to make something else?"

"No, no it's good," said Twilight Dash. "Thank you Spike." They put out a hoof and rubbed his head. He tottered off before returning with his own bowl of food, crushed rubies. Spike began to eat, but Twilight Dash just stared at their food, not really seeing it.

"Are you sure you don't want something else?" asked Spike when they hadn't moved. His voice startled them.

"Sorry, what?" asked Twilight Dash. "Oh, no, it's good."

"You already said that," replied Spike. "But you haven't even touched it." They looked away. "Maybe a checklist would help?" suggested Spike. "I can go get one if you want?" They nodded but didn't speak. "Okay, stay right there, I'll be right back." The baby dragon hurried off.

Twilight Dash looked down at the bowl in front of her. This had been one of Twilight Sparkle's favorite meals. Yet, Rainbow Dash had never really liked oats all that much. It was one of the many strange sensations that they had been feeling as of late, liking and disliking the exact same thing.

They lowered their head and sniffed. Instantly a war broke out in their brain. The fresh smell of oats made them both hungry and nauseous at the same time.

"I'm back!" announced Spike. They sat up straight in their chair, as though they had been caught eating something they shouldn't have been. Spike didn't seem to notice. "Alright, checklist, what do you want to put first? Eating breakfast?"

"Uh, sure," said Twilight Dash.

"Okay, eat… break… fast," said Spike, jotting down the item. "Okay, what next?" Twilight Dash looked away. What next indeed.

"I… we… don't know," said Twilight Dash. Spike frowned. "Fly!" said Twilight Dash suddenly, a little more of Dash's voice creeping in this time. "Dash! We've been over this! Walking first!" they said to themself, although the words sounded most like Twilight. "Oh come on! We've been stuck in here for three days! Let's at least go outside!" "No! Not yet, we aren't ready! They aren't ready for us!"

The room quieted into silence, the last of the argument lingering in the air a moment longer.

"I'm sorry Dash," said Twilight Dash to herself. "But… please… not yet." They hung their head.

"I'll… I'll make you something else," said Spike setting down his quill and parchment and retrieving the bowl off the table.

They didn't protest as he carried it away. He returned shortly with an apple salad to which neither had any reservation about eating this time. Spike sat back in his chair and waited until they had finished.

When the table had been cleared and the dishes cleaned, Spike returned to the checklist.

"Okay," said Spike. "So, breakfast, check."

"Do we have 'double-check' the checklist?" asked Twilight Dash hopefully.

"Uh, no," said Spike, looking over the single item on the parchment. "We only have one task…"

"Oh, yeah," said Twilight Dash, her face falling slightly. "I don't know what else we are supposed to do today…"

"Weren't you going to meet up with your friends?" asked Spike. "We can add that."

"Okay," said Twilight Dash with a slight smile. "Sure."

"Have… fun… with… Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity and Fluttershy," said Spike as he wrote out the list.

"Wait, who was that last one?" asked Twilight Dash.

"Fluttershy," repeated Spike.

"Oh, yeah," said Twilight Dash with a nod. "Flutterhigh."

"Shy," corrected Spike, a small frown of concern creeping across his face.

"That's what we said," said Twilight Dash. "When are they supposed to get here?"

"Around lunch I think," said Spike, looking up at the clock on the wall. "So, in like five minutes?"

Twilight Dash's eyes flicked up to the clock on the wall, it was only five till twelve, when had it gotten so late? They attempted to scramble up from their chair, only to land flat on their face. Spike let out a cry of distress and hurried to help them back up.

"We're fine," assured Twilight Dash, trying and failing to stand. They could feel tears of frustration starting to form at their eyes. This was easy. Foals could do this, yet they could hardly manage it!

At last Twilight Dash made it back to their hooves, with Spike's help. Just as they were standing there was a knock at the door.

"I'll get it," said Spike. "Wait… just wait here, okay?" They nodded, fighting the urge to follow. They could hear voices of greeting out in the main room. They longed to walk out there on their own. They lifted their left front hoof.

"What are we doing?" hissed Twilight Dash to herself. "Spike said stay!" "But we want to go!" "But we can't go!"

"Uh, hey, Twilight Dash?" asked a concerned voice from the doorway. They looked up to find Applejack standing their, smiling a strained smile at them. "Is everything alright sugarcube?"

"Nes," they answered, the words mixing together. Applejack looked sad but the smile stayed on her face.

"Do ya'll want a little help?" asked Applejack. No words this time, instead they both nodded and shook their head, making them dizzy. "Uh, I'll take that as a yes." Applejack trotted over to them. She reached out a hoof, but stopped. There was something in the expression on her face, something that almost looked like fear.

They stood there, silent and motionless. Applejack looked like she genuinely wanted to help. Yet at the same time it seemed as if the last thing she wanted to do was touch Twilight Dash. Applejack opened her mouth to say something.

“Pardon me,” said Spike, nudging his way past Applejack. The orange earth pony took a step back, moving out of the way.

Carefully, Spike repeated the hoof tapping process and escorted Twilight Dash out into the mane library room, while Applejack just stood and watched.

There three of her friends were waiting for her, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Spike. However, there was also another pony there, one they didn't know. Twilight Dash was sure they had never seen this fourth pony before… and yet… there was something strangely familiar about the butter yellow pegasus that they just couldn't place.

Author's Note:

Well, there it is. One of the most requested stories I have ever worked on. I hope it can live up to expectations, I'll do the best I can with it. But as always reader feedback (corrections, suggestion, ideas and requests) are always welcome. If you have an idea you think might help improve the story, I am more than happy to read and consider it.

Unlike previous stories I've done this one wont have a schedule, new chapters will go up when they are done, hopefully no more than two weeks between chapters, but no promises (as this story is not as complete as previous works).

So, Enjoy :D