• Published 7th Feb 2014
  • 4,289 Views, 196 Comments

Stronger - Einhander



Mourning her fiancee and blaming the death on her own weakness, Fluttershy wishes she was stronger. What happens when her wish is granted? What happens when she finds she can't control her new power?

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Prologue: Dreams

STRONGER

By: Einhander


PROLOGUE:
DREAMS


First, there was darkness. Eyes open or shut, the effect was the same. It had been there for forever, or perhaps only a moment.

Then, there was light all around her.

She tried to open her eyes, and immediately regretted it. The light was blinding and all encompassing. She shut her eyes, but that only dimmed the effect. All was white, bright and fearless.

White pegasus.

The voice was old, commanding. She felt her ears perk up.

Rise.

The harsh light faded, replaced by gentle warmth. She dared to open her eyes. She was in the middle of a field on a sunny day, the rays washing over her face and back. The field was endless all around, green hills spotted with the occasional pink flower. It was beautiful, but where was she? How did get here? And why—

Rise and come forward.

She turned. Floating before her over a small pond of clear water was a yellow glowing ball of energy. It had no face, eyes or mouth. Nevertheless, she could not shake the feeling she was being watched, and that it was the source of that voice.

It is a big job, white pegasus. To raise the sun everyday? To care for all the creatures? Are you prepared to do that?

And suddenly it all came back to her. Who she was, why she was here. How she had found it. What she would be giving up.

What had to be done.

She nodded her little head. "Our crops won’t grow, our land is suffering, and things will never get better if somepony doesn’t change things."

And you think you are the one to be that change.

She swallowed, then nodded her little head again. More memories seeped back into her brain, and she found a speech that she had rehearsed in their only mirror, a small cracked thing she hid under her and her sister's bed. She cleared her throat:

"It’s what I was meant to do. Ponies are all capable of such good things, if only somepony would show them the way…"

I know these words. I heard them spoken in a small hut, to your reflection, when you thought all those around you were asleep.

She felt the warm blush of embarrassment. Of course the orb knew. If it could move mountains, then why wouldn't it know about her mirror?

They are good words, but are they true?

The embarrassment turned to steel in her veins. She looked back up at the orb with blazing eyes. "The sun rises at the whim of the unicorns, when they can stop fighting long enough to control it. We pegasi are no better, covering the sun’s rays with clouds for spite and then refusing to let them rain until we get paid." She gritted her teeth and pawed at the ground. "And the earth ponies are starving. We're all starving!”

She slammed her hoof into the ground, only to find she had hit water. The splash caught her off guard. She shook the water from her hoof and looked at her reflection. Panting, adrenaline coursing through her, she imagined she would look fearsome and serious. Instead, what greeted her was a reflection of a gawky white pegasus filly with a wet hoof. She lowered her head, embarrassment coming back with a vengeance. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her cutie mark, a yellow sun. She turned back to face the orb, voice hard. "Besides, look at my cutie mark! Who else is there?”

The orb crackled with energy.

There are hundreds, maybe more, with some version of the sun on their side. Every pony is unique, every pony is the same. They all wish for something better. Why are you any different?

Her shoulders sagged, and she turned to her reflection again. The same white pony looked at her from before. But this time, an added sadness rimmed her eyes. “Something better. No. They wish for food, fresh water and a safe place to sleep. That only gets them through through today. No pony thinks of tomorrow, except the ones that wish for power.” She looked back up, and spoke without affect. “Somepony must lead us out of the dark.”

There was a silence. The orb seemed to be looking at her. Looking through her.

What you have said and what you feel in your heart… you are worthy.

Hope met joy and kissed in her heart. She stood up straight and said, "I will not let you down."

I have no hopes or expectations to meet. But what of your family?

The filly frowned, and lowered her head. “All are gone but my sister, and I will..." Words adequate to the task failed her. Instead all she had were lame platitudes. She finished with the easiest one she could find. "I will miss her very much, but she needs the sun most of all.”

From what I have seen, she may never forgive you.

She nodded. "I am prepared for that."

Are you?

“Sister!”

The white filly turned, and saw another, younger dark blue pegasus filly running towards her. Her heart sank. “Star! I told you to stay at home!”

Star ran over to her at full speed. Crying and shaking, she embraced her older sister and would not let her go. “Don’t leave me, sister! You mustn't, you can't. I won't let you." Then she turned to the orb, and snarled. "I won't let you take her!"

The orb said nothing.

The white pegasus cooed into her sister’s ear. “I won’t be gone… not really gone.”

“You promised. You promised you wouldn’t leave.” Star sniffled, burying her head in her sister’s fur.

The white pegasus sighed. "I promised to take care of you. And I always will, no matter where—"

"No!" Star hugged tighter. “You promised you wouldn’t leave me.”

She winced. Star was three years her younger, but stronger than she looked. “I wouldn’t, but… if I don’t do this, we will all perish. Our land needs somepony to do what must be done.”

Your sister, little one, has asked to be the Sun. She wishes to save your land from starvation.

Star looked up at the light, face blank, then back at her sister. “The sun?"

The absurdity of it all hit when Star said those words. The white pegasus disengaged and rubbed her hooves together. "Well, the power to raise it, to control it. Watch over it."

Star blinked. "But you promised…That wherever we go, we go together…”

The white pegasus bit her lip and looked away. “Where I’m going, it’s a one way trip…”

“No!” Star shouted, shoving her sister away. "No! I won’t be alone again! You’re all I have left! I won’t! I won’t!” She sank to the ground, crying into the grass. “I don’t even have my cutie mark yet…”

The white pegasus looked away, words failing her.

Blue pegasus.

Both fillies looked up at the orb curiously.

Step forward.

Star obeyed, stepping forward on shaky legs to face the light. In a deadly serious voice only the very young possess, she said, “Please don’t take away my sister.”

It is her wish, not my command. Stand still.

She nodded, eyes nervous but body steady. The orb got very close, causing Luna’s eyes to flinch. The light was blinding, all encompassing and unrelenting. But she did not look away.

Yes. So much like your sister. Very well. You may also have your heart’s desire.

Star lit up. “Yay!”

The color drained from her sister’s face. The white pegasus jumped in front of Star, hooves blocking her from the orb. “No! She’s supposed to live a normal life!”

It is not my wish. It is hers.

“Yeah!” Star stuck her tongue out at her sister, and for a brief moment she acted the filly that she very much still looked like. “I want to be the sun with my sister! Together, we—”

I do not grant half-wishes. The sun will be your sister’s heavy burden to bear, and hers alone. Celestial bodies do not have two masters.

Star deflated and crumpled to the ground. The white pegasus, visibly relieved, put her wing around her sister.

I do not think your heart truly desires the sun and all that comes with the hours of daylight. But there is another responsibility...

The white pegasus held her breath. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw clouds begin to gather overhead.

Even the sun must sleep. Tell me, blue pegasus. What do you know of the night?

“The night?” Star lifted her head slowly and looked at the orb. "I love the night. I know some ponies think it's frightening, but I don't. When the pegasi take the clouds away, the moon watches over us. And when I can't sleep, the stars keep me company."

The sun needs a firm hoof to rise. So does the moon.

Star’s eyes went wide. "The whole moon?"

Indeed. And the stars need a shepherd as well. But it is a big job, blue pegasus...

The white pegasus watched her sister listen to the words. The same promises made to her not long ago. This had happened before, and would happen again. A shadow fell on her. She looked up at the sky. The clouds had continued to build around them, blocking the sun's rays as the orb continued to speak. When the words eventually stopped, she turned from the sky and saw her sister staring into the small pond.

She joined Star by the water’s edge in silence. The sun was gone now, covered with clouds, and they looked at their reflections.

The white pegasus leaned in close. “You won’t grow old, sister.” She spoke softly. “You won’t die. You’ll be doing a hard job, forever.”

A gust of wind blew past them and made Star shiver. “But I’ll be with you, right? We’ll be together." She smiled. "Forever.”

“Forever…" she sighed, her young eyes suddenly very old. "Is a very long time.”

Thunder rumbled in the distance. “And what would I do for my short life without you?” Star bit her lip. “What would you do without me?”

She looked away, shame in her heart. "I tried not to think about it.”

“I did!” Star frowned, and forced her sister to face her. “Where you go, I follow, Sunny!”

They stared at one another.

Sunny whispered. “I love you so much, Star.”

Star stepped forward. “And I love you, Sunny.”

They nuzzled.

It is time.

They looked up at the orb, which had begun to crackle and spark again.

"We are ready," said Sunny.

Thunder came again, closer now. Sunny felt a hoof on top of hers. She turned and saw Star staring at her, eyes searching.

“Together?” asked Star.

Sunny nodded. “Forever.”

Say the words, White pegasus.

"I wish to be the sun, to control its rise and fall to help my fellow ponies. Forever."

The orb flashed, a bolt of energy striking near them.

Now Blue.

Star looked up. She cleared her throat and opened her mouth, but no words came out.

“It’s not too late," Sunny hissed, "You can sti—”

“I wish to be the moon!” Star shouted, “And watch over all the ponies with my sister!”

They looked at one another as the orb started glowing brighter.

Star winked. “Forever,” she whispered.

The orb flashed again, brighter this time, and then it was gone. There was a loud crash of thunder, and the rain fell all at once. It covered both of them, thoroughly drenching their fur and feathers. The scent of wet and grass, the smell after it rains, filled Sunny’s senses. She closed her eyes to feel the rain and wind against her face. And the slight tickle, faint but there, that the sun was awaiting her command.

She felt alive.

After a moment, she heard a grumpy Star say, "I don't feel any different, sister."

Sunny laughed, keeping her eyes closed. "Don’t you recall? It said it takes some time for the physical effects to show up. Different for everyone."

"It said? Who is it?"

She had the answer, but realized it answered nothing. She opened her eyes and said, "Proteus. The orb called itself Proteus."

Star opened her mouth to respond, then stopped. Her eyes were following something. Sunny turned to look. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye, different from the falling rain.

In the distance, too far away to speak but close enough to shout, stood a yellow pegasus mare with a pink mane. Sunny didn't recognize her, but it looked like she was watching them.

Sunny smiled and called out, "Hello there!" The pony in the distance seemed to shrink back. "No, it's alright! Are—"

"You!" Star cut her off, voice loud and full of ice. "You should not be here!"

Horrified, Sunny turned to Star and hissed. "Sister! Why are you being so—"

She wasn't paying attention. She strode forward, her hooves seeming to gain more weight with every step. "How are you here? How can we see you?" The yellow pegasus began to retreat. Star unfurled her wings and shouted, "You should not be here!"

Sunny gasped. Star’s wings, indeed, all of Star was twice as large as she was before. Her mane was sparkling, dual colored, one layer transparent. Sunny took an uncertain step forward, the rain coming down harder.

The yellow pegasus in the distance turned and fled. Star swore underneath her breath, and began flapping her giant wings, ready for take off… and then Sunny tapped her on the shoulder.

“Star?” Sunny asked.

Her sister turned, and revealed an older, adult muzzle and sad eyes. It was still Star, but, not Star. Her sister, for one thing, did not have a horn.

“Tia!” she shouted. “Stay here! I don’t know what magic this is, but I know it is dangerous.”

“Star, what’s happened to you?” Sunny cried. “The effects shouldn’t have happened this fast—”

Shaking her head, Star growled. “You need to wake up, Celestia. She shouldn’t be in your dream, and I don’t know what she’s going to do...”

“Dream?” Sunny faltered. There were loud booming sounds in the distance. She turned and saw a forest in the same direction the yellow pony had ran. A forest that was not there a moment ago. There were giant flashes of light from deep within the darkened woods, followed by more ominous sounds. “Star, you’re not making any sense.”

“I am not Star, and you are not Sunny. Look, look!”

Her sister grabbed her by the hoof and dragged her to the pool, which was now surrounded by muddy grass. With a pointed hoof, Star made her gaze into the water.

The face that greeted her was not her own. And yet...

She was older, to be sure. She was an adult, with big legs and hooves and sad eyes. She had a horn, a big one. Her mane was green, purple and her original pink. It flowed like her sister’s, sparkling and partially transparent. She moved her hoof up to her face. So did the reflection. She looked down, and realized she was further up from the ground than before.

And then she began to remember everything else. Starting with her sister’s name.

“Luna… how long ago did this happen?”

Luna huffed. “The past is not important. What is important is protecting you.” An earth-shattering explosion, bigger than any previous, made them turn their heads.

The forest was ablaze.

“The dream cannot harm the dreamer,” Luna muttered, flapping her wings a few times to shake off the rain, “but another pony in the dream can.” She took off from the ground, and looked towards the burning woods. “Stay here.”

“Wait!” Celestia cried out. “What do I do?”

“You need to wake up!” Luna shouted from the sky. “Before it’s too late!” She flew towards the woods and disappeared into the clouds.

Celestia was alone. She sat down on her haunches, grimacing. She lifted her front leg up to her mouth and stared at it. Wasn’t a nip supposed to wake a pony up? As she opened her mouth to bite down, her eyes glanced downward to the pool again. She closed her mouth and traced her hoof along her new face. Her old face.

“So many years,” she whispered.

A shadow crossed over the pool. She looked up.

Standing across the pool in front of her was a pegasus. She had the same coat and mane color as the pony she had seen earlier. But this pegasus was bigger, stronger. She was the size of an alicorn but without the horn. Legs as thick as an earth pony. Her face was a frozen mask of rage. Her eyes were red.

And behind her, the fields of grass were burning.

“How dare you!” seethed the yellow pegasus, her voice soft but her tone razor sharp. “You lied to me!”

Celestia immediately backed away. “Who are you?”

“You know my name!” The yellow pegasus brought her hoof down on the edge of the pool with such force, cracks opened up in the ground and the water surged to fill in the empty space. “Lying to your subjects, lying to ME about HER! How dare you?!”

She tried to smile and keep her voice calm as she looked for Luna out of the corner of her eye. “I don’t know who you are or why you are so upset, but, I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding we can straighten out...”

The yellow pegasus’s mask broke, and outrage roamed free on her muzzle. “And now you have the gall to lie to my face about all that has happened!” She jumped over the pool, and fresh cracks appeared around her landing spot. She pointed at Celestia with her hoof, and screamed, “You should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t deserve to be our princess!” She slammed the pointed hoof into the dirt, and the ground shook and cracked all around them.

Celestia looked around for an exit, and found that the flames that had followed the intruder had now surrounded both of them. The fields were burning. The woods were burning. The clouds reflected the glowing flames, and all was fire.

She opened her wings to fly, and felt her breath leave her body. A quick sock to the stomach had laid her on her back, all but knocking her senseless. Then she felt a great weight and the yellow pegasus was on top of her, holding her down with her hooves and legs.

She looked around wildly, trying to spot Luna, or some other pony. There was nothing but flames. Panic filled her short ragged breaths and flooded her veins. She turned back to face the yellow pegasus. The intruder bared her teeth, raising her hoof slowly, aiming for her Celestia’s head.

She closed her eyes. “I need to wake up… I need to wake up…” The pony on top of her shifted her weight. She knew the hoof was coming.

She braced herself.


“WAKE UP!” she screamed.

Silence greeted her.

Celestia paused to catch her breath. The night air was sweet, cool and, most importantly, not on fire. She felt hot, and kicked her sweat-soaked sheets off of her body. Looking around the room, she quickly pieced together several facts: she was in Twilight’s old home, her dream was just a dream, and most importantly, she was alive and unharmed. Yet…

Shifting her weight, she groaned, and looked down at her sides. There was a bruise, slight but there, from where the pony had hit her in her dream.

A bright light shot across the sky, outside the window. She walked over to the open air and stared up at it. The light had a shape and weight, although it moved too fast to register in one's eye as anything but a blur. It painted a light blue streak on the clouds, the vibrant color standing out against the dark sky. She found the sight oddly peaceful.

“Sister!”

Celestia yelped, her vision suddenly filled with dark blue fur and feathers. She fell backwards onto her flank.

“Sister! Celestia!” Luna was hovering outside the window, eyes radiating concern. “Are you unharmed?”

Celestia glared at her, and stood up from her bed on unsteady legs. “I’ll live, although I must ask you to be more subtle about—”

Luna flew in through the window and hugged Celestia tightly. She winced in pain, but was happy for the contact. "Peeking my dreams again, Luna?" asked Celestia.

Luna shook her head. "I followed an intruder into your dream."

Celestia broke the hug and looked out the window. The light in the sky now looped around Ponyville and the Everfree, three times total before shooting off towards the east. Luna watched by her side, following the electric trail as it sped off into the horizon.

After a few moments the color faded, and there was silence.

"Was it her?" Celestia asked.

“No. She was just adjusting weather patterns." Luna hesitated. "It was some pony else.”

Celestia frowned. Ponyville seemed peaceful enough, only a few lanterns still burning. Snow was beginning to fall. “I saw a mortal pony. One I know well. And the orb.”

Luna shivered at the cold air. “It’s going to happen again, ‘Tia,” she whispered. “I can feel it.”

Celestia turned her head slightly, looking at her sister out of the corner of her eye. “We’re too late, Luna.”

“Too late?” Luna asked.

Celestia extended her hoof and watched the first few flakes land on her hoof. As they began to melt, she sighed.

“It’s already begun.”

Author's Note:

You can't write a FASTER story without an appropriate soundtrack. My muse for this story has been this little score by some guy named Zimmer.:

I'll add some more thoughts when the story's done, but this is a good example of why you save a deleted scene in one story when you're planning another.

Also, right after she says "It's already begun," imagine this playing over an appropriate title sequence.

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