• Published 26th Oct 2011
  • 6,655 Views, 119 Comments

Point of No Return - Wild_Heart



The mane cast must content with eternal night and each other's selfishness to save Equestria.

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Seventh Revelation

Having decided that Twilight would most likely be staying with Her Majesty, Rarity took her leave. She'd briefly considered telling Queen Nyx about the return of Rainbow Dash, and the presence of Applejack, but she kicked herself over it. Even after all that had happened, and how disappointed she was in the farm-mare for being so close-minded, she would NEVER betray her friends like that. And she still counted Applejack as a friend despite her...Indiscretions.

As she walked along the inner halls to the exit, flanked by two guards, she considered those faults. The most obvious one was the rebellion, but that was not the foremost on her mind. No, that was involving...A misunderstanding. One that changed their lives forever. The catalyst that had ended their friendships, five years ago.

---

"Dashie is going to get hurt if this keeps up!" Pinkie whimpered softly, her eyes wide as she watched the race unfolding high above Ponyville. Rarity gave a worried look to the Earth Pony. She hadn't been the same since Twilight died. But she had been holding up with the help of her friends. She was recovering, albeit slowly.

"Sh'll be a'ight, sugarcube. Dash can take a little jostlin'. It'll be good fer her ta git this aggression outta her system." Applejack gave a peaceful smile up to the sky. If she was worried about her harvest this year, she didn't show it. Rarity supposed she was just letting what would come, come. Watching her marefriend race likely helped.

The white unicorn turned her eyes skyward, to the streaks of light running through the sky. One rainbow...One flame. Rainbow Dash had, in her normal way of thinking, had called Spitfire a traitor for signing up with Queen Nyx, and obviously, in her normal way of thinking, the only way to settle this was a race. Rarity could see why the Wonderbolts' leader had done so. She must have been worried her friends would go off half-cocked and join a rebellion. Or worse. So she joined with Nyx, and told them to follow. They had listened to their long-time wing-mate. For their quick decision to swear fealty, they'd been allowed to keep their status and rank in the Equestrian military, and not much had changed, aside from getting into Her Majesty's good graces.

That had been fine for a while. Her pegasus friend had assumed it was some sort of undercover assassination mission, or some such rot. When nothing of the sort occurred, Dash had confronted Spitfire, who told her plainly that she wasn't planning on betraying her new sovereign any time soon. That she honestly wasn't that bad.

Then had come the challenge, and here they were. The Wonderbolts were here too. Well, the Shadowbolts, as they now called themselves. Everypony was enjoying this show. Not a one was taking it seriously. After all, Dash was known for being a hotheaded foal, surely she would calm down after this. They would race, perhaps get into a tussle, and come back friends again.

"You sure about that?" The Shadowbolt named Sharp Wing said, grinning. "Dash doesn't seem like the type to like losing. Might make her even more mad." Applejack scoffed at that, and rolled her eyes, though she was grinning herself.

"Meh Dash ain't gonna be th' one losin' this here race. Ah jus' hope Spitfire can take it gracefully."

As the two of them continued this banter, Pinkie simply stared upwards. She seemed...Terrified. Rarity frowned, and sat next to her friend. She laid a leg around her back, but the earth pony didn't respond. "Pinkie...? Pinkie, dear, everything is going to be alright. It's just a race." Only then did the formerly party loving pony look over to her friend. The fashionista recoiled a bit in shock at how haunted Pinkie looked. She had that look of somepony who knew something terrible was about to happen, but was hoping against hope that it wouldn't. "Pinkie? Please, don't tell me your Pinkie sense..." Pinkamena simply burst into tears, an act that made everyone look over with confusion to the pair of ponies. Rarity looked to them, wide eyed, and barely mumbled, "Stop the race."

"What? Rarity, what'd ya say?"

Her friends startled as Rarity suddenly jumped up, and screamed, "STOP THE RACE! Oh by the sun, moon, and stars she can't hear, can she?!" The unicorn was now panicked, and she cast her gaze to Fluttershy, who scooted back a bit. "Fluttershy! You have to stop Dash!"

"B-But...She said we sh-shouldn't interfere..." Applejack rolled her eyes at what she believed to be just more of Rarity's over-reactions, and turned her head back to the race in progress. Rarity shook her head violently, and continued.

"That doesn't matter! You simply mu-"

A gasp from Applejack made her whip around. Pinkie watched in absolute horror as Rainbow Dash went spiraling down into the trees below. The Farm-Mare sprinted off towards where she landed. Her friends, and the Shadowbolts, weren't far behind.

---

The unicorn thanked the guards, smiling, and walked across the courtyard of the palace. This was open to the public, but heavily guarded. The guard postings looked a bit thin, today. She supposed they were out searching for the two most dangerous ponies in Equestria. Rarity climbed onto a bench, and examined a flower closely. She wasn't truly interested in the blossom to any degree, but it was better than thinking of what she had been thinking of. She didn't want to think of such sad things anymore. Pinkie was alright again, and Rarity was so sure that she could convince Applejack to give up this foal crusade...She understood Applejack's loss, but this was going too far. What had happened was surely not Her Majesty's fault, after all.

---

"Dash! DASH! C'mon, girl, speak ta meh! Don'tcha leave meh like this..." Applejack's plaintive sobbing was the first thing they heard. Pinkie stopped short, falling behind the others as they leapt to Applejack's side. The orange earth pony was cradling the cyan pegasus in one of her forelegs, the other holding up Rainbow Dash's head. Fluttershy trembled as she stepped forward, and examined her best friend. Applejack watched the pale-yellow pegasus, her eyes filled with the same terrified hopefulness that Pinkie earlier had. Spitfire looked like she was about to throw up, her own comrades surrounding her, asking what happened.

Fluttershy bent her neck down, over her oldest friend, and started to cry. Applejack's chin fell, her face hid behind her father's hat. A few tears dripped down, over her muzzle, and falling onto the dead form of Rainbow Dash, before she gently laid the mare down. "You...Ya killed her..."

Spitfire shuddered at those words, and shook her head quickly. "I-It...It was an accident. I just-I just hit her a little too hard! I didn't mean...I didn't mean to kill her!" Applejack stood up, her body trembling with rage. She didn't bother stopping the tears, either. So much emotion was running through her that she couldn't think straight. Or keep herself from jumping at Spitfire. Her friends were waiting for that, though, as the farm-mare was practically oozing violent intent.

"LEMME GO! SH' KILLED HER! THAT NAG KILLED MAH DARLIN'!" Fluttershy and Rarity stared, stunned by the sudden outburst and utter fury the earth pony displayed. Pinkie slowly slunk away, her head low to the ground. No one noticed her leave.

"HEY! Help me out here!" The Shadowbolt named Honey Dew struggled to keep Applejack from getting to Spitfire, who could only stare, like she had been frozen in place. The other four present Wonderbolts grabbed the Farm-Mare and dragged her, kicking and screaming, to the ground. Rarity shook off her shock and rushed to their side, and did the only thing she could think of to help: She slapped Applejack as hard as she could.

Rarity was never much for combat, but she was one of the Elements of Harmony, and she knew how to handle herself in a fight if she really needed to. She just didn't have much stamina. So when she slapped Applejack with as much force as she could muster for the moment, the only reason there wasn't the crunch of a crushed cheekbone was the fact that the one she was slapping could take much more abuse than that. And said slap did it's job. Applejack suddenly stopped kicking and screaming, and went still.

The ponies holding her down continued to do so for a few minutes, making sure she wouldn't try anything. It was only after Rarity nodded to them that they let go, quickly stepping into a defensive formation around Spitfire. The aforementioned couldn't tear her eyes off of Rainbow Dash's fallen body. They hadn't been friends for long, but it'd been long enough to make this easily the most traumatic thing she'd ever experienced. She'd never lost a friend by causing their death before, after all.

Applejack sat up, cast one more glare to Spitfire, then she walked, very slowly, to her fallen lover's side, and slid under Dash, propping the pegasus up onto her back. Without another word, or another look to any of the others. The Shadowbolts quickly escorted their leader off, the flame-maned pegasus looking back to Rarity and Fluttershy, speaking one last time. "I'm so, so sorry! Please forgive me!" Then she was gone.

The funeral had been rather gloomy. They'd already lost one dear friend, and this deepened those wounds that had barely had time to heal. For some of them, they hadn't yet in the first place. Pinkie didn't attend the funeral. That was when she started cooping herself up entirely. Applejack got over her anger; realizing Spitfire couldn't possibly have wanted to kill Dash. It WAS an accident. She had no motive anyway. Rainbow Dash was the Shadowbolt's friend too, after all. But that anger was just replaced with more grief. Spitfire was there to see off the rainbow-maned pegasus, and she and Applejack had talked at great length. Forgiveness was given, but the farm-mare wasn't sure Spitfire was ready to forgive herself.

It was after she left that Spike came running up with some very disturbing news. News that revived that fury inside Applejack. That day, Applejack demanded Pinkie, Rarity, and Fluttershy join her. She was going to join a rebellion against Queen Nyx. Rarity and Fluttershy of course tried to talk her down, though they had their doubts as well. They tried to convince their friend that she should calm down, think about this before she acted, but she would have none of it. She denounced them all, calling them traitors and cowards, and she left. She took nothing with her but her hat.

Rarity still remembered quite freshly what Spike had said to cause that. It was horrifying in itself, definitive evidence of foul-play. Spitfire had looked so devastated, so sorrowful, that Rarity still didn't quite buy it, but it was still rather condemning.

Spitfire had been, directly after Dash's funeral, promoted from being a mere leader of a stunt flying team that was only technically military. She had been promoted to a personal lieutenant to Queen Nyx herself.

---

These days, Spitfire was as busy as she always had been. She always took the time to visit Rainbow Dash's grave, however, at least once a week. Rarity wasn't sure Applejack would like that. How would the farm-mare react to the current state of things in Ponyville, if the white unicorn were to convince her to give up? Surely she could see things were just fine. The fashionista wasn't stupid, though, she knew there was more to it than just a personal vendetta against Queen Nyx or her underlings. Applejack wasn't such a foolish pony as to cause as much trouble for Her Majesty's reign as she had over that.

And that itself was another problem. One Rarity had not yet considered, and it shook her: Could Her Majesty simply forgive Applejack for all she'd done? In Ponyville, the myriad rebellions had all been demonized, both by the heralds and by the townsfolk themselves. Even ponies that moved to the once-small town told stories of the rebellion making life difficult abroad. Queen Nyx must be absolutely livid at all of them, but the one Applejack led was the largest, the most organized, and the most active. Even if she could find it in her heart to forgive the rebel, Her Majesty would be facing throngs of citizens demanding Applejack's head.

This, in Rarity's mind, led to only two possible conclusions: Forget Applejack, go home, and wait, or find Applejack, hear her out, find out why she led this foal crusade, and possibly join her. She bit her lip. No, there was only one option. Only one possible outcome. She could never simply let a friend face the gallows. Not again. Not while she still drew breath. "But how to find Applejack, and convince her of my sincerity?"

"TAG! You're it!" What. Rarity lifted her head, and watched in utter confusion as a pink blur shot past her. The guard who had been tagged seemed equally confused, wondering what the protocol was for being challenged to a game of tag. A 'blessed' guard nearby widened his eyes, and froze, seeming as though he was in the throes of a PTSD-driven episode. When the pink pony burst into the palace, the former guard reacted immediately.

"HALT!" He rushed after Pinkie, followed by all the guards not currently whimpering to themselves. Rarity was utterly dumbstruck and slowly stepped from her bench, only to be bowled over by an orange blur rushing to the entrance herself. The white unicorn hesitated a moment, then smirked and followed her friend. To hell with second-guessing. It was time to do something brash and immediate.

"APPLEJACK!" The fashionista called out. The wake of confusion and chaos had done it's job in pulling the guard after her, but there was no time to stop or waste. That didn't exclude the possibility of shooting the white unicorn a dirty look.

"What, ya came ta try an' talk sense inta meh?" Rarity snorted as she matched her old friend's pace as much as she could. She had to duck a bit as Rainbow Dash flew over her to tackle a lingering soldier to the ground. The guard was dazed, but still conscious, though that didn't last for long when Dash used his chin as a springboard to launch herself into the air again. These massive hallways left a lot of room for her to maneuver in, and she was going to use that to her advantage as much as possible.

"While I have been quite a foal in the past few years, I did some thinking..." She paused to leap over a guard who was on the ground, groaning. He looked very dizzy, for some reason. Rarity's mind just assumed Pinkie was involved. "...And I really am sorry about my behavior. I am ready for this!" They finally halted at the massive doors to the throne room, which was surrounded by guards completely unimpressed by the party pony's playful efforts. The aforementioned was giving apologetic, nervous smiles to a few unicorns who had spears pointed at her. The rest of the gathered, who numbered in the range of somewhere over twenty, cast baleful glares to the two new arrivals. "Is this a bad time to mention I was hoping for a more peaceable solution?" The guards were as unwilling to play along with the diplomacy as they were with the crazy antics, and advanced menacingly on the two grounded ponies.

Rainbow Dash swooped at them, but had to pull back up as spears were pointed upwards, almost impaling the pegasus with her own momentum. She landed beside her friends, and grit her teeth. "So, AJ. What now?"

"We surrender," she calmly stated, sitting onto her haunches slowly. Rainbow Dash and Rarity both gave her a completely incredulous look. The orange earth pony turned her head to them, and winked her right eye. Her two friends nodded, and sat. Dash had an idea of what was about to happen, but Rarity had simply had enough of doubting her friends and decided to trust Applejack. That was when the rumbling started. The unicorn guards, not sure what to make of that, faltered a bit. When they saw what was coming up behind their supposed prisoners, a few visibly paled.

A small army of critters was surging down the hallway, a fuzzy horde of doom, vengeance, and, quite possibly, more doom. Leading them was a Pegasus clinging for dear life onto the back of a roughly house-sized wolf-like creature. The guards tried to hold their ground, but as Dash grabbed her two friends and zipped up to the ceiling, they found themselves simply run over by the tide of not-so-small woodland creatures. Rarity gaped in absolute disbelief. "Is-Is that a Lupus Major?! How is she-"

"It's Fluttershy!" Came both the voices of Rainbow Dash and Applejack, the pegasus straining to keep aloft with the two. The rush of animals somehow battered down the doors to the throne room, a surprised shriek and a curse coming out from the interior.

"What in the name of my night is all this?!"

---

Queen Nyx was angry and confused. Mostly confused. It wasn't, after all, every day when a stampede of animals came charging into one's throne room. There had been an attack on the palace, and her Lieutenants were already on their way, no doubt. Perfect Cut, Spitfire, and Wild Heart wouldn't get here in time, but Fletcher and Spike were in the palace, ready to go. Adagia was not an option in the first place. In fact, why weren't they here yet? No matter. She could handle these intruders herself. She lifted her mother with her mane and stepped from the throne, scowling. Twilight was deposited on the throne, where it was relatively safe, and the alicorn stood in front of it, protectively. When the animals cleared out, she smirked at the group. "Ah, good of you to come, Applejack. You've spared me the trouble of continuing to hunt you down. Surrender." She noted the bandages over the pale yellow pegasus's eyes, frowning. She would have to have a talk with Perfect Cut, later.

"Not in yer life, 'yer majesty'," Applejack mocked, her green eyes narrowed. Rarity and Rainbow Dash stood to either side of her, and Fluttershy hurried up to them, slightly out of breath. "Ah'm here fer ya now. We're gonna finish th' job we started six years ago. Ah ain't gonna letcha kill ahll them innocent ponehs." Rarity gave a shocked look to Applejack, then back at the dark queen.

"What...What is she talking about, Your Majesty?" Nyx scoffed, shrugging her wings. Her eyes never left Applejack's, the two locked in a contest of will already. She would not be the one who backed down.

"I do not know what lies she has filled your head with," The alicorn spoke sternly, letting just a hint of threat carry into her voice. "But if the three of you," she directed to Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity, "would leave this rebel to her fate, I will forgive you for your intrusion, and spare your lives." Rarity hesitated. It was not her life she feared for, but Fluttershy's, Dash's, and Pinkie's (Where was she, anyway?). Her hesitation vanished, however, as the question still came to mind about what Applejack had said. She MUST know.

"Nyx!" The white unicorn stomped a hoof. "I asked a question!" The queen seemed taken aback, surprised more by the audacity of the demand than the outburst itself. She broke eye-contact with the farm-mare, and shot Rarity a withering glare, before it became a smile.

"Now, Diamond Rarity, do you really think that I would murder my own subjects for any reason? If they were suspected of treason, they would of course be tried fairly. Whatever accusation Applejack has leveled at me is false. It is only the deranged rantings of a known terror-" She was cut off by the loud Bamf of a teleportation spell. There was a blue mare with a silver mane. She looked familiar, but Nyx couldn't quite place it.

"Here, everyone!" She had the elements with her! The dark queen started and prepared to leap forward.

"STOP!" Another Bamf came to the attention of those gathered, and all of them stared at the lavender coated pony who had suddenly interjected herself in between the alicorn and the other elements. Pinkie was at her side, giving her a very, very unsure look. "What are all of you doing?!" Twilight angrily shouted, glaring at her...No, the other Twilight's friends, and Rainbow Dash. "What is wrong with you? Why are you doing this?!" She stomped a hoof, her eyes a burning red. "I won't let ANYPONY do anything stupid! Let's all just calm down and talk about th-"

"I'm really, really sorry, Twilight..."

"Pinkie, wh-" Nyx gasped as a hoof fell onto the purple unicorn's head, knocking her silly and to the ground. The distraction had been enough for the elements to power up. Queen Nyx recoiled in fear, and Pinkie rushed to the side of the other five bearers to add herself to the union. The dark queen could sense the roiling energy, but it was not like the last time. There didn't seem to be a weak link to it. Even that...Trixie, that was her name, was experiencing the full power of the Elements of Harmony. With a dry mouth, she could only watch in terror. She tried to move, and found she could not. Some force was holding her there, keeping her in place for the magic to do it's work. Twilight groaned and looked up groggily. When she saw what was happening, she simply bowed her head. She'd tried, but she couldn't stop this now.

The power manifested. The rainbow that leaped from the now levitating ponies was far larger than last time, but there was something...Wrong about it. It roiled and shook, turbulent energy causing tremors in the castle. Plaster dust fell from the ceiling, and just as the mightiest of spells was about to strike at Queen Nyx, it exploded violently. Six ponies were flung to different corners of the room, severely weakened and dazed from whatever wretched catalyst had wrought their defeat. Twilight was sent flying away as well, but she was quickly caught by the dark queen's magic. She herself was forced back onto her haunches, the wind knocked out of her. For a moment, the room seemed as though it would shake itself apart, but it held, and thus, Nightmare Moon had triumphed over the Elements again.

Applejack regained her senses for but a moment, trying to struggle to her hooves, but a wracking pain surged through her, the backlash of a corrupted spell. As she fell into the grip of unconsciousness, she heard the laughing of the dark queen, and knew they had lost.

---

A loud clattering of metal on metal woke the six. They laid on cold stone which was covered with dirt and grime. Haystacks had been set in the room, meant as temporary bedding, but they had simply been dragged into the cells with no care for their own comfort. To keep them from making an organized effort at escape, each had their own cell, save for Applejack and Trixie, who had been put into the same one. Each could see into the cell opposite them only. Applejack and Trixie could see into a cell only containing the skeleton of a prisoner long since dead. Rarity could only behold a terrified, shaking Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash found herself looking towards Pinkie, who hadn't lost any ounce of her determination, for some reason. Once they shook off enough of the cobwebs in their heads to be fully aware of their surroundings, they looked towards the source of the sharp noise. There stood Perfect Cut, who was grinning widely. A tray laid on the ground, probably what'd caused the noise. "Wakey Wakey! Look what we have here! Fresh prisoners. Lucky you, I'm not allowed to play with you~!" She pouted at that, ignoring the dirty look shot her by the orange earth pony she had been facing. She began to pace back and forth slowly, menacingly, in the walkway between the cells. "Unlucky for you, you're ALL scheduled for execution, so I'll be killing you anyway. Just not the fun way." She licked her lips at Fluttershy, who curled up tighter.

"Perfect, you're a nag. Don't lie." There came a familiar voice, as a purple dragon stepped into view of Rarity's cell. Spike. Spike had disappeared in the years after Twilight's death, and when he'd come back, he was larger...Much larger. He had aged beyond what six years should have allowed, and while he wasn't an adult yet, his size allowed him to stand at the same height of Queen Nyx. "The only ones of you that are slated for death are Applejack and Trixie. Sorry, girls." His tone showed that he really meant it, but he wasn't going to intervene. He walked down, in front of Applejack's cell, on the way to Dash's.

"Yer jus' gonna let old friends die, Spike? Some friend you are, huh?" The farm-mare practically spat at him through the bars, and the dragon shrugged.

"I've got more important things to worry about." He stopped in front of the cyan pegasus, and folded his arms. Dash couldn't believe her eyes. Armor, sword, shield...He really did look like a regular knight now. "You, specifically. And Twilight. You both have to go home. We'll be sending you off before the execution."

"Uh...Sure. That'd be cool."

"Sugarcube! Yer jus' gonna leave us like this?!" Applejack wrapped her forelegs around the bars of her cell and shook them as much as she could. She was still far too weak to do much of anything to them, though, and settled for pressing her head against them and glaring to her right, as if that would send her death-glare straight to Dash.

"I've already told you! I want to go home! I don't have anything to do with this world, anything to do with you! I was only helping you 'cuz you promised me I'd go home afterwards! Well, too bad, someone else is gonna do that without making demands!" Rainbow Dash did much the same as Applejack, aside from glaring to the left.

"Please, Rainbow Dash," Trixie pleaded. "We need your help! Our very society is dying!"

"Not. My. Problem."

Spike cleared his throat. "Yea, kinda a jerk move there, AJ. Pulling other ponies into your problems? Not cool." He motioned for Perfect Cut to leave. "C'mon, you. I don't want you down here alone with them."

The pink pegasus pouted, and stuck out her bottom lip. "Whaaat? You don't truuuust me?"

"No," The dragon bluntly stated. "I don't. Now get out." The pegasus scowled and stormed out, likely to cause trouble elsewhere. As soon as she was gone, Spike spoke without so much as looking at the mare he was talking to. "AJ...I'm sorry, but you got yourself into this mess. You've got no one to blame but yourself. Your execution is tomorrow, at the same time as Trixie. I'm not sorry about seeing her go." He started walking, towards the dungeon's exit. "The rest of you are going to be put on trial for High Treason. Twilight is going to plead your cases, so you better be thankful she's nice enough to bother." The door opened, then slammed shut. Six ponies were left to each other's company.

None of them had anything to say.

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