• Published 18th Aug 2014
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Return of the Guardian - Requiem17



After a 300 year journey the Guardian of Equestria returns, only to be greeted by a very different world. Surviving is one thing, being hunted is another.

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When the Light goes Out...

Author's Note:

The much anticipated third installment of the Guardian Trilogy is finally here! Some quick notes. Yes, this will be much, much longer than the previous story. The story itself will be updated slower because of another project and school starting up soon. Work is a distraction as well. Sorry this took so long to come out. I'm having some family issues. Hope you understand. Big, big things are going to happen in this story so pull up a chair and hold on. Req out~

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SYSTEM ANALYSIS…
COMPLETE
TIME UNTIL DESTINATION…
2 DAYS, 4 HOURS, 37 MINUTES
NOTIFICATION RECEIVED…
EXCUTE COMMAND: HOMECOMING…
ACKNOWLEDGED
BEGINNING CRYOPOD DEACTIVATION
STATUS…
GREEN
!WARNING!
VITALS UNRESPONSIVE
COMMENCING IMMEDIATE RESUSCITATION
PROCEDURE: Z5-075...
RECIEVING DATA…
VITALS UNCHANGED
ADAPTING TO SITUATION PARAMETERS…
DEFIBRILLATOR ACTIVATION...
VITALS GREEN
DOWNLOADING REPORT TO MISSION LOG

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Not knowing anything was such bliss. The comforting black void prompted a thoughtless atmosphere, not a single emotion or care in the world could be made known. They say you don’t dream in cryo sleep; that your body is just in a state of stasis where nothing, not even brain wave lengths are active. Others would argue that they can very much dream while frozen, describing whole and detailed worlds in their subconscious realm. Scientists would argue that they just experienced that while waking up and it just seemed to be forever. There is one thing known for certain though. You don’t dream when you’re dead, even if your body is frozen.

Something changed in the void, almost as if an invisible pulse washed over you. Sound was the first thing registered. A muffled shrilling and whirring sounds emanated from some far off point. There were no thoughts, just a mild curiosity. Sight came next as a very distant star blinked into existence. The gentle pulsing drew you in closer, a sense of movement occurring in the surrounding blackness. As the source of the light came closer it seemed to be part of something bigger, almost as if the blackness was just a mask and you were peeking through a tear, only glimpsing a small part of the outside world. The curiosity grew into something more, a burning desire to investigate. As soon as that feeling washed over the blackness something else followed it, a tingling. It seemed as if you were a part of the darkness, a cold, numb, extension. Suddenly pain rocked you, making you scream out silently. The light rushed forward and ice cold air rushed into you.

Ale gasped, thrashing violently as a shrill scream became rapid beeping, pounding the side of his head. His chest burned in pain while his extremities felt like dead logs, flailing about in panic. His vision cracked, causing the confused Ale to fall forwards. A loud shattering sound echoed around him as he curled into a tight ball on the cold, steel grating of the floor. His hearing and vision faded in and out, the only constant source of sound was his rapidly beating heart in his head. He closed his eyes, desperately wishing for the pressure behind his eyes to go away. A warm liquid suddenly flowed through his body, allowing feeling to return to his being. It calmed him drastically and the pressure disappeared. He opened his eyes, conscious thought returning to him. Glass, grey metal, light, HUD flickering, red liquid… Blood. His eyes felt extremely heavy and he closed them, giving in to the darkness that he was so well accompanied with.

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A dull tone emanated in Ale’s ears, causing him to stir slightly. A sharp pain flared in his arm but was quickly subdued when Ale relaxed. He slowly opened his eyes and blinked. A bright pulsing message was lit right in front of his face.

!WARNING!
ARMOR BREACH
NANO REPULSION INCOMPLETE
MANUAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED

Ale collected his thoughts and remembered everything that had happened. His curse, the search, discovering the solution, the mad dash to escape, and the fight with Luna.

‘Luna…’

Ale subconsciously sent the message away and carefully shifted again. He ignored the pain in his arm and struggled to get his arms under him. With a fatigue he hasn’t felt since his days in training he mindlessly pushed himself up into a sitting position. The first thing he noticed was that he felt warm, comfortably so. The exception was a slight coldness radiating from his arm. He glanced down at it and understood the message he was greeted with when he had awoken. There was a fairly large blood encrusted needle sticking out of a medical access terminal in his armor. The only reason he hadn’t bled out was because the enhanced clotting abilities in his blood jammed up the needle and the surrounding area. Ale glanced around himself and noticed that there wasn’t too much of his precious life fluid smeared on his armor and the floor. He was lucky.

One thing did confuse him though. Why was there glass everywhere? He could tell the glass emanated from a source behind him. When he looked over his shoulder he was shocked by the sight. Not only was the glass canopy of the cryo pod shattered, but the whole pod itself was damaged beyond belief. The monitor was cracked and was flashing a static induced red. He could see the restraining cuffs, in the event of an emergency, hanging loosely as he no doubt broke out of them. That was surprising as they were meant to hold down a Spartan as well.

Turning his attention back to his arm Ale grabbed the needle. He sucked in a breath before pulling it straight out. He withheld any outburst and instead clamped his hand over the wound. After half a minute he moved his arm and saw that the small yet ragged wound had a sticky film of blood over it. He gently pushed his under suit over it and watched it seal itself. The built in gel dispensers began disinfecting the wound as Ale mentally commanded the medical terminal in his armor to close. A status report of his armor flared to life in his HUD, reporting green lights and that his environment was currently sealed. He blinked it away and carefully got to his feet. After giving himself a moment to shake off the dizziness he began walking towards the bridge.

As he walked he noticed that the ship seemed to be in the exact same condition he had left it in. Not a single speck of dust was present as the ship’s sterilization filters did their job. He also realized that, even though he was fatigued from his sleep and injury, he walked with a much livelier step. This didn’t mean he was excited necessarily but he certainly felt much lighter. Ale stopped in his tracks as it dawned on him. The curse, it was gone. His mind and soul suddenly felt much freer now that they weren’t subdued. Ale’s smile faltered though. He continued walking while pulling up the mission logs.

BEGIN LOG:
PRIMARY SLIP SPACE DRIVES ACTIVE
COMMENCING IN 10 SECONDS…

SUCCESSFUL ACTIVATION
CRYO POD STATUS…
ACTIVE
CHECKING OTHER DATA…
NONE FOUND
END LOG…


BEGIN LOG:
SECURITY BREACH IN CRYO BAY
INTRUDER UNKNOWN
PERFORMING SECURITY SWEEP…
CLEAN
17.5 SECONDS OF CONTACT
SCANNING…
UNKNOWN ANOMALY IN CRYO POD 32
OCCUPANT STATUS…
UNDAMAGED
INCREASING SECURITY MEASURES
END LOG…


BEGIN LOG:
SLIP SPACE EXIT IMMINENT
REVERTING BACK TO REAL TIME…
SUCCESSFUL
VENTING EXCESS ENGINE HEAT…

INPUTING PRE-ARRANGED COORDINATES…
PRIMARY SLIP SPACE DRIVES ACTIVE
COMMENCING IN 10 SECONDS…

SUCCESSFUL ACTIVATION
END LOG…


BEGIN LOG:
CRYO POD DEACTIVATION
!WARNING!
FATAL CARDIAC ARRST IMMINENT
NOTIFYING CRASH TEAM…
...
TEAM UNRESPONSIVE
TAKING EMERGENY ACTION…
STANDBY...
...
VITALS STABILIZED
!WARNING!
OCCUPANT GOING INTO SHOCK
SEDATING…
ERROR
CHECKING OTHER DATA…
NONE FOUND
END LOG…


Ale was a little concerned about the ship sensing something that shouldn’t and couldn’t have possibly been there while in slip space. He was a little spooked that it was also supposedly in the cryo bay with him, the anomaly being at his pod. He decided to look into it later as he had more important things to take care of. The doors to the bridge slid open as Ale approached. He stepped inside and headed towards the command chair. He sat down, letting his aching body rest.

“Cass-,” Ale coughed, wincing as he tasted some of the preservative fluid that came from the cryo pod. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Cassandra?”

The nearby holopad flickered to life as the ship’s ‘dumb’ A.I. appeared. “Yes captain?”

Ale rolled his eyes at the title, still disagreeing with the A.I.’s faulty reasoning. “I assume everything went relatively well during our trip and that we’re making good time?”

“Yes sir. We are currently 18 hours from reaching our destination.”

Ale nodded. “Wake me two hours before alright?”

“Yes sir. Goodnight.”

Ale rested his head back against the chair and closed his eyes, thinking of home. He felt a pang of sorrow. How had Luna fared without him? Did she hate him? Ale also realized something else. Twilight and her friends were most likely long gone by now. He remembered wishing her well but in the desperation of the moment he hadn’t taken his words and the situation into full account. The comforting blanket of unconsciousness soon wrapped over him, promising to take his worries away.

‘I’m sorry…’

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Ale paced back and forth across the command deck. If his helmet wasn’t blocking his face he’d probably be biting his nails at this point. Cassandra had awoken him as requested and they were about to exit slip space. In the little amount of time he had between waking up and now he had created a game plan. As best as he figured he would exit slip space, park the ship in orbit, and take a Pelican down to Canterlot. He would then, hopefully, be met by an ecstatic Luna and Celestia where he then would explain everything and rejoice in his homecoming. Simple yes, but Ale being trained as a Spartan always knew that plans never went the way they were supposed to. So he kept his spirits high but hoped to god Luna wouldn’t slap him to the Moon.

“Captain, you’re going to wear a hole in the deck at this rate.”

Ale stopped and stared at the A.I. “Did- did you just say something sarcastic?”

The A.I. then looked confused. Confused? Cassandra then replied, “Sorry sir, I scanned my programming and found an unauthorized sub routine. I have eliminated the bug labeled, ‘Lighten up Ale, XOXO Discord’.”

Ale literally almost cracked his visor with his face palm. “Never mind. How much longer until we are in real time?”

“One minute and 17 seconds sir.”

Ale took a deep breath and calmed his nerves. He stood at parade rest and stared out the forward command view. He watched the swirling purple and blue hues of slip space wrap around the ship as they traveled down an invisible tunnel. A little timer in the corner of his HUD appeared and began counting down to the last few seconds.

Ale smiled as he felt relieved to finally be home. Slip space stretched and became warped as stars began coming into focus while zooming past. The ship decelerated and entered real time, arriving just outside of where Equis was located. Ale’s smile disappeared and a look of panic entered his eyes.

The Moon filled the view screen entirely and was cracked in half, huge chunks of debris filling the space between. A massive asteroid was flying in from the top right corner as the ship’s alarms began wailing. Cassandra suddenly appeared on the holopad.

“Taking evasive ac-,”

*CRASH*

Ale raised his hands as he was launched off the floor and smashed through the forward observation glass, his suit’s alarm blaring. He was rapidly approaching a chunk of moon rock before a piece of his ship slung past him, bashing the rock out of the way. Ale was pelted with debris from the collision as he floated rapidly through the spray of dust. He maneuvered himself so that he was facing towards the ship and immediately pulled his legs into his body, barely avoiding another chunk of ship. The Ember was rocketing towards him while tearing itself apart. Ale fired his thrusters and was able to dodge some of the incoming debris; his suit’s shielding only just recharging. He had just positioned himself to avoid a piece of sheared armor plating when it unexpectedly exploded. Ale was too slow to dodge the piece as it shifted course, smashing into his whole body. Ale was dazed as he flew straight back from it, clipping his head on a stray moon rock. Ale’s body began cart wheeling, his vision fading in and out.

Fighting to maintain consciousness as he was still in grave danger Ale was able to fire his thrusters and stabilize his orientation. Turning towards the planet he saw that he was just about out of the moon’s debris field. He made his body straight as an arrow as he barely skimmed past the last moon rock. Pieces of his ship a fair distance in front of him began heating up as they collided with Equis’s atmosphere. Ale’s suit was rated for atmospheric reinsertion as the gel cranked up in pressure and his armor locked. He noticed that they were going to land in the dark side of the planet so nobody could miss the crashing object. Ale entered the atmosphere face first, his vision obscured by flames. Eventually, the flames died down a bit, allowing Ale to see. The dark ground was still far below him with some of the ship’s wreckage racing towards it. Ale unlocked his armor and repeated the same movements he had performed when he first arrived, spreading his limbs out in a spread eagle formation. He slowed down enough to see the rest of his burning ship to fall past him.

The ship cratered into the ground, a brilliant white fireball obliterating the surrounding countryside. Ale had bled as much air speed as he could, curling up into a ball and reengaging armor lock as he cratered into the ground as well. Ale’s hearing was ringing loudly and his vision was black. After a minute his vision cleared up, revealing the beautiful view of charred dirt. Ale slowly uncurled his body and pushed himself off the ground. After checking his surroundings and ensuring his armor was fine and his weapons were intact Ale double timed it to a ditch. He leapt into it and crouched with his helmet just barely peeking over the edge. He didn’t have to wait long for a large detachment of Lunar Guards to show up, circling the crash and searching for anything of interest.

Ale patiently waited for Luna or Celestia to show up, sitting for almost an hour. He eyed the moon, confused as to why it was split in the first place. Ale checked the time, confirming it twice as it stated that it was two in the evening. Then why was it pitch black outside? Ale decided that he needed to do a little more investigating before making his presence known. He crawled away from the ditch and slinked away into the night.

‘Please, don’t let it be what I think it is. Let her be okay…’

------------------------------------------------

Nightmare Moon stared out from a balcony jutting out from the mighty castle. She was focused on the massive fireballs falling from the sky. She smiled cruelly. It had been 250 years since something interesting happened. The anomaly had entered her domain a few minutes ago, disturbing her from her bath. She watched as it impacted the ground far away, lighting up briefly. Pushing mana into her horn she alerted the Lunar Guards nearest the crash to investigate. Her horn died as she turned and walked back into the castle. Stained windows dictating Equestria’s history passed on either side of her, the most recent windows generating a pleasing mood.

After Luna had once again fallen Nightmare immediately cast a brand new spell upon herself. Predictably, the Elements of Harmony had been wielded against her. The new spell had, instead of deflecting the energy, transformed it into a power source to fuel the spell. With as much power as she needed she was able to separate herself from Luna, effectively becoming an independent organism. Using her new found power, she entrapped the Element bearers and scattered them across the globe, sealing them in their own nightmares. With Equestria’s greatest weapon out of commission it was child’s play to deal with Celestia and Luna. The two princesses had not fought in a long time and were no match for the terror of the night. Thrusting Equestria into eternal night Nightmare enslaved the nation.

One painted pane showed the curve of the planet with the nations of the world marching towards Canterlot. Nightmare was painted against the blood red moon with her wings spread. The next glass pane showed the armies burning, the ground turning to molten rock. Nightmare could still see the hardened lava plains in the distance. The Minotaurs, Zebras, Dragons, Diamond Dogs, and many other creatures no longer existed. Everything became dreadfully simple after that. Her subjects no longer defied her and instead obeyed unquestionably. Several generations of enslavement will make you love your master.

The last pane troubled her though. It showed a dark alien figure standing defiantly, enshrouded in fire. It was said to be the prophecy of a warrior’s return. A silent sentinel. A guardian of Equestria. Nightmare moved on and headed for the courtyard gardens. She stepped outside into the cool night air. The only reason the planet had not become a ball of ice was due to her magic, the moon providing a supernatural warmth to keep the climate stable and allowed plants to grow. That was another reason the ponies resistance had crumbled; realizing that they would all die without Queen Moon’s power.

She passed statues of little importance, a strange creature known as Discord being the only known statue. Nightmare reached a clearing and spotted her target. A tall stone statue that was crumbling slightly with abuse stood proudly in the middle of the clearing. It wore strange armor and emitted an aura of power, strength, and hope. It disgusted Nightmare. Hope was for the weak. Nightmare smiled as she thought what she would do with such an inspiring figure. It was simple really.

“Take away their drive and they simply fail,” Nightmare said aloud. Her fang filled muzzle smiled at the cruel thought. After succeeding with that she would simply take care of the warrior the same way she did Celestia and Luna. She turned and headed back towards the Canterlot castle, intent on finding a very old artifact as it would be needed again.