• Published 19th Mar 2015
  • 5,311 Views, 301 Comments

Light of Harmony - GjallarFox

The Traveler has felt the victory of its Guardians at the Black Garden. With this decisive victory comes a new decision: take the fight to the Darkness. With a set of six Ghosts sent to the far reaches of the Sol system, what is it expecting to find?

  • ...

Call of the Haunted

There was a sense of extreme urgency in the group they'd only felt when Discord was first released. They virtually flew through the forsaken forest of the Everfree, none of them feeling their hooves touch the ground. They sprinted out the way they came, making their way through Ponyville to the train station. Since it was just past midnight, virtually no one was awake aside from them. When they finally made it to the train station, there was a train already awaiting them, with a conductor staring at them as they approached, almost as if he'd been waiting for them. Twilight quickly pulled a few coins from seemingly nowhere and tossed them to the conductor, who pulled the door open with his own magic.

The moment the door closed, the train lurched forward in a surge of life. But with the train near empty and the tensions as high as they were, the train ride passed in what seemed like seconds. The six ponies disembarked from the train in Canterlot, which felt far more abandoned than it should have been at near three in the morning. There was no moonlight, no starlight, no lights in the buildings, not even a cat on the streets. The sounds of a gentle breeze whispering in the trees was the only sound, as the crickets refused to chirp. There was nothing quite as unsettling to the group than that lack of life in the city.

They made it to the castle, and went through the gates with no hassle. No guards were present to greet them, or ask their purpose. AJ dared voice her growing anxiety, "I got a bad feelin' 'bout this… Somethin' ain't right…"

"I feel it too…" Rainbow Dash murmured, putting her wing around her friend in hopes of both comforting her and drawing comfort from her.

They stepped into the throne room from the great hall, Luna and Celestia already in a conversation, though their words couldn't be heard. "Princess Celestia!" Twilight called.

"My faithful student! A surprise to see you and your friends here at this hour," the solar diarch mused as she turned to her student. "I assume you are not here simply to exchange pleasantries."

"That'd be correct," Twilight replied.

"It wouldn't happen to do with the shooting stars I noticed in my sky, would it?" Luna predicted, looking down upon the six as though they were traitors. "I sense two presences in each of you. Care to explain?"

"Weeeeeelllllll," Pinkie started, inflating her lungs with a large enough gasp of air to explain everything in one go. "We all noticed those shooting stars and decided to find them so we ended up gathering in front of the Everfree Forest to go investigate and went to the castle and found these things that call themselves Ghosts and Twilight decided we should bring them here! Come on out little Ghostie!"

The Ghost in Pinkie, K-Rah, rematerialized just above her, drawing a surprised and almost frightened look from both princesses. "Uh, guys? Do I have to be the only one out here?"

The remaining five Ghosts quickly joined K-Rah, rematerializing just above the ponies they had been hiding in.

"It is worse than my dreams have led me to believe. The Sphere requires even our aid…" Luna whispered to herself. "You have come seeking aid for the Sphere, yes?"

"Yes, and these six bear the strongest Light we've ever seen in still living Guardians. Heroes like Tolland and Ward are dim sparks by comparison," J-Ami spoke.

"No doubt a result of using the Elements," Celestia mused. "But they are the Element Bearers. What happens if we need them after you recruit them for your war?"

"Sister, though you are no longer capable of wielding the Elements, I still can," Luna countered. "There is a Darkness out there, and if it takes the Sphere, nothing else can stop it. Not even the Elements. Our problems are minuscule by comparison. If we must, we have the Army."

"And what if they die?" Celestia seemed on the verge of tears. "My student is precious to me, and I cannot throw her into a situation I know not if she can handle. I have done everything to protect her, and I shall not cease now. Now answer me, what happens if fate deals a losing hoof?"

"We are capable of reviving them, even after Arc Fizz, Solar Burn, and Void Drift. Guardians make their own fate. Death is not insurmountable. Ask the thousands of Guardians in the Tower. There is naught they cannot defeat, Princess," Z-Lda explained softly.

"Just before we departed on our mission, the Guardians dealt a decisive and massive victory in the Black Garden," O-Ron added. "The Traveler sent us here because it knew it was time for a counterattack. It is for this reason that I must ask to recruit your student and her friends as Guardians."

"'Tia, this is the only chance we have to push back the Darkness before it gets here," Luna pleaded.

Celestia was silent for what felt to everyone in that room like hours, thinking, holding back tears. "I will allow you to recruit them. Keep them safe, Ghosts."

The Ghosts each turned to the ponies they had subconsciously chosen to be their Guardians. "And now we must ask you. Do you feel up to saving the universe?"

"What do you girls think? This isn't necessarily our problem, but if what Luna and the Ghosts say is true, then it could become our problem if those already in the fight aren't enough," Twilight said.

"This is the good fight. If I'm going to fight, I'm going to fight the good fight, and I'm going to be with my friends. If they're in, I'm in," Rainbow Dash answered, looking over towards the others.

"If there's somepony out there needin' more help than they got, Apples don't leave the good left undone. I'm in if the others are in," Applejack decided.

"Well, I can't deny that some poor Guardian's been in deep need of a spa day. I guess I could give a Guardian or five a day off," Rarity added. "I'll join if the others do."

"I think it'd be fun to make some new Guardian friends! I hope they like parties!" Pinkie giggled, bouncing a few times.

"I-I guess we should help them," Fluttershy said quietly. "After all, if anyone can turn things around for the Traveler or whatever it is, it's us. We've saved Equestria on virtually a yearly basis for the past what, four years? We've beaten Nightmare Moon, Discord, the Changelings, and even King Sombra. We won even when outnumbered thousands to one, when Discord tried to turn us against each other. We can do this. I'm in."

Twilight smiled, wiping a tear from her eyes as she gave Fluttershy a small nudge. "I guess that settles it. We're in. This is our fight. We of all ponies can make a difference where nopony else can. We've done the impossible before. Pinkie alone does it on a daily basis. We can do this. And when all is said and done, we'll have more friends in the Guardians we help."

The Ghosts each approached the ponies, the eight tetrahedral white pieces of their shells expanding outwards enough to fit each of the ponies within the space between them. J-Ami chose Twilight as her Guardian; Fluttershy chosen by O-Ron, Rainbow Dash by K-Ayd, Rarity by G-Evs, AJ by Z-Lda, and Pinkie by K-Rah. Light began to fill the space between the Ghosts' shell pieces. Fluttershy cast an askance glance towards Twilight, who looked back with a sidelong look of mild anxiety. With just their eyes, they told each other about their fears and growing apprehension, and comforted each other. Applejack looked ever forward, standing strong as a statue, a titan strong against the oncoming Darkness, ready to destroy all in her path to clear the way for her friends. Rarity looked down, studying herself and watching the Ghosts' magic waiting to see if it would change her. Rainbow Dash looked forward, but stood in a crouch, low to the ground and ready to leap forward with incredible speed. Pinkie just looked in all directions, as though distracted by the sparkles amid the growing light of the Ghosts.


"Eyes up, Guardian Twilight Sparkle," J-Ami's voice resonated in the unicorn's ears.

"There is danger here, Guardian Fluttershy," O-Ron said to the pegasus.

The six ponies groaned as they sat up against the wall they'd been slumped against. Fluttershy stretched her arms and splayed her fingers. "What the hell‽"

The others turned to see what was wrong, and then gasped upon seeing Fluttershy's changed form. Instead of the adorable pegasus pony they once knew, she'd become vaguely human, her wings still on her back and her ears no longer triangular and at the top of her head. Her head was now more human, with her round ears on the side of her head, but she still had her tail. Her fur was still yellow and her hair was still pink. But it was clear that she was no longer in the form her friends recognized. Her hooves became hands and feet with fingers and toes respectively. And she was not the only one who experienced this change.

"Gah! What happened‽" Rainbow squealed, appalled at the sight of her fingers. "What did you do‽"

"As ponies, you were incapable of using any weapons or armor found at the Tower," J-Ami reported to the group of now anthropomorphic ponies. "It may take a bit of modification for Twilight and Rarity, due to their horns, and for Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash for their wings, but those features were deemed advantageous. They do retain functionality. The pegasi can still fly and the unicorns can still use magic."

"Did I retain my earth-pony strength?" Applejack asked.

"More than that, dear," Z-Lda replied to her Guardian. "Your strength is quite a bit more than it was as a pony. I thought you best fit as a Titan, specifically a Striker."

"Titan?" the pony asked.

"Yes. The Titans are the blunt-force instruments of the Traveler. They are steadfast and strong, facing any challenge head-on. You have the strength, the willpower, and the discipline to be the greatest Striker Titan the Tower will ever know." Z-Lda floated up, as though to beckon her Guardian to stand. "Rise, Guardian. It's time to move. You will know how to work your reforged body."

Applejack stood, and her friends looked to her, for she was one of them, but somehow different. And not just from the new humanoid appearance. No, now she stood as a statue, strong and unyielding. She looked powerful, her muscles toned and rippling beneath her skin, showing off immense strength that none of her friends believed they could ever match.

She offered her hand down to Rainbow Dash next to her, and pulled her friend up. She was lithe and small by comparison, as though her previous agility had been preserved even in her new body. And to her surprise she did not feel unbalanced as she had expected. No, the Ghosts had been right in that regard. They would know how to work their new bodies. "Come on, guys, let's get moving."

Twilight looked around upon that comment, noticing skeletons and torn up armor amid shattered stone fragments that she assumed came from the broken walls of the palace they were slouched in. Blood near a century old had stained the stone floor beneath them, and what wasn't stained in blood was scorched by fire or shattered from something powerful. "What happened here…?" she breathed, looking around in shock. "Why are there dead ponies around us?"

"You've been dead a long time," J-Ami answered. "From the-"

"What do you mean, dead? You said you were going to choose us from among the living!" Tears began to flow from Twilight's eyes, and she began to crawl away from her Ghost, towards the throne room that she knew somehow to be to her left.

The broken hall opened up to a similarly torn up throne room. Guard armor was strewn about, blood stained and oxidizing, some pieces still clinging to the skeletons of the ponies they were once made to protect, other pieces either too torn to stay attached or simply blown off somehow. There were no other signs of life here. No weeds dared grow through the cracks between the stone. No rats or spiders crawled around in that room full of death. But something stood out to Twilight's eyes, even as the tears blurred her sight. There was a set of blue armor, standing out from the gold. She dared approach.

"No…" she moaned feebly as she recognized Luna's battle armor, stained with blood, a few holes punched into it and half-shredded. And next to it, was Celestia's matching set of rainbow-finished armor, similarly shredded and bloodied. "No…! No! No no no! No it can't be! She can't die!"

"Twilight, liste-"

"No!" she shrieked in grief. Tears fell to the ground, pure emotional pain landing on the dusty ground with a soft pat. "You lied to us. You told us that we were being chosen from among the living. If we were dead, you've lied to us. If we were alive, then why are we surrounded by death?"

A sharp scream of pain drew Twilight and her Ghost's attention. Fluttershy was kneeling, holding her left wing in her arms, tears of physical pain already falling to the ground. "Fluttershy!" Twilight ran to her friend.

"We were dead, I remember," Fluttershy whimpered, clutching her wing closely. "I don't know what they were, but they were big, and they weren't friendly. They invaded. I don't remember why we were here, but we were, and we were losing. I got hit by something through my wing, and I remember crying but still fighting until I just couldn't. After that I sat down against a wall for a while…"

The rest of the group remained silent. They didn't remember, but the way Fluttershy spoke told of truth with a gravity insurmountable. She spoke with pain in her voice, but there was no hint of weakness. No, she seemed stronger somehow. Twilight hugged her friend, wishing to help her cope with that painful memory, and Fluttershy returned it, accepting help where Applejack would try to shoulder it alone.

"I must apologize for misleading you into believing that you were still alive in that death dream. It was not our intention to distress you this way," J-Ami said quietly. Just then, the roar of engines passed over the ruined castle, a sturdy looking metal beast flying past with significant speed. "Cabal Harvesters… We're gonna have to steal one of those things."

"This is the first challenge, Guardians," O-Ron added, addressing all of the others. "Without decent weapons, we're going to have to rely on stealth. A head-on fight with the Cabal will end badly for all of us. Walk soft, and let's see if we can't find a big stick."

"While I still don't know what happened here, I do know that we've got bigger problems, like staying alive and getting out of Canterlot," Twilight near hissed at her Ghost. "Girls, it's time to get out of here. Ghosts, lead the way."

And with that the Ghosts moved forward, and the ponies followed them. As they moved, they began to notice that they were wearing armor. It seemed a little odd to them, but they also had some other items on their bodies they hadn't noticed. Pinkie and Rainbow Dash had some sort of mildly worn scarf around their necks, Applejack and Fluttershy had some sort of small cloth hanging from their right hips, and lastly, Twilight and Rarity had some sort of metal armband around their left biceps. And upon further inspection, each of these unique items bore their respective cutie marks.

"Perfect. Slug rifles," J-Ami cheered quietly. "Take these."

Each of the six bent down and picked up the metallic things the Ghosts had pointed out, though none of them quite knew what it was. "These are the weapons the things outside are going to be using. With these, you at least have a chance at defending yourselves."

"How do these things work?" Rarity asked, looking at hers.

"Grab the handle, point the cylindrical bit at the thing that wants to kill you and pull the trigger," G-Evs replied in his almost butler-like voice.

She offered a quick thanks to her Ghost and then held the weapon in a resting position, and the others mimicked her. They moved onwards, taking a turn out the front of Canterlot Palace, out into the ruins of Canterlot City. Not a single building was left undamaged. Holes left towers looking like sticks of swiss cheese. And those were the lucky ones. Most of the buildings no longer had roofs, and some didn't even have walls. There was virtually nothing left of Canterlot aside from the ruined palace and the skeletons of ponies long dead.

"Are we the last of us…?" Pinkie whispered to her Ghost, her eyes wide in shock.

"I don't know," her Ghost, K-Rah replied. "It is likely."

"…are the dragons still around?" Rarity asked.

"We have not seen any since arriving here," G-Evs answered.

"Poor Spike…" she murmured. "I hope he's okay…"

"There's a Harvester," J-Ami hissed to the group. They ducked behind one of the still standing walls of a building, roughly thirty meters from the pair of massive guards standing at the open doors of the ship. "Small guard force, looks like no Cabal inside. Easy pickings. Any of you have an idea for distracting them or luring them away?"

"I think I might," Twilight offered, her horn lighting up. A pile of rocks began to shift ever so noticeably. One of the guards turned his head towards the pile of rubble. Another twitch, and then both guards were watching the pile of rocks. A third twitch, and the guards turned to each other seeming to talk to each other. A moment later, they looked to be playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, or some variation on it. The guard furthest from the pile of rubble walked towards it. His slug rifle was pointed towards the pile, waiting for any signs of life from beneath it.

Thunk, thunk!

One particularly large rock, about the size of a coconut, flew forth from the pile, smashing directly into the guard's helmet, and after a brief rebound, smashed into the other guard's helmet as well. Neither had time to fire their weapons, for there was nothing to fire upon in their line of sight. All they would remember would be a rock coming to life and smacking them in the face. Once they hit the ground and remained motionless, the group moved forward.

"Nicely done," J-Ami complimented Twilight's wit.

"Let's get out of here."

The group of ponies ditched their cover, dashing towards the ship the guards had once been protecting. "Applejack. Can you shove that one off the door?"

"I got it," the farmer replied, squatting down and rolling the massive armored thing off of the door to the ship as the others went inside.

"I'll get this thing running," K-Ayd called, floating past the ponies towards the ship's cockpit.

Within seconds, the ship steadily roared to life. Applejack, upon seeing the door begin to lift to its closed position, offered a small salute to her home world, knowing she would likely never see it again. And with that, she turned and went to join her friends in the main belly of the ship. She found them in the main crew bay, having all taken a seat and strapped in, though most of the seats were far too large for them. Even at six-feet tall, the seats were too big for Applejack. But she sat down and strapped in as best she could, knowing it was now a waiting game to get to wherever 'Earth' was.

"So how long 'til we get to Earth?" she asked.

"It'll be about thirteen hours by your planet's time scale," Z-Lda replied. "It won't take too long to get to the wormhole, and when it spits us back out, we'll be moving a little faster than light."

"Fair enough. I suppose thirteen hours is enough for a decent nap. Sadly, we don't have any food, so we'll probably get a mite cranky by the end of the line." Applejack began messing with her hair, which was down to the small of her back in length, but somehow still bound at the end by the small red elastic band she was so familiar with. "Wait. Wait, where's my hat?"

"Oh, the hat, I've got it here, deary," Z-Lda said, making the hat somehow appear from nowhere onto the farm girl's head. "I assumed it had some sort of sentimental value to you, so I stored it for you before I reforged you."

"Guardians often have personal mementoes on hand at the time of their deaths, so we'll pick them up for them so they can still be more or less the same person they were before," O-Ron added. "I heard once that when Tolland was first reforged, he had a pen in the car his Ghost found him in. Apparently it meant a lot to him."

"If you guys want to come back here when you have better weapons and armor, to retrieve some personal affects, that is fine by us. For now though, it's too dangerous. The Cabal know we've taken one of their ships, and this is our only ride for now," J-Ami offered, looking at each of the other Guardians. For all she knew, they also had some personal mementoes they'd wish to have.

"We will end up coming back," Twilight said. "Not just for personal affects. We'll need the Elements if we're going to win this war. They haven't failed us yet."

"Then once we have level fourteen gear, we'll come back. The Cabal are about that strong, so we'll need equal if not superior gear," her Ghost replied. "For now, I'd recommend getting some rest. We'll be at the Tower soon enough. From there we'll get you some food and real gear."

Author's Note:

Edited 5-8-2015 1817 hours PDT: Contradictory sentences.