• Published 9th Jun 2012
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The Conversion Bureau: Thus Saith The Lord - Kamin 989



Celestia's Conversion Bureau project meets a totally unexpected problem.

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Chapter VIII: The Shadow of Wrath


Chapter VIII: The Shadow of Wrath

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.

- Exodus 10:21-23

What-was-Ponyville, Equestria

The mountain had once been a small spur of rock on the outskirts of what had once been the town of Ponyville, but was now uplifted by the quake until from its peak one could see much of Equestria. The woman reached the pinnacle, seeing by the light of high noon the full scale of the devastation. The land, once green and fertile, was now barren, an earth-brown, sun-blasted wilderness in which only thorns and weeds were beginning to grow again, while to her left a river, its course changed wildly by the quake, flooded what had been a peaceful valley. She turned her gaze in the direction of Appleoosa, and saw with magnified sight Applejack's farm, a small, peaceful island of green in a sea of tortured and sterile earth.

Near Appleoosa, a railroad had miraculously survived, and was dropping off ponies fleeing the destruction of Manehattan, still smoking on the horizon.

But now was not the time to contemplate the suffering caused by Celestia's stubborn obstinacy. Now was the time to bring down the darkness.

She spoke, her voice spread by the air so that it could be heard throughout Equestria.

'Celestia,' she said. 'You claim dominion over the Sun in your vainglory and pride. You will see the darkness I bring over all your land, and the people you have led astray will see your falsehood and emptiness in its depths!'

She struck her staff on the peak of the mountain.

~*~

Equestria

Celestia was being escorted along the road from Canterlot to Ponyville by her unicorn mages and the remnants of her royal guard when the Darkness came. It started as a slight dimming of the sky, but before long it became pitch-black, the sun vanishing as the land lay under night. Then the tendrils of shadow came down from the sky and began striking the earth. Then everything went black and all over Equestria, a panic worse than ever before struck.

In the Darkness, nothing, not even magic, could provide light at all. Ponies were paralysed as they couldn't see, trusting desperately in touch and sound. Not that it helped them much. Several ponies became so overtaken by terror that their hearts stopped, for the Darkness was far more than mere shadow. Moving through it was like wading through thick molasses, and it brought with it a kind of fear worse than any the ponies had ever experienced before. Panic and terror and paranoia were enhanced by its presence beyond even what the sudden onset of absolutely total darkness could bring, so that groups of stern friends devolved into bickering and fighting where once they had eagerly shared the meagre scraps of food left.

The newfoals were of course, completely unaffected by the shadow and terror the Darkness brought, but it also left another group unaffected. Those who had turned their hearts away from Celestia, a small but quickly-growing minority, were not touched by it. Some Celestia-loyal ponies managed to escape the Darkness when they passed the edge of Equestria, but panicked and fled back into its shade when they saw that it was high noon in a cloudless sky outside Celestia's country.

After three continuous days and nights of absolute terror made worse by a strange inability to sleep while it was in effect, the Darkness finally ceased and light returned to Celestia's country.

~*~

Vatican City

The Pope had heard of the Darkness over Equestria along with most of the other world leaders, who were even now discussing what was almost certainly bound to happen next. They weren't particularly the type to gamble, but it was clear to everybody who knew the slightest bit about either religion or statecraft that Celestia surrendering or being deposed was a certainty after the next plague came.

The clear divine punishment of Equestria had brought a massive upsurge in religious feeling for followers of the Abrahamic faiths. People were holding prayer vigils in practically every church, mosque and synagogue, praying for the punishment of Celestia and the restoration of those 'Purified' by her serum. The response from other religions was almost universally the claim that their deities, not the Abrahamic god, were bringing the punishment to Celestia.

The scientists who had helped make the Conversion serum had their own feelings on the matter. They were mostly under trial in their home countries for treason, and not even the most heartless lawyers were bothering to try and defend them.

~*~

What-was-Ponyville, Equestria

Celestia knew that evening was approaching as she reached the high mountain now standing over the wreck of Ponyville. She bade her guards leave her to reach the newborn mountain's peak by herself. She would confront this usurper in her domain personally, without help. She knew that this jumped-up plains ape had almost certainly done all she could to chastise her by now. She had made the sun rise in the mornings, how dare that creature interfere with her domain?

With mad determination driven by self-delusion and wilful blindness, she climbed up to the peak, and as the sun began to set, the woman who had brought all this devastation turned to face her.