• Published 7th Jul 2018
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Exiles - Coyote de La Mancha



Before recorded history, there was the terrible and primordial Age of Chaos. And in this age, there were two sisters. This is their story.

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About Nine and Fourteen

It had always been just the two sisters, ever since Luna was a weanling. Their father had been born to parents; their mother had emerged from a stream. Both had died long ago. Seasons and days were the whim of chance; the weather even more so. Suns, moons, stars... they might give warmth or take it, be any colour or none. Some made faces. One had tried to eat the sisters with a giant, purple tongue, but they'd hid beneath an outcropping of rock and it eventually went away.

So, though time did pass, it was impossible to say how long. What was time, anyway? An endless struggle to survive. Find the places where pattern was dominant, at least for a time. Feed, rest, perhaps fight for your life. Then flee the coming of the flux again, before it changed you, or something it changed tried to kill you.

Then there were the speaking folk, ponies and others. Sometimes they might be friendly. Sometimes they might not. Some speaking folk preyed on each other as much as other things preyed on them; in a world where nothing lasts and your own friends could become monsters tomorrow, some embraced hatred as the best way to survive.

Yet despite this, a group of ponies had once tried to build a place to stay. A foolish act, and doomed to failure. Just the same, it was hard for the sisters to think ill of them, for their parents had been among them. It might have been that these ponies had simply hoped too well. Or, perhaps they thought they had found a place where pattern would rule forever. And in their defence, it did last a long, long time. Long enough that Tia was born, learned to speak, and saw her sister come into the world. They built walls, these ponies. They planted vegetables, grew them, harvested them. They stored water. They made friends outside their own small herds and watched their foals play together. But inevitably, stability had given way to flux.


Screaming.

Everypony was screaming.

Families of pegasi were flailing in the air, trying to escape, to get above canopy again, above the treacherous clouds. But the rain was falling now: green, heavy with slime, sticking and slicking every surface. The winged folk fell, crying out to the god that was killing them, their wings glued and useless. Some of them died when they hit the ground. Others were able to slow their descent, only to be snapped up by barbed tongues from the faces suddenly grown on the settlement’s walls.

Unicorns slipped as they ran, crying out to their families, gathering their loved ones under multichromatic shields. Some of the younger ones tried to teleport, not knowing the dangers of the flux. The lucky ones died quickly; the less fortunate lived for terrible moments, twisted, broken, or even fused horribly with their closest kin.

Darting between the other ponies, small groups of earth ponies simply made for the walls, trusting in their own stone-like strength to help them survive. But while a few were able to crash through, most of them found that the wooden boundary they’d come to rely upon for so long had become their enemy, eagerly devouring them as soon as they got close enough. Even from beyond the walls, the sounds of anguish could be heard as escapees encountered further horrors in the fluxing wilderness beyond.

And through it all, there were the changes.

Mothers were turning and finding their foals trying to run with legs suddenly half their previous size, or dragging manes and tails three times their own length… or in one case, actually splitting open and attacking their mother with tentacles tipped with claws. Grown ponies would suddenly shudder, bursting into monsters and attacking their former friends with abandon… or perhaps simply shimmer into smoke, or music, or a flock of butterflies. Some would dance, others would laugh or sing uncontrollably. All would ultimately die.

And all the while, the plots of vegetables they had been raising were uprooting themselves, chanting in a bizarre unison as they cavorted and slid about in the green slime from above.

“Luna!”

Tia looked about frantically, trying to ignore the screams. Mama had trusted her to watch her baby sister. She was just here. Yet, somehow, Tia had lost her. She ran, barely trusting her telekinesis to help her avoid spilling in the muck. She fled the monsters, trying not to think about anything but the weanling she loved.

Tia felt the pain even as she found her. A tiny pair of blue eyes stared up at her with perfect trust as she felt herself change—

**Tia?**

--fangs stabbing out from her gums and claws from her hooves as she reached for the tiny—

**Tia, stop. Stop doing this to thyself.**

Tia blinked, looking away from the helpless weanling to the blue filly standing nearby. She had spoken without speaking, her silent voice more real than anything around them.

Tia’s misshapen mouth worked to form her name. “Loonah?”

Luna walked to her, a running beast moving through her seamlessly as she did.

**Tia, this is not real. It never happened. Not like this. This is a dream, and thou canst end it if thou tries.**

With a frightened cry, Tia jackknifed awake. In an instant, Luna was there, holding her, comforting her, shushing her hyperventillated gasps. Tia clung to her, buried her muzzle in the younger filly’s mane and her scent.

“It’s alright,” Luna said again and again. “I’m fine. Thou saved me. I’m fine.”

“I was… I turned into…”

“Nay. ‘Twas only a fear, not a memory.”

In time, Tia’s breathing returned to normal, and the two sisters considered one another.

“How long?” Luna asked at last.

“A while,” Tia admitted.

Luna looked at her older sister, thinking. It had been a long time since Tia had been with her during her sadness, when Luna had confessed her temptation to join with shadow. But Luna was a big girl now. She had gotten very good at hiding such things, at smiling when she wanted to weep. It had never occurred to her that Tia would be hiding her own pains.

“Is’t ever the same dream?” she asked.

“Mostly. Sometimes I see Mama and Papa; sometimes, like tonight, I do not.” She shuddered. “But it always has the same ending.”

“Thou changest.”

A nod.

“And thou…”

Tia winced. “Please, don’t.”

“Shhhh.” Luna cuddled closer. “Let me be here for thee, as thou hast for me. There. ’Tis but a dream. An’ ‘tis a fear, I think, not a desire.”

Tia held her tightly. “Never!”

“Then, what is thy fear? Ever, thou hast been the stronger of us both.” She pondered for a moment. “It is thyself that thou fearest, I think. Yet, we both know that thou art no monster. And thou wouldst never harm me. So, what is it that drives these dreams?”

I don’t know! I just… Luna, what if I do? What if I do hurt thee? What if—”

“What if there are no more suns that warm us?” Luna broke in gently. “What if there are no more patterns to find, and we are lost in flux forever? Should we live thus, ever in fear of what might be? Nay. We must live, my fay. Not merely survive.” She drew the young mare’s face towards her own. “There is always love, and where there is love there is hope. So love, and live.”

Tia blinked, and cocked her head as she considered her sister. “Thou art so young,” she said at last. “How didst thou get so wise?”

“I had the best teacher.” They embraced again, and then Luna rose. “When thou hast this dream again, I will join thee. I was wrong to urge thee to end it, I think. We shall face it together, and thus let nightmare be slain.”


Over time, the sisters came to agree on a shape for their hope.

At first, Tia was reluctant to share her thoughts with Luna. Yet, it seemed wrong not to. Did she not have the right to know what might lay in their path? Of course she did. And the late night when Tia broached the subject, she found that Luna had been thinking along similar lines. They did not know how or when, but all their hopes and ambitions revolved around one being. The ultimate predator. The architect of their world and their woes.

Without the Lord of All, there was hope to break the cycle, create something new. Something ponies and other thinking folk could rely on. Something like the walled place where they were born. So plants could be grown on purpose, and friends live near each other. So thinking folk of all kinds could stop being prey. So there could be peace. Moments like when they were playing tag as little fillies, but lasting forever.

It was a small hope, vague, and not well-informed. But with their ever-growing power, and their resentment of the eternal contest betwixt pattern and flux, it suited them both.

They called it the Idea.