• Published 2nd Jan 2019
  • 307 Views, 22 Comments

Pandemic: Dreamers - Cosmic Eclipse

It has been three months since the ETS Pandemic derailed the lives of many, leaving their futures unclear. Four ponies in California are left to reflect on what's happened... and what will happen.

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Thunder crashed in the distance, lightning illuminating the forest around him. The sounds of unseen monsters creeping ever closer from the darkness, seemingly surrounding him. To say that Stanley was afraid would be an understatement... he was terrified. Thunder crashed all around, the bright flashes doing nothing to reveal the creatures hunting him. Two more crashes, another series of flashes... Stanley made a run for it, running like he had never run before in his life. The heavy downpour of rain did nothing to make this feat easier, only making his fleeting attempts at escape even more fruitless. Soon enough Stanley found himself cornered against the cold rocky face of a mountain. This was it, he knew that there was nothing he could do to escape his fate, and with another crash of thunder and a strike of lightning, the creature lunged out from the abyss...

Stanley awoke in a cold sweat, he had been plagued with nightmares for longer than he could remember and tonight had been no different than any other. Sometimes they were simple fears, monsters in the closet, waking up late for work, losing his keys, but other nights they were more defined, mostly personal worries and fears building up into a horrible terror. Tonight's nightmare had been another rerun, familiarly playing out as it always had, yet still terrifying nonetheless.

Becoming a night pony hadn't done much to alleviate him of the irrational fears that ruled his life. In fact, the tensions that stood between humans and ponies only made those fears worse. Ever since he had lost his job, Stanley was unable to find true meaning in his life. The humans of Crystal Cove were a vindictive bunch and wanted next to nothing to do with ponies. Threatening, scaring, and in some cases even assaulting the ponies who had every right to be there as well.

Stanley had been a banker as a human, working his way to a fine leadership role in the bank he worked at, but the ponies of Crystal Cove, (and seemingly the rest of California for that matter) didn't seem to be concerned with such things. He couldn't be sure how different the rest of the United States was, but he hoped that it wasn't all like this. Stanley could deal with this, however he knew that he could never continue on with this bland life indefinitely.

His dreams had largely been the same ever since he had confronted his boss, and despite the fact that he knew what to expect, he could never shake that particular dream, or the same terrible feeling of betrayal that came along with it. He forced himself to go back to sleep, the sun giving him a terrible headache in addition to the one he already had.

It was a bright evening shortly after he had finished his transformation. Stanley had decided to confront his boss and see if he could somehow remain in his position at the bank. His ultimate hope was that Mr. Jones would show leniency or pity, and allow him to keep working. Stanley had worked there for most of his adult life, having joined the firm in his youth as an apprentice. Perhaps his boss could look at that instead of completely disregarding him. Stanley knew that it was a pipe dream however, as his boss was a shrewd, cold, impatient, old man, with a harsh view of the world filtered through an even harsher moral lens. Still though, it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

As Stanley approached the front door of the bank his thoughts were full of dread, knowing that his boss likely wouldn't see eye to eye. He gave a weak knock, his hooves trembling at the thought of potential failure. The seconds, then minutes dragged on agonizingly long, as he waited for the old miser to answer the door. His thoughts immediately went back to some of his first days working in the bank.

Eight Years Prior:

It was the first day of his new life... well his professional life. Stanley had worked harder than he had ever worked in his life to secure this apprenticeship, and he couldn't be more happy!.. well he could, but happiness was irrelevant when it came to securing his future. None of that mattered now though, he had secured an apprenticeship with the prestigious First Bank of Crystal Cove, led by arguably one of the city's most ruthless individuals. Stanley straightened his tie as he approached the front door, knocking on it weakly. He sat there for what felt like an agonizing lifetime when the door soon opened, revealing the figure of Robert Jones, the head of the bank.

"Hello... Mr. Jones.", He stammered out.

"Excuse me? Is that how you greet your employers? This is the first impression that you wish to make?! I'd like you to give me one good reason why I shouldn't slam this door shut and look elsewhere for an apprentice!"

"I'm very sorry sir, It's just nerves. I assure you that I'm the man for the job, I've worked my entire life to reach this point and I'd hate to have it end on such a poor note." He could only hope that his plea would be heard...

History seemed to have a way of repeating itself. Stanley knocked harder, hoping that he wouldn't anger his boss. As it seemed like no one would ever answer the door, it suddenly flew open, revealing the hunched figure of Robert Jones, looking more aged and more decrepit than usual.

"What do you want at this hour? I thought I made it VERY clear that you were no longer to set foot on this premises!" Yep, as cheerful as usual...

"Mr. Jones, I know you have some rather... harsh views towards the transformed... But I hope my tenure at this firm could hold more merit than..."

"Transformed? You mean damned! None of us would be in this predicament if people like you hadn't given into sin, bringing damnation down upon us!"

"With all due respect sir, I don't even have time for myself with the schedule you've given us at the bank! You can't just pin blame on me like that!"

"This establishment has no place for freaks like you, and if you ever show your face here again you won't be given such leniency! Now get out of my sight and don't ever return!"

His dreams reminded him of how much the world had changed, night after night, never letting him forget the hate that some humans could have. He thought he could trust his employer of eight years, hoping that his merit would outweigh his species, but the old man didn't budge. Some nights his dreams took form as reflections of the hostility he faced, sometimes the discrimination, every one had one thing in common, one thing that he could be sure of: the humans around town would never see eye to eye with him, or any pony for that matter. So many were outright hostile and threatening to him and his peers, so he did what came naturally, opting to fly out of town with the remaining transformed ponies. Living through a different fear every night was getting stale, and he knew that he couldn't just let it rule his life forever.

Stanley suddenly became aware of the dream around him, realizing that he could dispel his fears here with ease.

"Wait a minute, freeze! This is my dream, I'm in control now!", he exclaimed.

The world around him suddenly came to a stop. The rain, lightning, birds in the sky, passing figures, and even the old miser himself all froze in place, as if he had hit the pause button on reality. Perhaps he really was letting his own fears dictate his life, and in a moment of clarity Stanley wandered out of the large ornate door, flying into the night sky until the bank and surrounding block faded out of view. He came to a rest on the far end of town, on a strange fragmented island... It seems that his mind was filling in the blanks of the world around him.

Realizing the potential of this discovery, he began to cautiously test his abilities, changing the world to his liking, finally coming to the conclusion that he could be the one in charge of his dreams, banishing the monsters that haunted him relentlessly night after night after night. The world around him changed into the form of a lake he had frequented as a child, the one place where he truly felt fearless and in control. For the first time in a very long time, he felt at peace, knowing that his fears couldn't affect him here. He sat there enjoying the calm serenity of the lake, no longer feeling the same terrible sense of fear that haunted him constantly. The longer he sat there, the more he experimented with his abilities, summoning animals, plants, and all matter of peaceful things into the relaxing safe haven that was now his dreams.

The more Stanley used his abilities, the more natural it all felt, and before long he suddenly felt something that he hadn't before, a feeling of heightened awareness. It was as if something was calling out to him from the darkness. Could there be something beyond? There was only one way to find out. Looking to the night sky, Stanley pushed forward into the mysterious abyss, slowly giving in to the strange feeling around him, when suddenly the clouds parted revealing a starry expanse, more vivid than any night sky he had ever seen...

“Congratulations on finally finding the strength to conquer your fears, Stanley.”

“What… who... are you?

The stars in the expanse shifted in front of Stanley, coming together to reveal a shadowy pony, standing before him.

“Let me introduce myself, My name is Phobia Remedy, and I’m the Dreamwarden of fear. I’ve been watching your dreams for quite a while now, and you’ve just entered the dreamscape for the very first time.”

“If you’ve been watching my dreams then why haven’t you helped stop the nightmares?”

“To put it simply, it isn’t my place to conquer your fear for you, it’s something that you needed to find the power to do on your own, otherwise you wouldn’t have truly conquered them, only allowing yourself to be tormented by them time and time again. It’s important to face your fears so that you can learn from them and grow from that knowledge. Fear is a strong feeling but it can also offer a certain enlightenment.”

“I… I think I understand.”

“Very good, now let’s get to the important part, there are rules that you must agree to if you wish to continue dream walking, and oaths that we’ll require from you at every meeting.


“Yes. They will imprint the rules upon you, rules which have severe consequences if broken. For example, refusing to say your oaths to me is subject to immediate banishment from the dreamscape. If it helps, you can view it as a sort of contract that is required to sign if you wish to dream walk. The likelihood of us meeting again is slim as long as you don’t cause trouble.”

“Trouble? Should I be concerned about this?”

“You have nothing to fear as long as you follow the rules, the rules will keep you and others safe.”

“What are the rules?”

“I’m glad you asked,

One, you will never use dreamwalking to deliberately hurt another pony. There are no excuses why you did it, it's off limits. Only the Dreamwardens dispense justice in the dreamscape. That is not for you.

Two, you will never use information that you learn in a pony's dreams against them. You have a sacred trust with the dreamers, you shall not violate it.

Three, you will never use mind magic in a malicious way to mind control or cause harm to anyone, pony or human. Nor will you use dreamwalking in attempt to gain control of another's thoughts. You should be disgusted by the very concept of it.

Last but not least, you will respect the Dreamwardens and respect our authority. You shall give Oaths to us on demand to show you understand that we decide your fate here in the dreamscape, and to break the rules will end in consequences.

These are the rules, do you agree with them yes or no?”

“If this means I don’t have to be tormented by my nightmares every single time I go to sleep then that’s perfectly acceptable to me.”

“Wonderful! Now the Oaths, as I mentioned before, these will imprint the rules onto you, and we’ll require that you say them on request. Failure to do so will result in punishment so I would advise that you comply with that request. I’d like to just state that once you say these oaths you’ll be given a compulsion to follow the rules, and the punishments for breaking said rules can be quite severe. If you’d like to back out now this is your chance to do it, otherwise we can proceed.

“How severe are we talking?”

“It depends on the particular Dreamwarden, I personally bring out your worst fears in force and make them a reality here. You won’t be physically hurt but the experience will feel very real and distressing to you. The others have their own methods which I won’t go into detail with, but I can assure you that they’re just as particularly unpleasant.”

Stanley hesitated for a moment, thinking on this decision one final time.

“I… I agree to your terms.”

“Very well, Now please repeat after me:

“Psychic Calm, we promise ponies shall dream in peace.
Yinyu Wu Yan, we shall not allow our passions to lead us to folly.
Ghadab, the Wardens' anger is unyielding and just.
Phobia Remedy, fear of the Wardens keeps us safe.
Tikhiy Krik, we shall keep the secrets of the Wardens.
Sha'am Maut, better to die than to face the Wardens' justice.”

Stanley felt a momentary flicker of concern, but his desire to finally conquer his fears was greater than his concern about these strange ponies. He figured that as long as he followed the rules he wouldn’t need to ever interact with them again. Seeing no point in delaying too long, potentially disrespecting this strange pony, Stanley complied.

“With a somewhat hesitant voice, Stanley spoke out the oaths:
Psychic Calm, we promise ponies shall dream in peace.
Yinyu Wu Yan, we shall not allow our passions to lead us to folly.
Ghadab, the Wardens' anger is unyielding and just.
Phobia Remedy, fear of the Wardens keeps us safe.
Tikhiy Krik, we shall keep the secrets of the Wardens.
Sha'am Maut, better to die than to face the Wardens' justice.”

“Very good, I trust that we won’t be meeting again.”

And with that, the shadowy figure was gone, leaving Stanley alone to his own devices.

Stanley suddenly awoke with a start. Jumping out of his makeshift bed, but this time not from the fear of an unseen monster hunting him while he was helpless to do anything, his fears of failure, or even any number of things that his mind could conjure, but rather from the excitement of a new discovery, the discovery of something that could help him find what he was unable to on his own. The dreamscape was something that was impossible to truly ever describe.

Stanley had learned something very interesting though, he was able to travel through dreams, learning some very interesting things along the way. It was all so disorienting at first, but after some trial and error he had stumbled into as many dreams as he could, joyfully jumping from one to another like an excited kid running through a toy store. Nothing had stood out to him until he fell into a few dreams that showed a beautiful oasis, towns somewhere out in the world where ponies and humans could live together in peace... Stanley was inspired. This gave him an idea, an idea that could finally mark a major change in his life.

Stanley began to plot out his next move. He set out to learn as much as he could, hoping to find something... anything that might help him make this dream a reality. Realizing that the dreamscape was an invaluable tool, he sought to learn everything he could about it, granted that was probably more than he could ever hope to comprehend. It was still a few hours until his fellow night ponies would be waking up, and despite his excitement he was fighting to stay awake as it was. No longer dreading the thought of sleep, knowing that he finally had the power to conquer his nightmares, he fell back asleep, with the intent of using his new found knowledge to explore all the dreams that he could, trying to find anything that might help him along the way.

Stanley woke up well rested and at peace for the first time in three months. Most ponies in the rather small town that he called home had fallen asleep, however the resident night ponies were wide awake. Stanley approached one of the best friends he had known in Crystal Cove, excited to tell her all about his discoveries.

"Hey Jess, I finally did it! I was finally able to dreamwalk!" Stanley shouted to his long time friend.

"That's great Stan, glad you finally caught up to the rest of us. So how was it? Did you see anything cool?"

"There was so much to take in, but the one thing that stood out to me above everything else were the dreams. There’s so much out there, and I think this is what I’ve been looking for all along. I’ve seen dreams, dreams of an oasis, a place where Ponies and Humans can live together in peace."

"You know Stan... dreams aren't real. I hate to be blunt with you but do you really think humans could ever grow to accept us?"

"I want to believe that they could. I know it might be absurd but surely multiple dreams talking about the same thing can't be wrong can they? Somewhere deep down, we're all the same people that we were before this all happened. Humans and Ponies aren't as different as others might think. We all have wants, we all have dreams, surely others have felt this same way, and I have to believe that they've followed those dreams."

His friend seemed to sit there and ponder this for a short while, unsure of what to say.

"That may be true, but they're still dreams, for all we know this is just based on wants, hopes, aspirations, stories even. Doesn't it all seem a little too perfect for you? I know you don't feel like a part of the group, but you're still an important part of this town and we really value all your hard work, couldn't it be possible to make your dreams a reality here?"

Stanley reflected on this for a moment. Following the exodus from Crystal Cove he and a small group of ponies had set up a camp well outside the city limits. The town's biggest supporters and leaders had all experienced the vision on a spiritual level and set out to make their own dream community, where everyone contributed to the greater good of the town and it's citizens. It was a great idea on paper, and to be honest, it was actually doing fairly well despite it's small size. However Stanley couldn't bear to continue doing the various odd jobs he was assigned any longer. In his past life he felt pride and joy in his work, here he felt boredom and monotony and that was part of the reason why his rejection was so hard to move past. He couldn't continue his life here without going insane and he knew it.

"I appreciate it Jess, but you know this isn't the life for me. The humans here are too hostile to see eye to eye with us, and I feel like I just need to clear my head and discover who I really am. I've lived my whole life fearing change, seldom leaving Crystal Cove, this is a chance to start over, finally start living, widen my world if you will. Besides, I'm a banker, It's something that will always be a part of me, but a town with no currency has no need for a bank, and no need for a bank means no need for bankers, which means that I wind up doing some of the most monotonous work imaginable. I want this town to thrive, but it just isn't the right fit for me. I hope you can understand this."

"Stan I know you want to hold onto your past, but the truth is that it's over. I've moved on, chosen a new name for myself, a new life for my family..."

"And that works fine for you, but I can't just sit here knowing that the thing I've looking for all this time might actually be out there waiting for me. I have to see it for myself, and if it really is just a pipe dream, then I'll admit that you're right and I'll gladly come home and accept my new life here. But this is what I need to do now, for my own sanity."

"I can accept that. As crazy of an idea as it is, I really have to commend you, it isn't easy to just blindly jump into something on the hope that it's real. I have to ask though.. Do you know where you're going to look?"

"I have a few ideas. It's still hard to make sense of the dreams, but I feel like I won’t find what I’m looking for if I just stay here. I don't know where to start, but I have a friend in Arizona who was always an optimist, this is exactly the kind of thing that he would know about if it was a reality. I don't know what's happened to him, or what he's been through, but maybe I can try and make contact with him... you always said that the better you knew someone, the easier it was to find their dreams. I don't even know if he was ever transformed or if he's still even there but he was practically a brother to me when we were kids so I have to hold out hope. It's a weak lead, but a lead nonetheless. I'll see you in your dreams if I have anything big to share. I think I'm going to head out before the week is over, to at least get a head start."

And with that Stanley began to prepare for the long journey ahead of him. He packed up his few meager belongings, and prepared for the journey ahead of him. He didn't know where or when he would find what he was looking for, but he had a general feel for what it was, and he was sure he would be able to seek out his dreams, both known and unknown eventually in due course. With all of his possessions collected, he planned his journey out east, towards the only lead he could think of.

Author's Note:

This is a lot longer and different in content and style than the first chapter was. I don't plan to have any of these chapters cross over too much in this story yet, as this is meant to be more of an introduction to the characters and set up some events for a potential sequel.

For more information on some of the dream realm stuff teased and lightly introduced in this chapter, please check out Halira's story: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/413766/pandemic-picking-up-the-pieces

A lot of this story is a creative outlet to write something in an established universe, so some chapters might touch on different aspects of the lore more than others.

Chapters will for sure go on a hiatus until late January due to an upcoming vacation, however if I have free time or feel like writing I may post some sooner.

As always please feel free to give some feedback!

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