• Published 14th Feb 2020
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Imperial Revision - The Sound of Loneliness

What would you do if you already had everything? Or everything you wanted. Her Majesty Nightmare Moon has recently discovered there is more to life than war, intrigues and edicts. Luna is trying to be helpful. She has no choice.

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Quivering Sun

“Cree!” Philomena called from the open window.
The resting pony didn’t respond.
“Cree!” the bird cried out again, now directly at the sleeping mare’s face. Her eyes proceeded to flicker open, then immediately slam shut again, as the rising sun shone directly at her from the window.
Gritting her teeth and squinting heavily with a single opened eye, the Empress used her magic to drag the drapes over the window, ending the assault of cursed sunlight on her sight.

Nightmare Moon shifted her attention to the other source of light in the room. Luckily, Philomena’s own glow was dim enough for Nightmare Moon to look at the phoenix without discomfort.
“What?” she asked sharply, annoyed at the bird for waking her up.
Notes: I don’t have much to say for this one, just switching things up.

“Cree!” Philomena alarmingly answered and stretched out her leg with a tiny piece of paper tied to it.
The royal pony deeply sighed and sat upright, proceeding to untie the letter and use Philomena’s light to discern the tiny writing. With few the letters blurring before her, the Empress had to take the moment to rub her eyes clean.

'The Queen left us no choice,' the letter read.
It wasn’t signed, but there was no need.

“Cree!” Philomena answered alarmingly and stretched out her leg, which had a tiny piece of paper tied to it.
The royal pony sighed deeply and sat upright, proceeding to untie the letter and use Philomena’s light to discern the tiny writing. The letters blurred before her and the Empress had to take a moment to rub her eyes.
'The Queen left us no choice,' the letter read.
It wasn’t signed, but there was no need for a signature.

The mare looked down at the bird, who was still standing on her bed. Philomena looked quietly up at her, her stance made apparent without any word. Nightmare Moon gave a sad chuckle—she just killed another creature.
The Empress never had a single doubt that Chrysalis would end up like this when she was released from her cell; the entire world, it seemed, wanted her dead. But was there any another way?

Perhaps she could’ve had Chrysalis stay at the palace, where she couldn’t have done harm to anypony and as an added plus, be harmed herself. Maybe one night the Queen would’ve even realized the full extent of her wrongdoings. And then her Shadow wouldn’t have been forced to end her own mother’s life.
The mare felt her eyes watering again and proceeded to wipe them off. If her sister was right about anything, it was that she had grown impermissibly soft.

“Cree,” Philomena called softly to her, drawing her attention again. The bird wasn’t showing her sympathy, only asking her leave.
Nightmare Moon stood up from the bed and walked over to the draped window, Philomena following her and landing on the sill. Squinting her eyes in advance, Nightmare Moon prepared to let the bird out; but a sudden idea carried her away instead.

Leaving the bird on the sill, the Empress approached her bookshelf and ran through the titles with her eyes. Finding what she searched for, the Empress took out a thin, barely a few dozen pages large, booklet in a soft cover. She curled it up into a roll and presented it to the bird, who gave her a questioning look.

“Give this to my Shadow,” the Empress explained. The bird didn’t move an inch, her stare changing to the one of indignation. Nightmare Moon sighed.
“Please,” she added. The bird continued staring at her for a one long moment more, before finally grasping the booklet and turning away to the window. Nightmare Moon pulled the drapes away, allowing the bird access to the window.

The mare intended to pull the drapes back on as soon as the phoenix left, but Philomena would need a way to get inside, so this window would have to remain open for her. Squinting her eyes, the mare went back to bed, hoping to still get some of her day’s sleep. It was not to be.

“Your Highness, Her Majesty has not called for you,” said the Guard stationed outside.
Nightmare Moon produced a suffered moan and tucked her head under the pillow, quietly praying to the stars and sincerely hoping that her Guard would deal with this himself. The sound of the door bashed open made her twitch, proving the futility of her hopes.

“Sister,” a painfully familiar voice called to her.
“We need to have words,” Daybreaker announced, accentuating her voice with the sound of the door being pushed shut.
Nightmare gave a tired sigh and pushed the pillow off her head, glancing at her sister. Daybreaker was glaring at her, no trace of her usual smile.

“Sister, what happened to you?” Daybreaker asked straight away, but not before leaving a dramatic pause after her previous words.
“What could be your reasoning for releasing Chrysalis after you spent so many resources on containing her? Why didn’t you simply execute her where you found her?
Sister, did you intend to just let this viper roam around your realm? Just imagine what she could do if given a little time! What were you thinking?!

“The Queen was no danger for us, sister,” Nightmare Moon explained. A weak attempt, admittedly.

“The Queen was no danger to us, sister,” Nightmare Moon explained. It was a weak attempt at explanation, admittedly.
“Who cares if she was a danger or not?!” Daybreaker immediately shot back. “She was our mortal enemy! Sister, leaving enemies to their own devices is leaving your back exposed! If it wasn’t for her own drones, she could have had free reign over your own land!” Nightmare Moon frowned deeply. So Daybreaker already knew about her Shadow as well,
“This is unacceptable, sister! Changelings are predators! They feed upon YOUR subjects! Do something!
Well…perhaps not that it was her Shadow.

“And what is it you suggest I do, sister?” Nightmare Moon asked, accompanying her response with a long sigh. The question seemed to excite Daybreaker even more.

“I… You...” the alabaster mare gestured rapidly, finding herself too agitated to speak. She paused to take a deep breath.
“Sister, you are the Empress,” Daybreaker answered, sounding a bit calmer. “You are the one who’s supposed to tell others what to do.”

“In that case, I order you to cease,” Nightmare conjured the remnants of her authority. “Everything is precisely how I will it. I let Chrysalis out on my own consent and I did so for her service. You need not worry, she never was a threat to us,” the onyx mare made sure to deliberately accentuate each word.

“And what service could the debased Queen possibly offer to you?” Daybreaker mirrored her sister’s manners.

“Chrysalis was long rumored to hoard knowledge, sister. I have need of it.”

“Knowledge, sister?” Daybreaker’s eyes widened. “What can this leech possibly...” her eyes flashed for a split second, then settled into a long, quiet stare.
“The tomes... you made her give up her kind’s magical secrets,” the mare finally said. Nightmare Moon gave a quiet nod.
“Hmm… Changeling magic would have its uses...
But I still don’t understand why would you simply let her go if she no longer was of any use to you. You know she would’ve used any opportunity for revenge, right?”

“I am aware. It was completely irrelevant, she had no more ways of harming us.”

“But why leave a possibility?” Daybreaker pushed. “Did you have plans for her?”

“She could’ve been useful for quelling changelings if a need arose—” Daybreaker rolled her eyes, “—if she could be swayed to our cause,” Nightmare Moon concluded.

“Sister, would you please kindly refrain from trying to make a fool of me. You made extremely sure changelings will never again have a chance to rise against you. Tell me your real reasons.”

“Chrysalis is more useful alive th-”

“Sister, please!” Daybreaker waved her hooves in protest.

Sister mine, I think you are forge-”

“Sister, I am trying to help you!” Daybreaker blasted out, leaving Nightmare startled. “I can tell something is amiss. You don’t have to lie to me…we are in this together, remember?” She conjured what she could of a disarming smile.
Nightmare Moon frowned sharply and dropped her head back onto the mattress. Doubts could be voiced about this statement.
But to Tartarus with it.

“Sister,” Nightmare Moon forcefully began, preparing to give her sister a taste of her own usual attitude. “I let her go because I gave her my word!” she angrily slashed away. She intended to stop there, she intended,
“I hated having to put her there, sister! It was repugnant! It was what she would have done to us! She would’ve put us into the furthest cell under her hive to rot for all eternity!
“I despise her! I hate everything she was! I hate having to result to exactly the same measures as she would! I hate all of this, sister!
I want to be nothing like her! I want all of the Empire to say that I have nothing in common with her! I want… I-I want...” Nightmare Moon had to stop herself before she said something damning.

Instead of responding, Daybreaker stared at her in bewilderment.

“What happened to you?” she asked, her voice completely losing its explosive quality.
The Empress dropped her eyes, the magnitude of what she had just revealed starting to weigh down on her.
“Sister, what did this filth do to you!? Did Sparkle cast something on you? Did they pour something in your wine? Tell me!” Daybreaker all but leapt toward her sister’s bed and crouched to look closer at Nightmare’s face again. Nightmare Moon silently stared back and Daybreaker’s face slowly began turning to anger again,
“Oh, this little… I promise you, Sparkle and her yes-mares will pay for this!” Daybreaker turned around, starting for the door,
“They will regret hurting my sister! Every single one of them will pay!

“Wait!” Nightmare Moon jumped up from her bed and chased Daybreaker down with a single leap. “Sister, I swear, they did nothing to me! The only thing they do is obey orders, my orders! Would you really chastise them for being good subjects?”

“That… Lieutenant of yours would beg to disagree on being your subject,” Darkbreaker commented dryly. Nightmare Moon bowed her head sadly.

“Please,” she said as a final resort.

“S-sister... what is this?” Daybreaker stammered, a tense smile appearing on her lips instead of an angry grimace. “I am not like those bleeding-hearts, good for nothing fillies Celestia filled her palace with! You don’t have to do this for me. There is no need to grovel before your own sister!”

“Just… just leave them alone. I promise they are not a threat to any of us.”

“But…sister, how could you be this reckless?” Daybreaker asked, still showing no trace of anger, only pure confusion and…now something else too.
“Your own home is filled with vipers ready to bite you! Sparkle and her flunkies are walking by your vault every single night! What if they rebel again? They will be armed at a moment’s notice! They can send you to the moon, or who knows where, in a matter of minutes! You won’t even have time to react!”
Oh...yes...all of this made more sense now. Thank the stars, Daybreaker simply was afraid.

“Sister, they will do no such thing,” Nightmare Moon assured her, as confidently as she could with her still-quivering voice. The last thing she needed now was for her sister to do something stupid out of fear.
“But they may simply-”

“They won’t,” Nightmare forcefully shut down the argument before her sister could even start it. The Empress lifted her hoof and for the first time ever, touched Daybreaker’s shoulder in a comforting gesture,
“Sister, this not how a noble mare should behave herself. Get hold of your own fears,” she softly urged.
“We are in total control here. Our ponies are dependent on us to raise the sun and moon. If they were to banish us, this world would die.” That was not entirely true, but the monarch had nothing to lose in this gamble.

It took a moment for Daybreaker to process the message.

“Oh...” she breathed with sizable relief. “You are correct. But of course you are! I am sorry, sister. I should have more self-control.” Nightmare Moon slowly nodded and stepped back, giving her sister some room,
“But still, why wouldn’t you simply remove their teeth?” Daybreaker asked. “Taking unnecessary risks was never a habit of yours.
Is this because of Luna, sister? Did she do this to you? I have to admit, I don’t understand this change in the slightest. Last me and Celestia heard of you, the two of you couldn't bear each other! I can definitely remember us hearing you grumbling about, I quote: 'The 1000 years worth of headache,' she gave you! Exactly what did happen between you two in the few years while we were away on the moon?”

Nightmare Moon needed a minute.
Was this a moment of truth for the two of them?
For once, Daybreaker had come openly, simply looking for answers. She didn’t eavesdrop, didn’t try to sneak into her study, didn't even try to hide her intentions in any way. Daybreaker came to ask her, honestly.
For the pitiful creatures they were, this was what passed as trust. The Empress had no illusions, Daybreaker was cruel, selfish, and even bloodthirsty at times--but she was her sister, her own kind, her only real family. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t all lost yet?

Nightmare Moon felt an urge to embrace her sister there and now, and tell her everything.
She wanted to tell her sister of the wonders the Princess of the Night had shown to her, for this might be her only chance to do it. Daybreaker wasn’t Celestia, but maybe she spent enough time with the Princess of the Sun to understand how to reach out? The picture instantly brought tears to her eyes.

Upon noticing the water, Daybreaker sprung:
“Sister, I promise, you’ll have Luna back! Sparkle is almost finished with her potion, it should be only a few days now.”

“Daybreaker, I-”

“No! Don’t say anything!” Daybreaker bowed hastily and quickened to the door, “You will have your Princess back, my Empress!”

“Sister, wait! I-” But Daybreaker had already swung the door shut behind her. The onyx mare went to pursue, but after opening the door she found her sister already cutting the corner to the stairway. Daybreaker was practically running away from her.

Corporal Firestep, stationed outside, looked away. It was best to not attract any attention now. But he still maintained his periphery vision on the Empress, just in case.
He saw the Empress turn her head towards him, though he couldn’t make out what her look was suggesting. She continued staring at him for a few more seconds, then moved back inside her bedroom and slammed the door behind her. He could feel the floor vibrating from the impact.
The reaction was telling—he’d just done something wrong

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