• Published 20th Apr 2020
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Disharmony: Gods Among Ponies - Mr-Astounding

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Lightning Dust

Chapter 7: Lightning Dust

It had taken longer than expected, and they had needed to take a quick detour to one of the Lunar Republic’s satellite bases to make sure that Sunburst’s Solar counterpart was secure - just because he was powerless now didn’t mean that he wasn’t still a threat, after all - but the trio had managed to secure a route into Cloudsdale and by extension the Weather Factory. As soon as they got in, however, Sunburst surprised his two companions by setting a scrying stone on a nearby table and casting a quick spell on it, nodding to himself as he did. “Alright, this will let us listen in on the Empire’s telepathy chatter: let us know if they catch on to our little sabotage.”

Starlight Glimmer couldn’t help but give a low whistle in response even as Sunburst put the stone back in his saddlebag for safekeeping. “You really are different from our Sunburst: he’d never be able to do that so quickly.”

Sunburst chuckled in reply. “I can’t take all the credit: when his magic surge blew his horn out, your Sunburst accidentally let me in on a few of the Empire’s secrets via some residue of the telepathy spell he had cast earlier.” Turning to the others, he gained an impish grin. “Fun fact: Queen Chrysalis is a bed-wetter.”

Lightning Dust wouldn’t have been able to contain the amused snort that escaped her even if she tried. “No wonder GlimGlam had a crush on you as a filly: you’re actually a pretty cool stallion when you aren’t working for an insane dictator,” she admitted before moving towards the door, something which her fillyfriend immediately noticed.

“Don’t go too far, Dusty,” Starlight warned. “We only get one shot at this, so we can’t afford to get caught.”

“I won’t be long,” Lightning promised. “Just paying a visit to an old friend.”

Sometime later, the ex-Wonderbolt trainee sucked in a breath as she approached her destination: a field of flowers that were replaced on regular basis surrounding by torches and prismatic fountains, all surrounding a statue with a plague that read the following: “Here lies Rainbow Dash: The Most Loyal Wonderbolt, Friend, and Mother You’d Ever Know.”

“It’s not a bad likeness, Dash,” Lightning admitted as she looked upon the place where the ashes of the mare she owed her life to had been spread, “but we both know that it pales in comparison to the real thing.” She sighed. “Sorry I haven’t visited before now, but you know better than anypony that I had a rather large target on my back even before...well, you know. Storm Chaser’s been doing great, by the way, though she did wind up getting grounded for sneaking out of the base to try and help with a mission. One thing’s for sure: she is definitely your daughter.”

She couldn’t help but give a bitter chuckle. “Still can’t believe you stated that you wanted to be cremated in your will, but then again, you never did like being grounded in life, so why would you want to be trapped underground in death? That and your counterpart did mention how you wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. ...oh, right: Twilight managed to bring your counterpart and some of your friends over from another Equestria. They’re helping us with the final stretch. I can feel it: we’re this close to winning this war.”

Lightning gave a sigh as she whipped a tear from her eye. “I just wish you were here to see it all. ...I miss you. Yeah, I never thought I’d hear me say it either, but I do. Having your counterpart here doesn’t help as much as you’d think it might: it’s like I’m talking to your ghost, and...well, don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful that you managed to indirectly introduce me to Soarin and the others, but I don’t know: sometimes I wish I had a sign that I deserved to survive for this long.”

“It won’t be long now.”

Lightning perked up as she heard this, quickly hiding behind a pillar to listen in on what was being said, gasping as one of Queen Chrysalis' changelings carrying a sinister looking crystal. Acting quickly, Lightning tackled the changeling to the ground, accidentally knocking the crystal into one of the surrounding prismatic pools. “What are you doing?!”

“It’s not what I’m doing, Republican scum: it’s what I’ve done!” was the changeling’s smug reply as the pool began to bubble. “I can see the headlines now: ‘Lunar Lunacy’ or ‘Cloudsdale Crashes’!”

“...you intend to destroy the city and blame it all on us,” Lightning gasped out. “Chrysalis and her changelings really have been using this war for their own benefit!”

“From the second our alliance with the Empress was made,” the drone admitted. “And at any rate, you’re too late: my companions will have made their own sabotages to the floating city. Now Equestria will watch in horror as the legendary Rainbow Dash’s precious home is destroyed before their eyes, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

“Wrong!” she declared as she knocked the Changeling out before taking out a scrying stone. “Starlight: how long would it take us to evacuate Cloudsdale...and before you ask, Chrysalis was going to destroy the city even if I hadn’t stumbled upon one of her Changelings!”

“So the Changeling Queen is double crossing Celestia: why am I not surprised?” Starlight groaned out, before sighing. “Shouldn’t take any longer than about a couple hours or so if we do everything just right, and I’ll see about spreading the word among the populace so that they can’t pin this on us, but we’ve got another problem: Sunburst and I just picked some chatter from deeper into the city. Looks like there are still two Solar Empire loyalists that weren’t informed about Cloudsdale’s change in location.”

“I’ll check it out.” Lightning declared, though pausing as the wind blew past her ears, causing her to blink in shock: it might have just been her imagination, but she could’ve sworn she heard a certain rainbow-haired Pegasus’ voice saying “Run, Lightning, Run!”

Even still, she teared up as she took one last look at the Loyal Pegasus’ final resting place. “I promise, I’ll make you proud...sis.” She wasn’t sure why she added that last bit, but she couldn’t help but think that it felt right.

As it turned out, Lightning actually knew these Loyalists. It seemed that Fluttershy and Scootaloo had come here and the last minute to pay a visit to the graves of Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles, Rainbow Dash’s parents, having passed away not long after their daughter: rumors continue to abound that the cause of death had been a broken heart.

“Hey, Flutters.”

“Yes, Scoots?”

“You ever wonder if we’re doing the right thing helping Celestia? I can’t deny that some of the stuff with Little Strongheart and Ember’s doppelganger have made me look at some of the past few years in a different light.” Scootaloo, the late Rainbow Dash’s honorary little sister, couldn’t help but admit.

Fluttershy nodded in understanding. “I have to admit that sometimes I do think we might be taking things too far. But then, I remember some of the points that Celestia made. For instance, what if what happened to Luna happened to Zephyr or my parents? Yes, Zephyr gets on my nerves a lot, but I still don't dislike him enough to want him dead - or even seriously hurt.”

Scootaloo sighed as she shrugged in reply. “Yeah, it made sense at first. Bad ponies got what they deserved, but now?”

Understanding where her friend was going with this, Fluttershy shook her head in frustration. “The Empress isn’t going to kill the other world’s Twilight: she’s just bait. You know: to help us catch our Twilight?”

“And then what?” Scootaloo growled out, pointing to the graves as she did. “Remember what happened to Rainbow? I know it wasn’t the Ursa that made that gash on her chest!”

“Scoots, I…” Whatever Rainbow’s childhood friend was going to say, however, was soon cut off as the animal lover noticed some of the rainbow-colored rivers started to bubble, her eyes going wide as she realized what this means. “Something’s not right: somepony sabotaged the weather factory.”

“Not somepony,Lightning growled out as she threw the Changeling she had captured at their feet. “Somechangeling.”

“What are you doing here?” Scootaloo demanded.

“Saving your lives, apparently,” the ex-Wonderbolt trainee easily declared, nodding to Changeling as she did. “I caught that thing sabotaging the rainbow fountains. Said there were others like him as well.”

“Oh, come on: you really expect us to…”

It was here the Changeling in question woke up with a growl. “If you think this will stop our plans to destroy this place, you’ve got another thing…” Needless to say, he realized too late that he had said this right in front of Celestia’s supporters, and paled. “Uh, it was the Republic’s idea?”

“Try the other one: it has bells.” Fluttershy growled out, quickly knocking the Changeling out again, nodding to an enraged Scootaloo as she did. “Take him back to the holding cells: I’ll join up with you after I’ve helped Lightning with the evacuation.”

“Yeah, I...what?!” Needless to say, Lightning was surprised to have heard this.

Fluttershy sighed. “Just this once, I’ll let you walk away when everything is said and done, seeing how you put yourself at risk to inform us of the situation.”

Lightning just gave a bittersweet smile in response. “Just because those in the Solar Republic would leave me to die doesn’t mean I’d do the same to them.” She then paused. “Huh: that’s the same thing Rainbow said about me after she took a magic bolt for me.”

Scootaloo just gave a sad smirk return. “Yeah: sounds like something she’d do. I’ll inform some of our Unicorns of the situation to help speed the evacuation process up a bit. The city can be rebuilt, the weather factory can be restored, but living beings aren’t so easily replaced.”

Lightning Dust could only chuckle in reply. “Well said, kiddo. You aren’t a bad filly: just fighting for the wrong side. Still, I can see why Rainbow held you in such high regard.”

Sometime later, Lightning re-entered the chamber Sunburst was in. “Whatever you plan to do with this place, make it fast: I managed to convince some of the Empire’s stooges to help us - enemy of my enemy and all that jazz - but we all know this place won’t last too long.”

Sunburst nodded. “I’ll be cutting it close, but I should still be able to make this work.”

“Nice to have that brilliant mind fighting on our side for once.”

Sunburst merely rolled his eyes in response. “Got my hooves full Blueblood: what do you want?”

Lightning could only shake her head in frustration upon seeing Sunburst’s horn alit, quickly guessing what was going on. “Have I mentioned how much I hate that telepathy spell? As they only work with Unicorns, I’m always in the dark half the time about what’s being said.”

“Oh, so, Lightning’s in the room with you.” Prince Blueblood declared, being able to pick this up from Sunburst’s thoughts. “Just one minute.” With this, Blueblood switched to producing an image of himself from one of Sunburst’s scrying stones. “Is this more to your preference, Dust?”

“I’m not going to ask again: what do you want?” Sunburst growled out, having just as much patience for the Prince here as he did back home.

“Right, I’ll get to the point,” Celestia’s nephew said with a nod. “I need you back here in Ponyville, Lightning.”

“What for?” the ex-Wonderbolt trainee couldn’t help but ask.

“I’ve learned that Filthy Rich has gotten his hooves on some prototype technology that may allow me to repair, and also improve upon, Twilight’s anti-Alicorn weapon,” the Prince went on to explain. “I need you to bring it to me.”

Here, Sunburst couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “Does Twilight know about this?”

“No, she would’ve insisted on using the weapon herself: I need to do it” Prince Blueblood declared. “Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship, is the face of the Lunar Republic, as ironic as that might sound. If she dies, it dies with her.”

Needless to say, Sunburst was surprised at this revelation. “Prince Blueblood willing to sacrifice himself to save Twilight Sparkle. Even when I’m standing in another dimension, I never thought I would see the day.”

Lightning Dust merely gave a determined nod. “Just tell me what you need me to do.”

Speaking of Twilight Sparkle, the Lunar Rupublican Princess was currently traveling up the riverbank towards Tartarus alongside Rainbow Dash, quickly lighting her horn as she did. “Pinkie, I need you to get your troops into position: occupy any law enforcement you can.” She’d long given up trying to understand how an Earth Pony was compatible with her telepathy spell: after all, it was Pinkie Pie.

“You got it Sparkle,” Pinkamena declared, before deciding to do one last thing before she did. “Alright, Sombra, even prisoners deserve a meal every now and aga…” ...and that was as far as she got before she froze at what she saw: one of her troops dead on the ground, his blood used to write the following message: “You can’t lock up the Darkness.”

Needless to say, Pinkamena was not happy. “He...he Pinkie Promised that he wouldn’t leave without my permission.” she declared, the crazed look in her eye somehow becoming even crazier. “NOPONY BREAKS A PINKIE PROMISE!”

Elsewhere, King Sombra paused upon feeling a shudder run down his spine, idly wondering if it was time to replace his cloak as he led a good few dozen of Pinkamena’s Shadow Party members through the streets, now carrying actual weapons instead of modified party supplies. He’d admit that some of them had been good ponies, once, but if there was one thing he was good at, it was revealing who ponies really were in the dark. Twilight and Pinkamena might not have wanted somepony like him in charge, but they’d certainly managed to recruit quite a few members that did.

Meanwhile, back in Ponyville, Rarity could only grumble to herself as she entered the warehouse that Flim and Flam had set up shop. “Make this quick, Darlings,” she groaned out. “I’m needed elsewhere.”

“Thought you should be the one to see something my brother and I had found,” Flim declared, using his horn to bring a projection of a map of Equestria up in front of them, a dot blinking in certain location. “A few of our inventions have picked up a strange energy in this general area: care to guess what our theory of where they originated?”

“The Lunar Republic,” Rarity said with a gasp. “This is where those counterparts of ours are appearing from.”

Flam shrugged. “Admittedly, my brother and I don’t have anything concrete, but we’ve already sent this information over to somepony to pass on to Fluttershy after she gets back from some personal business she insisted on partaking in.”

“Not a bad plan,” Lightning Dust admitted as she showed herself, “She’d be able to find us faster than almost anypony. Maybe she’ll get lucky and free you from our holding cells while she’s at it.”

“What are you doing here, Dust?” Rarity demanded.

“Oh, just thought I’d pick up something that the Republic needs,” was Lightning’s casual reply. “And don’t bother trying to stop me. I was able to keep up with Rainbow Dash in her heyday: you really think you’d be able to capture me?”

“Why not? We managed to do it before,” Rarity said with a growl as she charged forward.

The battle that followed was a rather short lived one. While it was true that Rarity was a tough opponent to beat, Lightning Dust had had five years to learn to reign in her recklessness and build herself up to be more like a certain late rainbow-haired Pegasus. Combined with her natural speed, and the ex-Wonderbolt trainee was easily able to pin to the ground.

“The difference between you and the ponies who actually captured me? They managed to catch me off guard.” Lightning declared as she looked down at the defeated former fashionista, before turning to Flim and Flam, who looked surprisingly calm. “Don’t tell me that you think you can take me down?”

“Oh, no, we aren’t going to fight you,” Flim declared with a smug grin. “You’re going to give yourself up to us willingly.”

“And why would I do that?”

“Because if you don’t, you’ll be responsible for two of Applejack’s loved ones dying,” Flam remarked as his horn glowed, telekinetically floating something into the room.

Needless to say, Lightning was shocked at what, or rather who, was standing...er, floating before her. “Apple Bloom?!”

“That’s right: Applejack’s little sister,” Flim said with a grin. “We thought that somepony from the Republic might show up, so my brother and I brought her here as a contingency. Surrender or I remove her from this healing bubble, all but sealing her fate.”

“Go ahead.”

“Wait, what?!” The Solar Flim/Flam brothers yelled out.

“For once we agree,” Rarity declared with equal amounts of shock at this declaration. “I knew you were reckless but…”

“It’s not being reckless: she should have been out of that bubble four-and-a-half years ago.”

To say Rarity was shocked would be an understatement. “Wha...What?! But the Solar Empress said…”

“Ah, yes, Celestia,” Lightning drawled out with a roll of her eyes. “If she says something’s a certain way, it must be true.”

“Enough!” Flam yelled out, taking out a knife and holding it to Apple Bloom’s comatose throat, sweating bullets as he did. “Surrender now or I’ll…” ...and that was as far as the threat got before Rarity blasted the knife out of his grasp.

“What are you doing?!” Flim yelled out, his brother likewise shocked at this latest development, only for them both to earn a glare from the former fashionista, who had finally had enough of the greed of the twin Unicorns, and likewise realizing how just how greedy she herself had been in ignoring the safety of the ponies around her in favor of punishing the (supposed) ruffians Celestia had placed in front of her, some of whom she finally realized likely hadn’t even needed to be punished.

“Something I should have been doing for years,” Rarity declared with all this in mind even as she pushed Lightning Dust off of her and got into a fighting stance. “Being the Element of Generosity!”

Luckily for the EX-Solar Empire loyalist, Lightning Dust was more than willing to aid Rarity protecting the comatose farm filly from the latter’s former allies. That said, however, the battle that followed was not easy: the Flim/Flam brothers, at their core, might have been a couple of cowards, but with the situation as it was, they were cowards who were desperate for their own self-preservation, and an opponent is at their most desperate when they feel cornered. That said, like Lightning had said, she had only been captured by the Solar Empire because it’s soldiers had gotten lucky and the nature of luck is that it always runs out. Combined with how she and her former enemy were now working together and it really wasn’t a surprise that the two con ponies soon themselves knocked out cold.

Rarity couldn’t help but scoff as she looked upon the two defeated Unicorn brothers. “Consider this my resignation.” She then scrunched up her face as she looked herself over. “Oh, dear: I really have let myself become a rather frightful sight. I don’t suppose there will be time for a trip to the spa before you take me back to the Lunar Republic’s base of operations?”

“Good to have you back,” Lightning said with a smile, her mind instantly turning towards Sweetie Belle. “And I know a certain filly who’ll be ecstatic to see you.” She then cleared her throat. “First thing’s first though.” She took out a scrying stone as she approached the item Prince Blueblood had described. “GlimGlam: let the big guy know that I’ve got the item he needed to repair Twilight’s weapon.”

“Nice work, Dusty,” Starlight proclaimed with a grin. “After so long, it’s like we finally have hope.”

Lightning couldn’t help but chuckle at what her fillyfriend had said. “Yeah, I know what you mean,” she declared as she looked over towards Lunar Rarity, who was already working to help her move Apple Bloom back to base. “I know what you mean.”

To be continued