• Published 29th Sep 2021
  • 673 Views, 33 Comments

Lover of the Moon - Silent Whisper



It's been a thousand years since everypony disappeared, and I feel a change in the air. Some secrets aren't meant to be kept forever, and my beloved Princess's are no exception.

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Secrets Best Kept

My Princess turned, graceful as a stalking cat, and gestured towards the main hall. I meekly nodded in reply, stumbling forward to open the doors.

My magic sparked painfully around the metal plate wrapped around the lower grooves of my horn. Metal and magic don’t mix, indeed, I thought, scowling at what General Cadenza had said. She was right, of course, but that didn’t make it sting any less, physically or mentally. My front hoof, the one that was flesh and blood, rubbed against my brass one self-consciously as the doors silently swung open on their well-oiled hinges.

“I’ve told you most of what happened, when my sister and I last fought, but the memory still brings me no joy.” Nightmare Moon said, not breaking her stride as she exited the throne room. “The Elements, for lack of a better word, murdered all of Equestria, save Canterlot. There were no survivors, no corpses, no noise, nothing, just a blinding flash and then empty lands.”

The Princess sighed, pausing as I caught up with her. “When the dust settled in the castle that had become our battlegrounds, the Elements lay scattered around my sister. She looked up at me, tears glinting in her owlish gaze. She’d somehow missed, and at that moment I was certain that she wouldn’t miss again.”

Nightmare Moon’s shoes made a subtle, crystalline clinking as she led me towards the stairs leading down into the Royal Workshops. Already, the air tasted of sawdust, copper, and magical residue. I cleared my throat quietly, and Nightmare Moon tilted her head. As much permission to interrupt as could be expected. “Again?” I whispered, the word catching in my throat. “You hadn’t said she’d tried again.”

“Can you not blame me for not talking about that day?” Nightmare Moon hissed, irritation without direction. “She’d tried again, but it hadn’t worked. That piece of the past hardly matters, at least, not anymore. The important thing was that it couldn’t have worked.”

“What?” I stopped, then started again, having to half-trot to keep up. “Why?”

The Princess paused at the top of the stairs, one wing brushing against the railing and the other wrapping around my side for support as we began to descend. “Because the very act of attempting to use the Elements against a wielder themselves destroyed one.”

I stumbled, my Princess’s wing barely keeping me on my hooves. “Destroyed an Element of Harmony?” Nightmare Moon’s brow creased, but I continued, albeit quieter. “Which one?”

Nightmare Moon’s gaze turned steely as she stared forward. “It matters not. What’s important is that it vanished completely, like the citizens she killed.”

But it does matter, I wanted to say, but held my tongue. There was a time and a place to push matters, and when the alicorn looked as though she wanted to tear something—or someone—apart was probably not it. “Was this the thing you wanted me to know?” I said instead, hooves clanking against ancient stone as we reached the door to the Workshop.

“No.” Nightmare Moon grimaced, unwrapping her wing from my side before shaking out her stiff feathers. “What I’d like you to see is a bit past your usual station. This way,” she said, her horn lighting in a spell very few knew, opening the door to the closest-guarded secret in Equestria.

After all, the griffon army would kill to know what technologies the few surviving ponies had up their sleeves. They’d been able to survive against impossible odds with enough numbers to create a functioning and far more advanced civilization. They’d expect weapons in development, technological manufacturing, perhaps even the beginnings of genetic manipulation studies.

What they wouldn’t expect was a space program.

A fledgeling one, of course, but it was Nightmare Moon’s true pet project. “For morale,” she’d insisted, and despite Celestia’s protests, it somehow worked. Maybe not to an impossible degree; ponies were still depressed and life was still difficult, but for those who knew about it, it gave them hope.

I knew, of course, that “morale” was a flimsy excuse at best for an entire enterprise we could barely afford. It wasn’t, in my opinion, worth the cost of a species’ extinction, and a species fighting extinction, and the materials and time and lives of those who chose to bite the cyanide capsules to protect it. But my queries had been met with silence, and my prying had only led to dead ends. If Nightmare Moon had secrets, she kept them far better hidden than the Workshops themselves.

The walls rose high above us, spiralling far past the reaches of the enchanted lanterns’ glow. Long, winding mechanical arms and cables cast ominous shadows on the wall, the machines hard at work at assembling pieces and parts out of sheets of scrap materials. They moved in unison, almost silent save for the occasional hiss of sparks.

A few pegasi flitted about, making sure everything ran smoothly. Some of their feathers, I noted, had been replaced with carbon and spidersilk prosthetics. The pegasi were brave to risk flights amidst mechanical razors, welders, and saws, but their primaries often paid the price.

Unicorns and earth ponies worked side by side on the ground floor and the many catwalks and balconies above. Earth ponies helped assemble the parts in the center, each one falling into step with the others, habits borne out of years of practice. The unicorns sat at desks, their horns flickering with prismatic light as they tinkered with electronics and crystal magic, weaving matrices far more delicate than any machine could process.

Not one pony looked up as we passed by. Some were too focused to even notice, and knew that Nightmare Moon and I would catch their attention if needed. It was often my duty to check up on those whose eyes had glassed over too much, lost in a muddle of facts and formulas. Yet, as proud as I was for their unwavering attention, that didn’t come close to my favorite part of the Workshops.

No, what made my heart lift the most was the singing.

Nightmare Moon once said it reminded her of the shanties of sailors, back when the seas were considered worth conquesting, before the crystal-powered engine had made sails and crew mostly obsolete. It was a sort of call and response that echoed throughout the workshops, up and down the steel catwalks, through the gears and steam and sparks. Their voices rose and fell as one, every pony a part of the whole, and everypony with one goal in mind.

There were four sections of the Workshop, each spaced evenly apart, and each with their own slight variations on design. When many ideas were presented, Nightmare Moon had selected the four most promising designs and set me in charge of keeping each team collaborating as they worked on their projects. It was difficult at times, making sure they worked together, but my Princess was counting on me. I couldn’t let Nightmare Moon down.

I’d asked why they were building four separate rockets at once, a long time ago. It’d seemed like a waste, I said, using up so many resources at the same time. My Princess’s answer chilled me to the bone. “We’ll only get one shot at this,” purred Nightmare Moon, her slitted eyes watching the blueprints slowly come to life. “Once the other nations hear about it, they’ll either presume us weak for attempting such a feat, or they’ll try to copy our technology for weaponry.”

I shuddered at the memory. Our attempts to make use of their shuttles’ technology for weapons had proved less than satisfactory. It wasn’t that the results were ineffective, per se, but the energy was better spent elsewhere. There were better ways to strike fear into the hearts of the griffons than simply propelling metal at them.

“Come,” my Princess said, waiting patiently, her gaze never leaving mine. “The observatory awaits.”

The observatory was attached to the Workshop via a small, unassuming door. It did not have a lock, but it did not need one, for nopony would dare enter without the express permission of the Princess. Even I felt strange being in there.

The instruments were delicate and technical to the point that I was certain I’d cause irreparable harm if I fidgeted with one, but intriguing enough that I had to consciously keep my hooves from straying towards the tempting buttons and dials.

Towards the top of the tower that housed the sensors and screens were magnificent lenses. A series of spells and illusions made the tower look like one of the many castle turrets from the outside, keeping it safe from any potential scouts from other species. The telescope itself spiralled down the wall of the observatory, providing a crystal-clear look into the heavens up above. I knew Nightmare Moon spent a lot of time in here, but I hadn’t set hoof inside in months, when the last of the preliminary atmospheric calculations had been completed.

“That day,” murmured Nightmare Moon, adjusting the telescope’s many dials without sparing them an extra glance. “When the Element disappeared, my sister and I soon sensed something had gone gravely wrong. She abandoned me, leaping from the rubble, our battle all but forgotten. We both could feel it. Something was missing. Everypony was missing, and she had to confirm it for herself.”

My Princess paused, and after a respectful moment I nodded my understanding. “That makes sense,” I said, mostly to fill the silence she created.

“It does,” she agreed. “But I stayed where I was. For a moment, I thought I’d felt something. It was sharp, a piercing pain in my head, as though the Elements had pricked my mind with a needle, but it soon dulled. Whatever my sister had intended with the Elements, it did not entirely miss me.”

Nightmare Moon’s expression was an unreadable mask, one I’d only seen her wear during the most disturbing war meetings. “At least, that was what I thought at the time. The truth, I’ve found, is far worse.”

“Worse?” I asked, my voice quivering. I swallowed heavily as she held out a hoof to help me up a stack of books, a makeshift stepstool. I climbed up, standing uncomfortably at nearly the same height as her as she swiveled the telescope’s eyepiece towards herself.

“I need you to trust me,” she said softly, adjusting a tiny gear at the edge of it. “I need you to trust that I’ve done what is right, and I need you to trust me enough to keep what I’m about to show you a secret from everypony that I do not give you explicit permission to discuss this with—” Her other eye opened and flicked back at me. “—including my sister. You must trust me, Rarity, just as I trust you with the truth.”

My mouth felt dry. Whatever she wanted to show me sounded far beyond what I’d signed up for, but there was no way to back down. I couldn’t. This was Nightmare Moon, my Princess, slayer of dragons… and the mare that I loved. The mare who said she loved me. How could I say no? “Of course, darling.”

“Swear it.”

It felt easier to say formally than informally, somehow. “Your secrets will remain mine, your Highness, I swear.” What I was swearing by, I had no idea. I’d normally swear by her name, but I couldn’t very well do that in front of her, could I?

She almost smiled at that, and her gaze softened for just a moment before she focused on whatever was through the lens. “Very well. You are aware that my sister and I have unique connections to the celestial bodies in the Heavens, correct? We move them across the star-speckled void far above our heads, propelling them—or, in my sister’s case, Equestria itself—across unimaginable spaces, spanning distances we’ve barely gained the ability to measure.”

I could do nothing but nod, remembering the vast emptiness of the charts that all of us working on the project had studied. The memory alone threatened to give me a headache.

“A part of that,” she said quietly, intimately, “was lost that day. We can no longer completely control the Sun and Moon.”

I choked back a gasp. “What? No, I’ve seen you raise the moon every evening, I’ve—”

“You’ve seen nothing but childish manipulation and illusions at work,” said Nightmare Moon with abrupt firmness. “We used to be able to make the skies dance, but now we are—or, rather, I am barely able to adjust the timing of the sunrise or sunset by a few minutes. Something is stopping me, and it holds sway over my sister as well. Not that she cares, of course. She’s too busy being lost in the past to see the future we could still save—”

“Save?” I echoed in a hushed whisper. “We’re losing, dearest. I understand why you’ve kept losing your strongest magic a secret, but we’ve clung onto so much empty territory for so long without the resources to spare.” I paused to take a deep, shuddering breath, and my beloved did not interrupt. Instead she watched, no disdain or anger etched into her brow, simply… patient. The Nightmare I loved.

“It doesn’t make any sense, and I know we’ve had this discussion before, but if you think there’s something still left to save after all this time, then how is that different than how Celestia is—” Too far, I realized, and cut myself off. I didn’t dare to look up after that, not until a cold armored hoof gently lifted my chin. My Princess’s eyes weren’t filled with the anger I must have deserved, but instead with understanding, a wisdom that only the alicorns had ever seemed to possess, and a tinge of exhaustion I hoped I didn’t contribute too much towards.

“The secret I’m asking you to keep,” Nightmare Moon said after a second’s hesitation. “Is not that my sister and I are not as powerful as we’ve claimed. Rather, the secret is the little connection we’ve managed to maintain.”

“I… I don’t understand,” I murmured, and she swung the eyepiece of the telescope’s winding arm towards me. I squinted through it, and the bright dot inside resolved itself to be the surface of the moon itself.

“After a few hundred years, the migraines repeated,” my Princess said, and I felt the weight of her wing on my back, keeping me steady against the telescope as I scanned the surface. “I felt I could almost see things and hear things when they occurred. Strange symptoms are common for magically-induced sicknesses, and at first I admit I thought nothing of them, but after a while the patterns resolved themselves. My thoughts, in those painful moments, became clearer. The sensations I felt in return changed over time, in response to what I’d thought. I was getting through to something, somewhere, but to what?”

She held me still, her wing a comfort as much as a shackle, and I searched the tiny patch of rock she’d so carefully adjusted the telescope towards, trying to find what it was she so desperately wanted me to see.

Nightmare Moon was silent for another moment, perhaps to give me time to reach the same conclusion as she had, but then continued, voice raw. “I’ve never asked Celestia what she’d intended to do to me. I’m not certain she herself knew. She most likely acted upon instinct with the Elements, and they focused her emotions into tangible spellwork.

“What I have been able to figure out for certain thus far is twofold. Firstly, the minds I have connected to are that of ponies, no different than the few ponies that remain here today, but entirely different from those of the current population.”

“And…” I had to know. “And second?”

I could have been imagining it, but I could’ve sworn her wing trembled against my back. “The second, Rarity, is that the Elements of Harmony did not fire a spell with the power to kill. I’ve studied every record of their magic I could find, searched with the brightest remaining ponies of a generation to no effect, but for the apparent murder of so many souls to leave behind nothing in their wake… it is simply not possible. Thus, the spell did not kill.”

Her voice lacked the conviction of the obsessed and the undertones of the unwell. She was, I realized, stating the only truth she had left, and that frightened me. “What, do you suppose, could have possibly happened to them?”

It was then that I saw it. Just barely, for even with the greatest magnification the telescope could afford, it was barely a glimmer, but there, a glint of faint color shone where there should be none. It was tiny, and I knew it was too large to be a pony, but even if it wasn’t…

“They were banished.” It came out as a whisper, but after I gulped noisily my voice grew louder, forceful. “The Elements of Harmony banished all of Equestria to the moon.”

I couldn’t believe it. That couldn’t be true… but as much as I distrusted my own logic, I trusted Nightmare Moon. I had to. What else was there to trust in? I wrenched myself away from the eyepiece to find she wasn’t holding me to it any longer and nearly toppled off of the books I’d been perched upon. My Princess barely caught me, and her great turquoise eyes looked almost… sad?

“They’re all on the moon,” I repeated, horrified and haunted by the sound of my own voice saying the impossible reality. Nightmare Moon nodded, turning to wrap her other wing around my shoulders, pulling me closer to her armored chest.

“Oh, stars save us, darling,” I managed after a few moments of heavy breathing. “Celestia doesn’t know, you’ve been building us up to build rockets to save them and nopony knows why, and you’ve been trying to guard all this land, and…”

I suddenly felt very, very dizzy. “Whatever are we going to do?”

Comments ( 28 )

Eeeee! This is so exciting! One story, two sides, being revealed at the same time?!? That’s awesome! I might actually disregard my rule for not reading a story until it’s completed ;P

10995725
That means a lot, thank you!

A great start to the companion piece for Children of the Sun. It's an interesting idea to release these stories side by side with different perspectives, and I love the bits of world building here to give a picture of how dire the situation is in Equestria. Can't wait to see where they both go and when they meet.

And thus we have the explanation for Rarity's conspicuous absence in the sister story. This should be well and truly fascinating.

What really strikes me is how the planetary pony population never recovered from the misfired banishment. Yes, the vast majority of equinity got sent to the moon, but a thousand years is a long time. I suppose they've had to be careful about inbreeding, but still, I wouldn't have expected them to be on the knife's edge of extinction the entire time. I have to assume there's something I'm not seeing holding back a full recovery. The question is what...

In any case, looking forward to seeing how both halves of the tale develop.

very interesting worldbuilding, with the ponies as a besieged species, a nation with geopolitics rather than a hegemony whose security is unquestioned.

“They were banished.” It came out as a whisper, but after I gulped noisily my voice grew louder, forceful. “The Elements of Harmony banished all of Equestria to the moon.”

oh, i absolutely love this! even though i should have totally seen it coming from the premise, and all the hints building up to it with the talk of space programs. i'd read the effects of the Elements of Harmony as a historical distortion to be uncovered, and i guess it turned out to be, but in a way i didn't expect somehow. excited to see how this plays out!

Okay. Okay. This is an awesome idea and works fantastically beside the other fic.

I bloody called it when you mentioned there were no bodies. That was excellent, and I am excited!

I'm so glad to see this piece finally on Fimfiction. It's come so far from when I first saw an unfinished draft way back in 2019, and I'm super excited to see where it goes. This half has always been my favorite since you-know-what (coming soon!) and I am so happy to have helped it along. ^_^

How much money do I have to give you to work in background ponies

Again really happy to see this finally go live! Very excited to see this massive ethereal journey finally take its first steps and look forwards to where it'll go!

Woo! Let's go! Both stories are going to get better with time as they slowly spiral together, I can feel it!

10995810
The answer, to me, seems fairly obvious once all the facts are laid out:

The Sisters are not as powerful as they once were.

Of all Equestria, only Canterlot remains.

Of all the world, only Equestria was so affected.

Millions upon millions of acres of empty lands with no guardians, noticed from afar, perhaps truly noticed for the first time, by envious eyes.

Prosthetics, advanced and very capable, are regarded by the population, at worst, as a curiosity, and at best, just something that some ponies happen to have.

The question is "what", while the answer can only be "war".

With this information in mind, I'm surprised it's Rarity whose ancestors were in Canterlot and not Twilight's.

10995728
Tip don't end on a crossover, finish the first story first but make the ending of this one link to the ending of that other one but happen after it, then either write a sequel to both or a sequel for each that separate the sisters with the respective factions and then a new story sequel that links them again.
It's just a tip you don't need to actually do it, but it would've be great

10997410
I... have no idea what you're trying to say, I'm sorry. Each fic will be updated once every two weeks, alternating between fics.

10997508
Just a tip on how I'd make this universe work, finishing this story after it's sister and with the ending happening after it's sister story ending but while not actually telling all the story of this universe.
I'd also put Celestia up with the moondigers from the sister story at the end of this one and then either continue with one sequel for both or one for each that focuses on the royal sisters and kind of retells everything while also continues the story of this universe from where it was left at the end of both of the stories in this pair, again I'd cut the story short and not finish it completely in order to make one more sequel that again focusses on what happens after the second pair/single sequel ends.
But this is how I'd approach a retelling of an universe that is the same story told from multiple perspectives in different stories

10998081
I appreciate your opinion, but I think I'll still tell the story how I've planned. You are more than welcome to write your own fic in the universe, of course, and do that how you'd like, but these are my fics, I have been working on them for three and a half years, and I'm going to tell the story my way. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, though!

10998081
And "sister story" does not mean "story about the two royal sisters." There may be some confusion there.

10998088
Oh no, I'm not telling you to change them, I just presented the best way to tell such a story, and some things I kinda want to see in this one, I mean seriously put Tia on the moon, it'll be the perfect punishment and gift for her, but then again I'll understand if you don't, after all like you said, it's your story

10998090
I know that, I was using the term as you used it, but since in my proposition the second and third parts were more or less about the royal sisters the terms blend into eachother

10998092
10998104
Terribly sorry, but perhaps I should have been more clear: please do not assume the way that you'd tell what you think the story will be is the best way.

Telling an author, especially someone who's said they've been working on this for a long time and presumably already has a plan, how to write their fic is actually seen as incredibly rude. I'm sure you didn't mean it as such, and are, in fact trying to be helpful and supportive, but I would appreciate it if you'd not do that in the future. If you'd like to write your own fic about what you think will happen, I'd love to read it, but I do not find unsolicited advice on how to end a fic I literally just began particularly inspiring.

I appreciate your excitement, though, and promise it will have an interesting ending (though, no, I will not be banishing Celestia to the moon, nor are these fics primarily about the royal sisters. You are more than welcome to write your own fic about them, though, and what you think should happen.)

10998117
Actually a tree branch pattern is the best way to tell this story if you don't want to have confusing crossovers, altough the branches could be summarized in one narative, but that creates confusion with who the narator is if you have multiple ones

10998127
Please stop telling me how to write my own fic.

10998132
I'm not, I just point out some things that may create confusion later on, but I'm pretty sure that you have them fixed by now, still why no Tia on the moon?

Oooooooooooo

I kinda predicted this was what had happened, but it still is quite the nice reveal for it all.

11003436
Excellent! That means I set it up properly! Don't worry, this is just the start! :heart:

I think I used up all my coherency on the first chapter. All that's going on in my head rn is steampunk dystopia pony space race steampunk dystopia pony space race over and over, with a mini refrain of Rarity is in love with Nightmare Moon Rarity is in love with Nightmare Moon.

This story (or, I suppose, these stories together) are just. Wow. You've developed such a unique, well-structured, rich and terrible world to explore. I am DYING to know more, and yet I also want to savor it, yk? Like this is my chance to live here, and I need to make sure I seize it.

I'm really excited. These stories are incredible. You should be really proud of them!!

Aaaa this is amazing, can't wait to read more! You truly are the master of world building

Loving this story. Added to my read list! :twilightsmile:

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