• Published 11th Nov 2012
  • 17,139 Views, 263 Comments

Just Human - Lightless Void

There is a reason why there are no humans in Equestria. Allow me to show you why.

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Just Human, chapter 1: Unwelcome

Twilight stood her ground as the monster leered at her with hungry eyes. Every breath seemed to set fire to her aching lungs, every slight movement reminding her of her bruised and beaten body. The monster took another step. She could’ve sworn that she could feel the ground shake as it moved.

She looked behind her. All her friends were here, each sharing that same look of fear and hopelessness. She felt so horribly lost, knowing that even her friends had given up hope

She heard the monster take another step. It wouldn’t be long now.

Her horn began to glow, brighter and brighter, and she summoned every bit of strength she had. She gritted her teeth together as magical wind began to blow around her, the light radiating from her horn reaching up to the starlit sky and bathing the forest in its glow.

“I’m not going to let you hurt my friends!”

Three days ago

Deep beneath the earth, an entity began to awaken. Memories of times long past began to return to it, passing through the haze imposed upon its mind by centuries of sleep, allowing it to recognize the utter silence and utter darkness that surrounded it. This was its prison. Its tomb. It could hardly remember how long it had been since it had been abandoned here.

Through a blur of memories it could remember waking up many times before, trapped in this place, unable to do anything but rage against its imprisonment, before the magic holding it here would force it into slumber once more. The void of its cell had left it weak and drained. There was nothing to feed on here. Yet somehow, it did not feel as hungry as it once did. There was something different this time. Carefully, it began to reach out past the boundaries of its prison, projecting its mind into the world around it.

To its astonishment, it could reach out beyond the cold walls that surrounded it. For the first time in ages, it could feel magic coursing and flowing beyond the tiny space that kept it trapped, all coming from the world above. A world teeming with life and light.

It knew it would not get another chance like this. It had to break free, somehow. However, it knew there would be no allies waiting for it beyond its prison. Undoubtedly, its enemies would be waiting for it to try and break free, and they would jump at the opportunity to force it back into its prison before it could regain its powers. It needed to escape, but first, it would need a distraction. Something to keep the powers that be preoccupied until it could find ways to nourish itself. But what, it asked itself. No creature on this world was suitable for what it required.

There was only one way. It had to do the impossible. It had to breach the barriers between worlds to find that which it needed. The entity cast its will into the stream of magic within the world surrounding it, commanding it to alter its course.

It is time...

With a feeling that could only be described as that of a glass wall breaking as one pushed his way through, the entity breached the barrier that separated the different worlds. It began to search entirely new horizons for what it needed, but none of the planes of existence that it visited met its criteria. Some of them were empty, devoid of anything of meaning or significance. Others were mad, filled with things that one could not release upon another world without causing untold destruction. Yet other worlds had guardians of their own, which would not tolerate prying eyes.

The entity began to grow desperate. It had searched countless universes in the blink of an eye without finding what it needed, and already it could feel its power abandoning it. Soon it would be entirely without, cursed to linger in this cage of its for another age, a realisation that only made it more desperate.

I cannot fail here. I will not remain in this tomb forever with only the darkness as my jailer!

In a moment of impulse, it reached far beyond anything it knew to be, reaching out so far away that it feared it would lose itself within the vast emptiness. Yet even here, it found a universe far removed from all others. It was the most massive, incomprehensible place it had ever seen.

As it gazed into this world, it could see this place was filled with wonders it could not imagine ever existing. Impossibly, this world stretched into all directions almost infinitely, far beyond the reach of the moon or the sun, or even the stars that lay beyond. Though life was concentrated on only a single planet within its reach, it was teeming with it, a beehive of living things of unimaginable proportions, and filled with technological wonders the likes of which it could never have fathomed. For all the rage and despair the entity felt, it was completely awestruck at what it had found.

However, the entity felt a cold void surrounding it. Despite the marvels and size of this world, something was missing here that pulled at the entity like a vacuum drawing in air. Magic. No matter where the entity tried to reach with its ethereal senses, it could not sense magic, not to power all the wonderful creations it beheld, nor in possible powerful guardians watching over this universe. The entity knew it would have to hurry to get what it wanted. It could already feel its strength leaving it, as just being in this place was draining its magic rapidly.

Like an invisible cloud, it made its way through this new world, watching and listening. It saw so many creatures that could fulfill its need, yet in a small way, they were all flawed. None of them could serve its purpose exactly as it intended. That was, until it found the strangest creature. It was perfect. There was no other way for the entity to describe it. This creature would be its tool. The tool with which it would attain the freedom it so craved.

The entity cast its will into the currents of magic that flowed richly through its own world, gathering it into a single spot, before perverting it to its own desires. This was the way the entity had always wielded magic, not by gentle coercing that other creatures of its world used, but by demanding its obedience. The magic concentrated heavily, turning pitch black as the entity used it like a blunt instrument to shatter the barrier between worlds and open a gateway.

In a single moment, all the might the entity had gathered imploded in upon itself, and disappeared entirely. The entity’s invisible influence retreated from the world, entirely spent by the ordeal.

The entity knew it could not draw its chosen weapon in directly. That would require too much magic at once and draw unwanted attention. The gate would open slowly, draining magic from its surroundings, before finally letting its cargo in. Already, the entity could feel the fruits of its labour. Imperceptible to things that were not attuned to the flow of magic, the corrupt magic it had used during its summons was leaking back into this world through a slowly widening breach. Though the tainted energies were spreading further than intended, it was of no consequence. It had accomplished its goal.

The entity felt the last of its power draining away. It had spent itself completely in opening this gateway, and felt the icy tendrils of the darkness surrounded it again making their way into its mind, forcing it to slumber again.

Everything is set into motion. All that is left is for me to sleep in this place...

One last time.

The Goddess of the Sun rose from her bed, unexpectedly disturbed during her slumber. She felt how the flow of magic in Equestria shifted suddenly, changing its course before imploding in upon itself, and then disappearing, leaving everything behind the way it was. It wasn’t unusual for magic to flow erratically, but a magical spike like this shouldn’t disappear so quickly.

She let her covers slide off of her body as she got out of her bed. Though she was still a little dazed from her slumber, and unused to being active after the sun had gone down, she managed to reach her bedroom window. Her gaze wandered the distant pastures and mountains of her realm. Princess Celestia, just like her sister, had a unique connection to the world around her, allowing her to sense the tides of magic as they ebbed and flowed.

Though her senses reached far, the anomaly seemed to have disappeared on its own. There was no trace of it left, not even a residue that might indicate where exactly it had occurred. Everything seemed as normal and peaceful as Equestria had ever been.

Her body already yearned for a return to the soft warmth of her bed, causing Celestia to let her eyes close, her head drooping down before she managed to catch herself.

Maybe it was just a powerful unicorn casting a spell, or simply magic flowing as it pleased.

She shook her head gently, giving up on pondering it further.

Maybe I just worry too much... Maybe I just need to get some rest.


A strangled cry sounded in the library, stirring a young dragon from his sleep. Spike sat upright in his improvised bed, rubbing his eye sleepily with a claw. “Wha?” he asked, looking around in an attempt to figure out the source of the noise that woke him up.

Moonlight shone through the bedroom window, making him realise it was still in the middle of the night. However, a pale light illuminated the room, causing eerie shadows to play unnaturally across his field of vision. It didn’t take him long to find the source of the light. It came from Twilight’s bed.

She’s not studying at this hour, is she? he thought. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d stayed up late to finish a book, but she’s really taking it too far this time.

Twilight’s sheet rustled as she moved erratically beneath them, causing Spike to doubt his earlier train of thought.

“Twilight?” he called out, his voice barely above the volume of a whisper. There was no reply. Now more concerned than irritated, the little dragon used his claws to climb up onto Twilight’s bed.

Her forehooves were folded tightly over her covers, clinging to them with all her might. Her eyes were clenched shut, beads of sweat running over her face. Her hooves kicked weakly against her covers, as though she were trying to escape from some unseen threat. Her horn glowed faintly, the source of the strange light Spike had seen before, while her breathing was heavy and laboured. It was obvious that she was having a nightmare, but Spike had never seen her in this bad of a condition. She seemed absolutely terrified.

When tears began to run down her cheeks, weak sobs escaping from her lips, he knew he had to do something.

“Twilight, wake up!”

Her reaction was nearly immediate. She screamed wildly as her horn’s glow became unbearably intense, random objects being lifted into the air and thrown across the room in a whirlwind of destruction. Spike ducked off of the side, just narrowly dodging Twilight’s nightstand as it flew over his head and broke against the wall, before taking cover under her bed. He closed his eyes and put his claws over his head, hoping that somehow he’d be spared the utter destruction of their home.

A few seconds later, the screaming and the sound of furniture being smashed stopped, leaving just the sound of a frightened mare breathing heavily.

“S-Spike?” she called out, her voice confused and unsteady. “Spike?” she called again, her voice now breaking up in fear.

Daring to stick his head out to take a peek, Spike saw the devastation wreaked upon the bedroom. The bookcases had their shelves ripped out, everything that wasn’t attached to something had been broken or strewn throughout the room. Had a tornado hit, he wasn’t sure it could’ve done more damage.

As he crawled out of his shelter, again climbing up to see what’s happening on Twilight’s bed, he found her staring around at the devastation around her in disbelief, as though she didn’t understand what had happened.

“Twilight? Are you okay?” he asked. As her eyes locked with his, they immediately filled with tears. She picked him up with her hooves, holding him in a hug as she broke down completely and began to cry.

They remained like that for some time. Spike was afraid to break the silence, still having trouble grasping why Twilight would do something like this.

Could it have been the nightmare? Was it really that bad?

After a while, Twilight released her hold on Spike and broke the hug. She looked at him with puffy eyes, a heartbreaking sight if ever there were any. “Spike. I have to tell you something.”

“Did you have a bad dream Twilight?”

“Yes. I’ve been having them for a few days now, and I just know I’ll go crazy if I don’t tell somepony!”

Spike’s concern only grew deeper now. He knew she’d been having trouble getting enough sleep this past week, but he blamed it on the usual stuff, namely, that she just stayed up too late. He never thought it would’ve been something more severe, let alone this much more severe.

“At first I thought I was just having a bad dream, but they didn’t stop! And every night, they became worse! I...I’m afraid to go sleep Spike. I can’t take this anymore.”

Spike hesitated before he spoke. He felt hopelessly out of his league as she looked at him with a trembling lower lip and fresh tears running down her cheeks, expecting him to somehow have the answer. She was supposed to be the smartest of the two. He didn’t know what to do, but he couldn’t bear to tell her that.

“Can you tell me what the nightmares are about? Maybe you’ll feel better if you talk about them.”

His answer only seemed to make her more distressed. “That’s just it Spike! I’m trying to remember, but the moment I wake up it’s all gone! I know that I was scared, or sad, or angry, but I can’t even remember why! I feel like I’m going crazy.”

As a ragged sob escaped her throat, she pulled Spike in closer. He put his claws around her neck, doing his best to comfort her. He wracked his mind for ideas, something that would help get her out of this horrible situation.

“How about tomorrow we’ll write a letter to Princess Celestia? Maybe she can tell us what’s wrong. She might even know a way how to make you better!”

Twilight nodded softly in response. They continued to sit there on Twilight’s bed, the moon slowly tracing its trajectory across the sky. In the distance, the roar of thunder could be heard. Spike looked up towards the window, only now noticing the dark clouds slowly blocking sight of the moon.

“That’s odd... The weather patrol didn’t schedule a storm tonight, did they?”

The world was hazy and dark. It was still remarkably silent, with the darkness in the room being interrupted only by a small blinking red light.

“Ugh, what time is it?”

Alex reached out to his nightstand, grabbing the alarm clock and holding it directly in front of his face. He only got grumpier when he realised it was still in the middle of the night. It was hard enough for him to wake up early in the morning, much less when he hadn’t gotten enough sleep. He groaned into his pillow, hoping to communicate his frustrations with whatever decided to wake him up at this hour. He felt completely awake, for some reason, so he knew that trying to go back to sleep again would be wasted effort.

Might as well start my day then. It’s gonna be a long one, that’s for sure.

Alex placed the alarm clock back on his nightstand, before grabbing his glasses and putting them on his face, allowing the room to come into focus a little more clearly. He threw his sheets to the side and got out of bed, but as he took the first step, he felt just a little disorientated. Something seemed off, like nothing in his room was in the place where he left them. He looked around, yet his eyes told him everything was still in the same place.

A sharp pain shot through his lower legs, as though he was struck hard by a solid object. He lost his balance, falling to his knees.

Fuck! What was that!? he thought. His first instinct was to turn around, half expecting a burglar to be standing behind him, weapon still in hand. However, there was no one. He was alone in the room with just the burning sensation of a recent impact on the back of his legs.

He put his hands to the floor, trying to get himself up, but his legs didn’t respond at all. A dull pain began to spread across his limbs. His breathing became laboured and his vision was starting to blur slightly. Fear was making his heart pump faster as he desperately tried to move.

This is bad! I need to get some help, right now!

He clenched his teeth so hard he was afraid they’d break in an effort to bite through the pain and panic and reach the one thing that may save his life. The cellphone which he always forgot to take out of his jeans. He focused on the drawer on the other side of the room, his jeans cast over them the previous night. Using his hands as leverage, he began to inch his way across the room in a painful crawl, his legs dragging unresponsively across the floor.

After the most taxing and agonizing struggle of his life, Alex finally reached the drawer, pulling his clothes down to the ground and reaching for his cellphone. He checked one pocket of his jeans, then another, and another. To his horror, he realised it wasn’t there. For once, he had taken it out, and now he payed the price.

Full-blown panic began to set in as his body began to quake uncontrollably. Beads of sweat rolled down his face as every breath became harder to draw, the pain spreading from his limbs to every part of his body. The primal fear of death shared by all living things erased all coherent thought from his mind as he felt himself losing the fight to stay conscious.

Is this the end?

He imagined his parents crying over his early grave. Doctors scratching their heads over how a man in his early thirties could just double over and die without any apparent reason. His mind tried to reach out further, trying to recall faces of good friends, people who would surely miss him. He had trouble recalling more then a handful who would care in a meaningful way about his passing.

I wonder if anyone will even notice... he thought as his arms gave way beneath him. His lungs strained themselves to draw air, but it felt as though the air itself had clotted, leaving him to breathe in the equivalent of quicksand. His vision blurred and darkened. Alex closed his sightless eyes as all sensation began to leave him, and awaited whatever was meant to come.

For what seemed like an age, there was nothing. Alex felt trapped within a bubble, a world no larger than his own form, as he drifted aimlessly in a place that denied him all his senses. He could vaguely recognize his body craving air, but the feeling seemed so distant. A strong urge to fall asleep was beginning to take over, the only thing keeping him from giving in to it was the fear that falling asleep now would ensure his death, provided he was still alive at all.

A bright light engulfed Alex, flowing through every pore in his body, blinding even his closed eyes with pure whiteness. The pain in his chest had returned, forcing him to gasp for air, his painful lungs eagerly filling themselves.

He remained motionless on the ground, half expecting to find himself in a hospital, hooked up to all sorts of machines as the sedatives would begin to wear off. He began to question whether it was possible for him to wake up at all. His eyes remained closed, as he feared what he would be confronted with if he opened them, though his other senses were shaping a strange picture of the world around him.

Whatever he was lying on, it was soft, yet too cold and uneven to be a bed. He flexed his fingers experimentally, and to his surprise, felt himself grasping blades of grass. He heard the sound of birdsong in the distance, accompanied by the sound of leaves rustling against each other in a gentle breeze. As curiosity replaced his feelings of fear and confusion, he opened his eyes.

Everywhere he looked, ominous tall trees surrounded him. The canopy above shrouded the sky, allowing only glimpses of the slowly approaching daylight through to reach the forest floor. He put his hand down onto the ground, feeling the soft grasses and mosses yield beneath his weight as he tentatively pushed himself onto his feet. He felt his clothes lying on the ground next to him, quickly pulling them close. It wasn’t chilly, but without clothes, the breeze still stung a little. He quickly began to pull them on, a thousand incoherent thoughts rushing through his head.

What is this place? There aren’t any forests like this for miles around where I live.... But then, how did I get here? How long has it even been since I got here? None of this makes any sense!

He could find no traces around his place of arrival, no tire tracks, no footprints, nothing at all that would lead him to some clue as to how he could have ended up in what seemed to be some primeval forest. He began to wander, despite not knowing what direction he had to go.

This forest can’t go on forever. It just can’t. If I just keep moving in one direction, I’ll find a town, or a road, or something else that will point me in the right direction.

Eventually, the terrain began to climb as more light began to filter into the forest. Alex realised the raising terrain meant he would find some vantage point soon, high enough for him to see above the trees, and if the sun was shining he’d be able to see buildings or landmarks in the distance. He knew that would be his best bet to escape from this place. Soon, the hill he had been climbing began to grow too steeply for trees to take root upon its flanks. He climbed up onto it, using the exposed roots of various smaller plants to reach the top, until he finally broke through the canopy.

His jaw dropped and his eyes widened as they scanned the horizon, the rising sun slowly turning the distant sky into a beautiful blazing orange. No matter where he looked, the forest stretched impossibly into all directions. He felt his heart sink as his only real hope for an escape out of this forest was brutally shattered.

“Where in hell am I?”

Unbeknown to Alex, his shadow writhed in the sunlight spilling over him. Parts of it broke off and slithered away. Though indistinct from one another, many of such things were already present here, beyond the sight of mortal creatures, in the very currents of magic itself. They were only just sentient, but they all felt that same sensation pulling on them. Hunger.

Following magic’s flow, they joined an invisible march to the nearest food source. The town of Ponyville. For within this town, six souls stood out above everything else, shining stars on an otherwise dark sky, promising a feast unlike any other.