• Published 1st Feb 2013
  • 1,814 Views, 93 Comments

The Ghost Of You - MadMan



Sequel to Intension. Twilight, Luna, and the Black Berets seek to stop the unstoppable.

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Requiem

When Twilight opened her eyes, the sun had not yet risen over the treetops surrounding the derelict castle, however the sky was lightening. She blinked a few times and looked at the fire, finding it almost out. She shifted, looking for some wood to levitate towards her, but her concentration was broken by Luna sitting up beside her.

"Oh! I'm sorry Luna, I didn't mean to wake you."

"It is alright. I meant to wake at dawn anyways. We have much to do today."

Twilight nodded and tried to swallow the knot in her throat. It was only yesterday that Axion had taken over, yet it seemed like an eternity. Feelings invaded Twilight's mind as she continued her search for firewood, but was unsuccessful. She tried to distract herself by talking to Luna. Her words were quiet, as to avoid the few Black Berets sleeping nearby.

"So, what are we going to do?"

"First, we talk."

"About?"

"Last night, I asked you about Celestia. Judging by your face just now and her absence, I assume something has happened to her. Is she alright?"

Twilight walked away, heading to the doors she had squeezed through just yesterday. She sat outside, and after a moment she felt rather than heard Luna sit beside her. Eventually, words came, but they were hollow.

"She's..... Different. I went to the throne room, but Axion was sitting on the throne, and Celestia beside her. Her mane was like fire, and her eyes blazing. She..... She reminded me of Nightmare Moon, but with the sun."

Luna sighed and closed her eyes.

"I was afraid of that. I had noticed she was very distant these past few months. Others might not have noticed, but she reminded me of myself, back before I..... Turned. However, you say Axion was beside her?"

"Yes. She was occupying the throne, and Celestia was beside her."

"So, there might be hope."

"Why do you say that?"

Luna looked at the sky, closing her eyes.

"What I am about to tell you is a secret, one that nopony knows, not Celestia, not Axion, not one living soul. I would like to keep it like that way, except you. Tell nopony, ever."

"I promise."

Luna stood and stretched, spreading her wings wide and bending her neck upwards before sitting back down. One dark wing encompassed Twilight and they sat together as they liked to.

"I wonder if you remember, when you were analyzing the diary I found at Black Star's house, I mentioned I knew that Black Star was a mare?"

Twilight was silent for a moment as she thought.

"Vaguely, yes. I remember I thought it was odd, but I was so focused on the diary I forgot to ask about it later."

"Well, when they say that nopony ever laid eyes on Black Star or knew her identity, they are wrong. I knew her. I met her,and I was part of her plan. She came to me in the night, whispering soft promises of power and night eternal. By then, I was so far engrossed in my jealousy, I never thought for a moment Black Star had ulterior motives. Her plan seemed perfect."

Luna fell silent for a minute, prompting Twilight to look up at the Princess. Luna looked down and smiled grimly.

"Nightmare Moon wasn't my plan alone, nor was she me alone. Nightmare Moon was a symbiont, a conjoining of Black Star and myself. Two beings, becoming one body, with two minds inside. We thought ourselves unstoppable. Obviously, we were wrong. Celestia gathered the Elements of Harmony and used them on us. What she didn't expect was that they wouldn't work. It was painful, to be sure, but it didn't do more than inconvenience us. That was when she decided to banish us to the moon, hoping that by the time we were freed she had discovered how to defeat us.

Celestia had no idea a simple fragmentation spell would react to the spell used to combine us, ripping us apart. Instead, we were forced to endure a thousand years of solitude, gazing down on the world that was home, and knowing that returning was a long time off. It didn't bother me as much as it did Black Star, as I was already ancient and used to the passage of time whereas she was mortal, with only a few decades under her belt. Her body was immortal, a benefit of being joined to an immortal alicorn, but her mind was still as weak as any other mortal's. She went insane after a few hundred years, babbling to herself about the endless plain of dust we were on. After about a decade of her rambling, I grew tired of her nonsense and simply went to into a long sleep, something like hibernation.

When I woke, it was because I could feel our constraints weakening and knew we were about to return. I had long since came to terms with my crimes and Celestia's punishment, and was ready to apologize. Black Star, however, was still insane. When you saw Nightmare Moon, it was all her actions. I knew it was only a matter of time until we were defeated. I waited, for we had agreed before we joined to cast a clause into the spell that if we were weakened and only if we were weakened to the point of defeat we could split ourselves, and hopefully at least one of us could continue our plans. I thought to exploit that to my advantage, leaving Black Star to face her punishment and I would throw myself to Celestia's mercy. Only the last bit of that would come to pass, as when you used the Elements against me, Black Star vanished.

I assume she was disintegrated, her insanity being too inharmonious to cure, where I was at peace and ready to beg forgiveness. That is why I say we might have hope against Celestia if she truly has turned, for she is still herself, Axion either in ignorance of Black Star's plans with me or unwilling to entrust herself to Celestia."

Luna fell silent at the end of her tale, and sat silently beside Twilight, listening to the sounds of the forest. Twilight sat silently, her mind still processing all the information. The silence stretched on into the morning, until Twilight broke it.

"You don't think Axion knows the process that Black Star and yourself used to become Nightmare Moon?"

Luna thought for a moment before answering, twisting her face in concentration.

"I do not believe she does. We planned the spell for a while, but when we finally sat down and made the spell and used it, the process barely took two days. Black Star stayed with me the whole time, so unless she sent a letter when I was sleeping then I highly doubt it. We stayed pretty busy, hardly stopping to eat."

"I hope not. Celestia would be.... Formidable, with the combined power of Axion, the Sun Stone, and the Amaranth."

"Indeed. However, I find that hope will rarely achieve much on its own. We must get more information before we decide anything."

Luna finished speaking with a sort of finality that Twilight found hard to follow, so she didn't. They chose to sit silently as they loved to, and listen to the sound of the forest. Before too long, the chirps of the birds and calls of waking animals was interrupted by Twilight's growling stomach, so they went back inside in search of food.

Once back inside, Twilight saw that two other ponies were awake as well. Winter was at the far side of the room, gazing out a broken window with her back to Twilight. Nightfury was poking at the remnants of the fire, looking very morose. Twilight and Luna shared a meaningful look, then Luna walked off towards Winter, and Twilight went to Nightfury. As she approached, Nightfury looked up for a moment before looking back into the ashes.

"Morning, Twilight."

"Morning, Nightfury. Sleep well?"

A flat stare was her answer. Small licks of flame were now dancing among the kindling, so Twilight stared at them, watching as Nightfury carefully manipulated the sticks and blew on the fire, encouraging it to grow. Soon the pile of smoking ashes had transformed into a warm campfire, and Nightfury sat back, bringing his gaze back to Twilight.

"We may be in more trouble than we thought."

Twilight cocked her head to one side, curious.

"How so?"

"Did you get a good look at the soldiers that attacked us?"

"Barely. I saw that they were wearing similar armor."

"The ponies were all identical. White coats, identical facial features, and all the same height and weight. Their armor was all identical as well. Sounds very similar to a certain force to me."

"What do you mean?"

"The Royal Guard."

"What? That's......"

Twilight paused as she thought. Her memories of it were vague and blurred from the adrenaline, but maybe the soldiers had all been identical.

But that doesn't mean that the Royal Guard had betrayed us. Unless....

"Celestia.."

"What?"

Twilight started as she realized she had whispered the last word aloud. She then remembered that she hadn't got around to telling the rest of the Black Berets why Celestia wasn't with them.

"I think I know, but I would like to wait and tell everypony at once."

"Fine, but did you notice their spells?"

"Not really. I was too busy ducking them. They seemed like very powerful kinetic force spells."

"Extremely powerful. In fact, they weren't kinetic spells at all."

"Then what were they?"

"Zero-point energy."

"That's impossible! Even I can barely cast a few zero-point spells before I'm completely worn out."

"Exactly. But I know what I saw, and what I saw was the largest concentration of zero-point energy I've ever seen."

"How can that be possible?"

Nightfury shrugged and leaned back, picking up a granola bar and biting into it, staring into the fire as he chewed. Twilight looked over and saw Luna sitting with a wing around Winter, who was crying into the Princess's shoulder. A pang stabbed her heart as she thought of what the white unicorn could be thinking.

It wasn't her fault that the soldiers had come, but I bet she feels like she could have done something to help. She must feel like it's her fault, even though it isn't. Hopefully Luna can talk to her and make her feel better, or at least not guilty.

Twilight frowned and stared into the fire, her mind puzzling over the new revelations.

Zero-point energy, identical soldiers, identical armor, and in Canterlot.... It can only be Celestia...

Twilight felt a chill run down her spine as she considered the implications.

If Celestia has indeed become evil, and her Royal Guard as well, we just might be in some deep trouble.

Twilight continued to watch the fire dance as she thought her worried thoughts. The dawn slowly grew to morning as the sun cleared the treetops, and the other Black Berets started waking. Luna eventually finished her talk with Winter and joined Twilight by the fire, lightly chatting with the Berets around the fire as they ate breakfast. After the food was finished, Luna called to the Berets not yet around the fire.

"Berets, gather. We have things to discuss."

Once the Berets were all gathered, Luna turned her gaze to each warrior in turn, meeting their eyes for a few seconds.

"We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. First off, I'm sure you're all wondering why Celestia isn't here. Now, I don't want any of you to jump to conclusions, but it would seem that Celestia has joined Axion, although to what capacity is as yet unknown. So it seems that Canterlot was not invaded by outside forces, but brought down from the inside. I don't know much about the forces that were utilized, but I believe that Nightfury had a fairly good assessment of them. Nightfury, if you would?"

"Thank you, Luna. Guys, we're in some trouble. When we were ambushed in Canterlot, every single one of the soldiers used zero-point energy spells. Multiple zero-point spells. We've all used them before, so you know how strong they must be to use several of those spells fairly quickly. As for their strength, I might have a hypothesis. Think of this: They were all identical, in color and body shape. As well, their armor was all identical. I don't think I need to remind you of who that sounds very similar to. I think we can guess to what extend Celestia has betrayed us."

Nightfury fell silent, his eyes cold and hard. One of the Black Berets, a light blue unicorn named Rain, stepped forward.

"Zero-point energy spells? Are you completely sure? For a single unicorn to cast more than two or three of those is nearly impossible! Have they been magically reinforced or something?"

Luna leaned forward, answering for Nightfury.

"We don't know. All we can do right now is suspect. In a few days, we will develop a plan to find more information. Until then, we sit tight, and rest. We're going to need all our resources and energy on tap if we can even begin to hope for victory."

Tank stepped forward, his armor gently clanking.

"Victory? Princess, you make it sound as if we are at war."

"War?"

Luna stood, and Twilight felt a perceptible drop in the temperature of the air, and Luna's mane rippled like azure fire.

"Our shining capitol city has been invaded, the throne usurped. Celestia has apparently betrayed the ponies of Equestria, and turned her back on peace and justice. Us twenty one are all that we know of that stands between Axion and dominion over all of Equestria."

Luna walked over to where a corner of the wall has collapsed, and gazed out at the rising sun.

"Yes, gentlecolts, we are at war."

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