• Published 26th Jan 2012
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Sunshine Forever - Nug TWH

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Part III: Bright Eyes

Sunshine Forever

Part III: Bright Eyes

Derpy's eyes had been playing tricks on her all day.

It happened first when Derpy arrived at Sweet Apple Acres with Spitfire's team, which was where her squad had been assigned for today's relief efforts. Each of them brought a big tuft of dark spongy cloud that they had plucked from the skies of the Everfree Forest. Derpy was surprised by how heavy a fully saturated cloud could get. It slowed her down a great deal, but at least it felt cool against her body. Along with three other teammates, she struggled to keep up with the two racer ponies who always managed to stay a great distance ahead. Rainbow Dash stopped on occasion to look back with impatience or to look at Spitfire and shrug with frustration. But Spitfire was professional. She encouraged them with shouts that they were "almost there."

Derpy gasped for air as she flew as hard as she could. The dry air punished her efforts by quickly drying out her throat. The ground below looked thirsty, too. There were more patches of dried up dirt than she could ever remember seeing before on her mail routes, and the grass was losing its color.

When they finally arrived at Sweet Apple Acres, the pegasi all began stomping on their clouds in unison - except for Rainbow Dash, who shouted something at one of her farmer friends as the downpour began. Rainbow then floated over to Spitfire to quietly ask a question, to which the Wonderbolt nodded. The blue pegasus swooped down to speak to her friend under the pouring rain.

Meanwhile, Derpy took a brief moment to tear a chunk off the dark cloud she stood upon to pop into her mouth and chew. It tasted strangely metallic like a battery, and it tingled and popped as she rolled it around on her tongue. The electricity caused her mane to frizz up, but the fresh water was worth the bizarre side effects.

She had thought that the electricity was doing something to her vision too, because what she saw next didn't make any sense. As she finished up her cloud snack and spat out a plume of cottony cloud into the air, she took a quick look to see if Rainbow Dash was ready to go. But Rainbow Dash was still on the ground, now soaking wet from the monsoon they brought with them. She looked back up at Spitfire with an embarrassed face as she was receiving a big double hoofed hug around her neck from her friend. And although it was raining and it was impossible to tell for certain, it looked like the orange earth pony had been crying an awful lot. She looked really tired, and maybe even a little crazy. Or maybe she was going crazy from being tired.

In either case, Derpy had never seen a pony look so sad and so happy at the same time. It didn't seem normal, so maybe the electricity was messing with her eyes and that changed the way she saw it.

Rainbow slowly rose to the group with a weak smile, but she somehow appeared sort of sad now like her farmer friend. That didn't make any sense either; why would two ponies be sad about a job well done? So Derpy just shook her head and hoped that she wouldn't get thirsty enough to need a second helping of dark cloud. She wanted to get back to seeing things like a normal pony.

But her eyes messed up what she saw later, too. It was after they had darted back into the woods to retrieve more rainclouds between the thick canopy of pine trees, the high sun, and the distant view of Canterlot's castle. Rainbow Dash was beginning to act like her old cocky self, which made Derpy feel a little relaxed. She was flying backwards with her knees crossed and her front hooves tucked behind her head. She flew blind and backwards with her wings fluttering towards the slower pegasi of her team. Her eyes were closed and she loudly pretended to snore so that everyone could hear her. Derpy delightedly giggled at Rainbow's joke, but when the gray pegasus looked over at her other team mates, she noticed that they looked annoyed. So Derpy stopped giggling.

Suddenly, the blue pegasus feigned to spring awake, barrel rolled through the sky while twisting her torso, and resumed flying in a normal position. Although her team mates were getting even more annoyed with her showboating, Derpy couldn't stop herself from giggling again. Rainbow Dash looked back at Derpy over her shoulder, flashed a small grin, and teasingly winked at her - like they had just shared an inside joke. Derpy felt very happy although she didn’t entirely understand what the gesture meant.

Spitfire tossed an impatient glance over at Rainbow which immediately caused her to become serious. She sped up next to their leader and began to mumble a flurry of apologies to Spitfire for being silly when --

Derpy's eyes seemed to mess up again. And again. And again.

And again.

It looked like the sky was flickering, but Derpy supposed it must have been a trick of her eyes.

But she began to wonder if something strange was happening when they all stopped flying to hover in place. They looked around themselves with dumbfounded looks. In random bursts around her, Derpy could feel an intense heat flare up. The gray mare felt panicky. She was unsure if something was wrong with her way of seeing things or if there was something wrong with everything else, so she stayed in place until whatever was happening stopped. But her friends had started buzzing around, dodging these pillars of light that would appear as everything else in the world turned black.

"Derpy! Focus!" Spitfire shouted at her as she deftly avoided the sporadic blasts of energy flashing around them. Her team was now a blur of colors around her as they outmaneuvered the beams of light. The ground began to roar and hiss. Smokey rainclouds began to slither up from the ground far below. It spread everywhere and it burned hot in her throat. None of it made any sense.

But in that brief moment of panic, Derpy considered a lot of things. She considered what it would mean if all of this were real; what would it mean if her eyes never played a trick on her that day? And what if this flickering never stops?

But the flickering did stop, just as the thought occurred to her, and as suddenly as it began. She could feel herself being dragged upwards from under her front hooves.

"Derpy, concentrate!" Derpy could hear Spitfire scream over the crackling below and right into her ear. "We're getting out of this smoke!" Derpy noticed that her team mates were flying up around her, too. They rose high above the smoke and fanned it back while they regrouped. High up in the air, they could see that the smoke signals were rising from all around.

"Okay," Spitfire said with a shaky and hurried voice. She had a frightened expression that none of the pegasi thought a Wonderbolt could make. "We're not far from the storm clouds. Only a few hundred yards away. We need to get these fires out right now. Cloud Kicker, you--"

"Where's Rainbow Dash?" Derpy said all of a sudden as she thought out loud.

Spitfire paused, and stared at Derpy as if she didn't understand her words. After a second of processing what the question meant, she looked around her surroundings. She began to bite her lower lip with anxiety and returned her gaze to Derpy.

"Oh, Celestia," Spitfire spoke, barely audible.

You will submit to my purpose.

I have submitted.

And you will listen to reason?
I will do as you say.

Oh, come now, we will create something glorious together. Understand me - I'm not asking for ownership. Think of it as a partnership. You have the power and I have the vision and ambition.
View it as you must. I will not resist your control any longer if that is your concern.

Always so glum. Always so reserved. But watch what you can do with your powers; watch what you never had the drive to achieve. I think, given some time, you'll even grow to enjoy this.

Celestia remained laid down on an elaborate mosaic of the sun in front of an enormous window. The massive frame of glass provided an extraordinary view of her domain from high in her quarters in Canterlot's castle. Whether it was a ceremony or just something Celestia found pleasure in, she always sat in this spot as she beckoned morning to arrive. She'd seen dawn break innumerous times here from the spot where one could see every palette the sky could offer. But she remained immovably rooted to the spot as of late, stiff and unresponsive, ever since the start of summer.

Despite the window's enormity, most of her spacious quarters remained dim except where the natural light filtered through. Such was a dark place that Luna stood, shyly peering into Celestia's quarters from the sophisticated metalwork of the golden door leading to her chambers. Celestia had become despondent as of late as if she was not entirely present. Luna feared the worst as she stood partially in the corridor with her muzzle nudging the door to observe.

Having spent what seemed like an eternity in isolation under the influence of a dark spirit, Luna became disconnected from her sister and even with society in general. But when she returned to the castle, she slowly began to reestablish a relationship with her. She wasn't practiced in socializing, but Celestia had been accommodating, understanding, and even somehow apologetic towards her sister upon her return. She made it relatively easy for Luna to adjust to life in Canterlot.

But recently, she dropped her warm manners. Celestia lingered in her sun room longer every day. And when Luna tried to speak to her in that position, she would simply not respond. It was as if she were in an unshakable slumber while her eyes yet remained open and fixed on a point somewhere in the vast view in front of them. At first, Luna thought that her sister had become tired of her presence and regretted her return. But in studying her sister, Luna found that her behavior was more distracted than irritated.

Her catatonic state filled Luna with concern. Her status began to drastically affect how she balanced day and night. But Celestia would not - or could not - listen to the night princess's pleas. How could she approach her sister in this state? And what greater authority could she refer to about Celestia's condition?

Now Luna stood hidden at her sister's door while she once again laid in her position on the sun mosaic. However, Luna's thoughts were interrupted when she noticed that if she listened carefully and leaned an ear towards her sister she could hear a hushed whisper amidst the utter stillness of the castle.

"...Eternity of banishment," Celestia muttered, only just perceptibly.

Luna stopped breathing as she heard the words.

After a long pause, Celestia tensed stiffly from her position as if she were struggling to rise. She spoke deliberately and loudly:

"You have been warned."

Her first thought was that Celestia was talking to her. Her first instinct was to retreat from the room and flee, having been caught peering in on some forbidden moment. But instead, she remained even stiller than before when her sister made no other acknowledgement of her presence. Luna took a step forward and pried the door open slightly.

"Sister?" Luna called to her nervously. As she expected, no response. But something new was happening; Celestia was subtly writhing, as if a force that Luna could neither see nor hear was pinning her down.

She couldn't just watch her sister struggle any longer. For her sister's sake, she had to try to reach her in whatever internal struggle she faced. She opened the door fully, which gave way with a creak. She slowly approached Celestia, who still seemed tense.
"Sister," she announced in her bravest voice, "I am here for you." But Celestia made no motion to suggest that she recognized her existence. Luna waited for a moment to no avail.

"If you can hear me, sister... Please, show me a sign of what I am to do," she continued. "There must be some way I can --"

Celestia suddenly stood up poised towards the window. Her legs shook with effort and her body heaved with exertion.

Luna approached her closely and spoke louder. "There must be a way I can help you. Try to focus through whatever ails you," she spoke with an increasing boldness. "Your subjects suffer. I know that this isn't what you would truly want."

No response.

"Please, Celestia. Hear me!" she continued, her voice becoming desperate.

But she didn't seem to hear.

"Sister!" she pleaded once more.

Celestia's eyes instantaneously began to shine like lanterns and her horn began to glow with magic. Luna stepped back and cautiously stared at Celestia. Then the sky blinked several times. Only a few beams of light illuminated the world in utter blackness like silent lightning bolts. But Luna was not looking on the horizon; she was looking upon her sister who seemed to be transforming right before her.

"Please stop," Celestia said in a low voice, while her head jerked with resistance and her eyes glowed ever brighter. After a few seconds, the sky suddenly returned to normal as if in response to her plea. Smoke was already spiraling up from where the pillars of light touched ground. "I have submitted," Celestia said in a tired voice. Her head dropped and her legs gave in. She returned to her sitting position.

Luna was awestruck and horrified. She stood back, aghast.

"I will do as you say," Celestia said with a tone of finality. She stopped struggling and her body became limp while the transformation rapidly came over her. Her coat, already white, became luminescent. Her mane dissipated into a radiant wisp that trailed her head. Her crown was replaced with a gold helmet and armor began to appear grow out of thin air onto her body. Her eyes changed from their ordinary tranquility to a set of intensely violet eyes without irises. Finally, her body appeared to regain life and she stood slowly. And she began to talk now in a voice that Luna had never heard before.

"No!" Luna shouted, taking several steps back as the shimmering figure consumed her sister's form.

"Oh, come now," the being who was once her sister spoke in a seductive and sinister tone as she rose, gazing towards the burning land below. "We will create something glorious together."

Luna wasn't sure if the being was addressing her or if she spoke to whatever remnant of her sister that remained inside; but she knew that a great wickedness had been born. She wasted no time contemplating what this being meant in its words or what its intentions were. Luna now knew what was necessary to redeem her sister. She immediately retreated from the room even as the insidious figure continued to speak. She sprinted down the dim winding halls, all the while hoping that she would not be too late.

-- To Be Continued --

Written by Nug TWH, published on FiMFiction.net on February 2nd, 2012. Please give credit or link if you copy.