• Published 14th Sep 2011
  • 4,327 Views, 50 Comments

The Eternal Storm - TDarkchylde



The Nightmare returns, now using an Element Bearer as a host.

  • ...
4
 50
 4,327

Sacred and Profane

The Eternal Storm - Chapter 5 - Sacred and Profane

"They failed me, those so-called friends of mine. I saved their town. I saved their homes! I gave my wings and was ready to give my life for them. The doctors said I would never fly again... they abandoned me. I needed support - I was at my worst... and they abandoned me.

"They betrayed me in my time of need! I wanted to die... and they simply left.

"Few have any idea what it's like for a pegasus to be told they can't fly anymore. Most don't live long after being left earthbound, for whatever reason. Some succumb to the wounds that took their wings. Others succumb to their own depression. I don't blame them. You lose your wings... you lose your very identity as a pony. You die. Inside at first, then given time, the body follows suit.

"I saw a chance to regain my life, so I took it. It's not like I became somepony else. I'm still me. I'm still loyal. In fact, I now have the drive and ability to demonstrate my loyalty like never before.

"...I will protect my home."

..::OoOoOoO::..

Scootaloo was riding her scooter through Ponyville, as was her usual. Adults were scrambling out of the way as the little filly saw everything as part of a new stunt. She would ride up an overturned apple crate, then fly through the air, grinding the scooter on a nearby building's gutter, then she'd fly off the building to a dried up pool. It was an extreme athlete's dream!

As she came flying out of the pool, she did several backflips in the air, then landed flawlessly on the ground. "Yeah! That was my best trick yet! I can't believe I pulled it off!" she cried triumphantly.

She was expecting a reply of some kind, but instead there was simply silence.

"Rainbow Dash?" Scootaloo asked. "Didn't you think that was awesome?"

Dash was looking on, lost in thought. Something wasn't right with her. "Huh? Oh, uh, yeah. That was great," she half-heartedly replied.

Scootaloo looked over to her mentor, confused. Something wasn't right. Her normally brightly multicolored mane and tail were slightly muted. Her cutie mark didn't look right either, and Scootaloo could swear there was a bump on Dash's head. "Are you okay?" she asked, concerned.

"Kid... wake up, okay?" Dash asked. "You're dreaming right now, but we need to talk for real."

Scootaloo groggily pulled herself out of bed. It was the middle of the night, though the moon was barely visible through the oncoming cloud cover. She walked over to the window and poked her head out. She could hear a noise.

"Good, kid, I was hoping you would wake up," replied Rainbow Dash's voice, though she herself was out of Scootaloo's sight.

"Rainbow Dash?" Scootaloo asked. "I can hear you, but I can't see you. What's going on?"

"It's fine, Scootaloo," Dash said. "You may not want to see me right now. You may never want to see me again if you knew what happened over the last couple of days."

"What are you talking about?" Scootaloo asked, puzzled. "Why would I never want to see you? You're my hero, Dash. You'll always be my hero."

There was a moment of silence. "You mean that you'd continue to believe in me, no matter what?" Dash asked.

"No matter what," Scootaloo affirmed. "Cross my heart, hope to fly..."

"...Stick a cupcake in my eye," Dash finished. "You... okay then. I know unyielding loyalty when I see it."

Scootaloo was about to ask what that meant when her wings began to tingle. A soft dark glow enveloped her body.

"Fly up to Cloudsdayle, kid," Dash said. "I need your help."

"Fly?" Scootaloo asked, dumbfounded. "I can't fly yet... and even if I could, Cloudsdayle is pretty far away. There's also a storm coming, and..."

"Do you trust me?" Dash asked, cutting Scootaloo's thought off.

"Duh!" Scootaloo replied. "You know I do... but..." Her doubt was cut off as her wings began to flap on their own and she started hovering off of the floor. "Dash... how? I'm flying!"

"I can't answer that yet, kid. I'm sorry for that," Dash said. "All I can tell you is that you'll be able to make it up here without a problem. You'll find the storm will not get in your way. Hurry, please. I need your help."

Deciding to trust in her faith in Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo jumped from her window...

..::OoOoOoO::..

Princess Celestia trotted to the lower reaches of her castle. Deep beneath, there was a room where one of her select guards kept tabs on Equestria's main towns and cities. He had called for her to head there urgently when the signal from Cloudsdayle went dark. As she arrived, she didn't even wait to be told what he had called her for. "Status," she simply stated.

"Princess," a unicorn guard replied. His coat was red, and he was wearing body armor. His cutie mark was of a device not known to Equestria, yet it fit his talent perfectly - a communications satellite. "Cloudsdayle reported an attack about two hours ago, then nothing since."

"I see," the Princess said as she looked at a screen showing all of Equestria. A light that would normally denote Cloudsdayle was darkened. "Did you try to re-establish contact? Do we have any idea what attacked them?"

"Their relay unicorn, Telegraph, sent images from the cloud factory when they sent their SOS," he replied. "It's dark, but we've been able to make out a black pegasus wearing some kind of metal armor. She appeared to possess magic, though we don't know how that could be."

Celestia looked over the projection carefully as the unicorn played it back for her. "Pause it there," she said as she noticed something familiar, something that could change her very approach to the situation. "It can't be."

"Telegraph reported as he evacuated that the attacker called herself 'Nightmare Spectrum,'" the unicorn replied.

"Evacuated?" Celestia asked, a look of worry creeping onto her face.

"Evacuated," the unicorn replied. "Apparently this Spectrum evicted everyone in town after taking over the factory. There was one scare when the invader struck an old stallion with a lightning bolt, but nopony was killed. They were able to flee without interference."

"It's all starting to make sense now," Celestia replied as she had already began working on a plan of action. She turned to head back to her throne room to consult with Luna over what had to be done.

The unicorn called after Celestia. "Your Highness, what should we do about this?" he asked.

She stopped momentarily. "Tell your family to lie low and keep themselves safe, Traject," she said. "Things may be rough in Equestria for a while." She resumed her path to the throne room.

..::OoOoOoO::..

The storm continued to expand over Equestria. Ponyville was one of the first towns on the ground to be covered by the clouds. It started to rain. Ponies all over town at first attributed it to the fact that their weather team's leader was still in the hospital. None were informed she was in fact missing.

As the rain continued over the course of the day, some of Ponyville's population started to worry. It wasn't scheduled. There was no contact with Cloudsdayle.

The mayor did her best to try to keep the populace calm. It was working, but no one knew how long the calm would prevail.

Even the Everfree Forest became covered in storms. Its wild nature, resistant to generations of ponies' attempts to tame it, seemed to submit to the storms.

It was only the start.

..::OoOoOoO::..

Twilight Sparkle rested in her hospital bed as her body continued to attempt to heal. Her magic was still too weak for her to help herself, so one of her friends was staying with her at all times. She was consumed with worry, even as she reluctantly tried to sleep.

"This is no time to sleep," she recalled saying several times earlier. "Yes, it would do me some good to give my magic and body a chance to recover, but if I take too long getting better, there might not be an Equestria left to live in!"

The response would be unique from each friend, but always the same underneath.

"No, Twilight... you got hurt out there pretty bad and you might hurt yourself worse if you don't just rest."

"Such nonsense... you should be resting! Equestria's not going to up and fall apart while you try to take care of yourself, darling."

"Ain't no way, sugarcube. You're gonna stay right there an' heal up, or else Ah'm gonna tie you down in that bed."

"Silly Twilight... The Princesses have it all under control. Besides, there's no way you could hold up to one of my parties right now, and that's the first thing we're going to do when you get better."

"No! You can't! What kind of assistant would I be if I let you get hurt again?"

She missed the one voice among her friends who would probably say different.

"If you're that worried that something really bad is about to happen, I'm with you. The others will understand. I'll do what I can to make sure you don't get hurt worse, but we'll find out what's happening."

But that friend was missing, and Twilight knew this all too well. Each of her friends were blaming themselves for driving Rainbow Dash away, and each was trying to hide their guilt.

Unfortunately for them, Twilight was getting to know them pretty well at that point, but they wouldn't hear any of it when she tried to help them with their problems.

"Really, I'm fine, Twilight. Just worry about getting better."

"I simply haven't the slightest idea what you mean, dear."

"Stop changin' the subject, Twi."

"Of course I'm okay! Really! See? Biiiiiiiig smile!"

"My only concern is you right now, Twilight. Worry about me when you're back on your feet."

Again, she could imagine what Rainbow Dash would say if she were there.

"It's not your fault. You really want to help Twilight out? Stop blaming yourselves for me not being there."

..::OoOoOoO::..

"Sister, come here please," Celestia called as she finished lowering the sun. The approaching clouds were making it difficult for her to guide the heavenly body.

Luna made her way to the throne room. "Celly? You requested my presence?" she asked.

"Yes, I did," Celestia replied, sighing. "I'm having trouble reconciling what I know of our foe with what I've been hearing all day."

"How so?" Luna asked as she sat in her own throne, next to her sister's.

"When you were Nightmare Moon, you were, well, power-hungry," Celestia started. "It twisted you, made you want to usurp me and do away with the sun."

"Eternal Night," Luna said, shuddering. "Don't remind me. I'm not proud of any of it."

"Well, this incarnation of the Nightmare is different," Celestia continued to state as she paced. "Nightmare Moon's goal was for the night to be admired. This Nightmare Spectrum simply seems to want to be left alone. She doesn't seem to aim to usurp us - more like she would prefer to subvert us."

"Yes," Luna replied, "but the result would be the same. Eternal Night would have starved Equestria's plantlife, thereby starving the ponies. This Nightmare, whatever her perceived aim, will end up ending all life if she isn't stopped."

"Yet, so far she hasn't killed anypony," Celestia thought out loud. "In fact, it's almost as if she's gone out of her way to avoid bloodshed."

Luna spoke bluntly. "The Nightmare doesn't need to shed a drop of pony blood to exterminate our species, especially after imprinting itself with my power."

"You're right, of course," Celestia said. "We don't have the Elements of Harmony at our own disposal anymore, and the Element of Loyalty is grievously injured and missing. Think we stand a chance this time?"

"It doesn't matter," Luna stated as she rose to her hooves. "For Equestria's sake, we have to try to stop whatever this incarnation of the Nightmare intends to do." As her horn glowed, she willed the moon to rise. "I almost wish I didn't have to do this tonight. These clouds are so thick, I don't know how anypony will be able to see."

"I know," Celestia replied. "I could barely find the sun earlier. These clouds aren't right."

"Let's pay a visit to Cloudsdayle then, Sister," Luna said as she took to the air.

"Perceptive as always... I'm so glad you're on my side again after all these years, Sister," Celestia said, smiling, as she rose into the air to follow her sister.

..::OoOoOoO::..

Scootaloo was exhilarated as she soared high in the air. The clouds were parting before her as Rainbow Dash had said they would, and Cloudsdayle was in sight. The city itself was grayer than usual, though. The storms seemed to be intensifying the closer the little filly got to the city.

"You're close," Dash's voice said. "There's a big factory with a rainbow pouring out of it. I'm waiting there."

As she reached the city, Scootaloo saw the factory Dash spoke of. All the clouds comprising the town were really dark, almost invisible without sunlight, or even moonlight peeking through the cover. As she noticed this, the high clouds covering Cloudsdayle parted, allowing the moonlight to shine on the city. "Dash?" she asked. "Are you sure this is Cloudsdayle? It looks so... creepy."

"It is, Scootaloo," Dash said, trying to reassure the young filly. "There's been some... changes here. That's one of the things we need to talk about. Come to the top floor. See this lightning?"

As if on cue, a bolt of lightning struck the top of a tower in the city.

"Fly where it hit. Don't worry, lightning never strikes twice."

"Okay..." Scootaloo reluctantly agreed as she continued on her course. She was beginning to feel some doubts, but she had come this far. She believed in Rainbow Dash, that she would explain everything and it would all make sense. Somehow.

From another direction, the Princesses of Equestria were also flying to Cloudsdayle, magically piercing the cloud cover as they went. Neither one wanted guards to accompany them, so the Royal Guard reluctantly remained behind, under orders to protect Canterlot.

In reality, each of the Princesses were harboring their own doubts about what laid before them. The thought that one or both of them might not come back crossed each of their minds, and they certainly didn’t wish to risk the lives of the Guards. Still, Equestria needed them to act against something like the Nightmare. Duty could not be ignored.

They silently worked to tunnel through the clouds, neither wishing to voice their doubts to the other.

A few minutes passed, and Scootaloo was the first to reach her destination. "I'm here! Rainbow Dash? Are you there?"

"Yeah, kid, I'm around," Dash's voice said. Half the room was completely dark, with the rest only lit by a small amount of moonlight peeking through the windows. "I'm not entirely feeling well. You'll understand if I stay in the shadows for a bit, huh?"

"Yeah... I'm just glad you're okay," Scootaloo said, fear audible in her voice. "Rarity was over by my house a day or two ago, telling my parents something was wrong with you. They didn't want to tell me anything. I can handle it, though! I'm not scared."

"I... I got hurt a little bit," Dash said. "I got better though... way better. I'm feeling better than I ever have. I bet I could do ten Sonic Rainbooms before breakfast every day, I feel so great."

"Wow!" Scootaloo exclaimed. "So then... why won't you let me see you?"

"Nightmare Spectrum, show yourself!" Princess Celestia called out as she and Luna found their way into the tower as well.

"Wh-wha-wha-what?" Scootaloo cried as she backed towards the window she used to enter. "Nightmare? Where?"

Dash sighed. "Horseapples. I was hoping to get this out of the way before you two showed up. Thanks a lot for your horrible timing," she said, irritated. "Just hold on a second, kid - I'll make this brief. Princesses... stay out of the sky. I don't care if you keep running the stuff on the ground. I don't care if you continue moving the sun and moon. Do whatever you want with heavens and earth... but my skies and my clouds are off limits to you!"

"Rainbow Dash, what are you saying?" Scootaloo asked, shocked.

"Rainbow Dash?!" both Princesses exclaimed in unison.

Dash yelled in frustration. "Nice job ruining it!" she screamed as she slowly walked forward into the moonlight. What came into view was different, though - this was a black alicorn with metal armor on her head, chest and wings. Her eyes were serpentine, but unmistakably the same rose color as Rainbow Dash's. Her mane and tail were the same as well, though the rainbow coloring was slightly darker, and some of the Nightmare's dark, misty aura was visible around them. She was much taller than before, standing at the same height as Princess Celestia. The only remaining traces of her old coat were on her flank, as the black coat gave way to a patch of cyan surrounding her cutie mark, as well as near her hooves. Her cutie mark itself was twisted, its normally white cloud now a dark grey one.

Scootaloo gasped. "What... what are you? Are you a monster?" she asked, exasperated.

"Child, get to safety!" Princess Luna called toward Scootaloo.

"I'm not a monster," Nightmare Spectrum replied sadly. "I'm still Rainbow Dash. I'm just a better me than I was. I..."

"YOU'RE NOT RAINBOW DASH!" Scootaloo screamed. "I know Rainbow Dash, and she would not talk to the Princesses like that! She's loyal to them!"

Nightmare Spectrum's eye twitched. "You just don't get it. While you wait for the sun in the morning, I'm waiting for rain. I'm waiting for the storm. Now, I'll bring the storms. I'll cover all of Equestria in raging tempests. I'm creating an Eternal Storm, and you can't stop me. I was hoping that you would join me, Scootaloo... I really was hoping you'd join me, but you don't want to believe me when I say I'm still your hero. Now it's time to say goodbye."

With that, a lightning bolt arced from Nightmare Spectrum's horn, heading straight for Scootaloo...