• Published 14th Sep 2011
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The Eternal Storm - TDarkchylde



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

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Going Under

The Eternal Storm - Chapter 6 - Going Under

Two weeks passed since the confrontation between Nightmare Spectrum and the united Princesses of Equestria.

The storm continued to spread.

By now, most of the planet, including all pony-controlled lands were covered by storm clouds.

Several unprepared towns were completely underwater.

The larger cities on higher ground were beginning to have trouble caring for their own - and then the refugees from the flooded towns began to arrive.

Food stocks were beginning to run low in Fillydelphia, Manehattan and Trottingham.

Some in those cities were starting to crack under the pressure. Isolated cases were being reported of ponies breaking into the homes and businesses of those better off and stealing their supplies. Of course, those better off were using their material wealth to buy out and hoard most of the supplies in the first place.

Order was starting to collapse in all regards.

The ponies' mastery over nature was turning out to be the start to their own end. When a species controls the actions of nature itself, there is little need to prepare for disasters which never come to pass. Ponies became complacent, only preparing for the now - never the future. The future was always certain before - food running low? Manipulate the weather and the soil to make it suitable for growing more. They never had to worry about things like droughts, hurricanes or floods.

No longer was that the case. The future now contained little more than looting, famine and extinction.

The Eternal Storm had bared the ponies' mistakes to the entire world, and they hadn't even began to start paying for them.

..:://=||=\\::..

Twilight Sparkle was walking gingerly out of Canterlot General. Her body had healed enough that she could fend for herself, and the more well-to-do patients had to clear out to make space for the more severely sick from the flooded towns. Therefore, she was discharged. Her friends were accompanying her out, with the exception of Spike who had went ahead to try to find them a place to stay for a few days.

"...Is it just me or did the rain never stop?" Twilight asked as she was able to see Canterlot at street level for the first time in weeks.

"Yup," Applejack replied sadly. "Seems to be rainin' all over the place. Braeburn sent me a letter a couple days ago sayin' that even Appleoosa's gettin' flooded out. They'll make it a couple months yet since the big harvest was ready just as the storms rolled in, but if the clouds don't break soon..."

"Yeah, this is bad," Twilight concluded. "Not everyplace is likely to be as well-prepared as the frontier. Come on girls, we need to see the Princesses. Maybe they'll know what's going on."

"It... it won't help," Fluttershy said softly. "Everypony around here says they disappeared. Nopony knows why."

Twilight cursed softly under her breath. "Ugh. We need to find out exactly what's going on here," she said. "Maybe the Mayor of Canterlot knows something."

The five young mares walked through the streets of Canterlot, taking every chance they could to get out of the rain for a few brief moments along the way. Eventually, however, they gave up on trying to remain dry. Even Rarity. They eventually made their way to Canterlot City Hall - a less luxurious building than the Palace, but still spacious enough to serve as a hub for the city's important functions.

It took a while to even be able to see someone who could direct them to the right place, and another hour still to see the Mayor's secretary. As Applejack was close to chewing out the secretary over her continued denials of their request to see the Mayor, however, his door opened.

Out walked the Mayor of Ponyville. "Twilight Sparkle? Girls? Come in here, we need to talk," she called.

The five filed into the Mayor's office over the protests of the other ponies who were waiting.

"Ah, you must be the five my esteemed colleague has been telling me about," the Mayor of Canterlot said. Unlike the Mayor of Ponyville, the Mayor of Canterlot was a younger, charismatic stallion. He shared a cutie mark and a job title with Ponyville's mayor, but little else.

"Indeed they are," Ponyville's mayor said. "Where's your other friend, though?"

"She's... missing," Twilight Sparkle explained.

"Unfortunate... but it can't be helped now," Ponyville's mayor replied. "You five were the ones that defeated Nightmare Moon last year. Well..."

Canterlot's mayor picked up where his counterpart from Ponyville left off. "The Princesses have been missing for two weeks now. Canterlot's starting to get overcrowded with refugees from the flooding all these storms have caused. Your hometown is completely underwater by now. My colleague says if anyone aside from the Princesses can get to the bottom of this and save Equestria, it's you girls."

"Well... before Princess Celestia disappeared, she did tell me her theory of what's going on," Twilight volunteered. "This information can't leave this room, though. Princess Celestia had planned to announce it to everypony within weeks herself."

"Of course," Canterlot's mayor said, smiling. "I may look the part of a sleazy politician, but I've got enough integrity to keep a secret."

"Nopony knows when it started - not even the Princesses," Twilight began. "For the longest time, there has been a malicious essence in Equestria. It would corrupt ponies who had let negative emotion into their heart, then move on to another pony, and another and so on. Eventually, it got into Princess Luna, though, and it changed her."

Her friends and the two Mayors looked on in silence as Twilight explained.

"At the time, the only thing Princess Celestia could do was to use the Elements of Harmony to banish Nightmare Moon to the moon," Twilight continued. "When she returned last year, my friends and I used the Elements to their full potential and excised the Nightmare from Princess Luna. We had thought the Nightmare was gone for good, but Princess Celestia suspected differently. Sadly, she was right.

"Last week, the Nightmare took over a weatherpony in Cloudsdayle and compelled him to create a catastrophic storm that would wipe Ponyville off of the map," she told all assembled. "Rainbow Dash succeeded in dispersing the storm before it got anywhere near Ponyville. I went out there and caught Rainbow Dash with my magic as her body gave out. We would have both died if the Nightmare hadn't possessed me and caused me to use my magic to its complete potential."

This bit of news stunned Twilight's friends. "Wait just a gosh-darned minute, Twilight," Applejack exclaimed. "You're tryin' to say that whatever was behind Nightmare Moon saved you, after tryin' to destroy our town?"

"It's not that simple," Twilight responded. "When the Nightmare inhabits someone, it loses its own sense of self but twists the host's desires. Whatever harm it may have intended us, my only desire at that point was to save Rainbow Dash. Even if that was contrary to its desires, it had no choice in the matter. The only thing that it did effect was my sense of how much magic I could safely use. I had no regard for my own safety in those few moments."

"Or it was exactly what that snooty-pants Nightmare wanted," Pinkie Pie said.

"Huh?" Twilight asked.

"You wanted to save Rainbow Dash," Pinkie explained. "You also said the Nightmare always wanted someone with negative emotions. What better than a suicidal pegasus?"

"Suicidal?" Twilight asked. "Rainbow wasn't acting suidical. Crazy, maybe. Okay, more like probably. She was willing to give her life to save Ponyville, but that doesn't mean she wanted to die."

"After that," Fluttershy said quietly. "When her wings were broken. The doctors said she was earthbound, that she'd never fly again."

"I still don't get where Rainbow possibly being suicidal fits in here," Twilight said, confused.

"Earthbound pegasi tend to..." Fluttershy started, mumbling the rest so softly that nopony else could make it out.

"What was that?" Rarity asked, looking over to Fluttershy.

"They, ah..." Fluttershy started again before mumbling the rest again and squeaking embarrassedly.

"Please, Fluttershy, this is important," Twilight said, trying to comfort her shy friend. Whatever it was, she could see it pained Fluttershy greatly even to think of it, much less to try to speak of it. "It might help us figure it all out.

"They... they kill themselves," Fluttershy finally said, crying. "They can't bear to have the sky taken away."

"Oh no..." Applejack said. "Dash's entire life was flying. She worked as a weatherpony, and her favorite pastime was stunt flying... neither of which she could do if she was stuck on the ground... oh no, what have Ah done?" She rushed out of the building.

"Applejack!" Twilight Sparkle cried out as she followed her friend to the street. "Wait!"

"Twi... just leave me be," Applejack said, standing in the rain. "Ah'm a horrible friend. It's all my fault. All my fault!"

"Why? What happened?" Twilight asked as her other friends stepped out of the city hall with the two Mayors in tow.

"Ah snapped at Dash when we thought you were gonna die," Applejack said. "Ah drove her away. She's gone on account'a me. Ah shoulda seen that Dash was hurtin', but all Ah could do was yell at her an' try to make her feel bad. Ah... Ah didn't know that she'd be so bad off if her wings broke..."

"You had no way of knowing she'd react like that, Applejack," Fluttershy said as she went out into the rain to comfort her friend. "It's something we don't like to talk about."

"Unicorns that lose their magic tend to get the same way," Twilight admitted reluctantly. "There were a couple of moments in that hospital where I wondered what I was going to do if I couldn't do something as simple as lift a cup."

"Ah just didn't know..." Applejack sobbed.

"You can't blame yourself, dear," Rarity said, risking ruining her mane in the pouring rain. "You had no way of knowing. We need to find Rainbow Dash and apologize."

"But... but what if she..." Applejack began. "Ah can't even bear to say it."

"That's the other thing I was planning to explain," Twilight sighed. "The Princesses believed that Rainbow Dash went missing because the Nightmare may have taken her over."

..:://=||=\\::..

Nightmare Spectrum had flown down to a low mountaintop to bask in the storm.

It was beautiful. Neither the sun nor the moon would be able to peek through the thick cloud cover. Ponies would learn to appreciate her storms and adapt... or they'd start dying off. She didn't care either way.

There was only one obstacle left between her and truly eternal storms.

She spread her metal wings and began to fly towards Canterlot as the sky grew darker. Night was falling.

..:://=||=\\::..

The girls finished explaining the Princesses' conclusions to the Mayors, and were given one mission: stop the Nightmare and bring an end to the storms. They retired to Twilight's old quarters at the Royal Library to meet with Spike and plan for the mission.

"I knew Rainbow Dash wasn't fine, but I didn't expect her to become a snooty-pants like Nightmare Moon," Pinkie Pie said.

"It's not her, though," Twilight Sparkle tried to explain. "It's a twisted hybrid of Rainbow Dash and the Nightmare. She's not the enemy here, she's another victim."

"That may be, Twilight, but we can't hold back here," Rarity said, uncharacteristically. "It may very well be part of why the Nightmare chose Dash. It assumed we would hold back."

"But we can't hurt her," Fluttershy said. "Friends don't hurt friends. They save them."

"I'm not sure we could right now, even if we wanted to," Twilight sighed. "Without Rainbow Dash, we don't have the Element of Loyalty on our side. I'm not sure if the Elements will even do anything with one missing."

"That doesn't mean we can't try," Pinkie Pie countered.

Applejack stared silently out the window while her friends continued to flesh out their plan. Yes, they were short one Element... at the least. She knew if she couldn't pull herself together that they might be short a second, but her guilt was continuing to gnaw away at her.

It took a while, but Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie finally came to a conclusion they could all support. Applejack agreed just for the sake of getting it all over with. It would go into motion on the next day.

As the five went to sleep, lightning began to strike outside, waking them. Time was no longer on the Element Bearers' side.

Nightmare Spectrum had arrived in Canterlot to eliminate the last force in Equestria that could stop her.