• 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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Keep Hope Alive

The Eternal Storm - Chapter 7 - Keep Hope Alive

What hit me? I feel like I'm waking up from a long dream.

Canterlot? Why am I in Canterlot?

Wait... I know this place. Twilight Sparkle showed this place to me after the Grand Galloping Gala. It's the Royal Library. It's where she worked before she came to Ponyville, before she met me or any of our other friends.

...Why can't I control my body?

Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no. What am I about to do?

Go back to sleep.

Who was that?

Just sleep, Dash. You don't need to see what's about to happen. It's not going to be pleasant for you.

What's not going to be pleasant? What's going to happen?

Sleep, Element of Loyalty. You don't need to be awake for this... let me do it for you.

Do what? What are you?

I'm the real you, Dash... the better you. I'm going to free us from the ties that bind you. Now be a good filly and go back to sleep.

Wha... Twilight... Applejack... somepony... help me...

Hush now. Quiet now. It's time to rest your sleepy head.

Hush now. Quiet now. You don't want to see them dead...

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

Nightmare Spectrum looked over the Royal Library. It was an impressive structure, not far removed from the Princesses' castle. It was designed in much the same way, though where the Castle was expansive, the library reached high from a fairly small footprint.

Its current guests made their way out to the street after the lightning bolt awoke them. Pinkie Pie was the first to emerge. Upon exiting the structure, she noticed something strange.

It wasn't raining near the door, while everywhere else was subjected to a massive torrential rain.

As the others filed out, they also noticed this peculiarity.

"This ain't right," Applejack said. "Why's it this spot's totally clear?"

"I'm not sure, Applejack," Twilight Sparkle said as she began to concentrate. "Girls, be on guard."

The other four nodded in agreement and started to look around.

"Oh, come on," a familiar voice said from the sky. "Can't I give my friends a brief little dry spell before I drown them? What kind of friend would that make me?"

Twilight Sparkle looked up, and the rest of the girls soon looked skyward as well. Nightmare Spectrum was looking down at them from a hole in the clouds.

"That's not funny," Pinkie Pie said, sorely. "Why are you doing this, Dashie? Don't you care about us anymore?"

"Like you cared when you left me to rot in that hospital room?" Nightmare Spectrum retorted. "You guys abandoned me back there... all except you, Twilight Sparkle. I'd personally like to thank you, by the way."

"Thank me?" Twilight asked. "I did for you what I'd have done for any of my friends in that situation."

"I know. Here, let's just you and me talk for a minute," Spectrum said as her horn began to glow. Small-scale tornadoes began to form at the feet of the other Elements of Harmony. Within seconds, they were all helplessly vaulted into the sky.

"...The Rainbow Dash I know wouldn't do something like that!" Twilight cried as she watched her friends get thrown into the sky. "She'd be fighting alongside us to be stopping something like this, not causing it!"

"Twilight... I said I wanted to thank you for saving me. At least hear me out?" Spectrum asked.

"Let them down," Twilight demanded. "Safely."

Nightmare Spectrum laughed. "Oh, hahaha! You had me going there for a second! I almost thought that might be a threat. You're in no position to make threats. Your magic is still depleted. I know for a fact that you're barely clinging to life as it is. It would be in your best interest to listen."

Twilight Sparkle said nothing as she stared down Nightmare Spectrum. She was wearing a fierce look of determination on her face. Underneath that, though, she knew Nightmare Spectrum was right. Her magic was barely stable enough to move a quill across parchment, much less wage war with a being whose power was on par with the Princesses. It was taking everything she had just to remain upright on her hooves.

"How would you like to be healed, to be able to use all the magic you'll ever possibly obtain, and most importantly to not suffer my wrath?" Spectrum asked.

"...You've got to be joking," Twilight said.

"Perish the thought," Spectrum said as she tried to project sincerity in her words. "If you hadn't saved me back there, I wouldn't be alive to be creating my beloved Eternal Storm. Everypony's going to find out that you're responsible for all of this. Wouldn't it be better to be under my protection?"

"I've got a proposal of my own," Twilight angrily said. "Give Rainbow Dash back to us. Leave us in peace. Don't force us to banish you again."

Nightmare Spectrum looked like she was thinking about it for a second. "Nah," she said. "I like my idea better. I'm sorry you don't, but I owed you a chance." She released the other four Element Bearers from their tornado prisons and lowered them to the ground. She shrugged as she flew down to the ground. "I guess you'll just have to fight me."

"So be it," Twilight Sparkle said as she signaled to the other Element Bearers. "Forgive me, Rainbow Dash." She channeled what little magic she had into the Elements' banishment spell. Her Element tiara magically appeared on her head.

The necklaces of the Elements of Generosity, Kindness, Honesty and Laughter appeared on their respective bearers as well. Their own innate magics served to give Twilight a boost. She began to levitate off of the ground and the others soon followed suit. As she opened her eyes, they gave off a white glow that lit the area.

Nightmare Spectrum yawned at the display. "Lame," she quipped.

The show of nonchalance was not enough to deter the Elements' determination. They soon marshaled enough power for the banishment spell. As they began to form the rainbow beam that would banish Nightmare Spectrum, however... the power cut out, and they all fell to the ground.

"Was that all?" Nightmare Spectrum asked. "Soooo pathetic. I actually thought you five might be a threat to my rule. I mean, the Princesses put up a way better fight... before I banished them."

The revelation of the Princesses' fate shocked the five Element Bearers. Twilight spoke up. "You... what?"

"Didn't I tell you? My bad," Spectrum said sarcastically. "You see, they came to my factory in Cloudsdayle and tried to stop me. They put up a decent fight, but they lost. I decided to send them each to their respective heavenly body. I banished Luna back to the moon, and Celestia to the sun. I doubt they'll survive much longer, as magically drained as they were."

"You're a monster," Applejack growled.

"You're one to talk," Spectrum retorted. "Your words had me wanting to kill myself, as if breaking my wings hadn't done that already. Honesty hurts when the motivation behind it is anger. No wonder you're no threat."

Twilight was struggling to remain on her hooves with the last of her magic depleted. "Magic is powerless."

Applejack was becoming more furious by the second. "Honesty is being driven by malice."

Rarity was unsure what to think anymore as her own magic was nearly gone as well. "Generosity has nothing left to give."

Pinkie Pie could no longer force a smile upon her face. "Laughter has lost her smile."

Fluttershy was hiding behind the others - not because she was scared of Nightmare Spectrum, but because she was scared she would lose control of herself. "And Kindness is close to giving in to her rage."

Nightmare Spectrum laughed. "In the end, you're no threat to me. I'm the only one being true to my Element here... I'm still loyal."

"That's a lie!" came a shout from down the street.

Nightmare Spectrum and the five Element Bearers looked over to see the source of the shout.

It was Scootaloo. She was battered, bruised, limping, slightly singed and soaking wet, but she was still alive and defiantly charging towards Nightmare Spectrum. "You have no right to call yourself loyal after you tried to kill me!"

"Oh, look, the little ostrich finally pulled her head out of the sand," Nightmare Spectrum taunted. "It's about time you stopped your silly little hero worship. We're all flawed. All broken. Nopony is perfect."

"Enough!" Scootaloo cried. "Just stop it! You're not Rainbow Dash. You're nothing like her. You're nothing like she could be even at her worst!"

"She's right," Applejack said. "Dash an' Ah might be rivals on the field an' the track, but she'd never try to hurt us on purpose."

"She wouldn't tease or taunt us," Pinkie Pie said, "and she wouldn't try to hurt us by laughing at us when we're down."

"She... she wouldn't hurt anypony, ever," Fluttershy said as she stopped hiding behind the others.

"If we had nothing left to give, she would give everything she had to help us out," Rarity said, standing defiantly.

"Rainbow Dash was the best friend any of us could ever have," Twilight Sparkle said.

"She was a hero," Scootaloo said as she joined the Element Bearers. "She is a hero... and she'd want us to show how loyal we are to her by freeing her from this Nightmare!"

The Element of Loyalty necklace appeared on Scootaloo's neck. Its gem remained in the design of Rainbow Dash's cutie mark, however. She felt a newfound surge of strength as it appeared.

Nightmare Spectrum was in shock as the Element of Loyalty had found a new bearer. "This can't be," she said. She quickly summoned a powerful windstorm to knock the Element Bearers away before they could get their bearings. "Enough of this. You still can't stop me. You'll never stop the Storm!" She quickly flew back up over the clouds, which closed up behind her.

She was gone.

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

The Element Bearers gathered back inside the Royal Library to try to figure out their next step. They figured out quickly that while Nightmare Spectrum may be overconfident and cocky, she wouldn't make the same mistake twice. In order to defeat her for good, they'd have to make their way up to Cloudsdayle.

That would be problematic for them, though. It would take immense amounts of magic for Twilight Sparkle to cast a cloudwalking spell on herself, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Applejack. Even then, they needed a way up there, and the winds had only grown stronger since Nightmare Spectrum left. They would be unable to use a balloon to reach the cloud city, and Fluttershy was nowhere near strong enough to carry the other five of them, especially in these winds.

Scootaloo's brief flirtation with flight had ended as Nightmare Spectrum had stripped away the magic that let her soar to Cloudsdayle in the first place - but even if she could still fly, she just wasn't strong enough to take an adult passenger.

"Perhaps we're trying to approach this from the wrong angle," Rarity pondered. "What if we tried to use the Elements to free the Princesses? Surely they're good for something other than banishment magic?"

"Good theory, Rarity, but I don't exactly have a spellbook that explains what else the Elements can do..." Twilight said, peering up at Spike. He had been busy checking the shelves of the library since Nightmare Spectrum's arrival, to no avail.

"I've been looking!" the young dragon cried to make that point clear.

"There's also the fact that we've got Scootaloo along with us now," Applejack said. "Ah ain't gonna argue with the Elements pickin' her, but she's a liability if we gotta fight."

"I am not a liabil... libeli... whatever that is," Scootaloo protested. "I can take care of myself!"

"It's out of our hooves, Applejack," Twilight sighed. "The Elements chose her just like they chose the rest of us. Who better to exemplify Loyalty than Rainbow Dash's own protege?"

Scootaloo leaned over to whisper to Pinkie Pie. "Was that a compliment?" she asked.

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie said, no longer having to fake her own Element. For the first time since all of this started, she felt hope in her heart. "Twilight means that since the Elements had to pick someone other than Dashie, you're perfect because you're a lot like her."

"Yes, it's the ultimate compliment," Fluttershy affirmed.

"Awesome!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"It is, isn't it?" Twilight asked, laughing quietly. With the Elements complete once more, her magic was regenerating at an accelerated rate, and she was using some of that to patch her own wounds. "We can't get to Nightmare Spectrum with the winds being so bad. There's got to be another way..."

"How about this, Twilight?" Spike asked from overhead. He was waving a book. "It looks like one of Princess Celestia's old diaries!"

Twilight gasped. "No, Spike! Those are the Princess's private thoughts! Why is that book even here?"

"I don't know, Twilight," Spike replied, puzzled. "I looked over this same shelf twice already tonight, but didn't see it before."

"It's a sign!" Pinkie shouted. "I think she wants us to read it!"

"Works for me, Pinkie," Applejack said. "Spike, toss it on down here!"

Spike tossed the book down to the girls. Twilight caught it in her resurgent magic and opened it up. What she saw had her in shock, then smiling.

"What is it?" Scootaloo asked.

"I don't believe it. It's a failsafe spell!" Twilight said. "Princess Celestia crafted this spell in case something ever happened to her and Princess Luna had to be released from the moon. It's a reverse banishment spell!"

"You mean you can bring the Princesses back?" Scootaloo asked, excited.

"No," Twilight said sadly.

Scootaloo frowned.

"It means we're going to bring the Princesses back!" Twilight exclaimed happily. "We've got our chance!"

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

Nightmare Spectrum stood on the highest storm clouds she had created, looking up at the sky. As long as she remained up there, she figured, the Elements of Harmony were no threat. They couldn't reach her up there, and the only ones capable of aiding them were locked away in the sun and moon, respectively. The storm clouds would continue to spread even without her direct intervention. She had won even with the Elements of Harmony reunited.

She looked up at the Mare in the Moon and laughed maniacally. While she wasn't looking, however, the moon itself began to glow.

When she opened her eyes, the Mare in the Moon was gone...