A Ponified version of The Protomen's Megaman inspired rock opera; Act 2: The Father of Death.
A story of love, betrayal and revenge - Light Up The Night follows Shining Light--a brilliant tinkerer whose father died in a horrific mining accident. Shining swore upon his father's grave he would make things right and began working to partially automate the mining operation. His inventions revolutionized the industry and made the city a hub of technology. Eventually he would take on an apprentice, Wiley Hooves, who was just as gifted as Shining. Together they worked to bring the city into a new age but their disagreements eventually drove them apart. With a split of their partnership imminent, Wiley Hooves frames Shining Light for murder and takes full control of both the company and the city.
“You think that they’ll surrender if you bind their working hoof, but they are strong…”
“Just wait and see…”
“We will build cities in a day.”
“Ponies would cower at the sight.”
“We will build towers to the heavens.”
“Ponies were not built for such a height.”
“We will be heroes!”
“We will build heroes!”
“They’ve waited so long for this day, someone to take the death away, no son would ever have to say, my father worked into his grave. We sleep tonight with hooves of bone, and we’ll awake with hooves of steel, with these hooves we will destroy, and with these hooves we will rebuild.
“And we will stand above a city, rising high above the streets, from tops of buildings we will look, at all that lies beneath! And we will raise our hooves above us, cold steel shining in the sun! With these hooves that will not bleed, my father’s battle will be won!”
“So be it.”
At the end of the argument the two ponies simply glared at each other—partners on the project for five years—friends for even longer—now grown bitter. Shining Light threw his lab coat onto the floor and left the building, leaving his partner with the monstrosity he’d built.
The device was not what Shining had envisioned when the two had started the project. The original design called for a pony to operate the suit, but Wiley Hooves had modified it to have a mind of its own, simply stating, “If you remove the ‘working parts’ you get a different machine.” It was all about the money. It always had been for Wiley. He was so bright, so gifted, but his visions were clouded by greed. To automate the workforce and put hundreds—thousands out of work would indeed have made the two very wealthy. His argument was that it would make life better for the workers who risked their lives in the mines every day. In actuality he’d been sick of doing what he called “charity work”, giving everything to them and asking nothing in return.
Shining Light walked the streets of the city; passing the electric lights he had created to replace the old kerosene ones of years past. The city had flourished thanks to his and Wiley’s work. What was once a poor mining town now stood as a technological marvel to all of Equestria. If only his father could have seen it…
Shining was the only son to come from his parents and they gave everything they could to ensure he had a bright future. His father worked the mines to the day it took his life, stealing him from his son, and stealing him from his wife. Shining swore upon his grave that someday he would make things right. So he learned how to bend steel, learned how to make it move, and watched as it withstood all the hell they put ponies through. He made safer mining equipment for the workers and saved hundreds of lives with his inventions. The demands for better equipment came in increasingly large quantities, and while he was happy to help, Shining couldn’t do it alone. He took on Wiley Hooves as his assistant and they quickly became friends. Together they brought the city into a new era.
With the S&W Towers behind him, Shining made his way to his apartment at the edge of the city. The retinal scanner he’d invented himself beeped in confirmation and the door slid open for him. He let himself inside and slumped onto his bed. The argument he’d just had with his long time friend was still playing through his head on a loop and he pulled a pillow over his head.
He embraced the silence and breathed deeply into the pillow, catching a whiff of his lover’s scent left over from a prior visit. Why had this all begun? For his father, of course. But why had it continued? For her—the one he loved so much. He wanted nothing more than to help.
“Everlilly.” He spoke her name softly as he exhaled. Slowly, he drifted to sleep. When he next opened his eyes he was not in his bed, but on top of a scrap pile. Rusty gears and bolts shifted beneath his hooves and he tumbled down the metal slope. When he landed he stood and surveyed his surroundings. There were piles of metal all around him—higher than most buildings in the city. He located the tallest one and made his way to the top. After what seemed like miles he reached the peak and looked out at his surroundings in horror.
The sea of scrap stretched for miles before coming to an end at the charred remnants of the city. The S&W Towers still stood in the middle, churning out plumes of smog from the smokestacks. Shining tried to look away, to escape from the scene before him, but there was nothing but more scrap and destruction. The scrap beneath his hooves gave way and he fell into a chasm within the mound. By some miracle, he avoided being impaled on the girders that stuck out of the floor of the chasm and landed in a pool of thick black liquid.
Coughing and sputtering he swam to the edge of the pool and climbed out. The liquid, which he identified as motor oil, clung to his fur and mane. There were noises coming from the darkness and Shining tried to locate their source. The light from above only illuminated the oil pool, casting warped refractions of light across the chasm. Occasionally a beam would illuminate a figure in the darkness before shimmering somewhere else.
“Hello?” Shining called into the darkness. As if that was the signal, a dozen or so red lights lit up and began moving from the darkness towards his location. They were machines, similar to the one he and Wiley had built. The soulless abominations grinded and creaked as they approached, backing Shining right up to the edge of the oil pool. They surrounded him and he turned to the oil pool where he saw a reflection staring back at him.
The Pony of Death stared back from within the pool with glowing red eyes beneath a cloak of darkness. The reflection slowly reached up and lowered the cloak, revealing its true face. “No!” Shining Light shouted. “I am not the father of death!”
He tried to run, only to bump into one of the machines that had come from the darkness; the S&W logo printed squarely across its chest. Backwards he fell, into the pool, into the darkness, drowning, dying. He closed his eyes and waited for it to end, to be over with and when seconds turned to minutes with nothing happening, he opened his eyes.
It had all been a dream. But what had it all meant?
Wiley Hooves sat at his work bench, scratching at his head as he went over some of Shining Light’s notes. Several strands of his black mane fell onto the paper and he swept them away absent-mindedly. He was so engrossed in his studies he didn’t hear the lab door open and close as Shining Light strode in.
Shining made his way over to his partner and kept from looking at the prototype—which stood in the center of lab; wires and cables hanging from it like artificial umbilical chords. The suit Shining had designed for the miners now contained a soulless, faceless, mechanical being—a late addition by Wiley.
“Wiley, my friend, can we talk?” Shining asked, tapping on his partner’s shoulder.
“Have you reconsidered?” Wiley asked, closing the notebook and turning to engage the doctor’s request.
The first thing Shining noticed was the bald spot on Wiley’s head had grown larger—an indication he’d been deep in thought, hard at work on a new and greater project. “No,” Shining began, “this isn’t about the project.”
Wiley raised an eyebrow. “Then what is it?” he asked slowly.
“It’s about the company; everything we do, everything we’ve done…it’s—”
“What we’ve done is make the world a better place. Don’t you see? The ponies; they rely on our machines, and so long as we turn the wheels, they will follow anywhere we lead.” Wiley stood up and walked over to the prototype.
“But where are we leading them—a world run by machines?”
“Is that so bad?” Wiley asked, inspecting the prototype’s visor.
“Wiley!” The outburst shocked both of them and Shining took a deep breath to regain his composure. “I started this project to help ponies—not take away their jobs and line my own pockets. It seems that’s where we differ. I’m shutting down the company and taking my work elsewhere.”
“What?! You can’t do that!” Wiley shouted. He quickly approached his partner and cornered him before he could take another step. “You took Everlilly from me, don’t you DARE take this from me too.”
Shining swatted Wiley’s hoof away from his chest and pushed past him. “Goodbye, friend.” Without another word, Shining left the lab, Wiley’s shouts falling on deaf ears. In the morning, Shining would deal with the legal headache and public backlash of closing a company that created a city, but for now he was off to pack. The city would be fine without him, perhaps even better without him. The dream was a warning; his creations would slowly destroy everything he loved.
He would ask Everlilly to come with him, her being the one thing in the city he loved most. She worked the mines with the stallions of the city; working her hooves until they would bleed. Some of the pain that she endured would bring a stallion to his knees. Shining only wanted to help.
The crowds on the streets parted for the doctor as he walked back towards his house. They admired him and wouldn’t understand why he had to leave them. His inventions would no doubt be used for years to come, but they need not be advanced any more.
The door to Shining’s home opened and shut as he entered. He fished around in a drawer for a paper and pencil and set to composing a letter to Everlilly. Words were much easier written than spoken and Shining thought it best to give Everlilly a night to think over her decision. After several failed attempts at explaining the situation and his feelings, at last he thought he had the right combination of words.
Last night I dreamed I climbed to the top of a mountain of metal and for miles I could see the destruction of our land. It was all my fault. It was my machines. I created them. No matter how pure my intentions, Wiley seeks to use our inventions for profit and exploitation. I refuse to pull the trigger of the gun I built; the one he holds in his hoof.
The prototype—the one I told you about—it’s complete. With Wiley’s modifications, it would surely be the machine to make my nightmare a reality.
My darling, Everlilly, everything that I’ve done, I have done for you…but it’s turned out all wrong. Can I take back Can I turn off this machine before it destroys everything that I’ve loved? I will find a way to make this right, I will find a way, Everlilly, and I will not be the father of death!
We must get out of this city, together, start somewhere else, somewhere new. Please. I’ll await your reply.
Your Shining Light
Though it had not come out quite as well as he’d wanted, Shining sealed the letter and caught the mail mare as she was about to depart. With his letter in her bag, the mail mare trotted off up the street.
Hours later, Everlilly arrived home after a day of work. A letter with Shining’s sloppy hoof writing stuck out of the mail slot of her door. She grabbed it with her teeth and let herself in. As she read over the letter she shook her head and felt a knot in her stomach. Words came more easily to her than to Shining and she quickly wrote out her response on stationary of her own.
As she was sealing the envelope a knock came at the door.
Shining paced the floor restlessly. He knew she would go with him but doubt kept forcing its way to the front of his mind. The sun was now sinking below the skyline and the electric lamps in the streets were coming on. Shining threw on his brown over coat and set off to walk the city.
The S&W towers were now lit up and Shining let himself inside. Perhaps Wiley was still there, toiling away at a new project. The lab was dark however and Shining flipped the switch. The lights clicked on and he slowly entered the room. Everything was as he’d left it; algorithms were written out on a chalk board, blue prints and wiring diagrams were scattered on the lab tables, his notebook was still open on Wiley’s desk—the only thing that was different was a sheet now covered the prototype.
Maybe Wiley had given up. The thought was just wishful thinking. Shining approached the sheet and put his hoof to it. Whatever was beneath the sheet didn’t sound or feel metallic and Shining pulled the sheet off with his teeth. Beneath was a wooden model he and Wiley had used to design the exoskeleton of the original suit…but where was the prototype?
“What are you doing here?” Everlilly asked, keeping the door open only enough for Wiley to see her face.
“Let me take you away,” he replied, trying to ease himself into her home.
She kept her hoof planted firmly against the door and refused to budge. “I’m not going anywhere, especially with you. You know my heart belongs to Shining Light.”
“He will be nothing when this runs its course.”
“He will be everything that a stallion is meant to be.”
“No. He won’t.” Wiley forced himself past Everlilly and she backpedaled to prevent him from venturing any further into her house. “We could already have this city eating from our hooves, but he refuses to take what we’ve earned. Well I’m not waiting any longer.”
Everlilly glanced at the letter she’d left on the table and Wiley followed her eyes. She put herself in front of it to block his view but he already knew who it was addressed to.
“I’m sure you’ve heard by now he plans to leave the city, abandoning its people, and abandoning his work. He thinks, without him, I lack the ability and resources to achieve my goal.”
“Which is what, exactly?” Everlilly looked at him skeptically.
The stallion approached her slowly and ran his hoof down her cheek, sending a shudder through her body. “Complete control,” he said softly.
She pushed him away and it was he who began backtracking to the door. “He won’t let that happen and there’s something you need to understand.” She began prodding him in the chest with her hoof every step he took. “If the shadow blocks out the sun; there will be Light. If it stays ‘till the sun is set; there will be Light. If the sun never shows its face again; there will be Light.”
With one final push, she had him out the door and looked him squarely in the eyes. “And no matter how dark this city gets; there will be—”
The sentence was cut short as a mechanical pony stepped in front of Wiley and stared at Everlilly with soulless red eyes. “There will be no Light,” Wiley said from behind his creation. With the hissing of hydraulics, the machine began backing Everlilly into a corner. “Farewell, my love” Wiley said as he shut the door.
Shining Light ran as fast as his hooves could carry him. He had to make sure Wiley hadn’t done anything foolish, but most importantly he had to make sure Everlilly was okay.
Rain began falling lightly from the dark sky. The streetlights glowed through the darkness; small beacons which Shining followed all the way to Everlilly’s house. When he arrived, the door was closed, and he stood panting and dripping beneath the balcony light. He rapped his hoof on the door and waited for a reply.
“Everlilly! It’s Shining! Please open the door!” he shouted. There was no response and as he strained to hear inside, the wailing of police sirens broke the silence. Motorized carriages with flashing red and blue lights were approaching from the distance. Without thinking, he burst down the door of the house.
Everlilly’s limp body lay on the floor, a single slash across her throat where her life had bled out onto the carpet. Shining got down onto his knees and held her to him, sobbing uncontrollably.
The sirens were growing ever closer and Shining set his deceased lover tenderly on the floor. His coat was covered with her blood but he didn’t seem to notice. A letter addressed to him was lying on the floor with a single blood-drop on it. He slipped it into his pocket and slowly made his way to the door, hoping to explain to the police the situation. Their lights shone on him and he held his hoof over his eyes.
“Stay right where you are, Doctor Light!” a voice shouted from beyond the glare. He was more than happy to comply but a sudden noise from within the house caused him to turn around. The prototype stood facing him, blood gleaming off a blade attached to its metal shoe. “I said stay where you are!” the voice shouted.
The prototype stood over Everlilly’s corpse, challenging him to respond. He looked at it with fiery hatred and took a step toward the machine. The second his hoof landed, the prototype turned around and dove through the window, smashing though the glass like it was nothing. He ran to the window and looked out into the darkness.
“What the Hell was that thing?”
Shining turned to see two officers standing in the doorway, one of which had asked the question. Their guns were drawn and aimed at the doctor. “Don’t move!” the other officer shouted.
Without a moment to think, Shining dove through the window after the prototype with the discharge of firearms behind him. The bullets whizzed past his ear as he hit the ground running.
News reporters, journalists and curious onlookers gathered outside the S&W Towers as Wiley Hooves prepared to speak. Hours had passed since the word had gotten out that a mare was murdered by an invention of Shining Light’s, and Wiley had been hard at work. The throngs of ponies had gathered to question the doctor about his partner but he was more concerned with revealing his latest masterpiece; a giant screen atop the S&W tower. Before anything else, he had to address the public’s nagging questions.
“Tonight the streets are red with lights, some blue and blinding. No sign of the Good Doctor but the sirens wail and whine and tell us he’ll be found. I can almost hear the hounds.
“What kind of stallion builds a machine to kill a mare? No, he did not use his hooves like us, my friends, he used a tool! But just the same…Can you question who’s to blame?”
The sea of reporters went into a frenzy with questions, all holding their microphones and cameras up to the podium. “What was her name?” was shouted in unison by several over the noise.
“Doesn’t matter,” Wiley said coldly, “Now listen. The Good Doctor has to pay!” He stepped away from the podium as the reporters continued throwing questions at him. Quietly he spoke to himself, “When I say he was a monster, when I set fire to his name, it does not matter where you hear it from ‘cause the truth and lies get said all the same.” Turning once more to the podium he shouted, “Whatever’s on the table plays!”
With a smile he waved to the crowd and stepped behind a curtain. Guards on either side of him escorted him to an elevator within the tower. The doors closed and it ascended to the top most floor; the city below nothing more than a sea of lights. Wiley withdrew a key from his suit pocket and inserted it into a door labeled “Private”. Inside was a single chair, an unopened bottle of champagne, a glass box containing a red button and a somewhat out of place fireplace. He sat in the chair and swiveled it to look out window.
He slipped the key back into his pocket and withdrew a faded photograph taken many years ago. “There is a flame that I’ve been fanning, there is a fire waiting to catch, there is a Hell that has been building from the moment we first met. If there ever was a time, if there ever was a chance, to undo these things I’ve done and wash the bloodstains from my hooves, it is past and been forgotten.
“These are the paths that we must take, ‘cause you and I Shining, we are but stallions, and we can bend and we can break.” Wiley stood up and walked to the fireplace. As he spoke he let the photograph fall into the flames; the picture of the two doctors—younger and happier—began smoldering. “If you think that you can run, if you think that you can stand, well you know not who turned this city on, you know not who plugged this city in!”
With excitement, Wiley turned to the glass box and flipped it open and pressed the button within. Turbines whirred to life and electricity coursed through cables leading up the roof. The screen Wiley had constructed lit up and cast its light across the city. The ponies below ceased their activities and looked up at the beacon. Wiley’s face appeared bright on the screen and smiled.
Shining Light stepped from the alley he’d been hiding in to find the source of the light that was now illuminating half the city. He saw his former partner’s face on the screen shortly before seeing his own. It was a news broadcast, informing the viewers of his crime. The strangers next to Shining looked away from the screen and recognized the doctor.
“There he is!” a mare shouted, drawing the attention of the others around her. Shining Light looked around in fear and darted back into the alley, trying to hide from them and the lies.
The news broadcast ended and an ad appeared for Wiley Corp’s “new” line of defense bots which would be available the coming week.
The cork flew across the room and Wiley poured himself a glass of the bubbling liquid. He brought the glass to his lips and smiled. “One by one, they’re tuning in.”