Luna only wanted to be acknowledged, and when a pony finally favored the night, she was determined to make him happy. Yet destiny was set to tell a different story and turn her dream into a nightmare.
Eclipse: Part 1
Chapter 1: The Princess and the Oddball
The sun sunk in the horizon in fair Equestria, the last of its light shining upon the magnificent capital palace for the day. Canterlot became still, as princess Celestia lowered the large ball of fire and her sister stepped out to take her turn as the ruler of the night. With practiced care, Luna made the moon rise to the center of the skies, its fully visible surface reflecting the light of the sun. The younger princess sighed, a reflection, that was all she was, a mere reflection of her sister. Yet kind Celestia could not imagine the bitterness that was building up in Luna's heart, foolishly caught up in her own optimism. "Have a good night, Luna," the elder alicorn smiled and departed for her royal chambers, leaving the younger standing alone in the castle tower.
Luna looked towards the distance and found nothing of interest. There was no activity, as if the land was dead. Hearing hoof steps, she longed for the company of the origin of the sound, even if it was only a guard passing by. Starswirl, an elderly bearded unicorn stallion with a white mane, arrived. "Greetings princess Luna."
Luna smiled, "Greetings, Starswirl!" Good old Starswirl would keep her company. He would gaze at the beautiful stars and ramble on and on about the constellations. She would lend an ear and her night would not feel so lonely. "Will you be studying the stars tonight?"
Starswirl cringed a little at Luna's loud excited voice, but didn't mind too much, as he knew what a good listener she could be. His eyes scanned the area around the tower as he replied. "Not tonight, I just came for my notes, ah, there they are." He levitated a scroll that had been left next to the telescope by the window. "I need to get up bright and early tomorrow for the astronomy lecture."
"Of course..." Luna's voice lowered in volume as she heard his answer, though caught in his excitement, Starswirl didn't notice.
"Have a good night, Princess Luna," the unicorn stallion was gone, his hoof steps fading into silence.
Luna let out a lonely breath and looked out at the sky. Starswirl was happy with his job as a professor in Celestia's new school. Yet that meant he had become more diurnal to be able to impart his lessons. It was all mostly theory and rarely did he take his students in expeditions to learn about the stars from the stars rather than from books. It was inconvenient for their schedule apparently. Luna felt bitter to Celestia for taking her dear friend away. Yet she couldn't be angry at Starswirl, Celestia had been his mentor and he respected and admired her very much, he didn't see Luna loneliness. He wasn't cruel, Luna concluded, he was dense and so was Celestia.
Resolving to get some fresh air to clear her head, Luna jumped out the window and spread her magnificent dark feathered wings. The cool night air was nice, but empty. Silence rained supreme, the atmosphere devoid of joy and laughter. As Luna flew over the quiet sleeping Canterlot, she did not expect the sudden noise that shattered the piece. It was the sound of an explosion, certainly not the kind of sound she longed to hear. The night princess rushed to the source of the smoke and examined the damage done to the structure. The edges of the window looked singed and the inside of the residence was a mess from what she could see.
Several ponies were awakened by the noise and were making their way out of their houses to investigate and find the pony responsible for interrupting their rest. Luna blended in with the darkness as the ponies rushed into the house uninvited as she continued to watch from the window.
"This has to stop!" One mare angrily declared.
"We already told princess Celestia about you and she sent you a letter! Nights are for sleeping, sleeping!" A stallion angrily shouted.
"You're always waking us at these horrible hours, why don't you get some sleep and let the rest of us do the same?" Another mare yelled.
"I'm sorry, that wasn't supposed to happen," the stallion who owned the house and had caused the explosion apologized. He was covered in ashes and sticky black oil from head to hoof. His cutie mark was too smudged with grime to be identifiable and other than the fact that he was male, the only other thing Luna could figure out was that he was a unicorn. "It was just a small prototype; I honestly didn't expect it to blow up like that."
"Magnus, always so contrary, always causing trouble, the infamous Magnus Mecha." None other than Starswirl himself had suddenly entered the residence by the door left ajar from the recent entrance of the angry mob.
"Starswirl, you're here for the notes you left in my care earlier, aren't you?" Magnus tried to change the subject and hopefully soften his fellow unicorn's tone.
Starswirl's expression remained carved in disapproval. "Yes, I just realized I had left my notes here. Did I not reinforce the princess' words when I came by? She told you to do your research during the day when other ponies wouldn't mind the noise as much."
"But the night is so calm and inspiring!" Magnus argued as he shuffled through the mess that was his house, looking for Starswirl's notes and fearing the worse.
"The research you are trying to do is strange and dare I say unnecessary. But if you insist on doing it, try not to make it a burden to others," Starswirl frowned. "Don't you see that the darkness is especially inconvenient for those contraptions you build? Precision belongs to the light of day and progress belongs to magic, not to that technology rubbish you keep going on about. Stop it, stop searching, I already know my precious notes were scorched in your latest venture." Starswirl stomped his hoof and his long white beard bristled as if it was going to burst into flames from his sheer frustration.
"It's not rubbish!" Magnus tried to argue, but the older unicorn stallion glared him down. Normally, Starswirl was more patient, but not when his research was adversely affected.
"I have just enough information for tomorrow's lecture, but I'll have to write up my observations again for the lecture later this week. I'll have to spend tomorrow night trying to recover my research. This has gone too far, Magnus, the princess warned you!"
"She even wrote a letter!" A mare emphasized to fueled the fire.
"We're going to have to tell her all about this in the morning," a stallion added.
"The princess will know!" The irate neighbors continued, "the princess-"
"Is here!" Luna jumped through the window, squeezing into the residence as she made the announcement. The ponies backed away with gasps, in fear of the dark figure that had appeared. She was tired of hearing every pony speak of the princess as if Celestia was the only one. "I am Luna, the princess of the night, I shall rule over what transpires during my domain!"
The ponies all looked unsure and neither spoke nor moved a muscle until one whispered, "she's here to punish him." Then the flood of murmurs broke loose.
"She's going to lock him up."
"Isn't that too harsh?"
"She's scary, Magnus is in trouble now."
Luna frowned, feeling her heart break. She was a protector, not a punisher. Their murmurs hurt her, she wanted them to stop, but they wouldn't, they kept whispering about the terrible fate of Magnus Mecha. Was she seen as a symbol of disaster and pain? It wasn't fair; she watched over the land and guided the ponies to a safe rest. Why couldn't they appreciate her beautiful night? Why must they despise her? "Be gone!" Her voice echoed loud and eerie. "Be gone, all of you!"
The ponies ran for dear life, their hoof speedily leading them back to their houses. Doors were slammed shut and windows were hastily closed, until once again, the night was still and silent.
Only Starswirl and the other unicorn, called Magnus Mecha, remained before Luna. With a sudden rush of rebellious pride, Magnus stepped forward, though despite being taller than the average stallion, he wasn't much to look at all covered in oil and grime. "I apologize once again for the loss of your notes, professor Starswirl," he spoke formally, addressing a mentor, rather than a friend. "I also apologize for being unable to attend any future lectures at Princess' Celestia's new academy."
Starswirl was shocked and disappointed. "If that is how you feel." He shook his head and muttered to himself. "I cannot say I didn't try to set you down the right path." Then a sad look overtook his face, "I do feel I have failed you," he confessed to the younger unicorn, anger mixing with true sorrow. I had hoped my spell would help you find your destiny, but alas, I was unable to complete it..."
"Friends don't try to change each other," Magnus muttered.
"I was only trying to put your genius to good use, you're such a good student, you shouldn't let your intellect go to waste. I've never seen a unicorn with potential such as yours. If you applied yourself to studying magic and attended the lectures regularly instead of staying up late and sleeping in class, you could reach a level beyond what I had at your age!" Starswirl insisted for the last time.
Magnus shook his head; he had been frustrated and misunderstood for far too long. "Leave, please, let me take my punishment alone."
Starswirl shook his head. "I know not what you and princess Celestia have discussed concerning Magnus, but please don't be too harsh on him." With those final words, Starswirl left.
Luna huffed, looking fearsome. What she and Celestia had discussed? They had not discussed anything at all! She didn't know who this Magnus was or what he had done. Celestia always took every pony's problems onto herself and didn't share the burden with Luna. They were matters to be solved during the day; everything was a matter of the day. Well, not this time, this was her jurisdiction and Luna would deal with this stallion on her own. "Magnus Mecha!" She addressed him sharply. "You will confess your wrongdoings!"
Magnus frowned, glaring bitterly. "I have done nothing wrong, your highness. I am a researcher, you see. I create mechanical devices that make several tasks easier to perform."
Luna's curiosity was tickled by his statement. "Tasks such as what?"
"Transportation for example, I was working on an engine that could be attached to a cart to carry produce, furniture and the like. Of course, the prototype was much smaller than what the real model would be like. The principal behind it is-"
As the jargon sprouted out of Magnus' mouth, Luna felt her head spin. Great, just what she needed, another rambler and this one made even less sense than Starswirl. She could see why the two had apparently gotten along so well despite their age difference, though it was evident their differences won over what they had in common. "Enough!" Once her booming voice had silenced the stallion unicorn, the alicorn princess continued. "Why would you need this engine device to move things? Earth ponies carry the produce from their farms in carts they pull themselves, those accustomed to farm work are strong, they need no help from such strange devices. As for furniture, there is a fine moving company in the city ran by the Tion unicorn brothers, Moe Tion and Ack Tion are well versed in the art of levitation and perfectly capable of lifting just about anything, even a whole house!" According to their flier at least, as Luna had not actually met them in person or seen them at work.
"But my princess, should we not try to progress if we can?" Magnus adamantly argued. There will come a time when there will be things that magic will not be able to accomplish and it will be through a combination of magic and technology that-"
"Silence!" Luna interrupted. How dare this dirty peasant say that there was something magic could not accomplish? He was a shame to all unicorns! "I asked you to state your crime, not to waste my time with your ramblings!"
Magnus grunted and coldly replied. "My so called crime is that I do my research at night and the noise gets to my neighbors. I understand it can be a bother, as the noise of the busy days around here certainly bother me. This is why I prefer the peace of the night. However, when I try to leave the city to go do my research where I would not bother any pony, the guards always turn me back, saying I should not venture out of the city limits until dawn."
That new information intrigued Luna. She quietly admitted that she liked that he stated and reestablished that he liked the night. He wasn't trying to be inconsiderate, he wanted to go where his noise wouldn't be a problem, but they wouldn't let him leave. "Why not?" She demanded. "Why can't you go out?"
"They say the night is dangerous, but I know how to take care of myself and I won't get lost. The stars will guide me home, as for the possibility of wild beasts roaming the land, I am not afraid; I can fight if it comes to that. Yet princess Celestia confines us to the city because of the dangers of the night. But how can something as serene as the night be dangerous? Foolish ponies that fear the unknown, foolish ponies that fear progress!"
Luna was shocked, she couldn't even find it in herself to speak in the royal Canterlot voice and softly uttered. "Did you just call my sister a fool?"
If Magnus had not been covered in grime, he would have visibly paled, then become flustered as he stuttered. "N-no, I ah... I didn't mean to offend!"
Luna couldn't help it but to laugh, the regal demeanor she maintained before her subjects falling to reveal a more carefree side of her. "It's okay. I guess she kind of deserves it this time." Her voice came out laced with laughter in a friendly tone, rather than the royal Canterlot voice. She cleared her throat and continued in the dreaded volume. "I shall grant you permission to leave the city at night and a scroll with my royal seal to prove it."
Magnus was sure he would be left deaf if this meeting continued, but he was none the less, very thankful that he apparently wasn't being punished, he was being helped. "I am very grateful, princess Luna, I look forward to my next nightly expedition and fruitful research."
As she was quite lonely and curious to know more about any pony who appreciated her nights, despite the stallion before her not looking too inviting to company in his disheveled state, she wanted to see him again. She only hoped that when they next met, he wouldn't be covered in oil, ashes and grime. That was no way to present himself in front of a princess, or in front of any pony for that matter. "I will deliver the scroll personally," Luna offered as an excuse. She was debating what she should say to Celestia about this matter when the elder alicorn was awake. "Tomorrow morning, after I clear some things out."
"Ah yes, you must speak with princess Celestia," Magnus looked a tad worried, wondering if Celestia would agree with her sister.
Luna did not like what she read between the lines and loudly assured. "I am the princess of the night, this is my jurisdiction and the promised scroll you shall have!" Magnus cringed at the sheer volume of her voice, but managed to thank her once more; taking care to show no hints of doubt, least she felt the need to loudly assure him again.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 2: The Accident Prone Academy Drop-Out
When the morning came, the moon was lowered to give way to the sun. Rather than parting ways so that Celestia could rule and Luna could rest, the night princess remained awake. "Is something the matter, Luna? I haven't seen you pouting like that since we were fillies." The sun princess smiled gently, somewhat amused by her sister's expression.
"Yes, there is something wrong," Luna frowned. "Why is it that you didn't tell me about the unicorn called Magnus Mecha? He made a commotion last night and his neighbors were just about ready to chase him out of town, even Starswirl was angry, something about his notes being destroyed.
"Oh my," Celestia shook her head with a frown. She sighed in disappointment as she continued. "Magnus was a fine pupil to Starswirl, but the two never got over their differences in research. Though I must admit that Magnus' experiments often go wary, I had hope that with Starswirl's guidance, he could put his intellect to good use, he is certainly very smart. I suppose there was something more that was needed for that to work out. Though Starswirl recognized Magnus' talent and Magnus admired Starswirl greatly, they were a student and a mentor and at times even research colleagues, but not really friends. Friendship is what would make those differences tolerable, even complimenting."
"Tia!" Luna interrupted. "That's not the issue! If Magnus wants to conduct his research at night, why shouldn't he? I know the neighbors are disturbed by the noise, but he has offered to go out of the city so that the noise doesn't reach them! Why did you forbid him?"
"It is dangerous to leave the city walls at night," Celestia reminded with insistence. "Perhaps when the kingdom grows and more ponies settle in the lands to the south, the beasts of the Everfree Forest will no longer venture so close to the Canterlot borders at night."
Luna grunted and labeled the discussion as a lost cause. It was no wonder no pony enjoyed the night, Celestia had turned it into a prison!
"Luna..." Celestia tried to reason with her sister.
"Alright, alright, I understand. Just let me take of this, my citizens should count on me too, not just you. I'll find a place for Magnus to conduct his research where he's safe and doesn't bother any pony, leave this to me," Luna insisted.
Seeing her sister so adamant to help, Celestia agreed. "Very well, I will entrust this task to you." After the exchange, the two sisters parted ways. Luna decided that it was best not to write up a scroll for Magnus after all, it was better not to document matters too much, least Celestia stuck her hoofs where they didn't belong. Luna's personally delivered word should be plenty. That meant that she would have to take care of all matters herself, rather than sending a messenger, which she didn't mind, since she was glad to do something for some pony anyway.
xoxox xox xoxox
Luna went to Magnus' house, she decided to walk rather than fly or be transported in her royal chariot. A few people gave her passing glances, she didn't look intimidating when she wasn't speaking in the royal Canterlot voice, though only a few ponies actually recognized her as the night princess by sight, not expecting to see her during the day or at all. Others were clued into the fact that she was a princess because she was a regal looking alicorn, though that was more so logic than true recognition.
Taking a moment to observe the lively busy streets, so different from how they were in the night, Luna stopped in front of a boutique. "Solar Designs, the most beautiful dresses under the sun. Now with a stallion collection too!" She huffed and walked away, couldn't ponies look pretty during the night too? Reaching Magnus' house, Luna found that he was not there. How could he not be when she had told him she was coming? But before her impatience could build up, the sound of a familiar voice caught her attention. Starswirl the bearded was walking down the street along with another unicorn stallion.
The other unicorn was younger than Starswirl, he was tall and well build, she mentally noted, but he looked too much like he could be the poster boy for that line of stallion attire they were advertising in that annoying little boutique down the street. His fur was a soft shade of golden yellow and his mane and tail were a silvery gray, his natural color despite his youth. His eyes were a similar color to his mane, also shimmering in the light. Oh yes, he could certainly be the poster boy for that boutique, and Luna decided that, though most other mares would label him as handsome, she did not find him attractive in the least, not that it was any of her business anyway. His cutie mark, she observed with disinterest, was a metal square with many thin lines running over it and a screwdriver in the middle. It was an odd cutie mark, to say the least. Was he supposed to be a carpenter? One that worked with metal rather than wood?
She did have business with Starswirl though; perhaps he could provide a clue to Magnus' whereabouts. Thus Luna approached the two unicorn stallions, curiously listening to their conversation. "You just need to learn to apply yourself to books a little more. I know that you're trying to research something new and thus it will not be on the books, but you could use the knowledge that has already been recorded rather than experimenting blindly and blowing things up." Starswirl half scolded and half implored.
"Starswirl... I honestly appreciate your concern and advise and I'm glad you're even talking to me after I messed up your notes, but that's just not my style. I rather see things happening than read about them. The branch I'm researching isn't even covered in the academy. I understand the curriculum is still growing, but I just can't wait for it. I would much rather continue my research on my own." The yellow unicorn voiced.
"Very well, I suppose I can't stop you..." Starswirl gave up. "Than this is where we part ways, good luck. Just as he was about to leave, off to give his first lecture of the day at the academy, the elderly unicorn noticed Luna. "Ah, good morning, princess Luna, what brings you here so early?"
"Good morning," Luna automatically replied in a polite monotone, though she didn't think mornings were good. "I was looking for Magnus, have you seen him?"
Starswirl was puzzled by the question. "Of course, he is here..."
Luna looked around. "Where? I thought the house was empty." She gazed around the street for any sign of the scruffy looking black unicorn she thought she saw the previous night, hoping that he at least looked clean this time.
"I'm right here," the yellow stallion spoke up. "I thank you for coming to meet me, princess."
"Oh..." disappointment colored Luna's tone. Mr. Solar Designs poster boy wanna-be was Magnus? She thought he looked better covered in dirt and oil. At least then he didn't remind her of the sun. "I see..." she finally let out a breath, a bit embarrassed not to have recognized one of her citizens who was standing right in front of her only a few hours after their previous meeting.
Starswirl thought little of the encounter, as he figured Luna must have not recognized Magnus now that he was clean. 'That Magnus Mecha is such a foal sometimes,' Starswirl quietly mused. 'Always covered in machine oil, dust, and the stars know what else.' His research became rather messy at times, to say the least. "Well, I must be heading to the academy now, good day."
Luna nodded numbly at Starswirl as he left, then turned to face the suddenly silent Magnus, who clearly didn't know how he should behave in front of a princess. He shifted uncomfortably and figured he might as well show some hospitality. "Um... would you like to come inside, princess?"
Luna was feeling odd standing on the street and more ponies were starting to recognize her. Sure she wanted the recognition, but she didn't like to be stared at like some oddity simply because she had made an appearance during the day. "I shall!" She replied loudly, causing Magnus to cringe.
Magnus let Luna into his house, which was still somewhat messy, but at least significantly tidier than last night. "Can I bring you anything? Coffee? Er... I mean tea? Princesses prefer tea, don't they? Or maybe juice? I have orange and... Oh wait, the orange is empty... There's still some grape left!" He busily rummaged through the kitchen as he spoke. "Hey, I found a cupcake! I mean, would you like a cupcake, your highness?" He held out the cupcake in his levitation.
The cupcake was dark chocolate with white chocolate chips. It looked like a starry night and the sight of it made Luna's stomach growl. Being awake past her usual bedtime was making her hungry. "Your princess thanks you, and grape juice is fine!" Magnus backed away every time Luna said a word, his ear becoming flat on his head. "There is no need to fear," she assured, thinking that he was worried he wasn't showing her enough hospitality. It's not like she expected a breakfast banquet in her honor, she usually ate breakfast at dusk anyway. "I am not displeased and do appreciate your efforts."
"Oh... um... I'm not afraid... It's just that the royal Canterlot voice is... Well, it sounds different from afar than what it does close by." Magnus tried to explain his discomfort as politely as possible.
Luna sipped her grape juice and smiled. "Impressed?" It was always good for the ponies to be impressed by their rulers, it made them feel safe, she reasoned.
"I was wondering...." Magnus tried to find the proper way to word his request. "Could I hear your regular voice, as in not your royal speech voice?"
"Like this?" Luna inquired, lowering her tone.
"Softer..." Magnus muttered unsure.
"Like this?" She repeated more gently.
"Like how you'd speak to..." Who was she close to that was a somewhat normal pony? "Like how you'd speak to Starswirl!"
"Like this!" Luna repeated more loudly.
"That's louder than before..." Magnus backed away.
"Well yes, Starswirl's hearing isn't the best anymore; he must constantly boost it with a spell. But when the spell runs out I have to say: Starswirl, recast your hearing aid spell! Just like that!" Magnus was practically flattened against the wall by the force of Luna's volume.
He slipped down, gently placing a hoof to his temple and muttering, "headache."
"Oh..." Luna blinked, her voice going soft. "Last time Tia got a headache I sang to her in this tone and she said she felt better." Though looking back on it Luna bitterly thought the headache was something Celestia deserved for hogging all the royal duties. Even if she was the elder of the two, Luna wanted to help and she felt she should be allowed to do more.
"Yes, that tone is very nice, princess..." Magnus finally breathe in relief.
"I shall use it then. I suppose it's only natural that you're prone to headaches if your research exposes you to constant explosions," Luna nodded to herself.
Things were not supposed to blow up and though they sometimes did, Magnus certainly wouldn't say that it happened constantly. Plus he wasn't prone to headaches without a proper cause, but he wouldn't argue with Luna's logic if it meant keeping her quiet.
"About the purpose of my visit, we are to see the night guards when they begin their shift so that they let you pass. I thought it would be even more official if I told them in person, rather than simply sending a scroll." Luna explained, though she just wanted to keep Celestia out of the loop with the lack of written records. "Afterwards, I'll help you find a place to construct a laboratory of sorts to conduct your research."
"Wow, you'll really do all that? I'm truly honored! I didn't think anyone would ever appreciate my research! I should prepare a few of my best prototypes and show them to you. Oh and there's this one invention that's almost finished, I think you'll like it. I'll give it to you as a gift as soon as I stabilize it!" Magnus went on and on filled with excitement.
Now it was Luna's turn to cringe. Though it was nice that she could be getting a gift for once, as Celestia often got many, she didn't want a gift that blew up. His statement about stabilizing whatever the mystery item was did not go well with Luna. "It's okay... you don't need to go out of your way to repay me, I'm only doing my duty after all."
"Oh, but I must repay you!" Magnus insisted. "No one has acknowledged my research like you have or offered to help so much. Not to sound ungrateful, but all princess Celestia did was refer me to Starswirl. I was overjoyed to meet my idol, even if we have our differences and I still respect him very much, but to have my own research laboratory has always been my dream!"
Luna was left speechless. Finally she was being appreciated more than Celestia and that had been her dream. "You need not worry; I will make sure your dream comes true."
xoxox xox xoxox
After her meeting with Magnus, Luna return to the Canterlot castle and slept. She got up at dusk, just in time to cheerfully place the moon in the skies. She smiled up at the firmament and barely heard Celestia wishing her a good night before retiring to her chambers to rest. She swiftly flew to meet Magnus and they walked to the city gates. He carried some saddle bags with him and given what Luna had learned of him thus far, she wasn't sure if she wanted to know what kind of contraptions he had in there.
"Who goes there?" Two pegasus guards, one white with blue hair and another gray with green hair guarded the gates.
"It's the princess!" The white pegasus gasped.
"Princess, what brings you here tonight? Is all well?" The gray pegasus inquired.
"All is well," Luna insisted with a hint of frustration. Did everyone see her as a barer of bad news? A nightly visit did not mean there had to be a dire emergency. "I am here to inform you that Magnus Mecha." She glanced at the unicorn stallion who accompanied her. "Is to be granted permission to go out at night as he pleases. You will inform any guards who are active in the night shift and no one else." The two pegasus looked at each other in puzzlement, until Luna's voice snapped them to attention, "understood?"
"Yes, princess!" The guards exclaimed in unison. They thought that perhaps that unicorn had some kind of secret mission assigned directly from the princesses. Yet the need to know basis secrecy was unsettling to them. None the less, they did not question Luna's orders.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 3: Battles and Bonding
Luna and Magnus left Canterlot and began to walk towards the general direction of where the Crystal empire used to be. The entire dominion had vanished recently by King Sombra's curse and no one knew when or if it would return. It was a fairly secluded area now that the crystal ponies were no longer around and Magnus had expressed his curiosity to study the remnant energy waves in the premises.
The investigations upon the land that formerly held the Crystal Empire had concluded with little to report. If anything, further research might uncover something useful, plus the area wasn't being used for anything anyway. Thus Luna saw no problems in allowing Magnus to settle there. Yet the way there was long and the alicorn and unicorn were not alone.
"Looks like the border of where the Crystal Empire was is still a way off. I'm really grateful you're coming with me, princess. And thank you for listening too."
"Sure..." Albeit quite frankly, his ramblings did little more than confuse Luna. She felt almost compelled to say something about it. "Maybe I'll have a clearer idea of what you're trying to say when I see it."
"Of course, seeing things is always far better than hearing or reading about them!" Magnus immediately agreed.
His statement and more so the enthusiasm behind it, made Luna wonder what was more important, her curiosity or her instinct of self preservation. She didn't want to find herself in the middle of an explosion after all, but she couldn't help it but to want to see the dream-like things Magnus claimed he was aiming to make a reality. Yet before she could voice anything further, a loud roar interrupted the pair's conversation.
From the shadows of the thick vegetation that surrounded them a large beast arose. Its dark navy fur bristled as it bore its fangs at them. "Ursa..." Magnus stared at the roaring beast in awe. He had never seen such a creature in anything other than text book illustrations before.
"Ursa major! Run!" Alarmed by the beast that seemed set on devouring them, Luna pushed Magnus to get him out of his amazed stupor.
Waking up from his daze, Magnus took off in a mad dash along with Luna. "Princess, quick, fly away!"
"No way!" Luna refused. "I can't abandon one of my ponies in life threatening danger!" This was one of the beasts Celestia was worried about. She was the one who guided Magnus out of the safety of the city walls and she was responsible for him. With that realization and great determination, Luna stopped running and turned to face the beast, her horn glowing menacingly.
"Princess?" Magnus stopped to stare at her, bewildered.
"This is my night and I shall have it in peace!" Luna yelled at the ursa in her echoing loud voice. "Be gone, beast!" A beam of light similar to that of the moon flew out of her horn and impacted the ursa.
Yet the strong creature only roared and became angrier. Its massive claw flew towards Luna, who was tackled out of the way at the last moment. "Ow... princess, are you alright?"
Luna gasped. "Magnus, you're hurt!" She examined his side in worry over the crimson liquid that stained his golden yellow fur.
"This is nothing; I've gotten into worse scrapes from my experiments," Magnus winced.
The ursa attacked again, but this time Luna reacted by teleporting herself and Magnus out of the way. She wouldn't lower her guard again; she wouldn't let him get hurt again. "Can you teleport yourself far from here? I must subdue the beast that threatens the peace of my night!"
"I..." Magnus tried to make his horn glow, but it wasn't working. "I'm sorry, I haven't slept in days and I put what was left of my energy into trying to clean the house and make myself presentable this morning. I should have rested before meeting you tonight, but I was so excited about the possibility of having my own laboratory, I spent the day packing in preparation to move into it."
"This is definitely a bad time to be tired!" Luna exclaimed as more beams of moon light flew from her horn to the ursa major with little effect. "I can only teleport myself so far and that's less of a distance with a passenger. You can still walk at least, so go back to the city and have that wound looked at. I'll catch up and help you get there as soon as I'm done here."
"I can't leave you alone with that thing!" Magnus argued.
"You have to, this is my duty!" Luna countered.
"Take this!" Magnus pulled something out of his saddle bag and tossed it to Luna. "Princess, try to make the ursa swallow this!"
"Okay!" Luna levitated the small metal sphere as the ursa swiped its claws at it in annoyance. Then when she saw an opportunity, she threw the small item into the beast's mouth, forcing it to swallow.
"Clear away from it!" Magnus warned and when Luna was out of the way, he pressed a button on a tiny controller and an explosion was heard from within the beast. It cried in pain and rolled around in desperation, with Luna taking to the skies to dodge it. The ursa major retreated in pain and left the ponies alone for the time being. "Are you alright, princess?"
"You're asking me? You're the one who's hurt!" Luna scolded, though her anger and frustration were directed at herself for not being able to protect one of her subjects.
"It's okay, things like this happen, I heal easily enough, must be a mix of unicorn magic and my earth pony side," Magnus chuckled. "I have a first aid kit; I usually pack one in case my research blows up on me."
So he came of a unicorn and earth pony parents apparently. Unicorns had their magic and earth ponies were known to have more physical resilience than the others. Still, the injury looked bad from Luna's perspective, because he shouldn't have been injured at all. He was being escorted by an alicorn princess, a princess who was a tad short on sleep, but an alicorn princess none the less. "Don't move too much, I'll dress your wounds and cast a healing spell, you should be fine by morning, but right now we have to find you a place to rest." Luna levitated some disinfectant and a soft cleaning cloth from the first aid kit as she spoke and began to work. She finished with some bandages and healing magic that would greatly speed up the process. "There, now to find shelter." There was no suitable place to camp near by and they had gone considerably far from the city.
"It's okay, I can keep going," Magnus tried to assure.
"No! You're hurt and it's my fault!" Luna argued. "I'm a princess; I'm supposed to protect you!"
"You're being too hard on yourself, besides-"
"No, no, no!" The royal voice returned to Luna's tone as she stomped her hoofs. Seeing Magnus' unpleasant expression she sighed. "Sorry, now I've given you a headache too. It's just that I've always wanted some pony to rely on me and just when I found someone to help I get him hurt. Let me fix this, I should have the power for long distance teleportation, it's just really hard to keep the orientation right and I could pop out in the wrong place. Once I tried it and accidentally teleported into a cake. I wasn't the only one, as some mare had somehow managed to get herself into the same predicament, coincidentally at the same time as me. I teleported myself to the roof of the building and I could hear a lot of stallions talking from inside, claiming they had seen a mysterious mare pop out of the cake before the second mare came out, but no pony sounded really sure. I'm just glad they recognized me. I do feel sorry for the other mare though, the stallions were certainly making a ruckus. She must have scared them out of their wits, popping out of their cake like that."
Magnus' jaw hung open. "Seriously? That was you at the bachelor party? I knew I didn't imagine it! Er... I mean... That must have been difficult, your highness..."
"Yes..." Luna breathed. "But this time I see no other choice. I will provide the power and channel it to you. I'll take care of everything so that you won't have any mental strain at all. You only need to think of our destination, that way I can't possibly mess up the location. Ready?"
"If you say so... Ready!" Magnus focused on where he wanted to be while Luna channeled her immense power around them both for the feat of a long distance teleportation.
The pair disappeared and reappeared in a wintery terrain, shivering in the cold as snow fell around them and the wind howled. "Oh no!" Luna exclaimed. "What happened?"
"We made it!" Magnus cheered despite being frozen to the bone. "We're in the outskirts of where the Crystal Empire used to be. I can start looking for a spot for my lab now!"
"What?" Luna shouted. "When I asked you to focus on our destination, I meant Canterlot!"
"Oh... sorry..." Magnus apologized.
Luna huffed. "Never mind, I'm too tired now to pull that off again, let's just find shelter and rest. We won't last long in this blizzard."
The alicorn and the unicorn headed to some nearby ruins and found shelter from the storm. It was still cold though, something that Magnus tried to remedy with what appeared to be a small metal box. The box blew out warm air that was pleasant for a while, but soon it ran out of energy. "Looks like it needs more power, sorry I couldn't make it better." At the moment, neither of them had enough magic to spare.
"It's alright; it was good while it lasted. Come here," Luna stood from where she had been sitting in the corner of the ruins. "This is the furthest corner from that piece of missing wall. It's not much, but it's the warmest place. Come rest here and I'll sit in front of you. I might block some of the cold off, though not much."
"I can't let you do that," Magnus refused. "Should your subject not be the one to serve you?"
Luna shook her head. "It's my duty to protect you, that is what a princess must do, put her ponies before herself."
"Equestrian princesses sure are different..." Magnus chuckled.
The statement caught Luna's interest. "Come here, the cold is not so harsh on me as it is on you. I will make it a royal order if I must, and carry you if not even that works. Sit here and tell me what you meant, have you met any other princesses aside from those of Equestria?"
Magnus finally gave in and sat in the corner of the ruins. "I'll tell you, but if you must put my whishes before your own, then sit with me instead of standing there with your wings spread pretending to be a wall. Even if you're strong against the cold, I can't imagine serving as a living barrier is pleasant."
"Fair enough," Luna sat down next to Magnus.
The unicorn stallion became lost in thought for a moment before proceeding with his narration. "It was years ago, I was still just a foal, so I don't remember much. But there were stories in the land where I used to live. The tales spoke of princesses kidnapped by dragons and rescued by valiant knights. Those princesses were beautiful and kind, but they were protected, rather than protectors. Equestrian princesses are strong in every sense of the word."
"The land where you used to live?"
"I didn't always live in Equestria. I come from a continent far to the south east across the sea, beyond the land of dragons. My parents were explorers and wanted to see what was on the other side of the dragons' domain. The expedition was unsuccessful as the vessel that could travel under the water and was to go unnoticed was discovered. It was terrifying," he shuddered at the memory. "They all perished, all but the only child aboard, the foal his parents didn't want to leave behind when they went to live out their dream."
"I washed up on shore and was rescued by buffalo," Magnus continued. "They were kind to me, but I couldn't adapt to their life style and wanted to find a land similar to where I came from. I didn't find it in Canterlot, but I did find ponies who were willing to lend a hoof and the genious known as Starswirl the bearded. I stayed because of him; he inspired me and helped me overcome the hard times. I don't think he knew it though, he thought he was tutoring a young student; he didn't realize how much he did. He was the friend I needed, it's a pity he'll probably never understand that I appreciate him for his kindness as much as his genius. But it's alright, Starswirl's legacy is still an amazing dream in the making and he will certainly always be well known and remembered."
"Wow..." Luna's breath caught in her throat at the story. "I had no idea..." She lowered her head, regretful of triggering such a tragic story.
"There's no need to look sad, princess. I lived their dream, I came to the land beyond the domain of the dragons and how different it is. Machines are not as advanced here and I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to reverse engineer my childhood world, but the magic here is something else," Magnus smiled. "And the royals too. When I was a foal I never would have thought I'd meet, let alone have a conversation with a princess. Princesses were far off dreams to be admired and cherished, but never interacted with."
"No offense, but those princesses sound boring," Luna pouted.
Magnus couldn't help it but to laugh. "You're right; you're a much better princess, your highness."
"Luna," she offered with a smile. "Please, call me Luna. When ponies say princess and your highness, more often than not they speak of my sister. I know you speak of me, but I want to truly feel it, so please," she requested.
"If it pleases you, Luna," Magnus' smile grew, though his drowsiness was getting to him and he couldn't suppress a yawn.
"There is still a few hours until dawn," Luna observed. "There's no much to be done until the blizzard ends, so let's rest for now."
"Yes... I could use some sleep..." Magnus yawned again and lowered his head on his forelegs. "Rest well... Luna..." He drifted off to sleep.
Luna smiled. It felt good to have at least one subject who relied on her and thought she was a good princess. She was being acknowledged; it was what she always wanted. She would show what a good princess she was and keep her subjects safe and happy. Then maybe more ponies would rely on her, then she would never be lonely again. With such optimistic thoughts in her mind, she spread one of her wings over the unicorn stallion next to her to keep him warm and fell into dreamland herself.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 4: Dreams and Rebels
The time for morning came and Luna felt the instinctual pull of the moon. "Five more minutes, Tia..." She muttered as she tried to get comfortable. What she thought was her bed, which was actually the ruined floor, was exceptionally hard. "Hmm... five more... minutes..." She reached out for a pillow, nuzzling against the body beside her and causing the light sleeper to wake up.
As a chronic insomniac, it took a lot of sleepless days to knock Magnus into dream land, and not a lot of sound or movement to wake him. "Where am I? Oh! Lu-Luna?" He twisted his neck as far as it would go, to look at the princess asleep on his back, using him as a pillow.
"Oh, alright, alright, I'm getting up, stop calling me, I'm getting up." Luna stumbled to her hoofs and found a flustered yellow stallion, save for his face which was currently red, looking back at her. "Huh? What? This isn't the castle." Memories came flooding back to Luna, as Magnus was at a loss for words. "Oh! The moon! No you don't, that's my moon, Tia, my moon!" She suddenly rushed off outside to where the blizzard had cleared.
"Luna?" Magnus ran after her, confused by her sudden outburst. She didn't seem to be angry at him at least, but she was certainly upset about something.
Luna's horn glowed brightly as the moon, which had began to be lowered by Celestia from Canterlot, was forced back into the center of the sky. What if she was a little late? That didn't give Celestia the right to touch her moon. "It's mine, don't touch it! You have the sun, the moon is mine!" Luna shouted angrily as she spread her wings and caused rays of silvery light to emerge from her horn. Her eyes began to glow until they turned into pure white lights and sparks of magic flew from her horn.
The ground beneath their hoofs shook violently and strange dark symbols glowed on the cold surface. Rather than being terrified, as any sane pony should be, Magnus was fascinated. He didn't fully understand what Luna was doing, but it had apparently activated the traces of dark magic left behind in the land itself as remnants of King Sombra's curse. He always wondered what truly happened to the Crystal Empire and theorized that it, along with its inhabitants, had somehow fallen off their plane of existence into a different one. Inter-dimensional travel would be absolutely fascinating if he could gather enough information to properly study it.
The dark symbols on the ground dimmed as if sensing that the master of their magic was no more. The runes melted like inky shadows and moved through the ground, pooling together like dense black liquid. Magnus had a bad feeling about it and finally gained the sense to be alarmed. "Luna!" He called out in warning. The dark liquid crawled towards the moon princess and circled the shadow projected on the ground by her glowing form. The strange shadowy substance reached up to her as if to snatch her into its depths and consume her.
"Luna, watch out!" Magnus rushed towards the princess, his horn aglow. Yet his assistance was not needed, as the alicorn was too powerful for a mere remnant of black magic to consume. The shadows were pushed back by a stronger darkness and the silvery light that surrounded Luna turned into fluorescent dark lights that gave the impression of consuming the color of anything around her. The dark power of the remnant curse was diminished and retreated, circling around Magnus instead. He stepped back, but the substance took hold of his shadow as if it was made of flesh and he couldn't move. His horn glowed in a desperate effort, it's light suddenly perceived by Luna's peripheral vision.
The alicorn turned her head to see the yellow unicorn struggling to break free from the darkness around him. "Magnus?" Luna snapped free from her dark trance and rushed to him, her horn's light once again becoming pure silver. A citizen of her kingdom was in danger, her subject needed his princess' protection, he was her pony and she would make sure no harm came to him, because he was hers. He was not Celestia's little pony as she so fondly called her subjects, he was Luna's pony. The night princess let out a silver beam at the shadows on the ground near the stallion and finally caused them to fade in a puff of eerie black smoke. "Are you alright? What was that? Maybe this land's curse really is still too recent for it to be safe here. You're not seriously hurt, are you? Did yesterday's wound open up?" As the words quickly spilled out of her mouth with concern, she looked him over for any signs of injuries.
Magnus shook his head to clear it. "I... I'm fine," he assured in a daze. He recalled the true mission of his parent's expedition. They wanted to conquer a new land, to obtain the legendary magical power rumored to exist in that far off continent that was Equestria. Yet that power could not be obtained, it was a mystery commanded by the alicorn princesses. He only vaguely recalled the memories of a land where the land itself ruled, the seasons changed on their own and the days passed. To think that it was that same sun and that same moon that he later realized were being commanded by the alicorn princesses.
He recalled how he first felt in this strange land of magic. He remembered his experiments and his desire to make them powerful. He remembered his jealousy towards other unicorns who were more proficient in magic than he. How no one understood the world that he was so desperately trying to recreate through his inventions. How the frustration of lost knowledge and lost progress nearly consumed him. He remembered it all as the darkness swirled around him.
Then he remembered Starswirl and how much better he felt under his guidance, and yet, Starswirl was out of his life, he had disappointed his mentor, their goal never matched. No one ever gave him any real credit or help him move towards his goal, not even Starswirl with his old fashioned magic, especially not Starswirl. Maybe Sombra had the right idea in wanting to take over and recreate the world by his own rules, maybe if he took matters into his own hoofs he wouldn't feel so helpless. Curse the alicorns and their power, he could achieve his own power, he would develop his magic and his machines and become like them, better than them. Foolish Celestia, and Luna... Luna... No, not Luna.
Magnus snapped out of his thoughts as he realized that Luna was looking right at him with concern. She was a spoiled alicorn who was handed power on a silver platter at birth, she was a sheltered princess, but she was different. She was kind; she didn't think of him as strange, she showed a sincere interest in his well being. She was not as the royals of his home land; she was the way an ideal royal should be, placing the well being of her subjects first. "I'm sorry; I was a little out of it for a minute there." He realized that his bandages were off, he didn't even feel Luna unwrapping them with her magic.
"Did you get another headache?" Luna consciously kept her voice soft.
"I'm alright, that... Whatever that energy was, it made me a little dizzy, but I'm fine now." Magnus smiled to calm the situation, but his head was still spinning with conflicting thoughts. The remnant energy of Sombra had faded and the thoughts that remained were his own, the thoughts that he pushed away for so long and would have surfaced sooner or later unless they had something to keep them at bay. Ideas, plans and ambitions were born, but he wouldn't do anything now, not if it meant hurting Luna, she was different, special.
"Looks like your injuries are healed," Luna breathe. "This land... It might not be the best place for a laboratory after all."
"Oh no, it's perfect! I mean, think about it, it would be good to understand what's happened here. Ignorance is the most dangerous thing; it can render even the strongest pony defenseless!" Magnus argued. "Besides, I've always had an interest in inter-dimensional travel. If I constructed a machine that amplified the unicorns' teleportation ability, it might be possible to teleport right out of this plane of existence! Of course, the amount of magic needed would have to be tremendous, which means particularly strong emotions, but I've always found them to be an unstable power source. With a sufficient boost, focus and concentration can be used by a clear mind to create a more effective teleportation and-"
Luna tuned out Magnus' ramblings and focused on his expression. He was so happy. She only understood parts of what he was saying, but he was so very joyous at the prospect of having a laboratory close to the former Crystal Empire. Furthermore, he was counting on her for it and she would not let him down. "I'll get you the lab. I'll have the materials for construction brought over soon." Once second Luna was smiling and the next, a familiar sensation invaded her and she growled. "Tia! I'll do it myself, quit touching my moon!" She turned to look into the skies and roughly focused her power, jerking the moon out of Celestia's influence and setting it down. She waited quietly until the sun began to rise, a little later than usual that morning, then she focused her magic on interfering. "You don't like it when other ponies touch your stuff, do you?" She grumbled like a filly whose toy had been stolen.
By then Magnus had realized that there was a sisterly feud going on. Naturally, he would take Luna's side; after all, Celestia never gave him any special consideration like Luna did. She only worried about her precious ponies and their precious sleep. Pursue a career in the academy? No way, he would do things his way. Yet Luna soon fell into exhaustion and released her magical grip on the sun. The giant ball of fire positioned itself properly, slightly recoiling from the tug of war. That day was a hot day, the sun burning furiously with storms on its surface for the rough treatment it received. "Luna?" He watched her with concern as she breathed hollowly.
Luna heaved a big breath. "I'm alright, but I need to have a word with my sister." She began to stomp away, too tired to fly. Wordlessly, Magnus followed after her, with that innate curiosity that Starswirl would often caution him about.
xoxox xox xoxox
Luna and Magnus walked for some time. They were a long way from Canterlot, but the way would soon be shortened as a chariot landed near by. The white and gold vessel was being pulled by twin pegasi wearing royal armor. The chariot landed softly and an upset Celestia stepped out. Luna put on her fiercest scowl and stepped forward. Yet before the moon princess could speak, the sun princess did. "I am very disappointed in you," she scolded.
"Do you have any idea how worried I was?" Hurt and sadness crossed over Celestia's face as she tried hard to keep her gaze firm. "You disappeared from Canterlot, you were late to lower the moon, and when you finally gave any signs of life, it was to throw the day off schedule. Luna, I thought you were hurt; I was ready to spend the whole day looking for you while fearing the worse. You have no idea how I felt when I sensed you tugging at the moon, my heart almost stopped thinking you wouldn't respond. But then you were so rough that I wondered if it was even you. I let the moon go so you could finish properly aligning it, but you didn't, so I thought your initial response meant you were crying for help. I thought I would get my sun duties done and send out the whole Canterlot army combing the land to find you. Then you started pulling at the sun and it made no sense to me at first, then I finally realized that if you had enough power to do this, you couldn't have been injured. What were you thinking?"
"Me?" Luna growled in indignation. "What were you thinking? You made the night a prison, it's no wonder every pony hates it! You took my moon from me. Don't you have enough with your stupid sun that everyone obsesses about? That's my moon, Tia, mine!"
"Young lady!" Celestia's voice escalated.
"Stop it, you're not my mother!" Luna shouted, not realizing that hot tears were streaming down her face.
Celestia let out a little gasp, shocked to the core by the hatred reflected in Luna's cold eyes. How she missed her mother, if their parents were still around, they would know what to do. Luna was always daddy's little princess, if he was still there, he could calm her down. 'Mother... Father...'
"You're in the wrong, Tia, admit it," Luna sobbed. "The moon is mine; the night is mine, why must you steal everything from me? Why did you make them hate me? Is it because you hate me? Do you want every pony to hate me too?"
"Of course not! Don't say that!" Celestia gasped. "Luna, what has come over you?"
"You made them hate the night," Luna's anger was drowned by pain. "You made it so that no pony can enjoy it, they all stay locked up. But I am the night, sister, the night is a part of my very being, if they hate the night, then they hate me!"
"No pony hates you!" Celestia tried to reason. "I decreed a curfew because there are dangerous beings that only come out at night. I don't mean to imprison any pony, it's dangerous to be out here!"
"No, it's not! I'm the princess of the night, I'll protect every pony. They should know they can count on me!" Luna argued.
"I don't want you to be in any danger-"
"You don't want them to love me! You want all the attention to yourself!" Luna interrupted.
"No!" Celestia sighed, suddenly conscious of all the pairs of eyes watching her. There were the guards and Starswirl's former pupil, what was he doing here, anyway? "Luna... Let's just go home and work this out."
"I'm not going," Luna stomped her hoofs. "I'm going to help Magnus build a research laboratory. You're sponsoring your School for Gifted Unicorns, so why shouldn't I sponsor something scholarly? This place will focus on magic and machines, the best of both. It'll advance well beyond your academy and not only that, but it will also capture the interest of pegasi and earth ponies too. It'll be great and every pony will be happy, amazing discoveries will be made and they'll know who helped them make it possible!"
Celestia sighed. "Alright, you can build your own academy in Canterlot," she finally gave in, suddenly exhausted.
"I want to built it here where there's room, next to where the Crystal Empire used to be," Luna kept her expression stony. "Don't say anything about the ursa major because we already chased it off."
Celestia gasped, "that's dangerous!" Luna glared her down and the sun princess let out a tired breath. "It seems you are stronger than I thought. Your power has increased, Luna, but you must not let it go to your head."
At that point, Magnus decided that he had been quiet long enough. "With all due respect, Luna is not letting things go to her head, she's being very helpful and she's doing it for the good of every pony. I'm sure there will be others who will greatly appreciate her efforts too!"
"Well... If that is what our ponies say, then I will not go against their wishes," the sun princess sighed. "Yet still, venturing off like this and taking Magnus along..."
"Celestia!" Luna pouted. Our ponies? There was no our, Celestia had them all but one, he was Luna's pony and she would have more who looked up to her.
"Alright... I'll leave you in charge of the construction, but be warned, you must never throw the cycle of the day and night out of synch again. It was a very irresponsible and inconsiderate action. Now, please excuse me, I will inform the castle staff about the plans. Magnus Mecha, I am very sorry you had to witness all this, please accept my deepest apologies."
To be Continued
Eclipse: Part 2
Chapter 5: Nocturnal Geeks and Reveries
The construction process began for a laboratory at the border of where the Crystal Empire used to be. Ponies busily moved about, transporting materials and setting things up. Luna personally supervised the process during the nights, the construction going on twenty-four seven, employing many ponies in consecutive shifts. Magical orbs of light floated all around, providing additional illumination to the workers during the night.
"Wow, things are certainly moving fast!" Magnus observed with great joy. "And the building is pretty big too, a strong structure of metal, just like I wanted. This is amazing!"
Luna swelled with pride. "I'm glad you like it. By the way, have you thought about inviting more ponies to join you?" She couldn't wait to have a whole group that she could call her ponies.
"Of course! I told a lot of my friends from the academy. They said they would consider it, but sounded unsure. I'm not worried though; this place will be far more advanced than the old academy. When they see the finished building and everything in it, they'll rush over here right away!"
Magnus' confidence was positively received by Luna. "I can't wait!" The pair strolled through the construction site wearing yellow hardhats that the supervisor insisted they should keep on at all times.
The noise of the construction was suddenly interrupted by a loud roar that was strong enough and vicious enough not to be entirely drowned out by the hammering all around. "Monster!" One of the ponies working on the construction shouted.
"Ursa major!" Luna exclaimed.
"After the Crystal Empire disappeared, the ursa might have gotten the idea that they could do as they pleased in this area," Magnus glared at the beasts. He stood still next to Luna while most of the other ponies present dropped what they were doing and fled.
"Every pony remain calm!" Luna loudly called out. "There is no need to worry!" no one really paid heed to her reassurance, as it looked like they had a lot to worry about.
"Hey! It took all day to put that up, don't you dare mess up the foundation!" Magnus recklessly rushed over to the ursa, who was bent on destroying the construction progress.
"Magnus, step back, I did some research on the ursa and I know how to stop it with ease, cover your ears!" Luna stepped forward, chanting a spell that sounded like a lullaby. Her horn emitted silvery hypnotic pulsations as she pushed out her massive alicorn magic in an effort to subdue the beast. The ursa focused on the night princess and prepared to attack, but its movements were slow and drowsy, allowing Luna to easily dodge the sharp claws and fangs. Finally the subdued beast fell into a deep slumber.
As the spell ended, Magnus removed his hoofs from holding his ears down flat. "A magical lullaby? You sure took down that beast easily!" He congratulated. "Luna?" He gazed at her with concern.
She had pushed out too much power at once, hoping to subdue the ursa's mind into a forced deep slumber. "I'm okay..." She stepped forward and stumbled a little. "I'm just not used to that spell yet, but I'll get the hang of it."
Magnus caught her and guided her to lean against him as they retreated into one of the trailers near by. Luna sat down and took small sips out of the glass of water he levitated in front of her. "Hypnotic waves that are projected through sound, but not just any sound, it is rather magic in the form of sound."
"Yes," Luna nodded. "You're pretty observant. It's not physical sound in the regular sense, so speaking louder won't do much. The sound is like a by product of the magic, the physical manifestation of the energy." She had read up on a lot of Starswirl's research while practicing the spell, as the ursa had been sighted getting closer and closer to the construction site and she knew it was only a matter of time before they got too close.
She didn't really tell Starswirl about it, surely he would mention it to Celestia, because he had a tendency to tell Celestia about anything he heard. Then Celestia would wonder about Luna's sudden interest in ways to defeat ursa and it wouldn't take her too long to put two and two together. The last thing Luna wanted was for Celestia to get the idea of calling off the project or relocating it because of any possible dangers. Luna would keep her ponies safe; she would prove how reliable she was.
"Magical vibrations... They are actually remarkably similar to small electric pulses, which can be used by advanced machines. If the pulses are redirected through a circuit board and amplified, then it won't take a lot of energy to create the same effect. The fuel behind the magic itself would still be emotional energy, so a good amount of focus would still be needed, but it won't be so physically tiring." Magnus went on and on about theories and possibilities.
"You mean you can make me a sort of amulet? No, not an amulet, a machine, something that is fueled by magic, but constructed without it," Luna voiced.
"Exactly!" Magnus smiled.
"Magic on magic causes friction, instability and makes it harder to refine, but using magic on a non-magical device makes the result more predictable since it's not about mixing two or more different magical effects, but channeling one. Plus machines are meant to be stable, where magic must be constantly guided by the mind of the caster, least it become chaotic. It would be more balanced and thus easier since only the magical part of it would require energy from the user, rather than the amulet itself," Luna recited.
Part of her explanation was from what she picked up from Magnus' constant geeky ramblings and part of it came from Starswirl's research, which Luna spoke in addition. "This is because magical amulets need energy from the user to activate, thus even if they are meant as a boost of power, they do consume some power. That connection is also what makes certain magical amulets dangerous to activate, as the connection might not be so easily broken and the magic in the amulet might fight against the mind trying to guide it, influencing it rather than only being influenced by it as it should."
"Exactly," Magnus nodded. "With non-magical devices being used to boost magic, there is no problem, since it's all an outside process. Magic is still used as fuel, but there is no two way connection, just a one way willing flow of energy that can be cut off at will any time. All magic is set to carry a will, an inclination, it makes sense, as magic is fueled by emotional energy, but machines have no inclination and will always react as the user commands."
"Except when they blow up," Luna joked.
"Yeah-what? Hey!" Magnus laughed. "I'm making progress though; prototypes hardly ever blow up during their final stages of development."
"That's good," Luna laughed.
"Luna... I want to share some more of my research with you, is that okay?" Magnus inquired.
Explosions? Who cares? No pony had gotten seriously hurt anyway. "Sure!" She might not be a geek like him, but she was very intelligent and caught things when they were explained without the veil of complex terminology. Most importantly from Magnus' perspective, she paid attention to him and showed real interest, perhaps even a fascination with his work. Though for Luna it was more so the joy of having some pony who wanted to share something with her, something that was very important to him. He always listened to what she had to say, even if her words were not those of a scientific researcher and it made her feel appreciated.
xoxox xox xoxox
The laboratory was finished in record time and just as Magnus and Luna had hoped, more ponies joined the research. Magnus had ideas that were radical at times, but he insisted that such things did exist in a far away land and it was perhaps because he has seen them long ago that he even dared to believe it was possible. As the progress continued, more and more followers arrived. Some of the farm south of the outskirts of Canterlot showed interest in several tools. Such tools were designed in hopes of being able to produce things that could be sold and thus fund the laboratory.
It was in a calm night when Luna arrived for her usual visits that she found Magnus busily at work. He was focused on a machine that had a shape like an upside down funnel, the larger part pointing upwards at an angle leaning forward. A sheet of glass was over the top of the metal funnel with a machine filled with glass orbs, tubes and wires at its base and inside it. "Magnus?"
"Luna?" Magnus pulled himself out from under the machine and adjusted his goggles, reaching for a handkerchief that stuck out of a corner of a tool box and wiping the machine oil off the protective barrier over his eyes. "Take some goggles; I don't want this to hurt your eyes if the lights suddenly flicker."
Luna took the offered safety device from Magnus' levitation in her own and put them on. "Is this another artificial light device?" Despite being fond of the darkness of night, Luna found that she really like those lightbulb things. The little ones looked like stars and they came in so many different colors, they were beautiful. Plus she was fond of the fact that Magnus' team did not rely on the sun for light or even on fire.
They took hold of bolts of lightning, learning to control them by a combination and unicorn magic and some assistance from the pegasi that joined he research team. They entrapped the electricity in glass and created a focused beam of light that was more effective for the observation of details than the sun itself. Luna's ponies didn't need Celestia, but they needed her, they were truly her ponies and hers alone.
"Actually, it's more like the opposite," Magnus explained. "It's black light, but not just any black light. It creates a visual illusion that redirects the light around it and creates a bubble of darkness, or at least it's supposed to. It's not finished yet though."
"Oh," Luna curiously tilted her head, not quite understanding the purpose of the invention. Magnus was always trying to achieve something, but she couldn't grasp what it was this time. "What is it for? I mean, I understand the need for lightbulbs and their variations, they create beams of focused light that can be used to observe details. But if you want something to be in darkness, wouldn't you just take it inside and turn off the light?"
"Well, this isn't really a tool, it's more like an artistic challenge, you'll see what I mean when I finish it. It'll be a surprise," he grinned in anticipation. "I did promise you a gift, it was going to be something else, but by the time I finished it and stabilized it so it wouldn't flicker, I realized it was too small. I'm making something better."
"A gift for me?" Luna smiled. "It makes me happy that you want to make it, but you know you don't have to."
"I owe you a lot and I may not be able to repay you yet, but when things really take off and the research reaches a point where we don't break even after every monthly budget, I'll pay you back in full," he promised.
Luna shook her head, "no, no, you shouldn't. As your princess I sponsored your laboratory and it's a gift, you can't pay me for it. Besides, I... I like being needed... Do you hang out with me because you think you owe me?" The dark thought had not entered her mind at all before that time and it bothered her. Of course all ponies liked gifts, all ponies liked being helped, but what was the difference between taking care of her ponies and buying them off?
"Luna... That's not it at all," Magnus tried to explain. "I'm sorry, I've always been independent, that's how I was taught to be as a child and though I couldn't survive on my own as a foal, I'm a stallion now. I have contributed with others with studies and research and we have benefited each other and continue to do so as a team, but I've never relied on any pony since I grew up beyond accepting friendly help. It's not that I don't appreciate what you're doing, I'm eternally grateful to you. It's just that I want to do something for you. I want to feel like I can do that, like I have a power of my own, like I'm good enough. I don't want to feel that I can't do what others can. I want to... I want to be your equal."
"I know what that feels like," Luna breathed. "Every pony always relied on my sister and I never got to do much. I wanted so desperately to do something for some pony, to feel appreciated rather than helpless. I guess I can't blame you for feeling how I felt."
"I'm glad you understand. This is going to be pretty cool, or at least it will be if it turns out how I imagined it. I'm fairly certain you'll like it."
"I can't wait to see it!" Luna laughed.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few more days passed before the strange device Magnus had been working on was finally finished. After one was successfully constructed, creating more wasn't too difficult. The machines were placed around the metal dome that was the laboratory. The machines were angled and ready to go, activating in the distance just as Celestia stepped into the highest castle tower in Canterlot.
The sun princess gasped at a sudden darkness that overtook the border of the Crystal Empire just as she looked in its direction. She spotted Victorious Strong training the guards in the courtyard below and jumped out the window, landing next to the stallion. "Captain Strong, please investigate the border of the Crystal Empire at once. I saw a darkness there that was alarming, and yet I sensed nothing at all. It is strange, but the phenomena is unusual."
"Yes, princess!" Victorious Strong was a unicorn stallion with a deep blue coat and a golden mane. His most striking feature were his ruby eyes. His cutie mark displayed a sword, a fitting symbol for the top ranking captain of Celestia's personal guard.
Celestia wondered if the situation would call for an evacuation of the laboratory. The building was certainly sturdy, an imposing metal dome that was not particularly to Celestia's architectural liking, but had its advantages, she reasoned. Yet still, if this was related to Sombra's curse, no structure was strong enough to keep every pony in the area safe. Yet there was no malice, no magic, nothing. For a moment Celestia wondered if she imagined the whole thing, but it was worth looking into none the less. Plus Luna was there; she sometimes stayed over in the personnel rooms in the lab and didn't come home for days. This was certainly worth looking into, in person.
Celestia took off as Victorious mobilized his troops. "Princess Celestia?"
"Luna is there, I must go!" Celestia hastily explained, leaving no room for argument as she teleported away. She reappeared some distance forwards and batted her wings creating wind to propel herself forward faster and faster. Then she teleported again as soon as she caught her breath, repeating the motion for an amazingly fast travel time.
Victorious could teleport, but not that far and fast. Plus his guard was a mix of the most talented Unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies, they would become separated if he tried to follow Celestia's teleportation based speed boost and he couldn't leave his troops behind, but he didn't want to fall too far behind from Celestia. "Onward troops, as fast as you can!" He rushed forward in a mad dash. Our princesses need us!" With various battle cries, both worried and excited as if they were charging into a war, the guards sprang forward after their captain.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 6: The Complexity of Emotions
"You're looking tired..." Luna noted with concern, as she was on her way back to her room after waking in the afternoon with enough thirst to make her get out of bed and get something to drink. She levitated a handkerchief to Magnus, wiping the machine oil from his face. More often than not, he was covered in the stuff, making him look as if his yellow fur had a pattern of black spots. It was a miracle it wasn't permanently stained.
"I'm alright," he yawned involuntarily. "I was just out doing some testing. This is something that I needed to do on my own, I couldn't delegate anything or else it wouldn't feel entirely like my achievement. I don't mind working with a good team, in fact, I enjoy it, but this was a very special project. How come you're awake in the middle of the day?"
"I was thirsty, but I'm ready to go back to bed, you should get some sleep too," Luna replied. "I'm sure your super secret special project will still be there tonight, even if I'm really curious for it to be finished so I can see it."
"I'll sleep a little later, as for the project, I just finished testing it. Since you're awake, this is the perfect time to show you the results." Magnus ran over to the locker in the corner of his planning room, which was his office of sorts in the laboratory, a cluttered place full of blue prints and small scale mechanical models. "I couldn't wait to finish this, so I worked through the days and nights. First I'll show you the prototype, I stabilized it, but then decided to go for something bigger so I wanted to show you when everything was ready."
Luna smiled; she knew he was talking about that secret gift he wanted to give her. "What is it?" Her excitement and curiosity grew as she was filled with anticipation. While in the past she had worried the item in question would blow up, now she trusted that it wouldn't and she couldn't wait to take the trinket home and show Celestia, surely no one could have given her a gift as rare and cool as whatever Magnus was going to give her. Suddenly the moon princess wasn't sleepy at all, but full of energy despite having interrupted her slumber in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
"This is a hologram; it manipulates light to create shapes." Magnus made a small box float in front of Luna, who gently took it in her levitation. It was made of metal, painted with a starry sky round about. A single white button representing the moon in the picture was in front of it and a glass lens was on top. "It looks better in the dark, just press the button in front." Magnus flipped the light switch, drowning the room in darkness.
Luna pressed down on the button on the box with her magic. The box glowed and a projection came from the lens on top, like a miniature starry sky. "It's beautiful!" She watched as the tiny stars glinted and a shooting star even zoomed by in the tiny space, the phases of the little projected moon changing constantly. "It's the night in a box, I never thought any pony could do something like this, I love it!"
"That's good to hear," Magnus smiled with great pride in his work. "But this is only a sample. Come outside and you'll see the real gift." He picked up a controller and started on the way to the central elevator that led to the roof.
With growing excitement, Luna practically bounced after him. The sun was bright outside and Luna's eyes were not accustomed to it. She blinked and squinted, then settled for holding a hoof up, blocking the sunlight from her direct line of sight. She looked around, her eyes focusing on the machines that surrounded the main metal dome.
Though the climate was cold, the sunlight still reach the area across clear skies, reflecting off the white snow and making the whole place brighter. It didn't help that she was in the roof of a silvery metal building. The area atop the dome was comfortable though, it had a little balcony encompassing a small circle on the very top, with various pillows piled into it for Luna to be able to sit comfortably when she interacted with the moon from there on the times when she stayed over and didn't return to Canterlot.
If the gift was related to the miniature night, then perhaps those machines created a larger hologram. Though Luna was looking forward to seeing the illusion in larger proportions, she wondered if it would be possible to perceive it at all in such bright daylight. Yet Magnus looked like he didn't want to wait before finally showing her the gift. Oh well, if she couldn't see it clearly now, she could always ask him to activate it again tonight.
Magnus activated the machines placed round about the dome and they buzzed as if coming alive. The buzzing became louder than it settled into a soft hum after the warm up process was finished. Seconds passed and the full effects were visible at last. The area around the laboratory was covered in darkness, just like the darkness that Celestia saw from afar during the test not long ago. Then suddenly, a multitude of tiny stars began to glow in a sea of little silver lights. The lights became cyan, blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, green and cyan again, then the moon appeared, it's phase and texture changing, giving it a hypnotizing beauty. The lights were softly reflected on the surface of the dome, making it look like it was changing colors.
"It's so beautiful!" Luna gasped, finally finding her voice. "It's the day time, but night is here, it's really here!"
"You can control it with this," Magnus passed the controller into Luna's levitation.
Luna examined the buttons, recognizing the circle with the line in plain black and white as being the symbol for on and off. There were several small buttons in different colors, which she pressed to make the stars change. Another button forwarded the phases of the moon. Then she found a button like a color wheel. "What does this button do?" She pressed it curiously. A shooting star flew across the skies above the dome, creating a rainbow from the light of its tail.
The rainbow remained above the dome as the murmurs from below reached Luna's ears. The researches had gathered outside to see the spectacle and were in awe as they stood in the ground below. A rainbow, a beautiful work of art, that amazing phenomena that only Celestia had been able to display in her skies and not even on her own. It took the sun and the aftereffects of the rain to create such a work of art, it took Celestia and a team of pegasi to accomplish it and it could only be done during the day.
Yet there it was, a beautiful rainbow in the dark skies of the night, though this night only encompassed a relatively small portion of land, it was still a large enough space to be easily noticed from afar. This rainbow glowed with its own light, shimmering in seven stunning colors. Luna glanced at Magnus; he was falling asleep on his hooves, the pillow looking more and more tempting.
"Thank you!" Without another thought, she threw her forelegs around his neck in a grateful hug. Too tired to support their combined weight, Magnus fell into the pile of pillows. "I always wanted to see a rainbow during the night!" Luna exclaimed, too excited to get off the stallion she had basically tackled. "When I was a filly I wished for it so badly, but when I grew up and better understood how rainbows were formed, I thought it was impossible. I thought that I would never see a rainbow at night, but you granted that wish even if I haven't even told you. It was such a foal fantasy I thought no one could ever grant it for me."
Magnus smiled sleepily, "I've always wanted to see a nightly rainbow too. I'm really happy you like it... Luna... This is my gift to you... If I can, I'll grant all the wishes you have." Luna, beautiful Luna, smiling Luna, the image of her happy face hovering over his with a stunning light show in the background was the last thing engraved into Magnus' mind before he was overtaken by sleep.
A short while later, Celestia arrived. She sensed no evil or danger and the darkness looked far less intimidating with all those colorful lights. In fact, it was breath taking, even more impressive than the aurora itself. Celestia's gold clad hooves landed softly on the balcony where Luna was too focused on playing with the artificial night's controller to notice her sister right away. The sun princess took the opportunity to breathe deeply and calm herself. This wasn't a threat; this was beautiful, though she couldn't understand how it was even possible.
Celestia finally looked away from the lights for a moment and observed Luna. She was playing with a strange device, letting out a soft giggle every time something changed in that unusual but gorgeous illusionary night. She seemed so happy. Magnus Mecha was next to her, fast asleep, rather close to the moon princess. One of her wings rested on his back. The dome itself gave off heat, so he didn't need to be kept warm. The gesture was rather possessive in nature, Celestia silently noted. She swallowed the lump in her throat and called out to her sister softly. "Luna..."
Luna turned her head at the sudden familiar voice. "Tia? When did you get here? Oh never mind, I'm glad you're here, look at this!" She nodded at the sky. "It's so beautiful, Magnus made it for me as a present. Isn't it great? Remember how I always wanted a nightly rainbow as a filly? He made it for me, even if every pony thought it was impossible."
Celestia smiled at her sister's joy. "This is a very beautiful gift indeed." She felt embarrassed that she had worried, despite not actually sensing anything evil. The whole event with the Crystal Empire still had her on edge; it was still too recent in her mind.
"Princess Celestia!" A loud male voice called out as the speedy dash of many ponies was heard approaching in the distance. The owner of the voice teleported to Celestia's side, it was Captain Victorious Strong. "My princesses, are you well?"
"Ye-" Celestia had begun to reply, but she was interrupted by an angry Luna.
"Hush!" The moon princess hissed. "You'll wake-oh, he's already awake."
Magnus looked up at the new arrival, his face a tad red as he became very conscious of the soft dark wing that rested on his back. "It's okay..." He wasn't sure what to say to the deep blue unicorn that looked at him with disapproval. At least Celestia looked calm. He decided not to reveal that he was actually awakened by Luna when she had started talking to Celestia and was already awake by the time the ruby eyed stallion started calling out.
"My apologies, Captain Strong, please tell the soldiers that everything is alright," Celestia softly voiced.
"Oh... And this... phenomena?" Victorious looked at the skies with distrust.
"It's Magnus' night that he gave me as a gift," Luna proudly declared. "Isn't it the most beautiful gift any pony ever got?" She added smugly, hoping that Celestia would catch it. Celestia got plenty of pretty gifts, but Luna had never seen anything as beautiful and majestic as the gift she had just received.
"I see..." Victorious still sounded unsure, but decided not to further question the situation. Celestia was calm enough and that would be reassurance enough for him. He teleported down to the ground and informed his troops that all was well. They seemed to already know though, as they took in the beauty of the illusionary night with awe. He hated to admit it, even in the privacy of his own mind, but Victorious was disappointed. He had wanted to face Sombra and hoped that the dark unicorn was back. Captain Strong was known for his heroic deeds and dedication to Celestia, he longed to overtake more victories in the name of Canterlot and Equestria.
Up in the balcony, Celestia sighed. "This is certainly quite a surprise. A commend you on your talents, Magnus," she complimented.
"I am honored," Magnus replied formally. Despite the fact that her elder sister was right there, Luna had not let him go, her wing still possessively draped over him. He wondered if sweet innocent Luna even knew what this looked like.
"Despite your differences in the direction of your research, Starswirl did speak well of you. Perhaps following your own path was the right way to go for you after all," Celestia concluded.
"I'm glad you think so, your highness..." Suddenly, Magnus felt more scrutinized than ever before. He wondered if he had any traces of machine oil sticking to his mane and hoped that if he did, that they weren't too obvious. Beyond Celestia's kind look, there was a certain fierceness that seemed to say, 'upset my sister and I'll turn you to stone for a thousand years.'
"Luna," Celestia smiled casually. "I have been missing you, why don't you come have dinner, I mean breakfast with me this dusk?"
"Why don't we eat here? They have this awesome smoothie maker machine, I like the grape one with chocolate syrup," Luna invited.
"Oh..." It seemed that her sister wasn't catching the fact that Celestia was trying to communicate that she needed a private word. "That sounds lovely, though I think I would prefer strawberry, if it's available." She smiled casually.
"Of course it is!" Luna cheered. This was her land, these were her ponies and she intended to show off how smart and creative they were.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days later, as Celestia made her way down the long elegant hallways of Canterlot Castle, she noticed the sound of another set of hooves beside her own. The sound was heavier than her own steps, in a confident stride that made her self-conscious of her light shy taps on the floor. The princess was full of mixed feelings and it showed. The other set of hooves stopped beside her as the owner vowed. "Princess Celestia, may I have a word with you?"
Celestia smiled and tried to look like she was fine. "Captain Strong, of course you may, what is the matter?"
"That is what I would like to ask you, highness. What troubles my lady?" Victorious asked with concern.
Celestia sighed, knowing she couldn't hide her emotions from the ever observant Victorious. "I should have known you'd noticed, you've always been good at reading me like a book. However, I'm afraid this is a matter that I cannot discuss with any pony, not even with my trusted captain. I do apologize for that, but it is a personal matter."
"Concerning princess Luna?" Victorious guessed, feeling rather certain that he was right.
Celestia saw no use in denying it, "yes."
"And also concerning Magnus Mecha?" Victorious continued.
"Yes..." Celestia sighed. "It is not that I feel adversely towards him at all, it's just that..." She couldn't explain it. The thought of it was too painful and she didn't often allow it into her mind.
Victorious frowned, Celestia was his goddess, he had an unwavering admiration for her that bordered obsession. He didn't like the way Magnus seem to be, in his eyes, threatening the absolute rule of the alicorns. Creating a false night in the middle of the day and maintaining it twenty four seven as if saying he was in charge of the days and night in that area; how dare he deny the land Celestia's sun? He didn't trust Magnus and he didn't like that he was so close to Luna. If any pony should be acknowledged by an alicorn princess it should be him.
He couldn't stand the fact that some no name stallion had gotten the attention of Luna when he had failed to make Celestia notice him. Sure, she showed her gratitude for his dutiful ways and willingness to do anything for her. She appreciated him, but only as a friend, and he had begun to see her as an unreachable creature at a whole different level as any pony else, a goddess. "It is only natural to be concerned," Victorious finally spoke. "Do not stress, princess, everything will work out."
Celestia sighed softly, "you're right, I should remain positive," she tried to smile. She needed to have a word with Luna though. If her sister was truly falling in love, then she should know that they were different from other ponies, different from other alicorns that could have existed. Their end was unknown, their life almost ever lasting due to their vast power. It felt cruel, but Celestia knew that it was best for Luna to know what she was getting into, to understand the facts sooner rather than later. But she wouldn't be pessimistic; a pony's lifetime was still plenty of time to create cherished memories.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 7: Haunting Pains of the Past
Luna followed Celestia to her room, wondering what was so urgent that her sister had called her back to the castle at Canterlot so insistently. It was night time and while Luna had been up for only a few hours, Celestia should be tired by then. The princesses entered the sun ruler's room, which was adorned with soft pastel colors and predominant warm shades. "Sit down, let's talk." Celestia hopped on her bed like a filly in a slumber party, wrinkling the pristine white sheets.
Luna shrugged and did the same, folding her forelegs atop a fluffy round yellow cushion. The large bed had plenty of space for both of them. "So, care to lift the veil of mystery?"
Celestia sighed, what she had to say was in no way easy. "I wanted to talk about... about stallions."
Luna blinked, slight confusion overtaking her curious features. "What stallion?"
"Magnus and stallions in general," Celestia continued. She bit her lip fearing that she was about to break her sister's heart by pointing out what would eventually become apparent.
"What about him?" Luna raised a suspicious eyebrow, wondering why in the world her sister was hesitating so much. What could possibly be so difficult to say?
"Do you... like him?" Celestia gently inquired.
"Of course I do, no pony willingly spends time with ponies they don't like," Luna replied as a matter of fact. It was clear that she didn't quite catch Celestia's full meaning. "Why are you asking me that? You're acting really strange."
"This is hard," Celestia admitted. "Luna... you and I, our level of magic rejuvenates us constantly and keeps us at our prime. We are also quite strong and resilient, almost immortal."
"What's your point?" Luna inquired. "Don't tell me you actually think there's some pony out to get us? Well that pony would certainly have a hard time trying to... oh..." Seeing Celestia's expression and recalling that the topic of their conversation revolved around stallions, especially a certain yellow unicorn, Luna put the pieces together. "I'll live a long time and Magnus won't... Is that what you're saying?" Suddenly, a deep desperation overtook Luna's heart. She would watch him fade away... No, no she wouldn't, she wouldn't let him go. "I can prevent that. I've never needed to cast an age spell, but if my magic does that automatically for me, then I must have the power."
"Luna..." Celestia sighed. "Only the highest level unicorns can cast age spells and there are very few ponies who can positively receive them if the magic takes them too far from their real age, anything beyond a few decades would be too much. If his soul becomes exhausted, he will not live a happy life. To force that upon him would be cruel. Besides, if it gets to the point where your spell is too strong for him to withstand then..."
"Then what?" Luna demanded, yet Celestia offered no answer. "I'll kill him?" Luna frowned, her eyes becoming watery. She forced the tears back and filled her face with determination. "Then he'll just have to be ready. He's smart and skilled, he can do it, he can achieve it on his own. What if that happens? There should be no problem then. I'll admit that getting that far by magical power alone is too much, but he has amazing machines that boost magical power. They're not like amulets, they're stable and reliable, they won't backfire. He can do it!"
Celestia sighed, fearing that her sister put too much faith in Magnus' ability. He was skilled, but the task ahead was too great. "Just know that perhaps in the end all you will be able to do is treasure a life time of sweet loving memories."
Luna didn't know how to reply. Her mouth hung open, but her brain was filled with so many racing thoughts that she couldn't articulate a single word. Peculiarly, it wasn't her sister's doubt that hit the moon princess the hardest; it was the wording she used. Love? Was she in love? Was he in love? Is that what they had beyond a close friendship? Just what was love anyway? The complex powerful emotion, the source of so much... Luna closed her mouth and lowered her gaze, lost in thought. A few silent moments passed until she spoke again. "Tia... Have you been in love?"
Celestia smiled sweetly with a hint of sadness in her eyes. She had never told any pony about this before. "I have," she confessed.
Luna looked up, her eyes meeting Celestia's. "When? With who? Do I know him?"
Celestia closed her eyes, allowing the memories back into her mind. "It was long ago, yet not so long from my perspective. For him it was nearly a life time ago, though he never knew. Not once did he notice, and with the passing of time our relationship changed."
"You grew apart?" Luna frowned, wondering who was the clueless stallion that didn't take notice of her sister's feelings.
"Not exactly, we built a professional relationship you could say. We saw each other often, but I was always the princess and he was always the scholar." Celestia opened the drawer of her white polished nightstand. The golden handle glowed with her energy as she opened it and retrieved a white book with a golden lock reinforced with magic.
"I remember when I tried to open that and the magic bounced off and shocked me." Luna grimaced just thinking about the stinging sensation.
"You shouldn't have tried to read my diary, dear sister," Celestia smiled at the memories of Luna's antics in her filly days. Even if her sister was as eternally young as she, the times would still change and in the end, each era would exist only in memories. A new era would begin, but only when a dear past era ended, it was inevitably bittersweet. Celestia unlocked the diary with magic and retrieved a very detailed color drawing of a unicorn stallion standing next to a younger, pink maned Celestia. "The artist who drew this was quite young at the time. He was excited to meet a real princess and drew me and the stallion accompanying me in my visit to his neighborhood. When he finished it, he shyly came to show me, I didn't even realize he had been drawing the whole time. I commended his talent and noted his cutie mark, it turns out he didn't even realize he had it. This picture that he gave me as a gift was what unlocked his cutie mark."
"I'm pretty sure I've seen him before," Luna mused as she examined the stallion in the drawing. He was a unicorn with a smart look to him, an intellectual no doubt. His mane was somewhat long and the beginnings of a beard could be seen on his chin, though it was still small, he was barely an adolescent after all. Her eyes landed on his cutie mark and she immediately recognized the symbol. "No way! That's! But it doesn't look anything like him!"
Celestia found it in herself to laugh. "He wasn't always an old stallion with a beard long enough to almost trip over. He used to keep it shorter when he was younger."
"If I really think about it, I remember. But it's as if that Starswirl and the Starswirl I know are different ponies. How could he have changed so much so fast?" The realization worried Luna. Would the fun loving, energetic, creative inventor turn into some pony she didn't recognize all of a sudden? She swallowed, realizing just how little time from her perspective a pony's life time was. "So you never told him?"
"No, he probably would have been shocked, in disbelief, and maybe even try to rationalize why it couldn't be. I didn't want to hear his utter confusion, so I never told him. I knew I was dear to him in some way and that was enough, yet he never really held an interest in having a close relationship with some pony. Knowledge was his passion and he had room in his life for little else," Celestia explained.
"I see..." Luna sighed. She was suddenly feeling exhausted, though it was night time and Celestia was the one who should be feeling tired.
"I'm sorry to make you sad," Celestia apologized. "I had to tell you, I had to make sure you understood."
Luna nooded solemnly, "I... I understand... If that's all, I'm going back now..." If she really had so little time with Magnus, then she should make the best of it.
Celestia nooded, "and Luna..." she called to her sister as the younger princess began to leave the room.
"Yes?" Luna looked back at her.
Celestia's soft expression suddenly turned fierce, "not a word of this to any pony." So what if her crush had long since gone past its time, it would still be terribly embarrassing if he knew. Luna smiled mischievously and Celestia could almost see Starswirl laughing at the silliness the moon princess had conjured, before turning to Celestia and asking her to tell Luna how utterly ridiculous the notion was. Then Celestia could picture herself getting tongue-tied as the memories of younger days scrolled in fast forward through her mind, and her stuttering would surely make her look like an idiot.
Then Starswirl would take it to mean that she was shocked at the impossibility of it and emphasized once more just how impossible it was. And it would hurt, it would hurt to hear him reaffirm the fact that nothing happened and it wouldn't happened. Starswirl was too logical at times, and honestly, the younger Celestia, and perhaps the part of the current Celestia that was still much like a filly, would rather hear him say that he was willing to try to make the seemingly impossible work out, rather than, with only good intentions and an ignorant bliss devoid of malice, perceive it as silly and unthinkable. "Luna!" Celestia scolded, her royal Canterlot voice thundering through the chambers.
"I'm kidding!" Luna giggled, glad for the little distraction, and dashed out of Celestia's room.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at the laboratory... "What do you think of this?" A pretty light blue unicorn mare held up some drawings for Magnus to see.
"Yes, yes, Blue Print, these are great!" Magnus approved.
The mare smiled proudly, her pink mane framing her face beautifully, deep blue eyes sparkling. "I have a few ideas for the finer details of the design too. Honestly, I've never met any pony who can make my designs a reality like you can."
"And I've never met any pony who can put my own thoughts into paper a lot better than myself. Turning concepts into realities will be much easier with you on the team. This is even better than how I visualized it in my head," Magnus smiled.
"Magnus, mah stallion, gotta talk to ya dude!" An orange pegasus with a lavender mane and green eyes threw one of his wings around Magnus' shoulders and began to walk away, making the unicorn move along with him. His cutie mark was a wing silhouette with a comet-like tail.
"What is it, Velocity?" Magnus inquired, wondering where his friend was taking him.
Once they were out of earshot from Blue Print, Velocity stated his case. "Listen up, mah brony, I couldn't help it but to notice that pretty miss Print has her eye on you, mah stallion. But I thought you had your eye on the hottie of the night."
Mangus took a moment to process the statements. "What? Blue Print? No, no, we're just good colleagues, she doesn't like me. And Luna is... Luna is... Well okay, I do like her. I'm no sure how in the world I ended up getting a crush on a princess of all ponies when I didn't even used to like royalty, or alicorns for that matter, but it just sort of happened... Wait a minute, you like Blue Print, don't you?"
"Keep your voice down, stallion!" Velocity looked around to make sure no one had heard Magnus. "Seriously dude, keep it down, brony."
"I won't tell any pony, but really, if that's how you feel you should tell her." Magnus began to walk away to get back to his work.
"Dude, I hope you're like taking your own advice, brony." Velocity called after him before making his way to the turbine engine prototype test area. He had to get that thing going with the wind produced by his wing power and the wind was supposed to spin inside it in a way that it would keep going and even become stronger with just that initial boost.
Magnus paused, was he taking his own advice? Well maybe. Luna had to be smart enough to figure out that making a permanent night in the area for her meant something. But what if she thought he was only being grateful and nothing more? No, they were closer than that, she had to know. Where they really? Well there was only one way to find out... and the thought of it made him anxious. 'Okay, just tell her, it'll be like stating the obvious, nothing to worry about... I need to keep my mind busy until Luna's back or I'll totally stress out.' For once he felt compelled to get out of the lab. Maybe he should further investigate the ruins left deeper into the former Crystal Empire territories. It would be freezing cold out there, but maybe that would help him stop thinking about irrational fears of unrealistic reactions from Luna.
xoxox xox xoxox
Some time later, Magnus found himself exploring some underground ruins. They seemed incomplete, or perhaps magically sealed off and hidden, so he couldn't get too far. None the less, the traces of magic left in the surrounding area were so strong that it made his horn tingle in response as he tried to keep its glow steady, to see where he was going. His hoof steps seemed to echo much more than he thought was logical, as if he was all alone in a quiet vast space. There was something dark and dreary around the area, as if the land itself was accursed.
Suddenly, the shadow of a dragon was seen upon the wall. Magnus was startled and shone the light of his horn around, looking for the giant creature that would logically not fit through the tunnels. "It's just rocks... Just jagged creepy rocks..." He told himself, yet he couldn't keep his heart from pounding. 'What's wrong with me?' Magnus thought. 'I'm acting like such a foal, afraid of the shadows.' He took a few more steps and the echo of a ferocious roar shook him to the core. He turned and shone the light from his horn in all directions, but he couldn't find the source of the threatening voice. "It's my imagination; it's only my imagination..."
Abruptly, a vision entered his mind and he was unable to move. He saw a young colt running for his life as a dragon destroyed his home. "Mech! Mech, where are you?" His parents were calling.
He saw them a little further down the street, a unicorn stallion and an earth pony mare. The young Magnus dashed towards them in fright. "Mom, dad, why is the dragon in the city? Why didn't the force field keep him out?" Yet there were no answers for him as his father quickly lifted him in a levitation hold, placed him on his back and retreated.
"I have to go," his mother looked back.
"No!" His father protested.
"We both have things we need to do. I'm one of the princess' personal guards and you need to lead the heavy artillery in the city's defense. That monster is heading straight for the castle, I have to be there!" She argued.
"I know... I know..." The stallion agreed in frustration. "Be careful," the two went their separate ways.
"Why isn't mom coming with us? Why does she have to go to the princess?" Magnus had never actually met the princess, despite his mother working for her.
Magnus' father arrived at a security base where various large robotic ponies, about twenty feet tall were mobilizing. "Listen Mech, I don't have time to talk now. I need to defend the city. You have to stay in this base, don't go outside and don't get in anyone's way. Your mother and I will come get you as soon as possible."
"I want to go with you! I want to ride on the robot too, I want to help!" The young Magnus argued.
"This isn't a test run!" His father scolded seriously. "Stay here!"
Magnus nooded in fright. He didn't know what was happening or why his parents couldn't stay with him. He was always told the city was safe inside the force field the machines generated. How could a dragon have come inside? He stood in a corner of the base as the sound of heavy metal steps and a multitude of running hoof steps echoed around him.
"Hey, Mech!" A light gray pegasus colt, not yet old enough to venture into the front lines with the adults, but just old enough to have an understanding of the situation approached him.
"Cannon Shot!" Magnus rushed to the older colt. The pegasus was his neighbor and a big brother figure to him, as well as his best friend.
"Don't you worry, Mech, there's lots of ponies out there chasing that dragon out. It'll be sorry it came near our city!" Cannon reassured. His pale blue eyes glimmered with endless determination and a fighting spirit. He blew his white and cyan mane out of his face and grinned threateningly. "And if another dragon does come, by then I'll be old enough so that they let me chase it out!"
The ground shook violently before Magnus could reply. Cannon Shot hurried to one of the windows of the base, followed by Magnus. They looked up from a low angle to see the same dragon making its way out of the city. For a moment the colts were relieved to see that it was apparently on the retreat, but they saw it was holding something. "Is that a pink pony in it's claws?" Magnus asked, feeling worried for the unfortunate pony.
"That's not any pink pony!" Cannon exclaimed as he recognized the light pink unicorn mare from pictures he had seen. He remembered seeing her posing for the camera in a glittery dress, her long fuchsia and cyan mane adorned with gems and her blue eyes sparkling. "That's princess Pretty Posh!"
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 8: Rising Anger
Dark energy and endless echoes swirled around Magnus in the underground ruins. He felt as if he was back in the past, back in the beginning of the catastrophe. He remembered the terrified screams of princess Pretty Posh as she helplessly struggled and cried, held captive by the dragon. The towering green scaled creature, though ferocious indeed, had a lost look in its eyes that was unnerving.
"Hold your fire!" Some pony called out from one of the robots outside. "Don't shoot or you'll hit the princess!"
"He's getting away!" Another pony shouted in a panic.
"Princess!" More and more shouts of anger, terror, frustration and similar emotions flooded the streets increasing in volume.
Their princess had been stolen. Why her? Why did the apparently rampaging beast suddenly gain the focus to kidnap the princess? The monster held her firmly, but somehow managed not to crush her in its massive clawed fist. The dragon was only making a mess of the architecture at first and the guards thought it was only heading for the castle because it happened to be the tallest building. It made no sense, just as much as it made no sense that the machines shielding the city in a force field suddenly stopped working. Yet in their panic, the ponies didn't realize that it was all too suspicious, too convenient.
"Unhand the princess, you vile beast!" A powerful voice echoed through the streets.
The young Magnus Mecha and Cannon Shot angled their bodies to see through the window what was happening high above out in the street. "I've never seen that pegasus before," Cannon admitted in confusion as to who the mystery stallion who faced the dragon so fearlessly could be. Surely he must be insane if he thought he could overpower the beast alone. That dragon was exceptionally powerful, suspiciously so.
The stallion in question had black fur and a green mane, he was far above so it was hard to tell, but he somehow seemed bigger than most stallions, his wings also appearing larger than most. "Wait... is that a horn?" Magnus stared in disbelief. The so called pegasus was not a pegasus after all.
"A horn?" Cannon looked again. The black alicorn caused his horn to glow as he threatened the dragon. "It is a horn! It's an alicorn, a real alicorn!"
"I thought they were legends!" Magnus stared in awe as the black alicorn shot a beam of dark green light at the dragon.
The beast stumbled back and the alicorn took the opportunity to fly towards it and shoot more beams in rapid succession. The dragon seemed dazed by the sheer power of the magic and began to get dizzy from all the hits, its scales becoming charred. The alicorn shot one last massive beam of light at the dragon, ignoring the shouts from the ponies all around, confused as to who he was and concerned about the princess getting hurt by the battle. The dazed dragon let out a howl of pain along with a massive spray of flames from its mouth.
The alicorn covered himself in a red glowing shield and shot through the flames unharmed, emerging right in front of the dragon's face. He didn't pause, speeding towards the dragon, his hoofs colliding with the monster's face. The flames stopped as the unconscious massive beast fell backwards. The alicorn lifted the helpless princess in his magic hold and gently placed her on his back, the panicked pink mare immediately throwing her trembling forelegs around his neck.
The alicorn landed softly, the princess still clinging to him for dear life. Ponies surrounded him in euphoria, confirming that the princess was indeed safe, rescued by the mysterious stranger who defeated the dragon. Among the cheers and noise, someone asked his name and soon a chant filled the streets. "All hail Prowess, hero of Technotropolis!"
xoxox xox xoxox
"Prowess..." Magnus whispered as the vision filled his head. He and Cannon Shot had rushed out of the base in the commotion, too tempted to get a closer look at the hero and the princess to stay inside. It was the first time Magnus laid eyes on the beautiful princess Pretty Posh in person and a marvelous unicorn she was. It was also the first time that he saw a real live alicorn, a true hero, he thought. In his young mind, Prowess was everything a colt could aspire to be when he became a stallion. Instantly, Magnus developed a deep admiration for the hero that saved his home and his princess. He had no idea how dark his intentions truly were. "Prowess..." The anger in his voice increased as another vision began to play in his head.
Yet the vision was interrupted by a spell focused by a chant in a determined elderly voice. The energy entered Magnus' mind trying to free him from the painful trance. Magnus opened his eyes, having no memory of when he closed them. His vision finally focused on the source of the light near by, the light of his own horn having faded away when he became entrapped. Starswirl finished the spell and tiredly approached. "This research expedition brought more than I expected."
"Starswirl, what are you doing here?" Magnus asked in confusion. Had all that happened been an illusion? It had to be, that was the only explanation. All those things happened years ago after all.
"I wanted to further investigate the state of the land of the former Crystal Empire; I have been coming here periodically since it disappeared because of King Sombra's curse. Yet I have been so busy that the last time I was able to investigate was before the laboratory was built. I had not found much, but was almost certain there was something hidden here. Since I finally had some time, I decided to have a look. I'm not sure when, but at some point, part of the darkness that was absorbed by the land itself was released, probably responding to a burst of power near by," Starswirl explained. "You were nearly overtaken by a dark influence. We all have some darkness in us, but we must never let it take over. Fear, anger, and such emotions can be dangerous. What troubles you, Magnus?"
Magnus shook his head. "Nothing," he refused to reveal anything. His past was something that he was supposed to have left behind. It shouldn't be bothering him now of all times. Besides, he wasn't sure what Starswirl's reaction would be and that made him feel uneasy about it. He was an important unicorn after all, his opinion mattered. Seeing that Starswirl didn't look like he believed it at all, Magnus insisted. "Really, I'm fine, I'm not going to go crazy and try to take over Equestria or anything!" He scoffed.
'And why not?' A voice in Magnus' head spoke, it was very much like his own, like a different side of him. It was as if his own thoughts were trying to guide him, but not in a way he wanted to go. 'Find a new land and conquer it, that's what your father intended to do, wasn't it?' The voice taunted. 'No!' Magnus tried not to think about it. 'That wasn't dad, he was... He changed, I don't know why... He must have had a reason, but he wouldn't have gone through with that crazy plan if he was received peacefully. He just wanted a place for us to live...'
"Magnus Mecha!" Starswirl's voice finally went past the thick veil of contradicting thoughts that plagued Magnus. "Finally, you heard me; I've been calling you for a while. I don't like the way you spaced out just now." He frowned, though it was hardly visible behind his bushy beard.
"I'm fine, I'm just tired, exhausted, but not crazy..." Magnus hated being called crazy, or even have it vaguely implied. The buffalo, though kind at heart, called his ideas crazy far too often for his liking, and so did many ponies after he moved to Canterlot.
Starswirl sighed hopelessly. Magnus was being stubborn and he didn't have the means or the patience to deal with him in that state. "Let's just get out of here. I hope you understand that I will have to report this to princess Celestia. In all likelihood, you'll have to move your research laboratory elsewhere; this area is far too dangerous."
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Luna arrived at the laboratory and went about finding Magnus. A part of her wanted to stall and another part wanted to find him right away. This entire love thing was something that even her older sister had succeeded on, but that wouldn't make her believe it was impossible. She was perfectly capable of achieving what Celestia couldn't. Besides, Magnus seemed to be more perceptive than Starswirl about things outside of the scope of his research. In fact, he might even smile as if thinking she was silly to have to hear their status verbalized to be certain of it, before letting the words reach her ears. She wouldn't feel bad if he did, she might even enjoy it if it made him chuckle, if it made it obvious he had no doubts.
"Hush, hush, here she comes!" A mint green unicorn urged under her breath. She looked away from Luna and pretended to be busy discussing something or other about some drawings with another unicorn mare. The conversation seemed to be improvised and out of place, with their generic comments about measurements and other details that should have been established already given the apparent complexity of the drawings at a glance.
Feeling suspicious, Luna walked past them, making it a point to leave the main work area towards another section of the laboratory from an angle where they could see her. She went in a circle through the hallways and came back through a different door to the large area. She floated through the air with a soft flap of her wings, her crystal shoes not touching the metal floors as she proceeded in silence.
"I don't think she heard us," the green unicorn sighed in relief.
The other mare, a light blue unicorn who answered to the name of Blue Print and had a cutie mark of a paper with drawings of geometrical figures on it, shook her head. "Does it matter? She doesn't need a warning to have the unfair advantage. She's a princess, for crying out loud. She spoils him rotten."
"Oh, I don't think Magnus is like that," the pale green unicorn disagreed. "He's grateful to her, but he's not a pony you can buy off. I'd be more worried about success than failure. You shouldn't make a princess angry trying to steal her coltfriend like that."
"But aren't princesses supposed to be diplomatic?" Blue Print mused. "Well either way, if I have a chance..."
Luna tuned out the rest of the conversation as she gritted her teeth and certain key parts of what was spoken replayed in her mind. That sneaky ungrateful mare was trying to steal her pony. Technically, all of the nocturnal ponies who worked there were supposed to be her ponies, but Magnus was hers in a different way. The mare said it herself, he was her coltfriend, though she would have much rather had heard the affirmation from him instead of from some mare trying to steal him. Luna was sick of ponies taking what was hers and now that she had a special some pony to call hers, truly hers, she wasn't going to let any pony touch him.
"Luna!" The loud voice alerted the surroundings of her presence.
The pale green unicorn gasped and muttered, "where's that prototype we need to check on? Let's go!" She dragged her blue friend away before she could react, whispering under her breath. "Velocity so saved you back there."
Luna turned her head towards the apparently overly friendly orange pegasus who had placed his wing over her shoulders more tightly than was needed for a simple gesture of companionship. It was as if he was trying to hold her in place, not that he would be able to if she decided she really wanted to move. Before the moon princess could get a word in, Velocity tried to diffuse the situation. "My brony Magnus was so looking for ya. I'm telling ya, he's like totally in love with you, oh but don't tell him I told you so, okay?"
Luna took deep even breaths. Bucking that annoying mare like a ripe apple tree wouldn't do her any good; it would just make her look abusive. Besides, Magnus loved her, that's what she wanted to hear, though not from a third party. It didn't matter; she wouldn't let that annoying unicorn get to her. "Velocity, right?"
"Yeah..." The orange pegasus released the alicorn from his hold, seeing that she had apparently calmed down.
"Tell those two they're fired," Luna decided.
"Ah... Um..." Caught off guard and not really wanting to deliver the bad news to Blue Print, Velocity was left at a loss for words. Luna didn't wait for an answer and walked away with the satisfaction of at least having gotten some form of revenge. Velocity watched her go and mentally cringed. 'Oh stallion, that's one possessive princess, this ain't looking good,' he mused. 'An independent pony like Magnus being spoiled and protected? Can't really imagine that...'
To be Continued
Eclipse: Part 3
Chapter 9: Swear Not By The Moon
After being unable to find Magnus at the laboratory and being informed that he was seen going out, Luna ventured outside into the snowy terrain of the land. It was actually night time, so the area didn't currently look too different from the rest of Equestria. She was about to go off to search for Magnus when a voice caught her attention near by.
"We're almost back." Luna looked towards the source of the sound to see Starswirl the bearded. She couldn't help it but to picture his younger self with only a small beard on his chin and a more energetic sprint to his step. "You'll be able to get some rest soon."
Following Starswirl was Magnus, looking both dejected and cranky. "I'm not that tired, I'm upset because I know there's no way you'll change your mind."
"It is all for the best," Starswirl insisted.
"Magnus, Starswirl!" Luna called out to them and closed the distance between them. "What's going on?"
"He wants to shut down our operations," Magnus glared at Starswirl, his tone accusing.
"What?" Luna exclaimed in shock. The kind of talk she meant to have with Magnus was quickly placed on the back of her mind as the home of her ponies was threatened. "Why?" Her face went from confused to angry.
"The dark energy in the land is too dangerous!" Starswirl defended his point. "It has been released and will influence all those who get too close!"
"No it won't!" Magnus argued, his mood and tone worsening. "Sombra's not even around anymore!"
"This isn't just about Sombra, it's about the magic left in the land. Even if Sombra isn't behind this, the energy itself will act on its own. It's like with amulets; the will that triggered the magic lived on even beyond the life of the one who made it. The dark magic poisoning this land will influence all those who go near it. It will encourage and empower their darkness!" Starswirl insisted, the volume of his voice also rising.
"You can't just hide from your fears, you need to face them, conquer them!" Magnus shouted back. "If this is something inevitably found within every pony, it won't be a problem if they learn to control it. If you know for certain that you'll make the right choice, it shouldn't hurt to know that the wrong choice exists. Ignorance and cowardice isn't the answer! I can develop defenses against this; I'll build something to-"
"It's too dangerous!" Starswirl interrupted. "Princess Celestia won't allow it!"
"Stop!" Luna shouted in her royal Canterlot voice, her command echoing all across the frozen land. "This is my territory and I say the laboratory will stay active!" The princess of the night stomped her hoof so hard that her crystal horseshoe shattered, sending splinters all over the snowy ground around her hoofs. Yet she didn't care, she was too angry at Starswirl pushing his own choices around and relying on Celestia to back him up even if he was too dense to ever realize she had loved him. Then Celestia would act as if she was the only monarch around and refused to give Luna her place. She was the oldest, but that didn't mean she could go around acting like every pony's dictator. This was Luna's decision and her word would be done.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was a tense day in Equestria when the princesses had their disagreement. While Luna and Celestia were still arguing privately, though their voices could still be heard outside of the throne room at the Canterlot castle, Magnus paced in the hallway looking frustrated.
The captain of Celestia's guard, Victorious Strong, had come by and stood staring at the door as if someone had dumped a bucket of icy water over his head on a cold winter morning. His face settled into a look of anger that he directed at Magnus. "This is your fault. How dare you create strife between the princesses? I never thought it was possible, but young Luna has been negatively influence by you and it seem that even the noble Celestia is distressed. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't arrest you right now?"
Magnus glared back, "on what grounds would you arrest me, captain?" The last word was spoken with heavy sarcasm, as if implying he did not care about the other stallion's rank.
"Treason!" Victorious exclaimed threateningly. "For this calamity to come upon the princesses is-"
Magnus interrupted, taking note of a detail he didn't like. "You speak as if the princesses were perfect until I came along. Surely sisters always have disagreements! I had no blood siblings myself, but even I had disagreements with my closest friends sometimes!" Except with Cannon Shot, they never argued, not once. They were best friends, they were like brothers, and Cannon lost his life because of it. 'Don't think of that now!' Magnus tried to focus on the present, but it was hard.
"Don't you dare compare yourself to an alicorn!" Victorious growled.
"And why not?" The bitterness in Magnus increased. "They're just unicorns with wings; they're not that different from other ponies!"
"You traitor! The alicorn princesses are different from regular ponies! Celestia is perfect in a way that no pony could be!"
"You think she's some kind of deity?" Magnus scuffed. "Alicorns are not deities, they're just alicorns. Even the seemingly immortal can be explained. A powerful enough unicorn can reach that kind of immortality too, through eternal youth by a constant age spell and enough magic to withstand almost any attack. Celestia and Luna weren't here from the beginning of time, they didn't create this world, they merely influence it, which is something any pony can do if they really try."
"Seemingly immortal?" Victorious' horn glowed, producing a blade of light, his signature spell. "You dare to doubt the princesses' power? Was that your plan? To try to corrupt Luna and turn her against the perfect Celestia to try to kill her?"
"What? No!" Magnus argued.
"Don't deny it, traitor, I should slay you where you stand!" Victorious angled the light sword from his horn to do just that.
Magnus had heard about captain Strong and knew that withstanding the force of the magical blade of light he could create was no easy task. It didn't help that his specialty was not combat magic, but Victorious' was. None the less, he wasn't going to back down, he would fight Victorious if he had to. Magnus prepared himself to try to dodge the sword of light, but the attack never came, as they were interrupted by the doors to the throne room bursting open. "Magnus let's go," Luna ordered, stomping her hooves with every step.
"Luna..." Celestia called out to her, but the younger princess ignored her.
Victorious dissipated his magic, refusing to spill blood in front of his beloved Celestia. "Princess, this pony is a traitor," he accused.
"I am not!" Magnus argued.
"Magnus, let's go!" Luna yelled impatiently.
Magnus didn't like to be bossed around, but he knew that arguing with Victorious would be useless and he didn't much feel like trying to talk to Celestia either. It didn't look like Victorious would continue their fight in front of Celestia, so as far as Magnus was concerned, he had no business there. In a foul mood, he hurried to catch up with Luna and hopefully get the finer details of the story from her.
"Follow me," Luna instructed when Magnus caught up to her, still clearly upset and not in the mood to be questioned just yet. She teleported further away towards the castle's exit and beyond, using the teleportation repeatedly to move faster without having any directional problems due to range.
Magnus mimicked the motions until they were in the outskirts of Canterlot. From there they continued walking north, away from prying eyes and ears. Finally, he couldn't take much more of her silence. "I take it she's shutting down the lab?"
"That's what she thinks!" Luna growled. "We're only going to pretend to shut down the lab to keep Tia quiet and when we make a great discovery while staying perfectly safe, we'll rub it in her face!"
"Not all the ponies will want to continue working like that..." Magnus voiced.
"Then don't invite them!" Luna snapped. "You can't do anything that gives it away! You're smart; you could just come up with the new inventions on your own! That's your talent isn't it? Building things? If any pony wants to side with Celestia they can just leave. The lab is for my ponies, not her ponies; it's for my ponies only!"
"Ponies aren't property, you know," Magnus grumbled under his breath.
"What?" Luna half-snapped, not quite having heard him.
"Never mind," Magnus let it go. Luna was clearly frustrated and perhaps feeling oppressed by her older sister, thus complaining about the smaller details wasn't something that should be done now. What was the point of having that big laboratory all to himself? He was only one pony and as much as he loved the space and materials, without a competent team the process would be too slow. Magnus wouldn't be able to produce enough machines to sell and he wouldn't be able to support the laboratory.
If he did make enough machines to sell, he would have to come up with an excuse as to their origin, it would take up all his time and he wouldn't be able to research new things and wouldn't advance, which was what he wanted to do in the first place. Was Luna planning to keep on sneaking materials to the lab? He didn't really want that, he wanted to reach independence, that was simply how he was. Besides, if Celestia discovered the clandestine transactions, it would mean a world of trouble for Luna. Things were not looking good.
xoxox xox xoxox
Much to Luna's disappointment and Magnus lack of surprise, a lot of ponies decided to leave the laboratory. By the next day, the shut down preparations were almost done. Some ponies feared the dangers of the darkness in the snowy land and others feared being seen as traitors. Luna felt betrayed. They were supposed to be her ponies and they were abandoning her.
She even overheard that pegasus, Velocity, trying to talk Magnus into going with them. "Ya know we'll only be able to get so far without your help, stallion. It won't be long before repeating what we've been able to learn so far gets old and the research runs out of funds, dude. Ponies will go back to working as before and they won't care so much about progress, it's sad, stallion, real sad. Progress might still come like eventually, but it'll be a whole lot slower. We need you to use your knowledge to show us all the shortcuts and assure us that what we're trying to do is not impossible. If you stay behind, I won't tell on you, brony. I'll do it like I promised and tell the other ponies you changed your mind and moved away. I'll make sure to shoot down any rumors that you're still here. But I can't stay, I'm sorry brony... I just can't, and maybe you shouldn't either. Every pony wants you to come. Celestia will grant us a whole wing of her academy, we'll have enough space there and we could always expand later. Come with us, brony!"
From the corner of his eyes, Magnus caught sight of Luna. "I... can't..." 'Don't join Celestia, take her place, take over Equestria.' Magnus' dark side whispered in his mind. He understood now that it was himself, his deepest darkest wishes and not a force alien to him that caused such thoughts to emerge. "I'll stay here with the few who have chosen to remain and we'll go on our false journey. We'll make this place look like it was shutdown and make sure no one dares to come too close if Celestia sends some pony to further investigate. The area is to be declared unsafe, completely unsafe, not even worth exploring, I'll make sure it looks believable." 'I want to do things my way, I don't want to be anyone's subject, Luna is more than my friend, she's my love, but Celestia is not my princess, I have no monarch. Luna is different, she's a good alicorn.' Then another realization hit him and he voiced it. "Luna won't be able to come here often, not if she's going to keep up appearances with Celestia."
A unicorn mare walked by in an opposite fashion to most others. While the majority of the ponies were carrying out boxes with their belonging and projects, she was carrying a box into the laboratory. Luna knew that mare, her name was Blue Print. Velocity looked towards Blue Print, "she's staying?"
"Yeah, she's one of the few who is, but don't get the wrong idea," Magnus clarified. "There's nothing going on between us and I already told you you're more than welcome to stay if you change your mind. I understand if you don't though. I know this is a risky operation."
"No pony told you..." Velocity realized. Albeit he had informed Blue Print and the other mare that they were fired, urging them not to get into an argument with Luna, it was clear that Blue Print never shared the happenings with Magnus. When the invitation to stay in the laboratory behind Celestia's back was secretly made and it reached Blue Print's ears, she agreed to stay. Magnus, unaware of what had transpired between Blue Print and Luna, welcome her without a second thought, being in need of all the help he could get.
"Told me what?" Magnus inquired without a clue of what Velocity meant.
It was little over an hour into the day time by then, though the area of the lab was still kept in an eternal night. "Magnus!" Another pony interrupted. "We're going to shut down the black lights now, let's all watch one last shooting star rainbow together!"
"Be right there!" Magnus replied. By then Luna silently stood by his side, giving Velocity a warning glare.
The pegasus decided that now was not a good time to mention anything about Blue Print and quietly joined the other ponies to see the artificial night show one last time. He had given up on Blue Print; her heart would never be his. That notion pained Velocity, but it also pained him to know that she would be heartbroken too, because he knew Magnus well enough to ascertain that his heart would never be hers either.
The ponies watched the show, knowing it would be a long time until they saw anything like that again, if ever. Once it was over, they started to store away the equipment around the metal dome and the sunlight shone through. Luna listened to the ponies as they went about their tasks, the ponies who had abandoned her. She wanted to say she still had Magnus, but she did not like what she had seen and heard recently. That traitorous nosy mare, Blue Print was back and Magnus expected Luna to stay in the castle keeping up appearances for Celestia? Did he want to be alone with that mare? The traitor! How could he? The conversations of the ponies near by only made Luna feel worse.
"This place was really great and we owe it all to Magnus Mecha, he's a genious," a white unicorn stallion spoke.
"Yeah," a pink pegasus mare agreed, "What was that name from the city where he said he used to live in a continent far away?"
Though Magnus had certainly not told the other ponies the full story and not as much as what he told Luna, he did mention a few details about his past. "I think it was Technotropolis or something like that." A mint green unicorn mare recalled. "It must have been a grant city."
"A grand city indeed," a blue earth pony stallion nooded. "We should have named this place after it and Magnus Mecha."
"That's a great idea!" A peach unicorn mare agreed.
"We'll call it Mechatropolis!" A brown unicorn stallion suggested. "It's just too bad it got its name when it's about to close down, but at least this way it will be remembered."
"Mechatropolis will represent the memory of a beautiful night." A yellow unicorn mare sighed longingly, already missing the spectacle that adorned their skies not long ago.
"The best night..." A violet unicorn stallion agreed. "Better than any other night..."
The group continued talking in such a fashion and Luna's bitterness grew. Wasn't her night beautiful too? Magnus' night was only a small imitation. Yet she couldn't make the colors he made. Not that any pony would have been awake to appreciate them anyway before he came along. 'He doesn't love me,' Luna thought. 'I don't care if I hear him say it; I don't care if he swears it by the moon, I will not believe it. If he loved me, he wouldn't have stolen my ponies for himself, he wouldn't have stolen my night. Traitor! Traitor! Magnus is nothing but a traitor! He was just using me, he doesn't care! Now Celestia will have all these ponies and their talent at her academy, the ponies that I organized and provided for, the ingrates who gave all the credit to Magnus and now choose to follow selfish Celestia! They're both the same, Tia, Magnus, every pony, no one cares for me, I'm nothing to them!' She couldn't take it anymore. The darkness within her heart was taking over. She ran, with tears flowing from her eyes, the moon princess ran endlessly into the cold snow covered landscape. She didn't know where she was going; she only knew that she wanted to be away from everything and every pony.
"Luna?" Caught up with the other ponies and their compliments, Magnus didn't see Luna's peril until she ran away. Confused, he slipped away from the others and hurried after her. He called out to Luna several times, but she either ignored him or didn't hear him. The snow began to fall and the wind blew. The area had been plagued with occasional snow storms and by the time it reached Mechatropolis all the pegasus that usually opposed the rampant forces and commanded the storm to subside or at least veer its course would be gone. The dome shaped structure was strong enough to withstand it, but either way, only a few unicorns remained as Magnus' followers. Unicorns had always been tempted by experimentation and research more so than others, perhaps because of their magical nature.
Magnus thought he saw Luna head into some ruins and followed her. "Luna! You shouldn't be down there on your own! Luna!" There was no reply as he ventured away from the cold outside, into the darkness of a narrow underground passage. The tunnel led to a wider pitch black area below. Magnus made his horn glow to provide some light. It was eerily silent, not even the increasing howling wind from outside could be heard. He didn't see any signs of Luna anywhere, but he felt that he was not alone there. She couldn't have gone back yet, she had to be there.
'Where are you going in such a hurry, Mech?' The voice echoed in his head and it was not his own, it was Cannon Shot. 'I knew there was something strange about him...' 'Get out of here!'
Magnus gasped as the images tried to enter his mind. 'No... No... It was my fault... It was my fault, but it was his terrible evil and her selfish weakness. The cowardly princess, the cruel alicorn... Cannon Shot, you sacrificed yourself for me because of them. His evil, her selfishness, my failure... My failures...'
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 10: Evil
Feeling betrayed, Luna ran away into some of the underground ruins left where the Crystal Empire used to be. Magnus followed her but could not catch up to her. Venturing deep into the dark tunnel, the visions that had assaulted him before returned. Magnus' mind went back to the time long ago right after Prowess had defeated the dragon at Technotropolis and saved princess Pretty Posh. His mother was missing for several days and he felt his father was hiding something, but he only got upset if Magnus inquired too much.
Later, his mother returned seemingly unharmed, but there was something strange about her. Magnus could feel that she was very different, like a living doll who looked and acted like his mother but was not her. Then came a dreadful day when everything was destroyed. He tried so hard to forget that day, but he never could. The images would haunt him forever. The young Magnus quietly walked to his parent's room. The door was only just an inch open, a line of light coming from within into the dark hallway of the house.
"Recharge mode," his father spoke and his mother, or at least a creature that looked like her reacted. The pony shaped doll's eyes glowed with unnatural light and she took a cable in her mouth, the other end plugged into the wall. Magnus thought about calling out to her. What she was doing made no sense; she could electrocute herself like that, but he stopped, silent. That wasn't his mother at all, it was an android built to look and act like her.
The ring tone of a cell phone pierced the silence and Magnus' father levitated the small device over. He held it with his magic near his ear as he accepted the call. Magnus heard the name of a local robotics expert being spoken and caught bits and pieces of one side of the conversation through the haze of his shock. "I know they're not the same." "He's too young; I'll tell him when he's older." "No, this isn't for me, of course I miss her, but this is for my son!"
Just as silent as he arrived, young Magnus stepped back. His heart was beating fast, his breathing felt uneven and his pace quickened as tears escaped his eyes. He ran out of the house and towards the main street as the sun set and made the city landscape glisten in shades of orange. He rushed to the castle at the end of the street and was not halted by the robot pegasus guards. He stopped anyway and looked at the guards; they had no fake fur covers or anything to make them look like real ponies, their metal bodies showing exactly what they were. The light on the guards' eyes focused on Magnus, but they said nothing.
Taking the chance to venture deeper into the castle grounds, Magnus made his way inside the massive structure. He thought he would have to sneak in, but this was even better. Maybe it was his destiny to be there, maybe King Prowess knew he was coming. Following the dragon disaster many things happened. Princess Pretty Posh married Prowess and they ruled Technotropolis as king and queen. The army had been growing and while before Prowess' coronation the trend had been less ponies and more robots, now it was the opposite.
Rumors about the magical powers of an alicorn invaded the city and all sorts of crazy stories surfaced. It would have seemed hard to believe for most, but for a desperate young colt, it was hope. Magnus wanted to find King Prowess and ask him to bring his mother back to life. The memory was bitter for him, it was a foolish notion, thinking that could be possible, yet at the time Prowess was his hero. The hallways were deserted, save for the robots that looked at him absently as if responding to the perceived movement, but did nothing. They were acting very strangely, as if they were there as mere decorations.
Magnus finally reached the throne room and opened the doors only a little. He peeked inside and saw the king and queen having a discussion. "Are you sure it's safe to deactivate the robots' defense protocol?" Pretty Posh inquired.
"Of course it is, my dear, besides, I don't trust those things. Live soldiers are better, soldiers that I can influence with my magic and have under my control," the alicorn king replied.
"But that's..." the words died on the lips of the beautiful unicorn as she looked away.
"It's what? Wrong? Does it matter? I thought our agreement was clear. I would be your husband and keep you safe and happy and you would let me handle everything. I'm sure you won't miss a few ponies, not with all the luxury I can bring into your land. You'll be the queen of this whole continent after my plans are done," Prowess laughed evilly.
"As long as your plans don't involve brainwashing any more dragons! I was scared out of my mind; I still haven't forgiven you for that entrance. That beast ripped that earth pony guard mare apart before my eyes and that's not something I wanted to see! You better be a good husband and give me all the riches and gems I want and be the perfect alicorn every pony thinks you are in the public eye. I'd die of shame if any pony found out you were behind that attack!" Pretty Posh scolded.
Prowess disregarded her concern. "Sometimes I wonder if I should have just left you in ignorance about that. Keep your pretty little head still, you were never in any real danger at the time and you're perfectly safe now. You'll be sheltered, protected, rich and admired, you'll have your perfect alicorn husband to brag about and I'll rule the whole continent and later the world."
Magnus' whole world, or what was left of it, finished falling apart completely. He was so desperate that he dashed away full speed. The robots didn't stop him, most of their programming was deactivated to a point where they were little more than statues.
Yet the sound of rushing hooves alerted Prowess of an uninvited presence. He saw that the throne doors were slightly open and immediately knew. "We have a spy!"
"Oh no! I told you it was a bad idea to deactivate the robots. But you're still a powerful alicorn; you can solve this, can't you?" Pretty Posh panicked. "Oh my reputation, my reputation would be ruined!" Prowess ignored his wife's dramatics and hurried out of the throne room.
Driven by panic, Magnus had already turned the corner at the end of the hallway and sped away, out of sight. He had not been seen, but he knew he had little chances of getting away. As he ran away trying to get to the nearest exit, he bumped into Cannon Shot. "Where are you going in such a hurry, Mech? You look like you saw a ghost!" The pegasus was in his uniform, having already been allowed into the guard a little earlier than former age restrictions required.
"He's going to kill me!" Magnus blurted out in a panicked rush. "Prowess is evil, he wants to brainwash every pony. He's coming!"
"I knew there was something strange about him..." Though the accusation would be unbelievable to most, Cannon Shot had never doubted his best friend. The sound of hoof steps that did not sound metallic was heard. Thinking fast, Cannon Shot forced open up a vent and shoved Magnus into it just in time.
"Hold it right there!" Prowess' thundering voice sounded so evil that it made Cannon Shot freeze. "What's this? The vent's cover has been removed? You were trying to escape, weren't you? You were the spy! Little pony, you have heard too much!" His horn glowed a bright red as hi body eradiated power. "Good bye, my little pony..." His sinister whisper hung heavily in the air as the red beam from the alicorn king horn hit its target point blank.
Cannon Shot let out an earsplitting wail of agony and was reduced to nothing but a pile of ashes. With a quick flap of his strong wings, Prowess blew the ashes into the ventilation system, not realizing that Magnus was there. The young colt remained paralyzed as the ashes fell on him, staining his yellow fur black. The cover for the ventilation shaft was placed back on and Prowess' hoof steps became more distant until they were inaudible.
Magnus waited a while, not because he was waiting for the opportunity of a safe escape, he was too disturbed to think of that, but he simply couldn't move. He trembled in place, the feeling of the ashes sticking to him drilling the idea into his head that Cannon Shot's blood was on his hooves. Then, when he finally mustered the will to move, he absentmindedly pushed the loose vent cover off and ran home on unsteady legs.
Magnus didn't know how much time had passed since he left his house up until the time of his return, but his father was displeased. "Mech, where were you? I was about to go looking for you. What in the world are you covered in? Mech? Son? Why are you crying?" The older unicorn hugged the young colt tightly. "What happened? I've never seen you so terrified!"
Through broken sobs and terrified tears, Magnus told his father everything, he even confessed to knowing his mother was dead. She was killed by the dragon who was controlled by Prowess. She had died believing she was doing the right thing protecting Pretty Posh. Yet that selfish royal mare was unwilling to protect her ponies. She only cared about riches and the grand status she obtained by being married to the only known alicorn in the land.
Magnus' father went on to start the rebellion that would eventually destroy Technotropolis. He knew that Prowess was strong, but the alicorn knew nothing of the digital magic that was being developed, a type of magic that interacted with machines. He believed it was his only hope, the only hope to take back his home and give his son a future. The thirst for revenge and anger eventually consumed him and caused him to unleash his weapons to wreck havoc on the city. Most ponies died in the massive destruction that ensued as the robots destroyed everything in their path.
Yet it was not that destruction which did in Prowess. Fearing that everything was already out in the open, Pretty Posh decided to claim she was innocent and pretend she was being threatened and controlled by Prowess. Looking to be seen as a great heroine superior to even an alicorn, she caught her husband completely off guard. She approached him with the pretence of affection and sunk her horn into his heart. Her golden tiara was knocked off her head as she pushed her horn in with one swift stab, putting every ounce of strength she had into it. She pulled her head back in a stumble, her temples pounding with a headache and the blood that was not hers, staining her mane and running down her forehead and face.
No one had gotten remotely close to harming Prowess when his magical defenses were up, but he thought he had nothing to fear from Pretty Posh. In one last rush of power, Prowess killed Pretty Posh, causing her to burst out in flames, her charred remains found and identified later.
As for Prowess, there was nothing but a pile of ashes left near Pretty Posh's corpse with the king's crown on it. The few survivors of Technotropolis concluded that Prowess' final attack to kill Pretty Posh was too much for him in his injured state and his own body turned to ashes. Yet no pony ever knew for sure.
Magnus, his father, the imitation of his mother and a few robot ponies left the broken land that was once the prosperous Technotropolis. With the ambition to conquer the far away continent on the other side of the dragons' domain, they journeyed across the sea towards the land that Magnus would later learn was called Equestria. Magnus Mecha had seen his best friend being murdered, he had seen his mother replaced with an imitation and witnessed as his father descended into a furious insanity that knew not friend from foe.
Magnus was the only one to survive the expedition across the sea. He never knew if the few survivors of Technotropolis tried to rebuild their society or if they just gave up and became food for the dragons after the commotion died down. He didn't want to go back anyway, he couldn't. His father was known as a madpony and his wild rampaging battle robots had claimed many lives. Magnus had nothing to look back to and nothing to look forward to.
He washed up on the southern shores of the continent where Equestria made its home and was found by buffalo. They took the injured colt back to their village where he had a difficult time adapting. In the end, he was unable to accept his past and simply tugged it away in the darkest corners of his memories, refusing to acknowledge it ever happened. Eventually he journeyed to Canterlot and found a new focus in Starswirls' teachings.
After he met Luna, things started to change. Maybe it was because she was a beautiful princess, like Pretty Posh, or maybe it was because she was a dark colored alicorn like Prowess, but something in his subconscious snapped. Yet Luna had been kind to him, so he didn't make the connection right away. Now it was too late to put up a mental defense. Luna, Pretty Posh, Prowess, they were all the same to him.
To be Continued
xoxox xox xoxox
Chapter 11: Nightmare
In the underground ruins of the former Crystal Empire... "Magnus?" The flashback faded, but the illusion did not. The pain was too vivid for Magnus to identify that the one who was speaking to him was the pony he claimed to love. She was still upset, still displeased and was ready to tell him a thing or two about betrayal, but she didn't expect what he spoke next.
With his horn glowing dangerously bright and an evil yet vacant expression in his eyes, Magnus approached Luna. "Unicorn horns make the best weapons; their magical properties make them stronger than any blade and even any bullet or laser. Alicorns are not immortal; you can kill just about anything, by stabbing its heart with a unicorn's horn." Luna's eyes widened in horror. She had been furious at Magnus, she had seen him as a traitor for stealing her night and her ponies, but she never would have thought he wanted her dead. The sheer pain of the heartbreak paralyzed her as Magnus charged forward, his glowing horn aimed at her heart.
Luna remained paralyzed for what felt like an eternity, until she finally snapped awake from the pain and allowed it to become anger. She too was surrounded by darkness as she angled her head and stopped Magnus' horn with her own. They pushed against each other, their horns glowing as they scraped against each other. With a massive burst of magic, an explosion erupted between them, throwing them in opposite directions. They didn't stop their rampage, they charged at each other again with powerful magic at the ready. When their horns collided once more, the blast of magic bounced upward in two spiraling beams of energy and exploded in the surface like deadly fireworks.
The sunlight seeped through the now disintegrated cave ceiling as snow poured into the crater where the unicorn and alicorn stood. With a fast flap of her wings, Luna took the higher ground, holding the advantage. Her horn glowed eerily as the darkness gripped her more firmly. Shockwaves surrounded her and the snow on the surface started to fall rapidly, filling the crater and burring Magnus in endless layers of frozen white. Seconds passed, then minutes and it didn't look like he was coming out. For a split second, guilt flickered in Luna's eyes as she briefly regained her consciousness. Was he dead? Had she killed him?
Luna didn't have long to contemplate her thoughts, as a pillar of fire erupted from beneath her hooves. The melted snow became steam that hid the moon princess in its veil. She hastily flapped her wings wildly, sending several dark burning feathers raining down upon the landscape, which she crashed into, the snow putting out her singed fur. She saw Magnus, cuts from stray rocks caught in the previous avalanche all over. Yet he didn't look like he was about to stand down, he was furious and ready for a fight, his horn glowing in a color changing light. Luna wasn't about to let him attack again, she forced herself to fly and swooped down speedily, her horn at the ready.
Magnus leapt to the side at the last minute and released the spell he had been casting. Luna backed away in the air to give herself more space to counterattack, but the expected offensive move never came. Instead, Magnus had casted an illusionary spell that created mirror images of himself, which were identical to the original. Luna would have none of it. She took to the skies despite the pain on her wings and the many missing feathers, and dove down, her horn going straight through one of the doubles and causing the illusion to disappear. She repeated the process with another fake Magnus, then another. But when she thought only the real one was left, she collided with another copy and felt a sharp pain on her wing as she tried to gain altitude.
Luna lost her balance and momentum, crashing into the snowy ground a few feet away. Magnus stepped forward, his eyes glowing in a strange light, his body almost translucent. Luna realized then that while she was busy with the false copies, her eyes focused on one illusion at the time as she swooped down to destroy them; the real Magnus had made himself invisible. The spell was very short term, but he used it just when he needed it. Luna shook off the pain from her wing and tried to cast a healing spell on herself, but it backfired as her darkness was too much for the casting of a spell that relied on positive energy. The pain made her recoil her injured wing and give up on the healing magic. She folded her raggedy, nearly bare wings close to her body, knowing the appendages would serve her no purpose in this battle anymore, but she was far from giving up.
Without another second to waste, Luna charged in agonized anger and the horns of the two combatants collided once more. Suddenly, a loud roar shook the land as an ursa major approached in a wild rage and attacked them both. The waves of darkness they were giving off were strong enough to drive the creature to madness. The ursa bared its fangs and claws at the alicorn and unicorn, ready to shred them to pieces. "Be gone, beast, do not interrupt my battle!" Luna commanded. She produced a deep and mystical sound that resembled a distant hypnotic cry. The melody was both painful and soothing and it put the ursa into a deep troubles sleep. The large beast fell on the snow, twitching in its slumber, expression pained, as the nightmares tortured it.
Magnus almost felt himself fall victim to the dark lullaby as well, but his thirst for revenge was so strong that he resisted it. He once again saw the most tragic events of his life replay in his mind and with renewed determination, challenged Luna once more. His horn glowed brightly as he released a beam of light towards Mechatropolis. It seemed to do nothing at first and their battle continued, their horns colliding once more. Being a powerful alicorn, Luna began to show the advantage, as Magnus' magical reserves were nearly completely consumed. The glow of his horn faded as she pushed him back, then suddenly a robotic alicorn tackled her away.
Magnus commanded the metal soldiers, using a newly developed digital spell to give them the command to attack. Exhausted, he let his creations do the work. They were supposed to help improve pony society, to protect, to defend Mechatropolis in case the ursa or some other beast showed up. They could not be directly influenced by darkness, as they were machines that could only follow commands. Yet Magnus was giving he commands and his mind had been shadowed by a deep darkness. Several more robotic alicorns arrived, trying to restrain luna, while Magnus retreated to activate Mechatropolis' full defense systems.
The unicorns that had agreed to work with him behind Celestia's back were worried at first when he returned. Yet their rebellion had already been tempted and the promise of power sealed the deal. Every machine was changed into a weapon as they became animated by the unicorns who stood by Magnus' side.
Injured and furious, Luna tried to charge into the secured laboratory, but a compartment opened and a beam of light, a laser, was shot towards her. Glowing with a magical shield, another alicorn intersected the shot. Celestia was thrown back by the force of the blast, being unused to fighting technological weaponry. She could see them, but knowing nothing about the newly developed digital magic, she couldn't sense them as she could sense a magical foe. "Luna!" The sun princess cried out.
"Stay away from me Celestia, this is my fight!" Luna's voice echoed furiously.
"Luna, this darkness, this terrible darkness..." Celestia was horrified by the state of her sister.
"What's so bad about darkness? The night is darkness and I am the night!" Luna angrily declared. "If you don't stand aside, I will strike you down myself!"
"Traitor!" Victorious Strong joined the argument, leaving his soldiers to fight Mechatropolis' advanced defenses without direction. He should have been focused on leading his ponies, but he couldn't stand by and ignore this. "Tainted goddess of the moon, you dare to betray our sun goddess, our ultimate ruler? Stand down, princess Luna, before your crimes become unforgivable!"
"Stop it, Victorious!" Celestia exclaimed. "You're only upsetting her more!"
"But your highness!" Victorious Strong was taken aback. He was showing his loyalty to his beloved sun princess and she was scolding him, that wasn't fair! "Princess Celestia... You're the only one that can subdue this tainted moon; I will slay the traitorous Magnus Mecha in your name!" Desperate to prove himself to Celestia, Victorious wielded his signature spell that turned his horn into a long blade of light. He cut down robots and rebel unicorns alike and forced a path open into Mechatropolis, where he would go on to take out the main laser cannon from within, though he wasn't exactly sure about what it was.
"Victorious! Come back!" Celestia's voice was lost to the unicorn captain as he disappeared into the enemy base.
Magnus emerged from Mechatropolis wearing high tech armor. He had not planned a full scale assault as much as having a means of defense, though he was certainly tempted by it. Plus he always integrated a security system to all his inventions, probably as a habit gained from his time helping his father craft the weapons of vengeance that ended up destroying the city he was trying to save in the past. "Cursed alicorns! Creatures such as you should not exist!"
"Luna! We need to work together!" Celestia urged. She summoned the elements of harmony, and three glowing gems shot out of the castle tower in the distance, floating around Celestia. "Luna, call for your elements!"
"Quiet! I know what I'm doing!" Yet the elements did not respond to Luna at all. "The elements of harmony don't matter, I don't need them!" Luna went all out with her dark magic, her terrifying voice echoed for several miles, filling the minds of all those who heard it with terrible nightmarish visions.
"We must retreat! Retreat!" The unicorns left as Magnus' followers urged him to take cover inside Mechatropolis and regroup.
"Nightmares do not frighten me, rejected princess of nothing. I have lived my nightmares and still yet live. This ends now!" The armor Magnus wore to gain more power sparkled with abundant electricity as his and Luna's dark beams of energy collided against each other.
'Rejected princess of nothing...' the cruel words echoed in Luna's mind. As she met Magnus' horn with her own, jumping back, forward and sideways and slashing in all directions, she saw Celestia from the corner of her eyes. The sun princess forcefully called the missing three gems that represented Luna's elements of harmony to her. Luna didn't realize that it was Celestia's desperate effort to heal Luna of her torment. Luna's darkness had betrayed harmony and now, by taking hold of the elements that were not her own and trying to force out their magic, Celestia was branded a traitor to harmony too.
The sun princess knew the terrible risk that it was for both she and Luna to become disconnected from the elements of harmony, forever banned from using them again. She knew that she was putting every pony in danger if the elements of harmony were ever needed in the future. She didn't know when some other pony capable of using the elements would appear. After this, the elements would surely be left in a dormant state and it could be hundreds or even a thousand years before they reawakened. Yet Celestia couldn't give up on her choice, she needed to save Luna, even at the cost of harmony itself.
'She took them from me; she took the elements of harmony!' Luna thought miserably. 'I said I didn't need them, but that didn't mean she could steal them! No pony cares for my night, no pony cares for me!' A terrible sadness overtook Luna beyond anything else she ever felt. There was no doubt in her troubled mind that she was the most miserable pony that ever existed. Betrayed by her sister, betrayed by her coltfriend, betrayed by every pony. She really and truly felt like the rejected princess of nothing and she wanted to become nothing...
Luna's defenses failed for a critical moment as sadness overtook her. "No!" Celestia dropped the elements of harmony and tried to rush towards Luna to protect her from Magnus attack. Yet the elements shone with a sudden flash of light as if they were short circuiting because Celestia tried to force them to work on her own, both actions went against harmony itself, as the magic within the elements had to complied to be used and would not answer to a pony using them alone. The jewels that represented the elements let out a blast of electricity that caught Celestia and knocked her down. The jewels lost their glitter and turned to gray stones, shooting off into the distance in the vague direction of the Everfree Forest.
Everything happened in a split second, Celestia fell and there was no pony to stop Magnus' irrational attack. His horn connected with the area where Luna's heart would have been, but there was nothing there. The solid form of Luna had dissolved into a shadowy mist filled with sorrow, anger and dark emotions. She had become the incarnation of nightmares. Magnus stepped back, looking every which way in an angry daze. The darkness took hold of him and lifted him off the ground, surrounding him and making it so that he couldn't breathe. The world began to black out as he struggled for his life.
"Luna, don't do it!" Celestia pleaded, rising weakly to her hooves. "Please Luna, if you kill him, you'll always regret it!" The darkness did not let go of Magnus. Instead it stretched and batted Celestia away. She felt painfully a few feet from the darkness that used to be Luna, she was injured, but most of all her heart was broken and that hurt the most. A sudden flash of light dissipated the darkness momentarily. Another beam of light came from the same source and collided with Magnus. Celestia looked at the new arrival, who was panting out of breath. "Starswirl!"
Starswirl smiled weakly. "That should push the darkness back for a moment, but it must still be overcome." He stumbled slightly and Celestia rushed to his side with worry.
"You shouldn't push yourself," she cautioned. Starswirl leaned against her, unable to do as much as support his own weight fully after running all the way there despite being advised to stay at Canterlot. Teleportation helped shorten the trip, but it still drained his energy. The sun princess was shocked and disturbed at how fragile Starswirl felt; he was weak, breakable, mortal...
Magnus slowly lifted his head as his high tech armor fell away from him in pieces. "What have I done?" It was all too confusing, too painful, he only wanted to forget. He wanted to forget everything like he did with his past. Yet that past resurfaced and he knew his recent actions couldn't be forgotten. He didn't know if he wanted to go through with this or not. Take over Equestria or try to make up for his misdeeds, was that even possible? Had he fallen into a dark madness like his father had? He slowly stood as the darkness once again began to gather in one place, the black mist carrying a hint of silver glitter like a starry sky, as if the night itself, had melted into smoke. Luna, that was Luna.
"Magnus, it's too much! Retreat now!" One of the unicorns who was allied to him called out from the laboratory. "We've managed to drive them out, I heard you had an emergency system on this thing, but you're the only one who knows how to use it!"
Yes, the emergency escape system, it was the only answer. Magnus hurried away. Celestia tried to stop him, but that dark mist of the night wrapped itself around one of her legs and stopped her. Celestia shook it off, but it was too late. Magnus locked the door to Mechatropolis.
Unknown to Celestia, she was being watched. Victorious Strong had fought his way through Mechatropolis, but he was vastly outnumbered and overpowered. It was a testament to his power that he even managed to survive that long where most of the guards had not. The deep blue unicorn had retreated into the balcony at the top of the dome and the scene from below caught his attention. The elements of harmony had forsaken Celestia? She had fallen helplessly? She had been saved by Starswirl? Seeing her in that state drove him to madness. His so called goddess was no such thing! Victorious went downstairs, rushing off to get out of the dome to vocalize his displeasure to his so called princess. Yet before he could reach the exit, Mechatropolis disappeared.
Magnus studied that land; he studied every scrap of magic left behind by Sombra. If his theory was correct, the Crystal Empire and its citizens were still alive, frozen in suspended animation just outside their plane of existence in an alternate dimension. If his calculations were correct, Mechatropolis would emerge in a similar place, but on the inside, it would remain active. He would discover the secret of the age spells and gain the longevity that the alicorns had, he would develop the most advance technology and then, approximately a thousand years later, he would return to his original plane of existence. By the time that happened he would have figured out what to do.
Meanwhile, Celestia and Starswirl along with the few surviving members of the guard were left behind in confusion. Mechatropolis was gone in a similar way to how the Crystal Empire had disappeared. The misty darkness had taken up a solid form. Luna's once dark purple fur was now pitch black, she was fully healed and her eyes glowed as her mane flowed in an ethereal breeze. She was no longer Luna at all, she was Nightmare Moon.
"Princess Luna, you must recover yourself!" Starswirl strained himself to dissipate her darkness. His help was only temporary and she would have to conquer it herself, but if he could at least point her in the right direction, give her the push she needed, then maybe she would recover her sanity.
"Enough!" Nightmare Moon shouted in a deafening voice, flapping her strong wings in anger. A gust of wind and a magical shockwave threw Starswirl to the ground.
Celestia gasped and hurried to his side, picking him up as gently as she could and holding him protectively under her wing. "No more, Starswirl, do not strain yourself, please."
Nightmare Moon looked at Celestia coldly as if challenging her. Her horn glowed as she roughly pulled the sun down from the skies and set the moon on high. "Your reign is over Celestia. My night shall last forever! Do you dare challenge me?"
"Luna, please! Please stop this, I won't fight you, I can't!" Celestia begged with abundant tears of agony rolling down her face.
"Of course you can't, behind all the undeserved praise and adoration, you're nothing but a cowardly weakling! Oh but you do have a reason to be afraid of the dark, now you do. Live in fear and shame Celestia, or die trying to oppose me!" Nightmare Moon laughed with mocking evil cruelty and took to the dark skies, disappearing in the general direction of the Everfree Forest.
"Luna..." Celestia sobbed bitterly.
"Celestia..." Starswirl spoke with a grave, serious and sorrowful tone, Celestia was fully supporting him, his strength completely gone. "The sister you once knew is no more, she is a nightmare now. You must stop her, even if it breaks your heart..." His body went still as his last words were spoken, "stop the nightmare..."
"Starswirl!" Celestia cried. He was gone, he was really gone. He was old and the strain was too much. Every day for years she wished that the next day, or the day after that, he would master rejuvenation magic; she knew she couldn't do it for him. He certainly had the power to use it, but the emotion needed to activate the power had not developed enough, he didn't share a bond deep enough with another pony to make it happen, he didn't fully understand friendship. Now there would be no tomorrow, no second chance. Starswirl would never be able to join her in eternity. Her dream of telling him about the thoughts and feelings she locked away in her heart when he was young, even if it took her a thousand years to muster up the courage to do so, that dream was forever broken, it was a nightmare.
The few surviving members of the guard approached Celestia sadly. She gently set Starswirl down and addressed them. "Please take Starswirl to Canterlot, he shall have a funeral worthy of such a great pony and he shall be honored and remembered." She took a few steps away, as the guards dared not speak. "I will do what I must..." Celestia took off into the dark skies towards the Everfree Forest to face her sister. Even if it broke her heart, Luna... Nightmare Moon, would be punished.
Magnus, the unicorns and Victorious Strong remained trapped for a thousand years unable to exit from Mechatropolis. The place was sealed tightly for fear of some pony falling out and becoming permanently lost, forever frozen. During that time, seeing as he had no choice, Victorious made peace with Magnus. The unicorns of Mechatropolis slowly died out, but they left behind descendants that would be known as the tech ponies years later. Of the original group, only Magnus and Victorious were able to master the magic to restore and retain their youth before death claimed them.
Though it was unnecessary, as Victorious would often say, Magnus built himself wings. With the power the two now ancient unicorns had gained over time, Victorious thought that it was enough to be able to fly by the power of levitating himself and held no intentions of following Magnus' example. In truth Victorious just didn't like alicorns anymore, nor this mockery of them as he called it. Yet to Magnus, the silvery metal wings on his back were not simply a means to fly without using up too much magic. Those wings meant he had come to terms with his past and put to rest the memories of the alicorns in it, not with ignorance or denial, but with understanding.
As the years went by, Magnus found peace seeing the ponies around him live and grow, watching each generation go by. He grew to care for them, his ponies, and he understood Luna's pain at being unable to show her ponies that she cared for them. He finally came to terms with his past instead of running from it and living in denial. The darkness could no longer take over Magnus mind, yet unknown to him, it held firmly onto Victorious. While the former captain appeared to be as noble as ever, his plot for vengeance was ready to unfold as soon as Mechatropolis entered its former plane of existence.
Magnus guessed, correctly, that his machines might have been seen with disfavor and disposed of, given the reputation that he left with. By the present time, the technology he had managed to salvage and introduce into Canterlot would be lost. Surely the terror of the attacking machines would discourage future research and the land's dependence of magic would continue. Yet how much the world might have change wasn't what he thought of most. What was always on his mind was Luna.
Magnus wished for nothing more than to apologize to Luna and would do anything to make peace. He would understand if she hated him, he would understand if she never forgave him, he wouldn't even protest if she wanted to execute him, but he had to tell her, he needed to apologize. Of course, if he did get the death sentence, he would make sure his ponies were taken care of first. Celestia wasn't as bad as his younger self might had made her out to be. Surely she wouldn't blame the innocent descendants of his followers for the crimes of their ancestors.
Yet none of that would matter if Luna and Celestia were no longer around. The sun and moon princesses were ancient by the time he was born and he couldn't imagine Equestria without them, but what if in their final conflict they killed each other? He knew they must have fought and he didn't know what to think of the possible outcome. Above all else, he wished with all his heart to see Luna one last time, the real Luna who was pure and innocent, free from that terrible darkness that had overtaken her. He hoped that just as he had, she too had been able to find peace.
I have a few OCs in this story. Some of them are Magnus Mecha, Pretty Posh, Prowess, Cannon Shot and a few others.
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