Of Cores and the Alicorn
By Charcoal Quill
“Star. Star. Star. Comet. Star. Star. Black hole. Space dust. Star…”
Wheatley tried to tune out the overjoyed ramblings of the Space Core, with little luck. One would think that in the… in the… in the indeterminate, but unarguably long, length of time he had spent stranded in space, with just the other Core for company, he would have gotten used to the noise.
In a way, he had, but some… intervals of time weighed more heavily than others. This was one of those times. “Hey, Space?” he addressed the ever-giddy personality core. “Think you try and keep it down for a little bit, mate?”
The yellow-eyed core regarded Wheatley. It was silent for a whole eleven seconds.
Finally, it couldn’t keep itself restrained anymore. “I’M IN SPACE!” it exclaimed.
“Yes, you are,” Wheatley mentioned dryly. “So am I. I don’t suppose the novelty is starting to wear off?”
“Space,” the Space Core answered.
Wheatley sighed. “Carry on,” he said, resigned.
As the Space Core returned to observing the many wonders of the cosmos, Wheatley turned his gaze inward. The Space Core is annoying, sure, he thought, but it’s better than having to be stranded in space alone.
Stranded in space… It hadn’t always been like this, Wheatley reflected. Now that he thought about it, he’d had a pretty decent life, such as it was for an artificial intelligence. All he had to do all day was look after all of the test subjects at Aperture Laboratories – sure, not the most pleasant job, looking after the smelly humans, but it kept him busy. After a series of events involving a mute and possibly brain-damaged test subject, a portal gun, and a short stint as the Central AI of the facility, Wheatley found himself on the moon, being hurtled into the endless depths of space.
Sure, he wasn’t entirely to blame, Wheatley reasoned, but he still had to admit that a large portion of that had been his fault. Had he not been so monstrous and power-hungry, maybe he’d still be on earth.
But then again, he hadn’t been like that before he’d become the Central Core… and he wasn’t like that now. Apparently being wired into the mainframe like that was enough to do that to anyone. It was beyond his control.
But that was no excuse. I should have been smarter, Wheatley thought. If I ever get back to Earth and see that test subject again, I definitely owe her an apology.
“Ha, but what are the chances I ever will?” Wheatley pondered out loud. “I doubt I’ll ever see the Earth’s moon again, let alone Ch-“
“Star. Star. Moon!” interrupted the Space Core. “Star. Star.”
Wheatley swiveled towards the corrupted personality Core. “What?”
“Star. Star. Star…” answered the Space Core.
“Nonono, before that,” Wheatley clarified hurriedly. “Something about a moon?”
The Space Core swiveled dramatically towards something just out of Wheatley’s line of sight. “Moon!” it repeated.
Wheatley turned to see the huge, dark outline of a familiar-looking object. Just past it was a tiny, blue-and-green globe.
“The Moon! It’s the Moon!” exclaimed Wheatley excitedly. “We’re so close to Earth!”
“Space!” agreed the Space Core.
Wheatley turned towards the Space Core. “How can we get there again?” he thought aloud. Suddenly an idea struck him. “Ooh! I know! Hey, why don’t you try orbiting around me towards the Moon, then I’ll orbit around towards your other side, and we’ll keep moving like that ‘till we reach the Moon?” If Wheatley had a mouth, he would have grinned. “Then we can use the Moon’s orbit as a slingshot, and head straight back home!” What a brilliant plan, he thought. Ha! Who’s the moron now, GLaDOS?
The Space Core orbited around Wheatley. When it was closer to the Moon, Wheatley circled around it, putting the two of them a few feet closer to their destination. Just as planned.
It went like that for a while. Presently, the two personality Cores reached their destination. “Alright, now we’re in the Moon’s orbit,” said Wheatley. “If we just circle around one or twice, to build up speed…”
They orbited around the natural satellite. Soon, Wheatley got his first good look at the bright side. “Wait. That’s not Earth’s moon…”
Sure, it was fairly close. A large, roughly circular piece of grey-white rock covered in craters. But the Earth’s moon didn’t have a massive, darkened shape on its surface that closely resembled a unicorn’s head.
Wheatley gave as close an approximation of a sigh as a non-living object could. “Well, that’s a moon but it’s not the Moon, is it, mate?” And it looked like they’d been so close, too…
“Pony. On the Moon,” observed the Space Core. “In space. Space pony. Space pony.”
“Yes, I saw,” replied Wheatley bitterly, not really paying attention. After a minute, he blinked. “Hey, are we still moving?”
“Space pony,” repeated the Space Core, more emphatically. “Look. Look. Space pony!”
“Yeah, I saw the bloody space-” Wheatley started to snap, turning towards the corrupted Core. Then he noticed something new on the surface of the moon. “…Pony…?”
Down on the moon was a tall, black pony with both wings and a unicorn’s horn, a mane like a starry sky, and clad in blue armor. The alicorn’s horn was enveloped in a dark glow.
Wheatley noticed a similar glow covering himself and the Space Core. Hold on, he realized, that thing’s pulling us toward itself!
“Space!” Wheatley addressed his fellow personality Core. “The horse-thingy’s drawing us in somehow, and it doesn’t look friendly!”
The Space Core looked down at the pony. “Space pony,” it said. “Hi, space pony!”
“Ugh.” Had Wheatley a face, and a hand to facepalm with, he would have done so.
The alicorn brought the two Cores in front of its face. Coldly, it regarded them with reptilian, turquoise eyes.
“Well, well, well,” it said in a haughty, feminine voice. “It’s not very often that I have guests…”
“Moon pony. Guess where I am! I’m in space!” the Space Core gushed.
Wheatley ignored it. “You can talk?!” he asked the alicorn incredulously.
“My, aren’t you the bright one?” she answered. “No, on second thought, that doesn’t even dignify sarcasm. Shame that my first company in so long is composed entirely of morons and…” The alicorn paused. “Heh. And lunatics.”
“I’m not a moron,” Wheatley insisted, partly out of reflex and partly out of indignation.
“Of course you’re not,” the mare replied patronizingly. She inspected the two AI. “Hmm… Metal, spherical constructs, powered by electrical currents running though circuitry, possessed of emotions and rudimentary intelligence.” She laughed, chillingly. “Why, these ponies have come a long way in my absence.”
A familiar, somewhat sullen-sounding voice came from a nearby crater. “Fact: the Aperture Science Personality Cores are of human make. Ponies do not manufacture artificial intelligences, as they believe they are the work of the Devil.”
The alicorn lifted turned its horn to the crater and lifted out another Core, this one with a pink-colored eye. The Core regarded her impassively. “The plastic tips at the end of shoelaces are called ‘aglets’,” it said. “Their true purpose is sinister.”
The mare blinked, and when her eyes reopened, they were no longer the slit-pupiled orbs. Instead, the pupils had become round and the whites properly, well, white. “Aglets?” she asked in a younger-sounding, humbler voice. “Devils? What are they?” She giggled, somewhat nervously. “Wait, you already mentioned the aglets.”
Wheatley blinked, too. This was different. “Oh, uh, that’s not important. Who are you?”
“Who am I?” the alicorn echoed quietly. In another blink, the dragon’s eyes were back.
“I am vengeance,” whispered the mare, arrogant adult tone returning. “I am the night,” she said, louder. “I… AM… NIGHTMARE MOON!” At this, she cackled wildly, and lightning flashed.
The Space Core ‘oohed’ appreciatively. “Space lightning…”
Nightmare Moon blinked again, and the round eyes returned. “Or, um you know… Luna works just fine too,” said the younger voice. And then Luna was gone, and Nightmare Moon was back. “…No. I am Nightmare. Moon. I shall be addressed as such.”
“The most aggressive fish in the world is the herring,” recited the Fact Core. “It has been known to cut through water, trees, and the space-time continuum, and will not stop until you are dead.”
Nightmare Moon stared at the Fact Core. “…What.” She shook her head. “…Never mind. Foals and maniacs you may be, but it is a welcome change of pace from solitude. Hmph. I tire from holding you all up…”
The black alicorn lifted her horn, and a dark pulse erupted from her horn, spreading over the surface of the entire moon. “There,” she said with a self-satisfied tone. “Now you all should be able to move under your own power, should you stay near my moon’s surface.”
Wheatley thought about moving a foot or two away from the dark pony, and sure enough, he did. “So, anyway, Nightmare… Moon…” he continued nervously. “This is your moon? Lovely what you’ve done with it.”
“Moon. In space,” agreed the Space Core.
Nightmare Moon preened vainly. “Yes, magnificent, isn’t it? At least you have the common sense to appreciate my night sky. Unlike some foals,” she finished darkly.
The alicorn stepped closer to the Space Core, then gestured with a hoof to the endless field of stars. “Do you not see this… this work of art?” In a blink, Nightmare Moon was replaced by Luna. “I… I just wanted them to love my night,” she continued, starting to tear up. “I worked so hard. All the stars… so many bright, lovely patterns. They took me ages. A-and my masterpiece, my Moon! But they j-just d-didn’t care… They only loved my sister’s day.”
Nightmare Moon picked up the monologue from where Luna left off. “But I decided that if they were just going to sleep through my night in favor of their precious sun, maybe they would learn to adore my masterpiece once they were deprived of their day. Either that, or die of starvation and cold under the light of my Moon.” She laughed, bitterly. “But Celly wouldn’t have that, now would she? Oh, no. So she banished me. And imprisoned me in the place I was banished to. But the greatest irony? My greatest work of art became my cage. My very essence has been bound to my Moon. I can only manifest my form upon its surface, as you see me now.”
“And all b-because I just w-wanted to make the world a better place,” Luna finished. Sadly, she lay down on the grey-white, dusty ground.
“There, there, Space Pony,” said the Space Core, floating over to the alicorn and patting it softly with its spherical body.
Wheatley felt an urge to comfort the despondent pony, too. “Now… it’s okay, Nightm-” he began.
“No,” Luna interrupted, voice shaky. “Call Her Nightmare Moon. Call me Luna.” She sniffed. “She’s… different from me. In a way. Kind… of… I’m not exactly sure of the distinction, but I know for sure that I’m not always the one in control. She’s just not trying very hard right now to be the dominant personality. Or however it works.”
“Okay, Luna,” Wheatley corrected himself. He made a mental note to be more careful with that: round eyes equals Luna, reptilian eyes equals Nightmare Moon. “You know, I can sort of relate…”
Luna stared. “You? How can you…?”
Wheatley faux-sighed. “I once tried to help a woman escape a pretty bad place. But when I got into a major position of power, I turned… Well, pretty nasty. I made some pretty bad choices, and nearly got everyone killed.” He paused. “It was only after I was thrown into space from the Moon that my mind was completely my own again. Still, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t my fault…”
“Sounds like we kind of have something in common, then,” murmured Luna sadly.
There was a long pause.
Finally, Wheatley broke the silence. “So… all of us, trapped in space together… forever,” he said. No, that was stupid. Why did I say that?
“…Not exactly,” replied Nightmare Moon, retaking control of the Moon Princess’s body.
The Fact Core apparently decided it would be a good time to speak up. “Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. Experts have concluded that one of the most likely suspects is Nolan North.”
Nightmare Moon glared at the corrupted Core. “While your inane friend has gotten his definitions mixed up,” she said, “it is correct. One night, I shall be free.”
Wheatley brightened up considerably. “Oh? And when will that be?”
“I… don’t know,” admitted Nightmare Moon. “Eventually I just stopped counting. Although whether it was because I lost track or because I stopped caring, I… can’t quite recall.” She tapped her hoof thoughtfully against her chin, and Luna slipped through for just enough time to remark, “Although I bet I could figure out how long it’s been if I only had an abacus…” After that, Nightmare Moon’s dragon eyes returned.
“Oh,” replied Wheatley. “Say, uh, do you happen to know in which direction a little blue planet called ‘Earth’ is? Because me and the rest of us Cores are just as eager to go home as you are.”
“NO!” snapped Nightmare Moon, shoving her face up close to Wheatley’s mechanical eye. “You will not leave me!” In another blink, Luna started to tear up. “I don’t want to be alone again…” she choked out.
The Space Core nuzzled up against the disheartened alicorn. “Hey. Space Pony. You know what I like about space? Space.”
“In the entire history of the universe, fedoras have never been out of style,” supplied the Fact Core.
Suddenly, inspiration struck Wheatley. “Ooh! I know! Since Space doesn’t want to go back to Earth anyway, and he loves space so much, why don’t you just point me and Fact in the direction of Earth and keep Space with you?”
Luna blinked away a tear, slowly. “A-alright,” she said finally. “I suppose I would be okay with that… After all, Space sure loves my stars. Don’t you, Space?” she cooed, nuzzling the Core playfully.
The Space Core giggled.
“Okay, then,” Luna continued. She lifted her head. “’Earth’… ‘Earth’… Oh! Found it! It’s right over th…” Her voice trailed off mid-gesture as her eyes locked onto something far away. Luna’s pupils turned to pinpricks.
“What? What is it?” Wheatley turned to see what the Moon Princess was staring at.
Out in the depths of space, Wheatley could make out a tiny ball of fire, with something in the center. But only distance made the ball look so small, and it grew rapidly as it came closer. Wheatley could make out a faint noise growing ever-louder as the object approached them:
Covered in flame, Rick the Adventure Core hurtled straight towards Luna. Both Core and alicorn screamed.
Rick smashed into Luna, and she was promptly gone. In her stead, Nightmare Moon shrieked in pain and fury. The Adventure Core bounced off the enraged alicorn and bumped into the Space Core, sending it floating off into space.
“What are you doing?!” Wheatley yelled to the green-eyed Core.
“I’m saving all your sorry metal hides from the dark alien horse-thing!” replied Rick fairly cheerfully (all things considered, as he was still on fire.) “Also? I’m on fire.”
“It is physically impossible for fire to exist in space,” the Fact Core observed.
“Doesn’t matter!” replied Wheatley. “You’ve gone and seriously ticked off the ‘horse-thing’! Now we’ve all gotta escape, fast!”
Hurriedly, Wheatley willed himself to float away from the Moon. He swiveled around to face the moon, and noted with some dismay that the other Cores had each taken off in separate directions.
“You insolent foals!” Nightmare Moon thundered. “You MORONS! You think you can best me?! I will never let you leave this moon alive!” With that, dark energy enveloped her horn, and it crackled with arcane power.
A swirling, dark vortex for each Core swirled out and began to draw the four of them back towards the waiting, vengeful mare. Wheatley tried to struggle against the dark magic, but it in vain. He was only putting off the inevitable.
Back on Equestria, a purple unicorn gazed out the window of her bedroom at the moon and the silhouette on its surface. In a worried tone, she recited part of an old legend that was troubling her. “Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape, and she will bring about everlasting night.” She sighed. “I hope the Princess was right. I hope it is just an old pony tale.”
A door opened, and a purple baby dragon wearing a lampshade on its head addressed the mare. “C’mon, Twilight! It’s time to watch the sun rise!”
Twilight glanced back at the moon once more, and then followed the dragon away. She tried to put it out of her mind, but one detail bothered her… Perhaps her mind was just playing tricks on her, but she could have sworn that four of the lights in the sky had been moving closer to the moon.
“You foals!” snarled Nightmare Moon. “You shall not get away!”
Wheatley pulled against the lure of the alicorn’s magic. Ever so slowly, he started to slow his progress.
“NO!” shrieked the mare. “You shall not. Get. Away!” She drew in all her power, and sent out a dark flare of arcane might.
As it reached the four Cores, the energy washed over them and bounced around in their mechanical forms. Implausibly – in a million to one chance – the spell ricocheted around their casings and pulled them back to its source in a massive ball of unstable magic.
Right at Nightmare Moon.
Dumbfounded, the Mare in the Moon could only stare at the four Cores that were now hurtling towards her with lethal potential. “You’re kidding… You’re kidding, right?” she asked.
Simultaneously, the Cores collided with Nightmare Moon, releasing their payload of dark magic. In an agonized scream, and a flash of un-light, the alicorn – and her silhouette upon the moon’s surface – disappeared.
For a minute or two, each Core floated around aimlessly, close to the surface of the moon. Finally, Rick was the first to speak. “What the heck was that?!”
“Error. Fact not found,” answered the Fact Core helpfully.
The Space Core looked around hopefully. “Space Pony?” it asked hopefully.
“No, mate. I think she’s gone for good,” replied Wheatley. He considered this. “If only I knew where she went…”
Wearily, Luna opened her eyes. As she got to her hooves, wincing slightly, she took in her surroundings.
What she saw shocked her.
She was in a big, grassy field! Real, green grass! Over there – weren’t those trees? And flowers! A multitude of wildflowers dotted the ground.
With a delighted squeak, Luna tumbled and rolled, letting the cool, green grass brush against her coat. After an eternity of moon dust, the sensation of the lovely, dew-speckled plants felt so good against her coat, even if it was slightly hindered by the armor that she wore.
Standing up again, Luna pranced over to one of the flowers and took a long, appreciative sniff. It was amazing! Had flowers always smelled so good? With a sense of wonder, she reached out her head and ate the bloom. It tasted heavenly.
As Luna swallowed, it finally hit her. She was home! Home! She felt the sudden urge to whirl and dance and sing out with pure joy. Grinning, she looked up at the night sky and noted how her form was no longer imprinted upon the moon’s surface.
“Well,” she said to the world at large, “Home!” She giggled. “Oh, I can hardly wait to see Celly…”
Deep inside the Moon Princess, something stirred. Luna tried to fight it, but the other presence was not to be denied, and she was gone once more.
“…Yes. Celestia,” continued Nightmare Moon. “Sister dearest and her beloved day.” She glared at the horizon. If she didn’t hurry, her sister’s precious Sun would come trundling up into the sky, banishing her Night.
That simply would not do.
A sequel to Of Cores and the Alicorn
By Charcoal Quill
It’s no use resisting. You let me in, and now I’m in charge. Nightmare Moon directed this thought inwards, to the struggling will of Princess Luna. Besides, is this not what you wanted?
A thousand years ago, Luna would have agreed to eternal night – and, in fact did so eagerly. It was a combination of dark magic and her resentment of the Day that had transformed the mare into Nightmare Moon in the first place, and at that time the Nightmare and Luna were one being. But the long years trapped in the Moon had caused Luna’s anger to fade, leaving only loneliness in its place.
Soon, all Luna wanted to do was get back home. However, things wouldn’t be as simple as that, would it? Although Luna had long abandoned the notion of eternal night, the dark magic preserved the personality of the hateful Nightmare Moon. Now Luna was quite literally of two minds: the repentant Princess of the Moon, and the nefarious dark Overlord.
And now, after a magical accident involving four artificial personality constructs, the body they shared was finally back on Equestria – and Nightmare Moon had promptly assumed direct control of it. Luna was trying to regain command, but to little effect.
Honestly, Nightmare Moon thought, it’s starting to get pathetic. Why don’t you go find some mental corner to sulk in while I do all the work?
Grudgingly, Luna withdrew. It was clear that she wasn’t going to get anywhere through sheer force alone. Well, then. She would bide her time until an opportunity presented itself.
Luna found herself wondering what her sister, Celestia, would do in this situation. Delving deep into her memory, she recalled a conversation that the two had once had…
A much younger Luna looked at the box in front of her. “Celly, why are we doing this again?” she asked.
Celestia turned her gaze down towards her little sister. “But I thought you liked cake,” she replied, smiling.
“Yeah,” Luna agreed, “but we’re not normally the ones baking it.”
“Oh, hush,” Celestia said, not unkindly. “Think of it as some sister-sister bonding time! You’ve been spending ever so much time on your night sky that I hardly even see you anymore.” She poured the contents of the box into a large mixing bowl, and started stirring. “Could you please pass the vegetable oil and semi-sweet chocolate chips?”
Grumbling, Luna complied. “I’ve just been trying to perfect the stars. I’m sure that if I’m good enough, then ponies will start to love my night and me.”
“Our subjects do love you, Luna,” Celestia assured her, adding the ingredients to the mix. “And there are many more things about being a good ruler than just tending to the skies.”
Luna pouted, and busied herself with looking at the recipe card and pretending to ignore her sister.
“For instance,” Celestia continued, “take this cake. Alone, these ingredients are fine in their own right, but with the proper preparation, they can be so much more! After all,” she said, leaning in and nuzzling Luna, “Would you rather have a large, delicious chocolate cake or an equivalent mass of, say, butter?” Celestia levitated some butter and dumped it into the bowl.
“So what is your point?” asked Luna, bored.
Celestia winked. “Elementary, my dear sister. A true leader can use simply the resources at hand, and a bit of cleverness, to turn any situation to her advantage.”
“Simply the resources at hand, and a bit of cleverness…” Luna echoed. Well, it was time to put that advice to the test.
Presently, the cloud of dark energy that was currently Nightmare Moon’s form reached Ponyville. It appeared that festivities for the Summer Sun celebration were being held at the town hall, and everypony in the town had gathered inside. Nightmare Moon slipped inside too, and coalesced on the balcony where Celestia should have been standing.
“Oh, no,” a purple unicorn at the head of the crowd was saying quietly to herself. “Nightmare Moon!” A baby dragon fainted at the sight of the dark alicorn, and slid off the unicorn’s back.
Nightmare Moon smirked. “Oh, my beloved subjects,” she crooned to the frightened crowd. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen your precious, little, Sun-loving faces.”
Oh, Luna thought quietly to herself. She’s beginning the monologue. If this isn’t my chance to find a way to beat her without being watched, then nothing is. Luna tuned out the gloating of her more melodramatic half and delved deep into her psyche, searching for something that would help her.
Luna’s mind was exactly the same as the last several times Luna had examined it. The dark magic – jealousy and malice given form – had wrapped its tendrils around her mentality, reinforcing it, but also trapping and controlling it.
But something seemed slightly different about the magic this time… Luna zoomed in her mind’s eye for a closer look.
Trapped within the purple-black web of darkness were things that hadn’t been there before… four colorful, glowing strands, faint but definitely there, had added themselves to Nightmare Moon’s essence. Luna gingerly reached out to the yellow one and touched it.
Nightmare Moon chuckled evilly. “Remember this day, little ponies, for it was your last,” she gloated to her new subjects. “From this moment forth, the night…”
Space. Wanna go.
Nightmare Moon paused slightly before continuing. “…will last…”
Wanna go to space. Wanna go. Space.
“…Forever!” Nightmare Moon finished. She threw back her head and laughed, mane forming a swirling vortex and lightning coursing down from the sky. But as she cackled, a single thought nagged at her: What was that?
Inwardly, Luna giggled at Nightmare Moon’s momentary confusion. That had sounded exactly like one of the odd little orbs that she had recently met on the Moon; specifically the Space Core. Luna looked at the three other colored strands. One was blue, another pink, and the last was green.
I think I know what these are, Luna thought to herself.
Right before Luna and Nightmare Moon left the moon, the Cores had attempted to leave the natural satellite’s surface. Fearing more solitude, Nightmare Moon used her magic in a struggle to keep them with her. The spell malfunctioned, and the energy briefly mingled with the Cores before rebounding and hitting the alicorn, releasing her from the moon and sending her back to Equestria.
But apparently that wasn’t all the spell had done. Just as the dark magic preserved Nightmare Moon’s personality, the personalities of the four Cores must have been imprinted into it as well, lying dormant before being briefly stirred by Luna’s influence.
Celestia’s words echoed in Luna’s mind. “…the resources at hand, and a bit of cleverness…”
Luna grinned. This was just the opportunity she had been waiting for. So long as she was careful that Nightmare Moon never caught on, Luna could use the Core imprints to sabotage the plans for eternal night.
Careful to keep a gentle hold on the four imprints, Luna willed herself back to where she could observe Nightmare Moon’s actions. Quietly, she waited… and plotted.
From a distance, Nightmare Moon watched the group of treasonous ponies walk through the Everfree Forest. There were six in total: the bookish purple unicorn who had remembered her, the blue, rainbow-maned pegasus who had attempted to charge her, the decidedly rural, orange earth pony who had held her back, the odd pink pony, the prissy white unicorn, and the shy yellow pegasus.
Ha, Nightmare scoffed. These foals think they can best me? They do not have the makings of heroes. She paused. And yet…
(Unobserved, Luna nudged the green cord.)
The rainbow mare’s kind of attractive… Hello, gorgeous.
Mentally, Nightmare Moon twitched. Did she really just think that? Ugh… I’ve been on the moon for far too long. She dismissed the thought and went back to observing the ponies.
(Luna grinned wickedly. Nightmare hadn’t suspected a thing! This could be fun.)
Ultimately, the six would-be heroines were apparently trying to make their way to the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters so that they could use the Elements of Harmony against Nightmare Moon. Presently, they were acting awfully nervous about their surroundings.
“So… None of you have been in here before?” inquired the purple unicorn worriedly.
The white one shuddered. “Heavens no. Just look at it… It’s dreadful!” she quavered.
Nightmare Moon spied that the party was heading right for a stretch of unstable, cracked cliff. Quickly, she formed a plan. I’ll sunder the ground beneath them. Those that don’t fall to their death I’ll finish off with lightning… The alicorn seeped her gaseous form into the crevices.
“And it ain’t natural,” the orange pony continued. “Folks say it don’t work the same as Equestria.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The blue one sent her voice into what she probably thought was a spooky quaver. “Nopony knows. You know why?”
“Rainbow, quit it,” the orange pony admonished.
Rainbow was unperturbed. She stalked closer to the others. “Because every pony who’s ever come in has never… come… out!”
Nightmare Moon figured this was her cue. She cracked the cliff, sending a sizable portion of the earth, and the ponies standing on it, tumbling to the ground. The dark cloud of energy sped off.
Quickly, Nightmare Moon noticed that the two pegasus ponies had remained, due to them hovering in the air. This had not been unexpected, but was tiresome nonetheless. She readied an eldritch bundle of electricity.
(Hurriedly, Luna tugged on the yellow cord again. Harder.)
Nightmare’s gaze whipped away from the pegasi, focusing instead on the night sky.
So much space. Wanna see it all. How many stars are there? One. Two...
Mortified, Nightmare Moon listened to the thoughts. Yes, her night was beautiful. But why am I trying to enjoy it now?! I’ve got work to do!
Apparently, she didn’t care. Three. Four. Five. Six. Uh… Six… um… Space! I can count to space!
Seven, she corrected herself. And there are many numbers after seven, but I’ve got more important things to tend to right now than count my stars.
Nightmare Moon turned back to the ponies… and apparently they were all mostly safe on the ground.
“Sorry, girls,” apologized the yellow one as she helped Rainbow to set the purple unicorn back on the earth. “I’m not used to holding anything more than a bunny or two…”
Angrily, Nightmare Moon turned away from the ponies. That had been a complete failure… She spied, off in the distance, the shape of a manticore. …But one that I shall soon correct! She sped off towards the beast, planning to break its will like a dry twig and possess its body.
(Luna plucked at the blue strand.)
Or, I’ve got an even better idea! Why not turn into a thorn, and then stick yourself into its paw, thereby angering it? Brilliant plan, if I do say so myself.
Without thinking, Nightmare complied. As the thorn sank into the manticore’s paw, the beast bellowed in pain and fury. It started to barrel towards the six ponies.
Quickly, Nightmare Moon discovered a problem with her plan. The constant, erratic motion of the manticore’s paw was starting to make her queasy…
Soon, she could make out the voice of Rainbow. “…And once Pinkie and Rarity were safe, whoosh! Me and Fluttershy loop-de-looped around and wham! Caught you right in the nick of time.”
Okay, so that makes Rainbow, Pinkie, Rarity, and Fluttershy, thought Nightmare Moon. I’m sure I can tell who’s who. And I think I heard somepony call the orange one Applejack… but what about the last…?
“Yes, Rainbow, I was there,” replied the Purple Pony in question, tiredly. “And I’m very grateful. But we gotta-” The manticore entered her line of sight, and she gasped. “A manticore!”
The beast stood up on its hind legs and roared, spreading its front legs wide. Nightmare Moon barely had enough time to glimpse the six heroines before all she could see was a nauseating blur of motion.
Oh, nonononono, I did not think this out! But I can still fix this… Hmmm… Okay, sorry, never mind!
Fighting had started between the ponies and the manticore, and there was screaming and yelling, but Nightmare Moon was going too fast to comprehend what was happening. Even if she could tell, she felt too sick to really care: if thorns could vomit, then she would have done so. The sickened mare dug herself further into the paw, as if she were holding on for dear life. This was a moronic idea! She thought angrily to herself. I don’t even know how I came up with something so stupid!
(Luna chuckled quietly to herself. This is more fun than I’ve had in ages!)
Although… Nightmare considered. That thought hadn’t seemed quite right. Sounded a bit more masculine than me… And had an accent… And sort of felt… Blue? The dark alicorn tried to make sense of this around her nausea.
(Oh no! Luna gulped as she heard what Nightmare Moon was thinking. Hurriedly, she reached for the green strand.)
Nightmare Moon metaphorically narrowed her eyes (though she didn’t literally, because of course thorns don’t have eyes). If I didn’t know better, I’d say that thought had sounded almost exactly like-
Here, let me put on some adventure music. Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-DUN! DUN DUN! Dunna-dunna-na-dunna-na-DUN! DUN DUN! nananaDUNDUNDUN dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun...
Nightmare Moon screamed. That singing! Someone stop that hideous singing! I can’t get it out of my head!
All movement ceased. Nightmare Moon could finally make out what was happening and let her metaphorical stomach settle. The blasted music even stopped.
As it turned out, the interruption had been caused by the yellow pegasus – Fluttershy. She stood between her five companions and the manticore.
Fluttershy trotted over to the beast, and it growled, lifting a paw as if to strike. As the pony spoke, the manticore paused.
“Shhh… It’s okay,” Fluttershy told the animal. After a pause, the manticore turned over its paw and presented Nightmare Moon, in all her thorny glory, to the mare.
As Fluttershy turned her gaze towards the thorn, time seemed to slow to a crawl for Nightmare Moon. She found herself staring up into the big, teal eyes of the pegasus. As Fluttershy glanced at the thorn, Nightmare thought she saw a spark of comprehension.
The mare gazed down at the thorn, and Nightmare Moon suddenly found herself overwhelmed by a strange, unsettling sensation; one that caused her agony and yet was somehow soothing. She knows, Nightmare thought, panicked. She knows, and she’s cursing me with her evil magic! It burnsss usss!
(Luna observed this amusedly. She felt no pain from the gaze, only the gentle solace of kindness. So, she thought, too quietly for Nightmare to hear. Kindness hurts you? Good to know.)
What had felt like forever to Nightmare Moon really only lasted a fraction of a second. Fluttershy turned her eyes away from the thorn, and to the manticore’s face. “Oh, you poor, poor baby,” she said to it.
“Little?!” Rainbow interjected.
Fluttershy ignored her. “Now this might hurt for just a second,” she told the manticore, and then reached out and removed the thorn with her teeth.
The beast roared, scooping up the little pony with a massive paw. Nightmare fell to the ground, forgotten.
“Fluttershy!” the other ponies chorused, frightened for their friend. Nightmare Moon, however, watched in glee as the manticore lowered its head to the wretched yellow pegasus and…
It’s licking her? WHY is it LICKING her?! Nightmare all but shrieked. What, is it determining her taste? Eat her, you stupid animal!
Fluttershy giggled. “Aw, you’re just a little ol’ baby kitty, aren’t you?” she crooned to the manticore. The other five ponies safely walked past. “Yes you are. Yes you are…”
The Purple One paused, waiting for Fluttershy. “How did you know about the thorn?” she asked.
“I didn’t,” Fluttershy replied. “Sometimes we all just need to be shown a little kindness.”
Nightmare Moon scoffed silently. Ha! Kindness… What did kindness ever do for me? I tried to be kind to the ponies of Equestria, but only cruelty got me anywhere.
Luna couldn’t stop herself. Yes, she pointed out, it got us to the Moon.
Out of your sulk already? Nightmare sneered. Well, go away. I have no need of your sarcasm. You’ll only get in my way.
Luna hid a smile. As you wish, she replied, and then receded away from Nightmare Moon’s consciousness.
Ignorant foal, Nightmare thought, before she dissipated her thorn-form, returning to insubstantiality before gliding away.
Mentally, Nightmare Moon cursed herself as she sped past the six ponies. She had dawdled too long, and let her adversaries cover too much ground. I have to come up with a new plan, and quickly, she thought, and then wracked her brain for inspiration.
(Luna paused momentarily, considering her options. Well, I haven’t tried Fact, yet, she thought, then plucked the pink strand.)
Particularly frightening experiences with supernatural entities can momentarily stun even the most hard-bitten mercenaries, resulting in lack of attacking ability and a 50% movement speed penalty. In some cases, this can be prevented by wearing a pumpkin on one’s head.
Nightmare Moon blinked, wondering where that had come from. It seemed dubious, but… she was running out of time. Quickly, she seeped her gaseous form into several of the trees ahead, twisting and disfiguring their bark into frightening visages.
Soon, Nightmare was rewarded in her efforts. She heard the loathsome yellow one, Fluttershy, give out a shrill scream upon sighting the first of the trees.
Apparently, Applejack hadn’t seen them, as she was preoccupied with her hooves. “It’s just mud,” she said, annoyed. Then she noticed the trees, too, and leaped back with a yell.
Nightmare’s trees surrounded the frightened mares, emitting dangerous-sounding snarls and hisses. The ponies all screamed.
…Except for one. Pinkie was standing next to one of the trees, looking at it and laughing as if it was one of the funniest things she had ever seen. As one, the other ponies (including Nightmare Moon) stared at the pink pony as if she had gone mad.
Pinkie started making funny faces at the tree, then giggled some more.
“Pinkie, what are you doing?!” inquired the Purple One, horrified. “Run!”
“Oh, girls, don’t you see?” replied Pinkie. Strange, eerie music streamed in from Elsewhere, and Pinkie started to bounce in time… and sing along.
“Tell me she’s not…” the Purple One interrupted, disbelieving. Nightmare Moon found herself agreeing with her.
Pinkie continued. “The darkness and the shadows, they would always make me frowww-owowowwwn…”
“She is,” Rarity observed.
Nightmare stared in shock. Have I gone crazy, or is it the rest of the world that has?
“I'd hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw. But Granny Pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at all…”
Impatiently, Rainbow asked, “So what is?”
Pinkie answered her. “She said, Pinkie, you gotta stand up tall, learn to face your fears…”
I’ve had quite enough of this, thought Nightmare Moon. She began to gather the dark energy necessary to vaporize the vapid pink pony on the spot.
“You’ll see that they can’t hurt you, just laugh to make them disappear…” Turning to one of the trees, Pinkie laughed matter-of-factly. “Ha. Ha. Ha!”
Nightmare found herself stripped away from the tree’s form like soggy paper under a sandblaster. It was, to say the least, excruciatingly painful. She shrieked in agony, and the magic she had gathered dissipated harmlessly. Her form was ousted from the wood of that particular tree, but she remained clinging to the rest, dazed.
What was tha- Nightmare Moon thought, but interrupted herself. The laughter! She’s doing it with the laughter! Pinkie was still singing. Desperately, Nightmare abandoned her plan to completely vaporize the mare, choosing to simply fry her to a crisp instead.
Then the others started laughing at her, too.
One sandblaster on her mind had been agonizing. Six concentrated streams on different areas of her psyche were too much to handle. Nightmare Moon fled the scene, wracked with pain.
(Luna regarded everything stoically. I don’t know what she’s complaining about, she thought to herself. I thought they all had quite lovely laughs. And the song was catchy, too.)
Nightmare Moon sped away, and kept on going. Eventually, she slowed to a halt near a river, pausing to rest. What is going on? she thought miserably. I am an immortal god-princess! How am I being stopped by six foalish, ignorant mares? What is happening to my mind?
(Luna snickered at Nightmare, and then plucked at the yellow cord.)
Space. Wanna go to space.
Oh, shut up, Nightmare Moon replied to herself out of pique. I’m not going to give up now. I just need some opportunity…
A nasally, sibilating noise got her attention. Nightmare looked over to see, in the river, a massive, purple sea serpent. It was humming a jaunty tune as it washed its mustache.
Space. Wanna go. Wanna go.
Nightmare Moon’s irritation rose. Shut. UP, she told herself. I will push through this.
Doo doo doo, dee doo doo… Space. Gonna go to space. Gonna see the Sun!
NO! Nightmare raged. I, nor ANYONE ELSE, will EVER see the SUN AGAIN! She felt the need to lash out at something in her fury. Spying the sea serpent again, she sped up and slashed through its luxurious mustache.
The end of the mustache dropped into the water, and the current swept it away. “NO!” the sea serpent wailed. “MY MOO-STACHE!”
That helped a little, but not by much… Nightmare Moon stared at the sorrowful serpent, feeling something unfamiliar at the sight of its misery. Is this… remorse? Uncomfortable, she turned away and streaked off deeper into the forest.
Eventually, the ruins of the old palace came into view. It lay across a rope bridge, and deep chasms surrounded it. The bridge was the only way across.
Quickly, Nightmare Moon swept over and severed the rope. She knew this would deter two-thirds of the ponies, but Fluttershy and Rainbow could still get across to repair the bridge. But how to stop that…? she wondered. After a minute, she had an answer. Of course! Just blast them to bits, like I should have all along…
(No! Nonononono… Luna quickly slapped at two cords at random.)
The Wonderbolts are a team of professional stunt fliers. Their number one fan is the pegasus pony known as Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash’s number one fan is the chicken known as Scootaloo. Scootaloo’s number one fans are the team of professional stunt fliers known as the Wonderbolts.
Ooh! I have a cunning plan… Why not pretend to be a team like the Wonderbolts, and convince Rainbow to abandon her friends!
Against her better judgment, Nightmare Moon mused over this. Yes… yes, it could work, she decided. They can’t use the Elements if there are only five of them… I’ll lure Rainbow away, and then torture and kill her at my leisure.
At that moment, the six ponies broke through the forest and saw the palace. “There it is!” the Purple One exclaimed. “The ruin that holds the Elements of Harmony… We made it!” Excitedly, she broke into a gallop.
“Twilight, wait for us!” said Applejack as the five others sped after her.
Wait, are they all just going to run off the cliff? This will be easier than I thought…
The Purple One – Twilight, Nightmare gathered – looked over her shoulder at her friends. “We’re almost there – WHOA!” The front half of her body slipped off the edge of the cliff, and her hooves scrabbled uselessly as she teetered.
Rainbow Dash took Twilight’s tail in her mouth and pulled her away from the edge. “What’s with you and falling off cliffs today?” she asked, jokingly.
Nightmare Moon sighed. So close…
Pinkie sighed too, although probably not for the same reason. “Now what?”
“Duh,” Dash replied, wiggling her wings. She took off.
“Oh yeah,” Pinkie said.
Rainbow Dash dived into the abyss, grabbed the end of the rope, and lifted it to the other end of the chasm. As she prepared to secure the bridge, Nightmare decided it was time to intervene.
“Rainbow…” she whispered to the mare as she slithered past. She willed the fog to start to fill the area.
Dash jumped, dropping the rope on the ground. “Who’s there?!”
Nightmare Moon whispered again. “Rainbow…”
(Bored, now. Luna started to pick at the green string.)
Okay, what’s the situation? Oh, it’s that rainbow mare again? Are we gonna pick her up? Alright, let’s do this!
Rainbow Dash stood up on her hind legs. “I ain’t scared of you,” she proclaimed, kicking out her front legs at thin air. “Show yourself!”
“We’ve eagerly awaiting the arrival of the best flier in Equestria,” Nightmare explained, throwing a bit more swoon into her tone than was strictly necessary. Oops, I’ll have to correct that.
Dash looked confused. “Who?”
“Why, you, of course!” Nightmare Moon clarified.
Smooth. Real smooth! We’ll have her eating out of your hand… wait, you don’t have hands. Well, she’ll be eating out of whatever you want her to!
Nightmare paled. Did I just-
“Really?” asked Dash, delighted. She remembered her composure enough to attempt a recovery. “I mean, oh yeah! Me! Hey, uh, you wouldn’t mind telling the Wonderbolts that, would you? ‘Cause I’ve been trying to get into that group for, like, ever!”
Nightmare split her gaseous form into three bodies, and formed them into jumpsuit-wearing pegasi – two male, one female. “No, Rainbow Dash,” she said with the female’s body, “We want you to join us: the Shadowbolts!” At that, the three Shadowbolts galloped into view and slid to a halt.
Okay, now lay on the charm. Let her know that you are awesome, and she is awesome, and you should all go do something awesome together!
“We are the greatest aerial team in the Everfree forest, and soon we will be the greatest in all Equestria.” Nightmare’s tone was smooth and seductive – a little too much, she thought, but she was having the hardest time curbing it… “But first, we need a captain…”
Rainbow Dash got a grin that could only be described as the “Fangirl’s Silent Squee”.
Compliment her. Always time to compliment a beautiful filly…
Nightmare’s female Shadowbolt started flying in lazy circles around the pegasus. “The most magnificent…”
“…Bravest flyer in all the land!” Nightmare finished.
“Yes, heh, it’s all true!” Rainbow not-so-humbly agreed.
And now, for the clincher…
Nightmare felt herself growing even more uncomfortable with the situation, but she had to admit she was getting somewhere. “We need…” She leaned in close to Dash’s ear, and whispered, “…You!”
“Woo-Hoo!” Rainbow Dash squealed, leaping into the air with joy. “Sign me up!”
Alright, time for sweet mare-on-mare lovin’!
Nightmare twitched violently. What?! No!
“Just let me tie this bridge real quick, and then we have a deal,” Dash continued.
Wait, it’s not working! “No!” Nightmare Shadowbolt put herself between the pony and the rope. “It’s them, or us!”
Let her know you want her now! Lean in and kiss her!
No! Go away!
Across the chasm, Twilight called, “Rainbow, what’s taking so long?” She spied the three strangers with Dash. “Oh, no… Rainbow!”
Nightmare Moon looked over and glared at the ponies on the other side. Her eyes flashed, and she willed the fog to envelop them.
“Don’t listen to them!” Twilight tried to say, but it was muffled.
“Well…?” Nightmare asked the conflicted pegasus.
“…You,” Rainbow decided.
Nightmare grinned triumphantly. Alright…
Yes! Take her now! Show her your black belt in bedroom!
I will do nothing of the sort! Nightmare screamed. I don’t even know what that means, and if it does mean what I think it does, then I don’t want to know!
“Thank you. For the offer, I mean,” Dash clarified.
All of Nightmare’s Shadowbolt bodies widened their eyes in shock. What?!
Rainbow Dash tied the end of the bridge securely. “But… I’m afraid I have to say no.” She sped away.
Nightmare Moon watched her go, furious. She’d been toying with me the whole time! She’d let me make a fool of myself, and then she crumpled up my feelings like a used paper cup, and threw me away like I was nothing! Nightmare paused. …Wait. No, that’s not right.
She threw away power! Unlimited power! And for what… Friendship?! Furious, she dissipated the Shadowbolt forms and darted away, into the ruins of the castle.
Luna listened with amusement to the distraught Nightmare Moon slunk into a dusty corner. I… What is happening to me? Nightmare thought. Confound these… these ponies, who foil me at every turn!
Am I… going mad? I am, aren’t I, the dark alicorn despaired, not so much asking as stating. But why now? After weathering a thousand years of solitude, now that I have finally returned to take my rightful place, why must my sanity finally start to slip?
You weren’t very stable to begin with, Luna pointed out.
Silence, Nightmare snapped.
Luna gasped in mock horror. Oh, so it’s the old “Silence, foal” routine again? Oh no, that never ceases to be scary or clever!
Sarcasm is the refuge of the creatively bankrupt, and will get us nowhere, Nightmare Moon growled. Besides, shouldn’t you be more worried by the erosion of our sanity?
Luna shrugged. It’s not our sanity, just yours, she corrected. And even if I was going insane, too, then I’d just sit back and enjoy it. Not much else I can do with you in control.
You can help! Nightmare suggested. You could have been my voice of reason, and steered me away from those moronic plans…
Even if we ignore the fact that I’m not rooting for you, Luna said, you told me to go away and leave you alone. Is this not what you wanted?
Nightmare Moon snarled at her own words being thrown back into her face. You know perfectly well this is not what I wanted! At last I’m free, but ever since we met those insane Cores, I’ve been slowly going mad, too! I didn’t ask for insanity, or to be thwarted by those pathetic foals… or… or…
Luna watched the mental gears of Nightmare Moon turn, putting two and two together and coming up with “four”. Oh, horse-apples…
YOU! Nightmare roared. You’ve been sabotaging me the entire time, and I hadn’t even realized! She examined the dark magic that made up her mind, and saw the strands of Personality Core that had been intertwined with it. You’ve somehow been manipulating these… these things to affect my behavior!
Luna sighed. No use denying it, is there?
Well, no longer! Nightmare Moon’s psyche surged, and the black tendrils around Luna’s brain ripped out the offending strands. The four imprints of the Cores drifted away before dissipating into nothingness.
Oh, bollocks, said the voice of Mind-Wheatley, faintly, before it too disappeared.
Nightmare Moon turned to Luna. And as for you, she continued, you have proven yourself too dangerous to simply ignore. The black tendrils shot out at Luna, too, and wrapped themselves around her, restricting all movement. Had this not been happening in the mind, Luna would have had considerable difficulty breathing.
Nightmare glared down at the restrained Princess, examining her handiwork. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have much work to do, she told Luna. Maybe once I’ve defeated these ponies once and for all, and my hold on the throne is secure, then the two of us can spend some quality time together…
Luna watched Nightmare Moon recede out of introspection and back into the outside world. Well, that could have gone better…
Returning her focus outward, Nightmare Moon took her bearings of her surroundings. She hadn’t moved, nor had she expected to – but now she was not alone.
In the middle of the room, Twilight sat, all five of the known Elements of Harmony in front of her as she tried to use her magic to do… something with them.
Nightmare looked around. Where were the other ponies? She couldn’t sense them in the building. No matter, though, she thought, grinning wickedly. She’s alone with the Elements, and I can do whatever I want with both her and them…
Nightmare Moon drifted out and surrounded the Elements of Harmony. She formed herself into a vortex, and started spinning the Elements around and around, in preparation of a teleportation spell.
Twilight opened her eyes, and gasped at what she saw. “The Elements!” she exclaimed, and leaped into the vortex right as it disappeared, taking her and the Elements exactly where Nightmare wanted them.
Nightmare Moon appeared on the raised dais where the Throne of Equestria once sat, the Elements surrounding her. Twilight, however, showed up at the other end of the throne room, coughing at the dust.
Eldritch lightning flashed as Nightmare stared down the unicorn and laughed.
Twilight gasped. But then she dropped her head and pawed at the ground.
Is she… Is she charging me? Nightmare thought. “You’re kidding…” she said. “You’re kidding, right?”
Twilight wasn’t kidding. Her horn glowed with magic as she charged forward.
Two can play at that game… Nightmare Moon lowered her own horn, and met the foalish unicorn’s charge.
…But apparently Twilight wasn’t as foalish as she first seemed. Right before the two ponies collided, Twilight cast a spell and vanished. Nightmare skidded to a halt and looked around.
Twilight reappeared on the dais – with the Elements. I’ve been played for a foal again! Nightmare realized, as the purple unicorn lowered her horn and attempted… whatever it was she was doing.
Nightmare Moon sublimated back into her gaseous form, and reformed upon the dais. Lightning crackled over the surface of the Elements, throwing Twilight back several dozen feet.
Nightmare looked down at the Elements in horror. “No. No!” she gasped. Had Twilight really just activated the Elements of Harmony all on her own?!
The lightning died away. Apparently, she hadn’t. “But… where’s the sixth Element?” Twilight asked.
“Ahahahahahaha,” laughed Nightmare Moon. “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHHHH!” She reared up, and slammed her front hooves down, shattering the Elements into irreparable fragments.
Just as Luna did, Nightmare knew that the physical manifestations of the Elements could be destroyed, but not the true Elements of Harmony themselves. She just hoped that Twilight didn’t know.
Not that the knowledge would be much use without her friends… and Nightmare seriously doubted that the six of them could harness the powerful magic, anyway.
Nightmare Moon turned her gaze to Twilight. “You little foal,” she hissed, “thinking you could defeat me? Now you will never see your Princess, or your Sun,” she spat. “The night… will last… forever! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH! AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHH!”
Twilight apparently heard something, as she turned her head away and gasped. The turned back to Nightmare, and now her expression was smug. “You think you can destroy the Elements of Harmony just like that?” she challenged, as her friends entered the room and took up formation behind her. “Well, you’re wrong! Because the spirits of the Elements of Harmony… are right HERE!”
The shards of the Elements rose up into the air around Nightmare Moon. “What?” she muttered. She figured it out, and her friends arrived?
Twilight looked away. “Applejack, who reassured me when I was in doubt, represents the spirit of… Honesty!” About one-fifth of the Element shards sped away from Nightmare Moon and started to orbit her.
Wait… I still have time! Nightmare Moon realized. She has to finish her monologue! If I can blast the six of them into oblivion before she finishes, then I’ve won! Hurriedly, she tuned out Twilight’s rant and began gathering her dark energy.
Surprisingly, Luna chose that moment to speak up. Not if I have anything to say about it!
Nightmare glanced over. And what could you say to stop me? she inquired.
Grinning, Luna closed her eyes and began to recite:
One 18.25 ounce package chocolate cake mix. One can prepared coconut pecan frosting. Three slash four cups vegetable oil…
Nightmare Moon laughed. What, are you reciting a cake recipe? To what end? My, and you were the one who denied going insane…
Luna kept it up. …Four large eggs. One cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Three slash four cups butter or margarine…
Stop it. It’s getting annoying, Nightmare said.
…One and two third cups granulated sugar. Two cups all-purpose flour. Luna paused.
Luna shook her head. Don’t forget garnishes such as:
I CARE NOT ABOUT GARNISHES! Nightmare Moon interrupted. You have interrupted me for a cake recipe?! What possible reason would you have for this?!
Luna smirked. Do you remember what was going on before I started doing this? She inquired.
Nightmare growled. Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I’m not senile, unlike some mares I can name. She paused before continuing. I was gathering magic – which seems to have dissipated during your frankly pathetic cake recital, by the way – in order to…
Nightmare Moon’s brain caught up with her. …In order to stop wielders of the Elements of Harmony from defeating me.
Luna’s smirk went into a full-blown, annoying grin. Yes, and I’ve been kindly keeping our body on autopilot as you’ve been standing here, arguing with me. She raised her head thoughtfully. Hm, it appears they’re charging up the Elements right now…
What?! NO! Quickly, Nightmare severed Luna’s control over her body, replacing it with her own. She dismissed her introspection and hurriedly returned her attention to the outside world.
Just in time to see a deadly-looking rainbow headed directly for her face.
“NO!” she screamed as the rainbow enveloped her, forming a cyclone of magical light energy. It stripped away at the dark magic that clung to Luna’s mind.
Kindness had been painful to Nightmare Moon. Laughter had been agonizing. But the undiluted power of all six Elements of Harmony had left the realm of torment entirely, and ascended to a higher plane of misery.
But to Luna, the cleansing power of the rainbow was quite refreshing.
That voice… Could it be…? Luna opened her eyes, and gasped.
“It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this,” said Celestia, walking over to her sister. Luna looked down at herself; with the dark influence of Nightmare Moon gone, her body had returned to its former appearance.
Celestia lay down in front of Luna. “Time to put our differences behind us,” she continued. “We were meant to rule together, little sister.”
“Sister?” the six bearers of the Elements gasped as one.
Celestia ignored them. “Will you accept my friendship?” she asked Luna, standing up once more.
Luna paused, and considered this. She wanted to, she really did. But although Nightmare Moon’s actions today hadn’t been her doing, the ones a thousand years ago were all her fault. Even after all this time, she asked herself, do I really deserve forgiveness?
Celestia thinks I do. That’s good enough for me, she decided.
“I’m so sorry!” Luna exclaimed, running over to her sister. “I missed you so much, big sister…” The two alicorns shared happy tears.
“I’ve missed you too,” Celestia replied, nuzzling her.
A strange noise interrupted them. As one, the sisters looked over to see Pinkie blowing her nose into a handkerchief and sobbing twin fountains of tears.
This lasted all of three seconds. “Hey!” Pinkie exclaimed. “You know what this calls for? A party!”
That evening, the two, newly-united alicorn sisters wearily entered the palace in Canterlot. “Wow,” Luna observed shakily, “Pinkie Pie sure knows how to throw parties.”
“I know,” answered Celestia. “That was… fun.” She wobbled unsteadily to her bedroom door. “Tiring, but fun.”
“I think I had too much cake,” Luna moaned quietly.
Celestia smiled. “Yes, you’ve always loved cake.” She was silent for a minute, then spoke again. “Your room is just as it’s always been. I… I haven’t changed it, just kept it maintained.”
Luna returned the smile. “Thanks. After a party like that, I’ll probably have to sleep through the entire night, too. Good thing we already took care of the Moon.”
“Yes, very good,” Celestia agreed tiredly. “Goodnight, Luna.”
“Goodnight, Celly,” Luna replied, and then the two parted ways.
Luna walked to her room, then opened the door and went inside. Just as Celestia had promised, it had been kept in pristine condition. She plopped down onto the bed and tried to sleep.
But she found she could not. Something still nagged at Luna’s mind. She wondered what it could be…
Luna looked out the massive window and gazed at her Moon. A spark of remembrance ignited in her mind. Oh, yes… There is one last matter left unattended…
From the surface of Equestria’s moon, Wheatley looked out into the vast expanse of space. “Okay, I’ve got another one,” he said. “I spy, with my little visual receptor, something… black.”
“Ooh! Ooh! Is it space?” asked the Space Core.
Rick sighed. “Of course it’s space! It’s been space for every single one of his ‘I Spy’ choices!”
“Alright, then smart guy, wheat else is there to see?” snapped Wheatley irritably.
“Well, uh…” Rick tried to think of something. Anything.
“There’s space!” the Space Core supplied.
“Parallel universes are, by their very nature, infinite in number,” stated the Fact Core. “Everything that can exist therefore does. For instance, there is one world filled with nothing but shrimp.”
Both Wheatley and Rick stared at the Fact Core. “…What?” they asked in unison.
At that moment, the four Personality Cores became enveloped in a midnight-blue aura. It dragged them from the surface of the moon, directing them towards the planet below with rapidly increasing momentum.
Upon entering the atmosphere, Rick became engulfed in flame. “Oh, come on!” he complained. “I stopped being on fire only five minutes ago!”
Wheatley looked down to see that they were headed directly towards a massive castle-city embedded in the side of a cliff. “Look out!” he shouted to his companions. “We’re in for a bumpy ride!”
“Space…?” asked the Space Core, disappointed at leaving the final frontier.
Presently, the four Cores slowed to a halt. They were hovering over a balcony, and in front of them was a dark blue alicorn, not yet fully grown.
“Another one?” asked Wheatley. Then he noticed the mare’s eyes. “Hold on… Your eyes look familiar… …Luna?!”
It wasn’t lost on the Space Core, either. “Space Pony?!” it exclaimed, exited. “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!”
The alicorn giggled. “Yes, it’s me. Nightmare Moon is gone, and I’m home! And now, you’re here with me.” She looked over at the flaming Rick. “…Oh my.”
Luna stepped inside for a minute before coming back out with a pitcher of water. She dumped it on the Core, extinguishing the flames.
“Thanks, little lady,” said Rick. “Uh… Horse-lady… um…”
“Luna will do,” replied Luna. “Anyway,” she continued, “you four freed me from the Moon, and helped to stop Nightmare Moon from bringing about eternal night, even if it was all indirectly and accidental. So I’ve decided to return the favor, and remove you from the Moon, too.”
Luna tapped her hoof thoughtfully against her chin before continuing. “But where do we go from here?”
“Soccer was invented in 422 BC by the Greek philosopher known as Socrates,” answered the Fact Core. “This angered Ares, god of war and badminton, who killed Socrates about twenty years later.”
There was a long pause.
“Well,” Luna said, ignoring the Fact Core, “I can send you all home, to ‘Earth’, but it’s purely a one-way ticket. If you’d like to go back into space, I can do that too. Or…” she continued, hopefully, “if you don’t mind you could possibly stay here with me…?”
The Space Core looked over at Luna eagerly. “Space Pony! I love you, Space Pony!”
Luna smiled. “That’s one of you staying,” she said, and then turned to Rick. “And you?”
Rick considered this. “This planet reeks of adventure,” he answered. “Sign me up!”
“That makes two. What about you?” Luna inquired of the Fact Sphere.
“The Right of Parley is one of the rights in the Pirate Code,” recited Fact. “However, the Pirate Code is more like guidelines, anyway.”
Luna arched a brow, and then looked to Wheatley.
“I think he means yes,” Wheatley supplied. “And yes, yes, I know, there’s only me left. But as much as I’d like to stay, there’s someone on Earth that I need to see again.” He paused. “I need to… to apologize to her.”
Luna sighed. “I understand.” After a minute, she looked up. “But is that the only reason you want to go back to Earth?”
Wheatley thought about it. Understandably, it took him some time. “Yeah, I guess it is,” he answered finally. “There’s not really anything else there for me.”
“Alright, then,” Luna said, nodding. In that case…”
Chell sat upon her Companion Cube, staring contentedly up into the night sky. After spending who knows how long in the Aperture Laboratories, one of her favorite things to do was to gaze at the stars. They really are beautiful, she thought.
Still, her contentment was slightly marred by one thing: the loss of a friend. Sure, Wheatley had turned against her, up until the point that he was thrown into space, but it wasn’t entirely his fault: apparently, any Core plugged into the Aperture Science Central Core Mainframe developed a ruthless desire to run tests.
Chell hadn’t been entirely happy letting Wheatley go into space, but she knew firsthand that it was probably preferable to being left in the clutches of GLaDOS. Even so, she found herself wondering if he was doing alright…
Suddenly, there was a small flash of light directly in front of Chell, causing her to jump. In a puff of blue flame, a sealed scroll appeared, and then fell to the ground.
Chell stared at the scroll for a minute or two, before finally picking it up. It was slightly warm. Chell unrolled the scroll and read the contents.
Are you doing well? I hope that GLaDOS hasn’t been giving you any trouble. Anyhow, I’m sorry that I turned evil and monstrous. I’d take it all back if I could. As for myself, I’m better, now. Great, actually. Don’t worry about me, or try to get me back, because I’m fine where I am. I’ve even made a new friend!
Anyway, that’s about it, I think. Glad to finally get that off my chest, I can tell you.
P.S. Space Core says hi.
P.P.S. Well, actually he said, “Hey, lady, I’m with Space Pony,” but it’s the thought that counts.
Chell reread the letter. She read it again.
Finally, Chell shrugged. She didn’t know where the letter came from, but now her mind was at ease. Wheatley was fine. She turned her gaze back to the stars and smiled.
There you go. You wanted closure, you’ve got it. It’s just that you shouldn’t expect the sequel to be as good as the original. Anyways, I’m glad that you liked the first story enough to ask for this one, but I’ve got other story ideas to use, so I’m done with Luna and the Cores for now. The good news is that you can therefore expect more stories in the near future...