New Lunar Calendar
-1 Week after the Funeral-
It was war.
No one had said it, the word was never spoken that day, but it was war.
It was war against the Night Goddess.
It was chaos, ponies were frantically running or flying around the small town of Ponyville. The sounds of chaos were running rampant throughout the town, many were panicking, but the rest were either pounding their hooves on the ground or staring up at the sky intently.
The sky was black with the shadows of the quick bodies of pegasi and the swirling cloud of grey above.
Another explosion shocked the ground, and a flash came from within the cloud layer. It parted and let a small column of that impossibly sweet sunlight through. Earth ponies and unicorns looked up at the cloud, it had holes dotting its underside, each letting through another column of sunlight.
Lightning flashed across the town, striking the top of another thatched roof and causing a burst of flame.
Almost every pegasus was in the air by now, desperately trying with their lives to break into the bottom of the cloud layer. Some had succeeded, others did not.
Through the roaring thunder and the whirlwinds created by the sheer number of pegasi flying at once, a single outline could be seen falling from the sky, clearly not in control of their body anymore.
"I see em!" A sea-green unicorn yelled and ran towards the falling outline, her horn glowing as she ran.
A light glowed around the falling pony, they stopped their descent and was gently lowered to the ground. Lyra moved the unconscious figure in front of her.
"Please be alive " She said to herself as she moved the body to her feet.
They were not moving, and when she went to check their pulse she slammed her hoof on the ground. Another lost. She moved the pegasus onto her back and ran back to the town hall, where the others they lost where held.
Another shockwave as the sound barrier was pierced yet again.
"Come on! Come on!" Cloudkicker banged her hooves on the ground, desperate to fly into the chaos.
Twilight concentrated for the hundredth time that day, she grunted and a beam of magic shot out of her horn and pierced a tiny hole in the oppressive cloud layer.
"GO! And may Celestia's light guide you should you find it!" Twilight yelled her blessing she gave to all the other pegasi she had helped into the cloud layer.
Into their deaths.
Cloudkicker shot into the air, leaving a light violet streak behind her. Her eyes were only focused on the swirling grey above Ponyville.
Twilight looked with determination and hope up at the pony who was speeding away. When Cloudkicker pierced the clouds Twilight sunk her head. She didn't want it to be like this, she didn't want to waste lives to try and bring back the sun.
It was too late for that.
-One week earlier-
-After the Funeral-
There was a crowd of ponies in the town square, almost the entire town of Ponyville had come to the funeral held for everyone who was lost during Nightmare Moon's return. But it as held for two ponies in particular, a blue pegasus pony and a small yellow pegasus.
One had died with her head in the clouds and another chasing her dream of bravery. Nightmare Moon had taken their lives away, everypony missed them, but they were not coming back. They were dead.
Rarity swallowed, trying to regain her composure, she had seen the look on Twilight's face as she spoke with the mayor. She had also seen the look in the eyes of some of the pegasi, and she hoped they were not going to do what she thought they would do.
She had seen the chalkboard but she could only make out the words "Project: Icar-". Combined with the look on the Mayor's face she didn't like the sound of this "project" one bit.
She stared at the portraits of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy one last time and turned to go back to her boutique. She had sent Sweetie Belle to bed early before she left, she didn't want her to see that her big sister had been crying.
Rarity didn't want any of this, she didn't want to fight against Nightmare Moon's total dominance, all she wanted to do was put everything back in order.
All she ever wanted was order, but not everyone appreciated it as much as she would like. Some ponies thought she was prissy or haughty, but she was really just trying to get everything straight and in order. She just wanted to make order out of chaos.
It was something some ponies just didn't care about, especially Applejack.
Her steps slowed as she thought about her friend, sure they had their differences, but they were the best of friends. They were just different.
She thought about her friend, she didn't know what she would do if anything happened to her.
Rarity quietly opened her front door, careful not to wake her sleeping sister. She didn't bother to do her normal rituals she did before going to bed, she just flopped her body onto the soft mattress.
Her eyes soon succumbed to the weight of the day and the exhaustion of her worry.
The pink earth pony stared out of her second story window, watching the ponies disperse from the area around Town Hall. She had done nothing but think about what she had felt when Rainbow Dash performed the sonic rainboom.
The explosion of light and color had clicked something inside of her, she felt like she had something to laugh at again, something that had opened her up to new possibilities for happiness. But she didn't know why.
Pinkie Pie slowly dragged herself across the room to her bed. She flopped her front leg on the floor then recoiled in surprise.
She jumped at the sudden pain in her hoof, she backed up a pace and looked at it. A small red dot was visible on her skin. She had stepped on a discarded quill, and the tip had pricked her, causing a tiny cut.
She stared at the tiny prick on her hoof with a strange sense of awe. A small drop of blood poured out from the injury. It looked so silly, she thought, just flowing slowly out of her body.
The drop fascinated her, she giggled for a moment, thinking about the red dot. Something about the silly little drop of blood made her smile, if only for a moment.
She chuckled one last time and smeared the blood droplet off with her hoof. She slumped into her bed, thinking about the tiny prick. The little jolt she got when she stepped on the quill gave her a tiny little jolt of feeling.
It wasn't pleasant, but it had been something.
Maybe she would find something to laugh about after all
Only one thing went through Twilight's head as she climbed the steps up to her bed.
The mayor had discussed it with her at length after the funeral, and she had come to one conclusion about her plan, it was suicide!
It could never work, there was no way that the plan she and the leader of the weather pegasi could ever bring anything but more trouble. They had approached her because they needed her help in order for it to work, and for whatever reason, she agreed.
It had taken a bit of convincing, but she finally agreed to help them in their ridiculous idea.
Project: Icarus, a plan devised by the Mayor herself. It was what she believed to be the only way to stop the eternal nighttime. Rainbow Dash had proven that it was at least possible to break through it, if only for a few fleeting moments.
But, what if a dozen ponies did it at once? Or a hundred? No, there was no way that enough ponies could somehow perform a sonic rainboom at the same time to cause the clouds to dissapate. Even if they could, who knows if it will even keep the clouds open permanently?
For all she knew, they would just close up again. She had tried to explain to Mayor Mare how if the clouds were kept together using magic, they could easily be reformed.
She didn't listen, she didn't even look at Twilight when she told the mayor the inherent danger in attacking magical objects with non-magical means.
But, that was where Twilight came into the plan Mayor Mare had said. If they needed magic, then Twilight would use hers to break a small hole in the clouds. A way to help the pegasi fly deeper inside.
Every fiber in Twilight's body told her to walk away from the suicidal plan, but everything in her mind told her to agree, that it was worth fighting for.
In the end, her mind won over her sense of self preservation.
She was on her way to helping dozens of ponies to their deaths.
-The Next Day-
This was it, it was time to unveil her plan to the entire town. She had called a special gathering in the town square, and everypony in town was ordered to attend.
She didn't like having to resort to using her position as mayor to force ponies into something, but they all needed to be here to hear about Project: Icarus. She just hoped she could convince them to go through with it, she needed everypony's help in order to pull this off.
Mayor Mare adjusted her glasses again, they were starting to slid down her face from all of her sweat. She wasn't worried about speaking to the town, she was just worried about what their reaction might be. What if they didn't want to fight? What if they didn't want to risk their lives fighting Nightmare Moon's night?
She would just have to convince them she thought. She hoped she could. Mayor Mare gave herself a wish of good luck and walked confidently out to the podium.
"Filles and Gentlecolts, I'm assuming you are wondering why you were brought here today. Rest assured that it was for a very important reason. As I know you are all aware, we have been without sun for the past 2 days, and if Nightmare Moon's threat is to be taken seriously, then we may never be able to see it again."
A few ponies in the crowd grew visibly nervous.
"However, as I said the other day, that does not mean our lives are over. It means we need to use our lives to our fullest extent...and use them we will."
"All of you want to be able to see the end of this oppression, and this is why I am here before you today. I am here to tell you that you WILL see it's end."
Murmurs ran throughout the audience, many perked up their ears and paid Mayor Mare their full attention.
"You all want the freedom of the sun back? Then we will take it back! Myself and a number of other ponies have come up with a plan to take back what was ours. Citizens of Ponyville, I hereby formally unveil Project: Icarus!"
Mayor Mare tore a sheet off of an object next to the podium, revealing a blackboard with the words Project: Icarus in white chalk, it had been underlined multiple times, and there were telltale signs that things had been erased on the board.
The murmurs around the crowd increased. Mayor Mare waited until it died down before continuing.
"My fellow citizens, we have devised a way to end this nightmare. We shall fight Nightmare Moon's eternal nighttime and we shall make sure it never comes back. Rainbow Dash proved to all of us that she is not invincible, her magic can be stopped. You all saw how she managed to do it."
"And if she did it, then so can any of you! You all saw what she did to the clouds, she broke a hole right through it, if only for a few fleeting moments. That was one pony, what would happen if five ponies did it at once? Or ten? Or twenty? We would unleash enough power to dissipate the entire cloud at once, leaving no way for it to reform."
A few ponies in the crowd began to grow excited at the idea.
"We will destroy the dark cloud until there is nothing left, we will unleash enough power to reduce it to nothing but air. Nightmare Moon will see us destroy her nighttime and she can do nothing to stop us."
"Fillies and gentlecolts, now is the time for action, we have sat by while she does her evil works, but no more! It is time to fight back! We will show her how strong we truly are, she thinks she can beat us just like that? Well she is wrong!"
"We will defeat her, we will prove that even the humble town of Ponyville can fight harder then she has ever seen. These will be the days that are spoken of in history. These will be the actions that will be taught to our grandchildren and their offspring! The actions that will be read in our history books!"
"Years from now, our kin will look back at us with admiration! You will all be remembered as heros! As the strongest warriors this land has ever known! The one's who did not stand idly by, but destroyed that which opposed them!"
Some ponies in the crowd began to cheer loudly.
"We will be remembered as the ones who dethroned a GODDESS!"
The crowd lost all semblance of self-control, cheering loudly and stomping their hooves.
"Now I know none of you have ever had a reason to fight anypony else, but now you do! Now you have something to fight for! It will bring out the best in all of you, show Nightmare Moon and yourselves how strong you really are!"
"The time has come for action, and our actions will be noticed. Anyone who does not wish to fight may leave now, you may leave this whole plan behind and ignore it, I won't stop you. I'm not going to force anyone into this, this is entirely your own decisions, but think for a moment that you might be walking away from your one chance at salvation."
The crowd remained perfectly still.
"Those who wish to help are to meet back here in the town square in one hour. Should you attend, your decision is sealed, if you join us and then leave, you will face the full extent of the law."
"I will leave you with that choice, I'm not going to try and convince you anymore. You may go or you may stay to fight, your choice..." Mayor Mare paused for a moment before making one last statement. "For the glory of the Princess and the Sun."
She turned and left the stage, leaving behind a crowd of cheering ponies. Most of those who were there started to talk amongst themselves, debating whether or not to stay and possibly give their lives for the cause.
The hour passed quicker then all would have liked, the town square was not nearly as crowded as it was earlier. Mayor Mare watched outside through the window, watching ponies show up at random intervals, sometimes in groups. Some seemed more reluctant to return then others, but almost everypony came back.
Almost the entire town was gathered yet again in the town square, many cheering loudly and others starting war chants about defeating the darkness. The town had listened to her speech and took it to heart, they were all ready to fight the desperate battle that was to take place.
"Well," Mayor Mare said to herself, "No going back now."
"You don't have to do this, you can still call it off." Twilight tried to convince the mayor.
"No, I can't, not anymore. I guess we will see how the fate of Ponyville comes to fruition."
Mayor Mare walked downstairs to the front door to begin addressing the ponies outside.
"Oh, and Twilight, one more thing. I know you just arrived here, and you barely know us, but thanks for choosing to help our struggle, that says a lot to us."
Twilight gave her a half-hearted smile, anyone could tell it was forced, but Twilight was not a smiling mood.
Mayor Mare walked back out to the podium to begin discussing Project: Icarus with the town. Twilight could hear the roar of the crowd outside, she let the noise fade from her thoughts and turned her attention to the window.
Twilight saw the crowd in an uproar, but across the street she saw something else. She saw Sugarcube Corner, it's windows all empty except one, Twilight looked into the second story window and saw a pony with curly hair laughing to themselves.
It was Pinkie Pie, Twilight noted. She smiled a bit, she didn't know what it was, but she was glad Pinkie Pie had found a reason to be happy again. She watched Pinkie Pie giggling in her room before heading to the room the Mayor had let her stay in.
She had been up way too late last night, and she needed all the sleep she could get, tomorrow began the preparations for Project: Icarus.
And it was going to be a very busy day.
-The Next Day-
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Rarity stood at the front door to the Library, shuffling her hooves nerviously. The door opened to reveal a purple pony standing a few feet behind it.
"Oh, hello Rarity, please come in." Twilight stepped aside, letting her guest inside. The library was an absolute mess, books were scattered all over the floor. Rarity cringed at the mess.
"Erm, thank you Twilight..." Rarity was visibly nervous at being here. "Look, I hope you aren't still upset about....you know...what I said the other day..."
"No, it's fine, really. My head wasn't in the right place that day, I guess I was just so angry I didn't think straight."
"So, no hard feelings?"
Rarity smiled a little. "Good." Rarity looked around the library once more, resisting the urge to place every book back where it belonged.
"So, um, how has this project thing been going? Is it...really going through?"
"Yep, everything is finalized already. The pegasi are working on their techniques right now, the earth ponies have started building the gear, and I'm learning everything I can about cloud magic so I can help the pegasi further inside."
"Yes, we have come up with a design for a specially made set of horseshoes, once we enchant them, it will allow the wearer to fly faster and protect them from lightning. It's a rather fascinating design."
"Oh, so I suppose everything is going according to plan."
"Rarity, what was the real reason you came over here? Did you come to help me?"
"What? N-no, it's not that."
"Oh that's right, you weren't at the town square after the mayor gave her speech."
"I just...don't feel like we should be doing this, fighting shouldn't be the answer."
"I don't see any other choice, and neither does anypony else."
"I guess I'm just so opposed to the idea of violence that I can't stand the thought of it."
"Well, if it makes you feel better, we aren't actually fighting anyone, we are just breaking up a really big cloud. So long as Nightmare Moon doesn't make any more of those Shadowbolt guys that is."
"But they didn't acually do anything remember dear? They just tried to convince Dash not to help us across that bridge."
"I know, but I'm afraid they could convince the pegasi to all give up."
"Oh dear, that would be bad. So...um...what exactly are the unicorns doing? Do they have any special tasks?"
"Actually yes, the spells I'm planning on using are pretty complex, most of the ponies here aren't particularly skilled in magic, so it's up to me and a few others who are capable to do the casting. The other unicorns are just going to loan us their magic for the day."
"One can do that?"
"Yep, a unicorn can transfer their magic temporarily to another for one day. Then it returns to them around 24 hours later. It's a technique that the Mayor had kept secret, fearing ponies might use it to cause trouble."
"I had no idea...that's all the unicorns can really do? They loan their magic away? Simple as that?"
"Rarity, you havn't answered my question, and you seem to be awful curious for somepony who said she isn't interested. So why are you really here?"
Twilight gave Rarity a glare, she shrunk inwards, trying to hide herself from her accuser. After a few moments she jumped up and started talking again.
"OOOOOO OK! I want to help! I do! I just wanted to see everything back in it's place and clean up this icky town! I know I didn't say it before but I'll help, honest! No more hiding it, I'll help you."
Twilight smiled warmly. "Thanks Rarity, I'm sure you can contribute a lot to us."
"Well, so, now that that's cleared up, please give me your first instructions."
Rarity thrust her chest out and flexed her foreleg in a fashionably heroic pose.
"Rarity, is ready!"
A painful buzzing brought Applejack back to consciousness. Her legs had begun to ache yet again.
Or, at least what remained of her legs.
She begrudgingly pulled herself up on her infirmary bed, ready to start another day of lying still while the world moved on without her. She hated it. She hated being stuck here, unable to help anyone with repairing the town.
She couldn't even help with this "Project: Icarus" thingy. There was finally a chance to do something about Nightmare Moon's nighttime, a chance to take back what was stolen.
Yet here she was, sitting in bed by herself. She felt disgusted by the whole ordeal.
She reached down and touched her thighs, she grunted as her hooves felt what remained of her legs. There was nothing left from the lower thighs down, her hind legs ended in stumps, the result of her recent surgery.
She knew that the doctors had been working on some kind of reconstructive operation, and she trusted that it would work, but she couldn't help but feel that she would be stuck without her hind legs for the rest of her life...
"Applejack? Oh good, you're awake." Nurse Mercy trotted into the room, her attitude a little more positive then usual, "I hope you're comfortable this morning."
"Eyup." Applejack mirrored her big brother in her usual optimistic tone.
"Well, you will be happy to know that your treatment was authorized for next week, and we have plans to begin prepping you for the operation immediately!"
"Well thank Celestia, ah was hopin' I could start soon, ah'm tired of sittin' here doin' nothing!"
"If you're feeling well enough, I would like to hook you up for a moment, just to check your vitals."
"Go right ahead, I'm feelin' just fine."
Nurse Mercy wheeled a small tower with a box on top over to Applejack's table. A green line glowed in the middle of the box, letting off a soft glow each time it flicked on and off.
"Now this might sting a little." Nurse Mercy said.
She stabbed a small needle into Applejack's upper arm. She winced her eyebrows a bit at the sudden wound. The box started to beep at an uneven pace. The beeping slowly paced out, making an even flow of metallic beeping sounds.
"All right let's see here. Heart rate, normal, Pulse, normal, Brain activity, normal." Nurse Mercy went down a checklist of standard tests to check for abnormalities.
Applejack knew everything was going fine, but she still felt incredibly nervous. She couldn't point out why.
"All right Applejack, so far your vitals are all stabilized, I'm going to administer a sma-Hello Applejack, I hope you're enjoying the beautiful nighttime."
Applejack's eyes shot open, Nurse Mercy's voice suddenly changed to an icy, dark voice. Applejack recognized that voice.
How could she forget it...
Nurse Mercy suddenly turned to face her in her bed, the nurse's head turned black and her mane turned into long flowing wisps of dark magic. Applejack found herself staring deep into the glowing blue eyes of Nightmare Moon.
The sides of the bed suddenly shot up around her, she felt as if she was falling through the world. Applejack flailed her limbs uselessly, she couldn't see and she couldn't move.
She could only feel herself floating helplessly through the darkness. After a few moments, her eyes were able to adjust to the darkness and saw herself floating through a dark void, with deep purple swirls all around her.
She could still hear the beeping coming from the machine so far away from her.
"I'm so glad to see you remember me this time." The cold voice of Nightmare Moon made Applejack freeze up.
"Not you again! What the hay do you want now?" Applejack found enough courage to raise her voice to the void.
A group of wisps swirled together and formed into the head of Nightmare Moon.
"Me? I'm just here to pay a visit to one of my favorite subjects. After our little get together at the castle, I just had to check in on you. So tell me...."
Applejack looked at the enormous face in front of her, she saw a large crack running through the side of the armor on Nightmare Moon's face. The crack that she herself had caused what seemed like so long ago.
"...How have you been? My faithful subject..."
"Ah am not your subject!" Applejack yelled at the dark apparition. "And ah will not let you tell me otherwise!"
Nightmare Moon only laughed, filling the void with her loud voice. Applejack shrunk back in fear, she tried to stay strong and at least keep up an air of confidence, but she was not very successful.
Applejack gestured towards Nightmare Moon's face, "I see you still havn't recovered from our last encounter!" She pointed with a hoof to the crack in Nightmare Moon's armor and started to chuckle.
Nightmare Moon grew visibly angry at this, but she soon returned to her sinister smile.
"I see you havn't either."
Applejack looked down at the stumps where her hind legs used to be and cringed.
"Well...you still ain't my ruler! I'm not bowin' down to you no matter what you do! So you might as well just run along Miss Nightmare, 'cause ah'm afraid you're wasting yer time!"
"Oh no, I'm not here to try and tell you to worship me, I'm here to remind you why you should! You think your legs are the worst I can do? You are WRONG! Dead wrong!"
"Y-You just wait until Princess Celestia gets a hold of you! You'll be sorry all right!"
Nightmare Moon threw back her head and laughed again, this time louder then before. "Oh I'm sorry, did you mean THIS Princess Celestia?"
She opened a hole in the void and an image of Princess Celestia walking through the plains somewhere in Equestria appeared.
"Princess Celestia!" Applejack shouted.
Celestia was slowly dragging herself through the grey, lifeless grass. Her mane no longer sparkled, her crown was gone, and she no longer gave off the air of perpetual calm she always had.
She looked like she had been walking for days, and her face reflected this fact.
"She-she's alive! What did you do with her?!" Applejack flailed her limbs again, still unable to move from Nightmare Moon's magic.
"Ha! Yes, your precious ex-ruler is alive, but she is useless now, there is nothing she can do to stop my night anymore!"
Applejack stopped squirming to look at her princess. She looked so frail and broken, each step more labored and forced then the last. It pained Applejack to look at her beloved princess in such a state.
"I allowed Celestia to live, but only so that she may watch me take her kingdom and indeed her very daytime right out from underneath her. Oh, how it will pain her to watch you all squirm under my rule!"
Applejack looked from the monsterous horror back to her down-trodden princess. She watched helplessly as Celestia slowly traveled to who knows where.
But then something caught her eye, something about Celestia that made her almost inexplicably happy. She almost began to cry when she saw it.
She looked Celestia right in the face and saw it, her look of determination, she looked like she was on her way to do something of vital importance, and that nothing could keep her from it.
Applejack started to laugh like she was a little school filly, she laughed like somepony who didn't have a care in the world.
"Ya'll really think you won? HA! You might have beat us, but as long as Celestia is alive, you'll never win! She'll beat you faster than you can buck a bushel full o' apples!"
Applejack laughed even harder at her own joke. Nightmare Moon simply stared at her in disgust.
"Ya'll go ahead and do whatever you like to me, I'm just happy knowin' that mah princess is comin' to kick yer hindquarters halfway to the moon and back!" Applejack kept laughing.
Nightmare Moon scowled at Applejack in disgust. "You dare laugh at ME?! Do you really think that your pitiful princess can do anything to stop what's happening? HA!"
Nightmare Moon's scowl turned to laughter as well, "Celestia is weak! She's useless! She can't do a thing about ANYTHING! You really think she has a chance? You foal!"
Applejack kept laughing from joy at discovering Celestia was alive. She felt that so long as Celestia was alive, there was hope and the night would end.
Nightmare Moon laughed at Applejack's ignorance. "You're serious aren't you? Oh that is just too good. Then laugh little pony, laugh at your fate."
Nightmare Moon's head dissipated into the void, leaving Applejack clutching her sides in a fit of pure laughter.
The only sounds left were Applejack's laughter and the slow beeping of the metal box.
"Yo-you really think you can beat the Princess?" Applejack could barely speak she was laughing so hard. "Boy, you certainly have another thing coming, HAHA!"
Suddenly she started coughing in between bits of laughter. She started hacking and wheezing trying to get air into her lungs. She felt like she was choking but she didn't care what happened to herself anymore.
All that mattered was that Celestia was alive.
Her laughter stopped, she could only choke and cough as she felt her life being drained. Her coughing got weaker and weaker until she began losing sight. The world around her began to fade.
She felt light-headed, everything was spinning. This was it, she thought. This was my last chapter.
But Applejack didn't care. What happened to her meant nothing, she couldn't stop Nightmare Moon, but Celestia could. And she was still alive.
That was all that mattered.
"Welp..." Applejack said to herself, "Ah guess that's it then..."
"Here ah go..."
"Shoot, ah always thought I could run Sweet Apple Acres some day."
"See ya'll later....."
"Vitals dropping! Doctor she needs to be stabilized!"
"I know! She's not responding to anything!"
"Come on! Breath!"
"Why won't you live?!"
"I know Nurse, I know..."
Another patient had checked out of the Ponyville Hospital.
-Two Hours Later-
A purple unicorn burst through the doors to Mayor Mare's study.
"Mayor, we have a problem!"
"What is it?" The vanilla coloured pony put a book down and stared at her intruder.
"Wh-what? Is she ok?"
Twilight hung her head, saying nothing.
"They said she was perfectly normal until suddenly her vitals started dropping. They tried everything but they couldn't figure out why. We can't figure it out, it's like she just suddenly...died."
"But we do have one theory. I'm guessing you know what it is?"
Mayor Mare concentrated on her notes, she had been making adjustments to Project: Icarus. But now the whole plan took on a whole new meaning to her, a more personal meaning.
"Then we have no choice, we have to move faster, before any more innocent lives are lost."
Twilight nodded, agreeing with her.
"I want that cloud gone by the end of this week."
And thus the wheel was set in motion.