A/N: I own nothing. I make no money from this writing.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Knights of Equestria part 1: the Night the Sky Burned
The moon shone brilliantly, thought Twilight Sparkle, as she atop the balcony of her library home. Night had fallen on Ponyville and the rest of Equestria some hours ago, the blazing sun replaced by a full moon and countless stars, little pinpricks of light in a sea of deep blues, purples, and blacks. A faint wind rustled the leaves of her home, and if Twilight listened hard enough she could just make out a faint noise in the air; the combined sound of sleeping of all of Ponyville. Except for her, of course.
A shooting star shot across the sky, and another content sigh left Twilight. She loved looking up at the sky on nights like this, clear and cloudless. It soothed an ache in her heart of hearts that she never felt during the day, but at night, when she was alone, it would draw her out to the heavens above. She had tried to share the experience on many occasions with her friends, but none really seemed to appreciate it as much as her, except possibly Rarity. Twilight giggled as a particular memory of Rarity comparing the stars to diamonds came to her mind. What a beautiful pony...
Another shooting star passed through the night sky. And then another, and then a whole shower began. Twilight watched it go for several seconds, before turning around to head back in. She had a long day tomorrow to rest up for; she remembered that Rainbow Dash wanted her to-
Twilight stopped at the sound of her name and turned back around. She looked this way and that, searching for the source of that unfamiliar voice. "Hello? Is anypony there?" She took a few steps back out onto the balcony, away from the doors in. With each step she took they slid a bit further closed. "Is anypony out here?"
After a few seconds passed, filled with no sounds but the rustling of the leaves in the wind and her own beating heart, Twilight chalked the mysterious voice up to her imagination and turned to head back inside. It was late, she reasoned. Her mind, tired from a long day with her friends and a late night studying, was playing tracks on her, she reasoned. There was no reason for the flutter in her stomach and the shiver up her spine, she reasoned. Twilight Sparkle, always reasoning.
Before she could take a single full step however, something out of the corner of Twilight Sparkle's eye caught her attention. As she turned to look at it, the balcony door slid fully closed.
"Silence, Sparkle, silence will fall."
Rainbow Dash wasn't sure what had woken her up first; the frantic knocking on her cloud home door or the terrified screams of Ponyville below. Her eyes shot open as she rolled out of bed, groaning as her tired body fought to catch up with her alert mind. She didn't know what could possibly be going on at such an hour, but if the sounds coming from outside were any indication...it wasn't good.
The rainbow-maned Pegasus Pony hurried as best she could to the front door, reaching it just as it was thrown open by a wide-eyed Ditzy Doo. "Rainbow Dash, hurry! We need you, we need every Pegasus Pony!"
Rainbow Dash frowned and pushed past the grey Pegasus, only half-noticing in the back of her mind that something was casting her clouds a hot orange, and that the air was far hotter and drier than when she had gone to bed. "What's going on that it calls for waking me up? Ursa Minor attack, Hydra attack, Parasprite atta...what..."
Below her, Ponyville burned. Rainbow Dash watched in horrified silence as buildings burst into flames, seemingly at random, sending their inhabitants and any ponies nearby running for their lives. Other ponies rushed to and fro, desperately fighting to put out the raging inferno that was beginning to engulf the town. Earth Ponies pulled carts of water, from which their Unicorn partners sprayed streams at high velocity to douse flames, while up above them Pegasi flew in with rainclouds, positioning them above the burning buildings and releasing the rain inside. From her vantage point, Rainbow could see that nearly a third of the town was in flames. They were all losing.
"Ditzy, come on!" Rainbow Dash sprang into the air with outstretched wings, catching an updraft from the flames below and zooming up and away. The grey Pegasus was not far behind her, quickly catching up at the pair rushed to where Dash could see the fires were worst.
"How did this happen?!"
Ditzy coughed as she flew through a cloud of smoke before answering. "No one knows! Just one moment everything was peaceful and quiet, and then flames and screams everywhere! And we can't seem to put it out, no matter how much water we use!"
Ditzy nodded and flew closer to Dash. "One of the Unicorns, I heard them say they felt some kind of magic in the fire. Powerful magic."
Dash gritted her teeth as she swerved to avoid a plume of smoke, Ditzy following in her wake. "Dang it, then we need powerful magic! Ditzy, go get Twilight, get her to send a letter to the Princess! I'll go meet the Mayor and-"
Dash and Ditzy froze in mid-air, the mail mare's eyes widening in horror at the sound of the distant voice screaming. "Mu-Muffin!" Faster than Dash had ever seen her friend fly before Ditzy sped off to her home, leaving thunderous boom and a grey and yellow streak in her wake. Dash hovered in place in surprise for a moment, before putting on a burst of speed and following. In their wake, unnoticed by either pony, the flames were snuffed out.
Dash caught up to Ditzy to find the wall-eyed Pegasus circling above her two-story home. Immediately, Dash could see it was a lost cause, flames eating away at it from the ground up, smoke pouring out from every window, and only the roof itself not burning a deadly orange.
"Muffin! Muffin, get to the roof, please!"
No answer came up to them from the building except smoke and ashes. Dash flew up to Ditzy and placed a hoof onto her shoulder. "Ditzy, I'm so, so sorry...but I don't think, well..."
Before Dash could finish Ditzy whirled around and slapped her hoof away. She glared at Dash with wet, angry, FOCUSED eyes, forcing the younger pegasus to flinch back from the ferocity. "No! If, if she can't come out to me then I'll...I'll go in for her!"
"Ditzy, no!" But Dash's cry was too late, as Ditzy had already turned and with another boom rocketed straight through a wall into the building. Dash made to follow her, but stopped as hot smoke began to pour from the new opening. Before she could stop herself Dash breathed in a lungful and suddenly felt her insides burning. "Khhht, khhtaa!" Her limbs flailed, her wings beating in sudden terror as the world spun about her. She couldn't breathe! She couldn'tbreathecouldn'tbreathecouldn'tbreathecouldn'tbreathe...
Rainbow Dash collapsed down onto the hard-packed soil of the street, wings pinned beneath her as she was forced to stare up at stars rapidly disappearing behind a veil of smoke. Her chest rose and fell rapidly with no effect, the sharp rasping from her open mouth coming quieter and quieter, slower and slower. Her eyes filled with tears no one was around to wipe away.
The last sight Rainbow Dash saw before everything went dark was a grey and yellow streak erupting out the side of Ditzy's home.
"Sweetie Belle, come back here this instant!"
Rarity stomped her hooves in agitation as she watched her little sister run off, away from the town fire station. Her gaze shot back from the little filly's dwindling form to the Earth Pony beside her, shooting the wild-maned doctor a pleading look. Doctor Whoof sighed and motioned her on. "Go on, catch her." He motioned with a hoof to where the water cart he pulled was being refilled. "I'll get the lovely Lyra to help me with this."
The purple-maned Unicorn gave an appreciative smile, giving a quick nuzzle to the other pony before turning and taking off. Doctor Whoof sighed and shook his head, before returning back to his work. "Confound these ponies. So disorganized."
Rarity was humble enough to admit that she was not the most athletic pony, even by Unicorn standards. Her slim body was finely tuned for quick, accurate movements, elegance, and balance. She was not a speed freak like Rainbow Dash, or an endurance monster like Applejack. Even Twilight, the Unicorn from Canterlot, was better than her. This undeniable fact had been seared into her mind this evening, as she had been practically gang-pressed into helping fight the fires raging through Ponyville. She was exhausted; so, so exhausted. At that moment Rarity knew the only reason she was even managing to keep her sister in sight was because of her longer legs.
"Sweetie Belle, I am ordering you! Stop...stop running!"
To Rarity's surprise, Sweetie Belle did. Before the little filly could say anything Rarity tackled her to the ground, pushing up a cloud of dust that momentarily obscured them. It settled to reveal Rarity on top, pinning Sweetie Belle to the ground. If one were listening close enough, they would hear the weak sobs coming from the elder sister. "Sweetie Belle, how could you run away from me like that? It's not safe! So...so much, I've lost so much tonight already! Don't make me lose you too!"
Sweetie Belle lay motionless beneath her bigger sister, her own eyes watering up as she really looked over Rarity for the first time that night. How the silvery-white fur had been colored an ugly grey from the ash; the unkempt mane, burned and crinkly at the edges from too-close brushes with flames; the simple blue shawl she wore, the only thing they had been able to salvage from...from...
"I'm sorry!" Sweetie Belle bawled. She pressed her face into Rarity's chest for comfort as the tears streamed from her eyes. "I didn't, I didn't think, I just needed to make sure Sc-Scootaloo was okay! I didn't mean to sc-scare you!"
Rarity wrapped her forelegs around Sweetie Belle, holding her close as she also began to cry. "I understand...neither of us want to lose any more tonight...oh Sweetie..." Rarity sniffled and forced back her tears, before looking down at her sister. "I know what we'll do. We, we'll go to where everyone is being evacuated, and we will find your friend there, safe and sound. Okay, Darling?"
Sweetie Belle sniffled and gave a weak nod. Rarity smiled a tired smile and helped her sister to her hooves, before gently leading her away from the spot of their brief confrontation.
Behind them, just yards away, the Carousel Boutique burned.
Applejack raced down the main street of Ponyville. Around her pairs of Unicorns and Earth Ponies fought hard to save their homes, their belongings, their loved ones. The stench of burning buildings, the heat of the flames, and the acrid taste of smoke that managed to filter through her makeshift mask of a wet bandana; it was as if somepony had dropped hell onto the town. For all anypony knew, maybe that was what had happened.
With every step Applejack felt the fear grow stronger, urging her to turn back, abandon her job and gallop back to Sweet Apple Acres. The wind was blowing just the right way; no ashes were sparks were going near the place. But Applejack pushed that fear down deep, to where it bothered her none, and pressed on. She had a job to do, and she would do it. She just had to find her friends.
Rounding a bend in the road, the orange Earth Pony gasped and screeched to a halt at the sight she found.
Pinkie Pie looked up at the sudden voice, the limp form of her Pegasus friend shifting just a bit from the movement. Happy tears threatened to spill from the pink pony's eyes at the sight of Applejack, and the two hurried to meet up. "Oh Applejack, thank goodness you're here!"
Applejack moved to Pinkie's side and quickly took Rainbow off of the obviously exhausted pony's back, onto her own. "Pinkie Pie, what in Tarnation happened!? What happened to Rainbow Dash?"
"I don't know!" Pinkie Pie replied. The tears that had been threatening to fall began to as the pair began trotting to the relative safety of the evacuation area. "I'd just been running around, not hopping because this really isn't the right situation to hop in, trying to help however I could by looking for stragglers when I rounded a corner and found Dashie lying in the middle of the road by Ditzy's place so I ran over to check on her and she wasn't breathing! Well she was, but I couldn't tell at first because it was really weak and no matter what I tried I couldn't get her to wake up, so I picked her up onto my back and began to carry her, and after a few minutes I ran into you! So-"
"I git it, Pinkie Pie!" Applejack grunted and readjusted Rainbow Dash on her back, before increasing her pace. "Come along, then. If y'all are right, we need ta git Rainbow here to a nurse pronto!"
"Right!" Pinkie nodded her head and then frowned. "If only Twilight were Rarity were here. One of them could levitate Dashie easy-peasy lemon-squeezy!"
"Well then dear, it's a good thing that Rarity is here!"
Both Applejack and Pinkie Pie gasped and whirled around. Genuine smiles broke out on their faces at the sight of Rarity and Sweetie Belle trotting up to them. Pinkie Pie screamed and rushed forward, nearly knocking Rarity to the ground with the force of her hug. "Oh Rarity, Sweetie Belle, I'm soooo glad to see you're okay! When I found Rainbow Dash I got so worried, because she was the only one of us I'd run into, so I didn't know how the rest of you were so my imagination started running off and I couldn't catch it so I imagined the most horrible things!"
Fresh tears came to Rarity's eyes, for once nothing but grateful for the barrage of words her friend released. After a moment of hugging she pulled away from Pinkie and smiled her own genuine smile. "I understand, dear...I was so scared too. For everypony."
After a quick greeting with Applejack Rarity magically lifted the still-unconscious Rainbow Dash from the cowfilly's back, and then together the small group began heading for the evacuation area set up by the lake.
As they hurried along, Sweetie Belle trotted up to beside Applejack. "H-hey, is Apple Bloom okay? Is she safe?"
Applejack gave a smile and nod. "She was askin' me to find out th' same about you. Almost had ta git Big Mac ta keep her from coming with me."
The little Unicorn smiled and fell silent after this. The rest of the group followed suit, and for the next several minutes they went along in silence. They had entered a deserted area of town, where the fires had not yet touched. Applejack looked around and nodded in satisfaction to herself; it looked as though the evacuations for this area were well and done. Glancing back behind her, Applejack noticed how Sweetie Belle had drifted back to Rarity, and how both Unicorns were sharing a small smile.
"Hey, what's so good y'all can smile 'bout it?"
"Oh, well it's nothing you have to be concerned over, dear," Rarity replied, waving a hoof. "It's just this is the area little Scootaloo lives in, and Sweetie Belle is just ever so happy to see it was safely evacuated."
The little Unicorn nodded her head eagerly, and Applejack chuckled at the sight. "Well shoot, y'all got nothin' ta worry your heads over. I saw Scootaloo and her folks over at the safety zone myself. I reckon at this point, we're tha only ponies left in Ponyville, 'sides the firefighters of course."
Pinkie Pie bounced up alongside Applejack. "Everypony's at the safe zone place? Really really really? Even Mr. and Mrs. Cake, and Cheerilee, and Twilight Sparkle, and Spike, and Mr. Breezy, and Snips and Snails, and-"
"Yes, yes Pinkie Pie!" Applejack groaned and nodded. "They're all there! The Cakes an' Cheerilee an' Mr. Breezy an' those two little foals an' Twi..." The cowfilly stopped in her tracks, making everyone else stop as they looked at her. The look on her face grew increasingly scared. "I, I don't recall seein' Twilight or Spike at all this whole evening!"
The whole group gasped. Sweetie Belle began to fidget and look around in worry. Twilight was the most powerful Unicorn she knew; she had to be safe, right? "Then...then where is Ms. Twilight?"
A sudden explosion of light and force, and everyone was sent flying through the air, crashing back down to the ground yards apart from where they had been. Applejack was the first to recover. She shook the dizziness from her eyes and looked to where the explosion had been, at the center of their group, and gasped. Her jaw dropped.
The orange Earth Pony's cry roused the rest of the group, except for Rainbow Dash. They all looked to the epicenter of the blast, all gasped at the sight of the purple Unicorn standing there. She stood there, moving her neck around to survey the town around them. Atop her head sat the Tiara of Magic that represented her Element.
Rarity took a step forward towards her fellow Unicorn. She didn't know what Twilight planned to do, but she could feel the magic building up. But not just within the purple Unicorn's horn, but throughout her entire body, from the tip of her horn to the bottoms of her hooves. Rarity had never felt anything like it before in her life. "Dear, what are you-"
All at once the magic that had been building within Twilight burst outward in a wave of purple light. The surrounding ponies were sent to their knees, Rarity and Sweetie Belle both nearly fainting as the pure magic dwarfed their own as it passed through them. All around them windows shattered, doors were blown inwards, and trees were uprooted. Applejack felt her hat blow away but made no move to catch it.
Purple energy radiated around Twilight's body in a cocoon of magic. Her eyes, open, shone with white light, and little bolts of electricity sparked across her skin. As they all watched the purple glow grew more powerful, and as it did the fire throughout all of Ponyville began to shift and flow inwards. The waves of flame ebbed and flowed through the air, coalescing into rivulets of angry reds, oranges and yellows as they moved in ever-closer circles around Twilight.
For a moment the magic almost faltered, the inferno spreading out just a bit, but then Twilight screamed and poured out even more power. Before the eyes of everyone watching, her coat shifted to an off-white hue, her mane and tail burst into flames. The white glow from her eyes turned a burning red, and all at once the flames stopped spreading and began again to pull in towards her.
Just as it seemed the flames would encircle her and burn her to death, Twilight threw her head back and screamed another set of strange words. All at once the flames stopped flowing to her and streamed upwards, forming into a blazing orb first dozens, then hundreds, and finally thousands of feet above the town. The gaze of every pony was drawn up to that orb, looking in awe and terror at the sight of all the fire they had been fighting mere moments ago forming together. Darkness evaporated around them as a new sun filled the sky, blocking off sight of Luna's moon.
Finally, just as all the flames had been drawn away from every single building that had been burning, Twilight released the final part of the spell. All at once the orb of fire exploded, scattering the flames to the four winds. Twilight's colors changed back to normal and she collapsed back to the ground, rolling to her back so that she was looking up at the sky.
As all her friends snapped from their stupors and rushed over to her, one final thought crossed Twilight's mind as she stared up at the dissipating fire in the above them all.
"The sky...it's burning..."
Then she slept.