By Skye Silverwing
Chapter 1: Ponying up
"You…" Celestia screamed. "It was YOUR FAULT! You took my sister from me, and YOU WILL PAY DEARLY!"
Prince Terran faced his elder sister's rage head-on, without backing down. "You cannot pretend that Luna would not have realized eventually that you were cheating her." He spat back. "You basked in the sun and played with all our subjects while she sat alone in the moon. She was getting depressed. I simply asked her about it!"
The tall, white-furred Alicorn princess screamed in rage, her magically flowing mane and tail whipping around like flames. "YOU WILL PAY!" she declared, leveling her magic on him. "I banish you from Equestria, and strip you of your magic! You, and all of your descendents, will wander endlessly, until the skies of Equestria are turned black, and the Immortal Fires of the Sky are extinguished!"
Terran tried to fight Celestia's magic, but she had always been his better in the magic arts, and her rage only served to make the spell stronger. All he could hope was to weaken the spell in some way. With the last of his strength, he flung his magic against the incantation, hoping that it was enough to one day allow his progeny to return.
He screamed in agony as the light swallowed him, and his last thoughts before he sank into darkness were of the hope he had for the future.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
Almost one thousand years later…
Twilight Sparkle, the most favored Student of Princess Celestia, stood before the frightening evil that was Nightmare Moon. The sky overhead held not one shred of sunshine, in spite of it being nearly noon, on what should have been the longest day of the year. Desperately she looked to the shattered shards of the Elements of Harmony, the last hope that Equestria would ever see the Sunshine again, which lay broken at the evil Mare's feet.
Nightmare Moon leered at the purple pony with vicious glee. "You little foal, thinking you could defeat me?" she laughed, "Now, you will never see your Princess, or your Sun. The night will last FOREVER!"
The sounds of her friends coming to help her drifted up the stairway behind her.
Her friends. Mere hours before she would not have thought such a thing possible. She could scarcely believe the way her friends had stood by her over the course of this mission. As they had come to this place, these ruins in the Everfree Forest, and- in fact- since she had arrived in Ponyville the previous day, they had shown her so much about friendship… Applejack's honesty, Fluttershy's kindness, Rarity's generosity, Rainbow Dash's Loyalty, and Pinky Pie's laughter. And now they were coming, and giving her hope when all hope was lost.
Wait. Honesty, generosity, kindness, loyalty, and laughter? Those were the Elements of Harmony!
With new-found hope, Twilight stood up and faced the Dark Princess once again. "You think you can destroy the Elements of Harmony just like that?" she declared, "Well your wrong, because the spirits of the elements of harmony are right HERE!"
As she finished, her friends leapt to her side, a force of solidarity, though none of them really understood what their friend meant. The Shards of the original elements began to float up from around the Dark Princess's hooves, causing her to cry out in surprise.
Twilight, sensing the need for exposition explained as the shards began to ring her friends, one by one. "Applejack, who reassured me when I was in doubt, represents the Spirit of Honesty!" she intoned, "Fluttershy, who tamed the Manticore with her compassion, represents the Spirit of Kindness! Pinkie Pie, who banished fear by giggling in the face of danger, represents the Spirit of Laughter! Rarity, who calmed a sorrowful serpent with a meaningful gift, represents the Spirit of Generosity! And Rainbow Dash, who would not abandon her friends for her own heart's desire, represents the Spirit of Loyalty! The Spirits of these five ponies got us through every challenge you threw at us!"
Nightmare Moon began to shy away from the display. "You still don't have the sixth Element!" She rationalized, "The spark didn't work!"
Twilight gazed at the Dark Princess with new-found resolve. "But it did." She said, "A different kind of spark. I felt it when I realized how happy I was to hear my friends."
An oval stone, not unlike the elements before their destruction, appeared in the air above Twilight's head. "You see, Nightmare Moon, when those elements are ignited by the Spark that exists in the heart of us all, it creates the sixth element," She declared as the Dark Princess attempted to shield herself from the bright light, "THE ELEMENT OF MAGIC!"
In the light of magic, the shards of the former elements reformed into necklaces on each of the ponies, and the Element of magic became a tiara on Twilight's head.
As the magics came together, they shined brilliantly, forming a shining rainbow that swirled through the intervening space, swirling around Nightmare Moon as she screamed in horror. The swirling magic unleashed one last finishing burst of light and they all knew nothing more.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
Celestia knew it was over the moment it was. The binding magic that her sister had used to keep her away faded, allowing her to use her magic to raise the sun once more. With that done, she used the sunlight to transport into the hall where the battle had occurred about a minute after the ponies began to awaken.
"I reckon we really do represent the elements of friendship." The orange colored earth-pony, Applejack, was saying.
Never one to let go a chance to appear graceful and wise, Celestia flared the sunlight to cover her entrance, and answered the surprised pony. "Indeed you do."
All of the ponies bowed before the princess, save Twilight, who exclaimed, "Princess Celestia!" and trotted over to her.
The Princess gave the purple pony a warm, equine hug. "Twilight Sparkle, my faithful student." She said fondly, "I knew you could do it."
Twilight looked up at her Princess in surprise. "You told me it was all just an old Pony-tale."
Celestia gestured at the others with her front hoof. "I told you that you needed to make some friends." She replied. "Nothing more. I saw the signs of Nightmare Moon's return, and I knew it was you who had the magic inside to defeat her. But you could not unleash it until you let true friendship into your heart." She turned toward the front of the room. "Now if only another will as well."
The Ponies all turned to see a young, deep-blue pony lying where Nightmare Moon had been, surrounded by pieces of dark crystal shed as she lost her power.
Celestia stepped slowly up to the prone form of her sister. "Princess Luna." She declared, drawing a startled gasp of fear from the young Alicorn as she woke. "It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this."
Princess Luna stared up at the regal Alicorn, unsure whether to be frightened or awed.
Celestia knelt next to her sister and smiled at her. "It is time to put our differences behind us." She said. "We were meant to rule together, little sister."
The other Ponies were shocked. "Sister?"
Celestia stood again, looking down at her sister offering her a hug. "Will you accept my friendship?" she asked.
Luna waited a long moment, causing the other ponies to wait with baited breath, leaning as close as they dared (resulting in the pink earth-pony, Pinkie-Pie, falling over). Luna then looked up at her sister and threw herself into her sister's hug. "I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed, tears running down her face, "I missed you so much, Big Sister!"
Celestia felt tears running down her face as well. "I've missed you, too." She said.
Behind them, the other ponies were all tearing up, except for Pinkie Pie, who was outright bawling. After a moment, though, the tears stopped, and Pinkie suggested that they have a party in Luna's honor.
As the ponies hurried out to make their preparations, Luna held back and Celestia slowed as well, knowing, deep down what her sister's question would be.
Luna looked into her sister's eyes, and almost whispered the words. "What of our brother?" she asked, "Is he well?"
Celestia hung her head in shame. "It… was my greatest mistake…" she said, tears returning to her eyes. "After I had to seal you away, I was looking for someone to blame for losing you, and I was too afraid to blame myself. He… He admitted to pointing out the unfairness of our arrangement, and so, in my distraught state… I took his magic away and banished him from Equestria."
Luna was utterly shaken by the revelation. "You… Took his magic?" she exclaimed, "But… that would make him…"
Celestia bit back a sob as she finished the statement for her sister. "Mortal." She said.
Luna stared at her sister in horror. "What of his children?" she asked, "What happened to his family line?"
Celestia squirmed slightly, more shamed than anything at her rash actions. "They are banished to wander a planet called Earth until the sky goes dark and… and the immortal fires of the sky are extinguished." She replied, hanging her head. "It is an action I have regretted for nearly a thousand years."
Luna stared at her sister. "But… You ARE the immortal fires…" she said, revolted by her sisters actions, but realizing that Celestia had been beating herself up over it since them moment it was enacted. "It's okay sis… maybe we can find another way. I will spend some time researching the exact magic you used. We will solve this together." She held one hoof out to her sister, who accepted it. "Now, I think we have a party to attend."
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
Ryoga was lost.
Not that this was a new or even unusual experience for the Bandana-clad martial artist. It seemed that he was always in that state in one way or another. Lost in location, lost in his thoughts, lost in love, lost in purpose. "Where the hell am I now?" he asked no one in particular. He believed that he was somewhere on the African continent, someplace to the north of New York. He was fairly certain he had seen that tree before, though he could not really place where.
This was all Ranma's fault, of course. Or at least that was how Ryoga rationalized it. His rival's defeat of Saffron, the Phoenix King of Phoenix Mountain had permanently ruined the magical springs of Jusenkyo, and the loss of the last of the water of the Spring of the Drowned Man at the pigtailed boy's sham of a wedding meant that none of the men cursed by Jusenkyo would ever be free of it again.
This was, of course, all well and good for Ranma, who was at least human regardless of form, but for Ryoga, the curse was debilitating. It took little more than a glass of water to reduce him to a piglet even smaller than an average house cat. Hell, some house cats had even tried to eat him. Some people tried that, too.
After Ranma's failed wedding, Ryoga had had a falling out with Akane, Ranma's would-be bride, and his own dearest love. He suspected that Ranma had told the girl about his curse, breaking the oath of honor Ranma had sworn to him when he had learned of it. Ryoga could not even show his face as her "pet pig" without something horrible happening to him.
Deep down, Ryoga knew that it was not really Ranma's fault, that he should not have been abusing his curse to slip into Akane's bed at night, and that Akane was not stupid enough to fail to realize the truth about his curse on her own, but it was his driving hatred for the Saotome heir that kept Ryoga from losing himself to the horrible crushing loneliness that his life of wandering had forced on him. It was only his need to defeat Ranma that kept him from succumbing to the desire to just die.
So Ryoga pushed on, eager to find Nerima again, to face his rival one more time. He would win this time, he was sure. All he had to do was find…
"You lost, Sugar?"
Ryoga turned to see Ukyo Kuonji, one of the girls that Saotome strung along, standing outside of a shop baring the name "Ucchan's".
Ryoga smiled. The Okonomiyaki Chef had spent many years training to hunt down and kill Saotome herself, so he considered her to be a friend. "Hello, Ukyo." He said, "Does this mean I am in Nerima?"
Ukyo smiled back. "Yeah." She said, "Are you going to challenge Ran-chan again?"
Ryoga chuckled. "That is the plan." He said, "Same as always, only this time, I will beat him."
Ukyo nodded, a slightly bemused smile on her face. "Well that is going to be rather impressive." She said, "Would you like some Okonomiyaki? Got to keep your energy up. On the house."
Ryoga smiled at the offer. "Thanks, Ukyo." He said, "I haven't had any good food in a week or so."
Ukyo smiled and ushered Ryoga into the shop.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
It had taken Luna several months of focused, serious study to trace the flows of magic back through the veils of time to find the exact spell that her sister had used to banish their brother. She had even worked straight through the Grand Galloping Gala, though her sister had told her it had been a night of great and chaotic fun with Twilight and all her friends there.
Luna was studying the flows of the spell itself when she came to a startling revelation:
The spell was broken.
She traced the lines of the spell to be certain and realized that, in his last act before he was thrown off the world, her brother had pushed the spell so that any immortal creature of flame could count as the immortal flame. It was a minor thing, but it seemed that some immortal Phoenix deity on the planet Terran had been sent to had been effectively vanquished on the vary day that she, as Nightmare Moon, had returned. Both events, while temporary, had occurred at the same time. She had darkened the skies of Equestria, and someone had killed the immortal flame on the Earth.
She could hardly wait to tell her sister about this! She began to walk toward the door when she realized, she had more than enough magic to reach out to her brother's descendants and bring them home. It would be a brilliant surprise for her sister, something that would finally shake Celestia out of that funk she fell in when no one was looking.
Luna began to carefully craft the spell, intending first to locate them, then speak to them and invite them to return to Equestria and then retrieve them. She had just finished the first part of her spell when she noticed something odd out the window: It was raining chocolate.
Luna had not been gone so long that she had forgotten the signs of the return of her greatest foe. "Discord." She whispered the name like a curse. "I must warn my sister."
Luna charged out of the room for the emergency meeting, leaving the Spell scroll unfinished and forgotten on the desk.
As soon as she was gone a creature with the head of a pony, claws of an eagle and a lion, and the tail of a snake appeared in the room and, after looking around for a moment, spotted the scroll. "What is this?" Discord said, looking over the spell and the magic flows around it. "A locator spell for the kids of a lost brother? Interesting."
He looked over Luna's notes involving Celestia's spell and her own and he grinned, then looked through the flows and saw the target of the spell. The boy, who was in human form, was literally steeped in Chaos magic. "So, Luna wants to bring her nephew back to Equestria, does she?" he said with a sinister chuckle, "That sounds like an excellent Idea."
Discord started rewriting parts of the scroll with a smile. "Who needs to ask?" he said with a chuckle, "He won't need to be in that human form anymore, so we will return him to his Pony form, of course, and he doesn't need to come here either. How about we drop him in the Everfree forest instead?" Discord laughed and released the spell, knowing it would be a week before the new pony appeared. Plenty of time for some delicious mischief in Equestria.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
Ryoga quietly munched on this Okonomiyaki, savoring each bite. The flavors of the varied vegetables he had picked permeated the dough, and proved that where Ukyo was concerned, even his Jusenkyo-related vegetarian pallet was no bar to delicious food.
Ukyo examined the martial-artist from across her skillet. "So, did you learn a new move or something to let you defeat Ran-chan?" she asked, not pausing in cleaning the skillet, "Because he has been training with both Happosai and Cologne, and soaking up their techniques as fast as they can teach him."
Ryoga looked a little startled. Sure he had picked up a few new tricks, but if Ranma was training under both ancient masters, he was probably advancing at an even faster pace than he had been. He thought about the question, but his thoughts were interrupted by a deep rumbling sound outside.
Ryoga quickly made his way outside, and looked up into the sky, spotting the source of the odd sound, a huge, swirling mass of swirling energy descending from the sky toward him. Cursing Ranma, (who's fault this clearly had to be) Ryoga began running.
It rapidly became clear that the disturbance was following Ryoga, tracking him and determined to swallow him up. He had to get away from all the innocent bystanders, for as a martial artist, he could not allow them to come to any harm. Reaching an empty park Ryoga planted his feet for a last-ditch effort to block whatever this storm was. He reached into himself and drew up all the feelings of pain, loneliness and depression, forming it into a ball of ki in his hand. He then shouted "SHI SHI HOKODAN!" and hurled the ball at the approaching storm of energy.
The Ball of energy passed into the storm and was gone. The storm continued to descend, and Ryoga could do nothing to stop it. Just as it was about to envelope him he saw Ukyo charging toward him.
"Ryoga, MOVE!" she shouted, hitting him with a flying tackle in a desperate attempt to drive him out of the way of the swirling vortex. Unfortunately, as Ryoga expected, the vortex simply altered its course. A moment later the magic covered them both, and Ryoga blacked out.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
It had been five days since their defeat of Discord, and Twilight Sparkle was taking the time to get some rest. She sat comfortably on the balcony of the library, reading an old copy of Harry Pottok and the Unicorn's Stone. She had chosen that book after having been reminded twice by Spike, her baby dragon assistant, that she was under Princess Celestia's orders to be resting, and that she should not be researching prophecies. Again.
She glanced down at the street below and smiled, seeing Pinkie Pie coming this way. Closing the book, she hurried down the stairs as the Pink Earth Pony began to knock. Opening the door, Twilight smiled. "Hi, Pinkie, what's going on?" she asked.
Pinkie smiled back. "Hey, Twilight!" she said happily, "Applejack is planning a picnic for all of us at Sweet Apple Acres! Are you coming?"
Twilight smiled happily. She loved spending time with all of her friends together. "Sure!" She said, "You coming, Spike?" She glanced back at her companion.
The Purple Dragon grinned and nodded. "Yeah!" he said, "I love to spend time with Rarity. And the rest of you, too!"
Twilight laughed as Spike climbed onto her back. She looked at Pinkie and nodded. "Lead the way, Pinkie." She said.
Pinkie began to hop along, singing tunelessly to herself and in general being Pinkie Pie while Twilight followed along behind her, a bemused smile on her face and spike on her back. The three of them were walking past the nearest edge of the Everfree Forest when it happened.
A bright light lit up the sky over Ponyville, and as the three Ponies looked on, a ball of sickly greenish energy arched down, vanishing behind the trees of the Forest. A moment later, the Ground shook with a huge detonation, and a wave of hot air and a sense of horrible sorrow and loneliness swept over the two ponies and their dragon.
Pinkie Pie was the first to recover, though she was clearly shaken. "W-what was that?" she stuttered, "It was like a thousand puppies died all at once!"
Twilight shook it off, reassured slightly that she had two of her friends with her. "I don't know." She said, "Spike, go get the others if they are not already on their way. We may need their help. Come on, Pinkie Pie."
The Pink Pony did not need to be told twice. She was the best one for making someone happy, and she knew that whatever just happened, she was going to be needed.
Separating from Spike, the two ponies made their way through the Everfree Forest as quickly as one dared to move through that unnatural place. They managed to avoid the hazards of the forest, and spotted a familiar figure up ahead.
"Zecora!" Twilight called to the Zebra. "What happened? Is everything O-"
Twilight cut off when she saw the area ahead. It was devastation, pure and simple. Trees broken off, shattered or uprooted, plants burned, and the earth itself had been marred with a crater nearly one hundred feet across.
Zecora looked at the Purple Unicorn. "I was out in my hut, when I heard the sound and the crashing of trees and the shaking of ground." She said, "I hurried to see and to help if I could, what I found, as you see, is just not very good."
Twilight had to agree. The crater was utterly devastated. She hoped that there were no animals here when it happened. She looked around the crater and again and spotted something that made her heart drop. "Ohmygosh!" she cried, "Over there by the stream!"
The others turned in the direction that Twilight was already running and quickly followed.
There, in lying beside the stream was the prone form of brown mare earth pony with a darker brown mane and tail, wrapped in the torn remains of a blue outfit of some kind. She lay still, partially in the bubbling water of the stream.
Pinkie Pie could hardly bare to look. Twilight looked at Zecora. "Is… Is she…?"
Zecora examined the mare closely. "Nature takes and nature gives, but this mare, she yet lives." She said.
The sounds of Twilight's other friends coming came through the trees.
"You guys! It's over here!" Rainbow Dash called to the others, as she broke from the tree cover, pausing just a moment when confronted by the devastation. Applejack and Rarity, along with Spike, burst from the underbrush a moment later and paused, too, before seeing what was going on.
Zecora began giving instructions to the making of a litter to carry the wounded pony back to Ponyville and the Ponies hurried about, carrying out the instructions and getting the poor pony on the litter. Then they all hurried to get the poor thing back to Ponyville as quickly as they could.
Nopony could blame them for missing him. The piglet lay limply suspended by a branch caught along in the stream. Nopony saw him, so Nopony noticed when Applejack stepped on the rock next to the branch and jostled it loose, to drift slowly down the stream.
.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.
A/N. Not really sure where I am going with this yet. What I do know is this: Pinkie Pie was planning to stop by the wooded grove where Fluttershy was to invite her before going on to the picnic. Fluttershy was alone with her animal friends, and nopony can blame her for not wanting to go and investigate the explosion on her own. She will have a major part in the next chapter.
I have not really decided yet if there is going to be a serious romantic connection for Ryoga yet. I am taking suggestions, though. Ukyo is involved as a possible love interest and a reason for Ranma to show up later.
Ryoga has no cutie mark in his pony form, a fact that will draw the attention of a certain trio of fillies.
Constructive criticism is appreciated.