Here we go!

It was at the edge of consciousness, her sight first returning, then hearing, smell, taste and touch. Her sense of magic flared to life as She felt the stars moving, aligning to twist open her dimensional prison-as She had set it in motion, a thousand years ago.

After a moment of eternity, the spell holding her prisoner in the Moon shattered, freeing Nightmare Moon. She flew forth, wings spread out from her body, her ethereal mane and tail streaming behind her. Nightmare Moon fell from her prison, descending to her home, to take her rightful place as Equestria's ruler...

Nightmare Moon's reverie broke as she flew over the land, the trees with barely any leaves and the fields little more than stretches of dirt. Glowing eyes widened as she beheld a sick land, not yet dying but not well. "What is the meaning of this?" she bellowed, as she flew over farms with stunted crops. "This is the Summer Sun Celebration, is it not? Why does it look like winter with no snow?"

The Alicorn paused in midflight and looked around, kicking at the air as she focused on the sky. Most of it was dark, but the edge of the horizon was a sliver of brilliant orange. The sun, her sister's domain, hung low in the sky, the moon over it in eclipse. No stars shone in the sky, a deep, endless expanse of inky blue.

Nightmare Moon's lips curled back in a sneer. "So, my dear Sister! Unable to control both the sun and moon? I knew without me Equestria would fall into disarray." She leaned forward and her horn glowed a deep blue as she latched onto the moon, her body, and willed it to move.

Nothing happened.

The Princess of the night grunted and her wings flapped. She flew back as she focused all her might on the moon, her domain, her former prison and now object of her will. Move... move!

The moon remained in place, hanging over the sun and casting Equestria in twilight.

Nightmare Moon snorted, lightning flashing from her nostrils. She reached out, sensing the powerful magic holding the moon in place. She traced its path, all the way to Canterlot. She twisted around, angling towards the former fortress. So, my enemy takes residence in the ancient fortress of the Mages? Very well, I shall smite thee and take my rightful place as ruler of the night!

Fancy Pants, prime minister of Equestria, backed away from the throne as the occupant glared at him. "B-but your majesty," he began, his monocle shifting slightly in his telekinetic grasp. "It's not that nopony doesn't want to celebrate, it's just..." His voice trailed off as he unconsciously glanced to a window and the eternal dusk outside. "With crops barely enough to sustain the population, they just can't." He hung his head and sighed, tensing for the ten thousandth time.

The throne's occupant, a purple unicorn filly half Fancy Pants' size, glared down at him with white eyes. "But why?" Twilight Sparkle demanded, horn ablaze with light, a pillar of energy. She hopped off the throne and approached Fancy Pants. She snorted, a white cloud coming out. "All I want is for everypony to be happy, and I'm trying my best with the sun!" She followed Fancy Pants' gaze out to the window, where the sun hung in place. "I've almost got it, too. I think it twitched today!" She clapped her front hooves together. "Soon, I'll fix everything. Don't you worry!"

Fancy Pants clamped down on his lips and merely nodded. "As you say."

Twilight's head suddenly shot around and her eyes widened. "What is this? I feel something-no, someone! Such power, too!" Her horn's energy changed in color, going from pure-white to gaining tinges of purple to it. She walked to the window overlooking the sun's position. Her eyes narrowed the slightest fraction, staying like that for a few minutes before widening again. She looked back to Fancy Pants. "Send out the royal guard in escort formation, but tell them if any one of them attacks, I'll be VERY angry. Get it?"

Fancy Pants nodded and dropped down to one foreleg before rising back up to all fours and trotting out. Twilight turned herself and walked to a door hidden behind the throne and opened it. She entered a small, dimly-lit room and walked up to a bed, her horn chasing away some shadows and casting others with sharp angles and lines. "Someone's coming," she said to the bed's occupant, her voice dropping as low as it could. "But don't worry, Princess. I'll make sure they don't mess anything up!"

The dull-white Alicorn stirred, her matted wings stirring slightly. Princess Celestia's head rose and her bleary eyes gained focus for a moment. "Nnnooooo..." she drawled out. "Pl-please, Twilight. I can help you, but you need-"

"Help, why would I need help?" Twilight said, her right eye twitching ever so slightly. She reached out with a foreleg and patted Celestia on her forehead, right in front of her little nub of a horn. "Don't worry, I almost made the sun move today. Isn't that great?" She stood back. "Don't worry, Princess. As soon as I deal with whoever's messing with the moon, I'll get right back to fixing the sun. You'll see!" She turned and trotted out of the room, her eyes flashing wildly. "You'll all see..."

Celestia's eyes focused on Twilight as she left. She heaved her head up, but a wave of dizziness hit the Alicorn, causing her to crash once more to her bed. She groaned slightly as a presence made itself known to her, one not felt in a thousand years. Tears streamed from her eyes as Luna approached. "L-Luna... run!"

Nightmare Moon circled over Canterlot, glowing eyes focused on the cracked minarets, faded white paint and the general state of decay. A few ponies wandered the streets, bundled up in thick clothing that spoke more to functionality than form. A small gasp escaped her lips as she beheld a large, grotesquely-misshapen green dragon, sitting in an open lot. A Pegasus hovered near its gaping maw of a mouth, dumping a few gems into its mouth.

Anger welled up inside Nightmare Moon's breast. "Sister, I knew you were soft, but you were neverstupid! Has the Griffin Empire invaded?" She suddenly paused in midair. "Is this... Discord?" She suddenly dove, sending a few ponies galloping away in fright as she narrowed her eyes, casting her senses out.

The trail led to a large field of withered grass, little tufts of bushes and a few scattered statues in various states of disrepair. One statue, a mismatched conglomeration of animal parts, stood out simply by virtue of having no cracks upon its surface. Nightmare Moon touched down in front of the prison of the God of Chaos and walked up to it, horn glowing. She paced in front of the frozen draconequus for a span of moments. "Still frozen, beast. We did well with you." Her head whipped around as she felt the air stirred by wingbeats. "Who dares approach me?"

A dozen white-coated Pegasi, each one clad in the gold armor of the Royal Guard, flew down, touching down and trotting to a stop in front of the Alicorn. The one on point dipped his head. "Greetings from... the interim caretaker of Equestria," he said, voice dipping low.

Nightmare Moon regarded him, eyes narrowing and lip curling back. "'Interim caretaker'? Interim-what do you speak of? Celestia is not on the throne? What madness is that?" She stalked up to the Pegasus, mane flaring out and lightning crackling with each stroke of her hooves, leaving scorch marks upon the dead grass. She leaned her head down, boring into the Pegasi's eyes with her own white orbs."Speak quickly, or forever hold your peace."

The Pegasus swallowed, but held his ground. "There was an... incident, five years ago. I cannot say more." Sweat beaded on his brow. He took a breath and continued speaking as he felt Nightmare Moon's penetrating gaze. "Please, I beg of you," he whispered. "If you must kill, kill me but spare my squadron." His eyes finally darted away and he stepped back, head hanging.

It was a span of heartbeats before Nightmare Moon smiled."You have courage, and honor. Tell me, what is your name?"

The Pegasus looked back up. "Spanish Steel." He clicked his hooves together. "Sergeant of the Royal Guard." Spanish Steel regarded her. "But if I may, who are you?"

Nightmare Moon snorted. She held up a foreleg and pointed up to the moon, hanging over the sun. "Tell me, when you were a colt, did you ever hear of the Mare in the Moon? The Nightmare sealed away?" She bared her teeth and chuckled. "That was me, but now, after a thousand years, I have returned to take back my throne!" She spread her wings and thunder crashed in the clear skies. "Whether it is my Sister or this... caretaker, it matters not. My destiny shall not be denied me a second time!"

Spanish Steel dropped to one foreleg, the rest of his squadron following suit. "Then we shall escort you to the Royal Palace," he said, standing back up.

Nightmare Moon nodded to him as she strode forward, the Pegasi breaking rank and reforming around her. "Good," she intoned. She looked to the sky and spread her wings, tensing her legs before springing into the air and leaving four small craters on the ground as she and the squadron took off for the best-maintained building in Canterlot.

Twilight paced about the throne room, empty save for herself. Her head swung back and forth, the energy around her horn flashing with every step of her hooves. "I need the farm reports!" she bellowed. "If I read them, I can understand them. And if I understand them, maybe I can figure out how to grow more food." She stopped in mid-stride. "Get me Blueblood, on the double! No, not him. Shining Armor?" Her head whipped around. "Shining Armor, where are-"

The doors at the far end of the throne room suddenly bulged, a split-second before disintegrating into shower of splinters and chunks of metal. Nightmare Moon strode in, mane and tail flaring out behind her. "I am Nightmare Moon!" she bellowed. Her eyes focused on Twilight and her jaw dropped as she saw the cone of magical energy around the young filly's horn. "By the Herd, what is..."Her voice trailed off. "That power, I know it." She snorted and pawed at the ground, digging up the tiles. "You, what have you done with my Sister?"

Twilight stopped her pacing and looked to Nightmare Moon, then to the doorframe and the debris scattered about. "What the-now I've got to get the DOOR fixed too? As if I don't have enough on my plate with the sun!" She suddenly focused her own glowing eyes on Nightmare Moon. "Wait, I know you... " She suddenly gasped and cantered back, the energy around her horn blazing forth for a second before settling down. "You're Nightmare Moon!" she exclaimed. "I read about you in the archives of the Royal Library!"

A smile slowly crept across Nightmare Moon's mouth. "Ah, so I am not completely forgotten? Good." She lowered her head and her horn lit up with her magic, the smile falling away. "What has happened to Celestia, foal? You wield her power with all the grace of a sledgehammer!"

Twilight's jaw dropped. "H-hey!" she stuttered out. "I-I'm doing the best I can, here!" She stalked forward, stopping a few feet from Nightmare Moon. "Probably better than how you would! You wanted eternal night! I'm at least trying to fix things here!" she glanced to the window and wandered over. "I didn't mean to! It just all happened and now the sun's broken, but I'm going to fix things for Princess Celestia!" She whirled about to face Nightmare Moon once more. "You'll see! Fancy Pants doesn't think I can do it, and neither does his... friend, I think. Blueblood didn't either, but I showed him!"

Nightmare snorted, sending forth billowing steam from her nostrils. "You have dodged my question, child." She stalked forward, punctuating each word with the slamof her gauntleted hooves upon the floor. "Where. Is. My. Sister?"

Twilight's blank eyes stared back and she hung her head, a single black tear falling from her eye. She walked to the door near the back, right behind the throne. "I didn't mean to," she muttered, opening the door. "It just... happened."[

Twilight writhed and twisted in the sphere of white, all senses blocked by the hammering in her skull. Her parents flashed, changing into plants. The instructors floated in midair, helpless under her unrestrained onslaught of power coursing through her.

She spun about as a flash of white passed by her. Celestia appeared and reached out to the young filly. Twilight's forelegs shot out... and twin beams of energy emerged from her hooves, striking and enveloping the Princess, wrapping around her body. Celestia cried out, her horn suddenly shrinking, her wings shedding feathers. "Twilight Sparkle... stop... this... please?"

All of Equestria shook, from the outer borders to Canterlot itself. The sun dipped low in the sky, stopping at the edge of the horizon. The sky dimmed, turning a deep blue as the air chilled. And a lone Pegasus filly returned to Cloudsdale, her cutie mark still shiny on her flanks and blissfully unaware of what had transpired.

Nightmare Moon stood in the doorway, stunned silent. Even her mane and tail had flattened out, hanging limply from poll and dock, respectively. She took a numbing step forward into the room that held Celestia's withered form. "Sister?" she whispered.

Celestia's head lifted slightly and a single eye opened. "L-Luna..." She groaned and panted as that single action drained her. "I'm sorry... you had... to see me like this." Her head fell back to the bed and her torso heaved. "Not her... fault..."

Nightmare Moon was beside her bed in an instant. She raised a foreleg and pressed it against Celestia's right shoulder, shaking her. "Celestia, Celestia!" she cried out. Her head darted back and forth and her eyes dimmed slightly. Her breathing quickened as the shaking increased in tempo. "Wake up-wake up! It wasn't supposed to be like this! It was to be in battle, between two equals! Sister, please!"

Twilight's voice called out from the throne room, shaky and wavering. "It wasn't my fault! I didn't do it on purpose! It just... happened, but I'm trying to fix it!" The aura around her horn blazed a violet-white. "I need to fix it, otherwise I'll be a failure, like before! But I'm a big mare, now, and I'm going to-"

A solid-black beam of energy shot from Nightmare Moon's horn, striking Twilight directly on the chest and sending her hurtling back through a wall on the far side. The entire wall shuddered before collapsing into a large mound of concrete and rebar, sending out a large cloud of dust.

The Alicorn emerged from Celestia's room, teeth bared and sharp. "I shall rend the marrow from your bones!" she screamed, the air reverberating. Spittle flew from her mouth as she walked forward and tears flowed freely from her eyes. "You have hurt my Sister, the one being who might be my equal! You pathetic filly, without even a cutie mark! She is Ruler of the Undying Sun, Caretaker of Dream Valley and my Sister! You will pay for what you have-"

The mound of rubble suddenly exploded, sending debris flying in all directions. A shield sprung up around Nightmare Moon, deflecting any incoming shrapnel from her. Her mouth dropped as Twilight floated out from the mound, unharmed. "But how?"

Twilight snarled and moaned, her entire body twitching. "I told you I'll FIX IT!"she screeched. She held up her forelegs and a beam of energy emerged from each, intersecting a few feet away from the filly and striking Nightmare Moon's shield head-on. It strobed over the barrier, engulfing it and battering the magic down.

Nightmare Moon quickly trotted backwards, leaning her head forward. Her horn was completely covered in energy and her wings beat as she poured every bit of energy she had into the shield. She suddenly leapt into the air mere moments before it failed, barely dodging the blast of energy below her hooves.

A sudden telekinetic strike slammed into Nightmare Moon's side, sending her pinwheeling about the upper levels of the throne room. Her head spun and sides ached from the blow. A voice echoed from below, a thunderhead of a foal's tantrum. "I can fix this! Don't you DARE stop me from fixing this! I broke it, so it's my responsibility to fix what I did wrong! It's what Mom and D-d-d-Dad taught me!"

Nightmare Moon stopped spinning. She looked around and spotted the window. Her wings spread and she flew through it, limbs stretched fore and aft. She sailed into the sky and turned around even as Twilight floated up into the eternal dusk. Her eyes flashed and stomped her hooves on the air, sending forth bolts of lightning, but they bent around Twilight's upright form. Another telekinetic wave rippled out, but Nightmare Moon managed to fly up and over it-only to be struck by another shot from Twilight's horn. The Alicorn flew back, tumbling through the air. Her wings spread out and she slowed down, but a cough wracked her body as she spat blood from her mouth. Her eyes darted about and she cast out her senses, quickly locating Twilight as she approached. Nightmare Moon kicked at the air, swinging herself around as she shot off once more, eyes wide with a new emotion clutching at her heart-terror.

Twilight fired off several more bolts from her horn and forelegs, each one narrowly missing. "Get back here!" she bellowed. "You have to be punished for what you did!" She leaned back before casting out, snaring Nightmare Moon. Her right eye twitched. "Yeah, you'll be punished. You did some bad things, Nightmare Moon!"

Nightmare Moon paid her no mind as she kicked at the air, whinnying and nickering. But she slowly slid back to Twilight. No, NO! I must get away from this mad filly, I must!Her horn glowed and a thin beam of energy shot up. Her head twisted and turned as she was dragged down, down to the filly who had stolen her sister's powers and sent Equestria into ruin.

Her horn sliced straight down, tearing a hole in the sky. The crack yawned open, distorting and rippling. Twilight gasped and Nightmare Moon surged forward, kicking and flapping against the filly. She entered the hole just as it closed, her ephemeral tail barely making it through before the hole closed up.

Twilight floated in the sky for a few moments, mouth open and eyes wide. A few groans came from her throat before she kicked at the air, the energy from her horn shooting up into the sky. "Get back here!" she shouted. "That's not fair! You did a bad thing and you have to come back and fix it! You have to FIX IT!" Lightning crackled and winds howled as she continued, tears falling from her eyes. Eventually, she turned around and flew off, back to Canterlot and landing near the dragon. She dropped down to her knees, still sobbing. "I-I'm trying my best! Why can't anypony see it?" Her crying died down as a rather large claw stroked down her back. She raised her head and looked up at the dragon, sniffling. "T-thanks, Spike."

She fell through the nothing and felt the tides of time and judgment and saw all and nothing and ice and heat and hot and...

The bright blue sky yawned open and Nightmare Moon tumbled out, corkscrewing through the sky. Her wings spread out, but she continued down, down to the ground and the green grass and lush trees and open fields...

Where am I?

Her thoughts were interrupted as the ground rushed up to meet her. She slammed into the dirt, digging the soil up as she continued tumbling and rolling across the fertile, rich earth. Aches and pains she never knew she could have sprung up over every inch of her nigh-immortal body as she continued, finally coming to a stop just outside a small town, near a large forest.

Nightmare Moon lifted her head up and blinked, but the entire world swam. Her eyes lost their glow for a split-second before it returned. She ground her teeth together and concentrated, willing the world into focus. She caught sight of a flash of purple and turned, the dizziness returning. What she saw caused a smile to form. Perhaps I am in Tartaurus? Tirac, have you come to claim me? she thought as the filly, who had wielded the powers of a goddess and was now all grown up, stared right back at her. Then the world was swallowed up once more by darkness.

Author's notes

A little something new from me, spun out of discussion at Spacebattles. Thanks to all the guys there for their ideas and posts. Please read and review.