4. Darkness Falls
Celestia looked u[ as the doors to the throne room opened. "Twilight Sparkle!" she called happily, stepping off the dais to greet her favorite student. "I know you are dedicated to your duties, but you should be spending the day with your friends and family. What brings you back here?"
Twilight looked up at Celestia with a smile, swayed a bit, and coughed, her throat sounding scratchy and dry. Celestia came forward. "Oh, did you come down with a cold? Let me take care of that. I know you still haven't mastered healing yourself with magic, and your new alicorn physiology takes some getting used to." She leaned in, her horn glowing.
Twilight glanced around, a question in her eyes. Celestia smiled. "Luna is still abed today. It is the winter solstice, after all, and she needs to rest for the coming night." As Celestia touched her horn to Twilight's throat, she frowned. "Twilight, something feels off in your magic. What's wrong?"
Twilight smiled, showing her teeth. "Too easy," she whispered, her voice a seductive hiss. She struck her hoof against the ground, sending black cracks running towards Celestia.
As Celestia backed away from the cracks, green fire shot up all around her, surrounding her. Green tendrils shot out of the fire, seizing Celestia's legs, wings, head, and horn. Celestia could feel the tendrils draining her as they pulled her against a wall, pinning her there. "Chrysallis!" she shouted. "What do you do here?"
The one before Celestia laughed. "Chrysallis? Really, Celestia, you lack imagination." A wave of green energy passed over her body, revealing black bat wings, blood red streaks, and glowing red eyes. "I expected more from my former teacher!" Rearing back, Nightmare Sparkle struck her hooves against the ground, sending cracks out through all of Canterlot.
In her room, Luna was rudely awakened as tendrils reached out to seize her. She tried to evade, but there were too many. The Royal Guard and Mignight Guard were also seized, bound to walls, their energy slowly being drained.
Celestia stared at Nightmare Sparkle in horror. "Who or what are you?" she asked in shock and fear.
Nightmare Sparkle grinned. "My name is Nightmare Sparkle. ...welcome to hell." SHe raised her horn. Gold and blue light flashed from it.
Celestia gasped as a shadow passed across the sun.
Twilight looked up at the sky out the library window. "That's odd...there isn't supposed to be a solar eclipse today..."
Shadow's head came up, staring at the sky. Seeing something other than the eclipse, he reacted. "Chaos Control!"
In a flash of light, the group was warped out of the library...just as a dragon crushed it beneath her.
Rarigan gazed out at Ponyville as many ponies ran in fear. She snorted her irritation. This would be too easy. Glancing down, she saw the ones she was supposed to be targetting had escaped. Snarling, she lunged.
Twilight and the others tried to scatter. They were powerful as a group, to be sure...but they didn't have the elements of harmony with them, and they were facing a full grown dragon. Rarity was the first to slow though, as she stared at the dragon. "No..." she whispered, fear in her voice. "It can't be...it's not real..." Snarling, Rarigan lunged for Rarity.
"NOOO!!!" Spike called, running forward. Inside him, something clicked together. This dragon sought to take his treasure. His wife, his son, his friends, his home...these were his treasures, his hoard, and this dragon was stealing them. With a roar, Spike seemed to shrug his form away as he shot up from the ground, becoming full grown, his spiked head slamming Rarigan's chin full force.
The two dragons faced off, snarling at each other, as Twilight teleported Rarity to a safe distance. Rarigan opened her mouth and breathed forth a blast of white fire. Spike countered with his green fire, then swiped with his claws. Rarigan leapt back, and they battled through the town for a time. Strange flashes of light appeared over any pony about to be caught in the fight, making them vanish. After a time, Rarigan spread her wings and took to the sky.
Spike snarled up at her, his shoulders surging. His growth this time had been triggered not by greed, but by need. Huge wings tore free from his body, and he leapt into the air after the white interloper.
Twilight and the others ran or flew, depending on their abilities. Gem had shifted himself bigger to carry his Mom and fly. Twistie flew alongside her parents. Twilight turned. "Sonic, Rainbow! We need to get a warning about this to Princess Celestia, quickly!"
"On it!" they both said, taking off at high speed...only to slam full tilt into a metal arm that caught them both in the throat, knocking them back.
Metal Sonic dropped his cloaking field the rest of the way. "Not this time, Sonic. Besides...there's no one there left to warn."
"Metal Sonic!" Sonic snarled, as the others flinched back, remembering how dangerous this foe could be.
Rainbow Dash smirked. "Not gonna stop me!" She took off for Canterlot.
Metal Sonic leveled one arm at her, and a black lightning bolt shot her from the sky.
"DASH!" Sonic called out to her, racing to catch her...only to be caught at the throat by Metal Sonic and slammed into the ground.
The others charged in to fight, but it quickly became clear they were seriously outmatched. Metal Sonic had seperated them, weakened them, and he knew all their strategies...and he had more skills then they knew how to handle. Sometimes he used speed, sometimes magic, sometimes technology, sometimes brute physical force, but he was clearly winning. The kids stayed back, plainly afraid.
As they all began to fall, Fang turned to Snap. "Son, I have a job for you. Your friends...protect them, and stay safe."
Snap nodded. "I get you, Dad."
Shadow, from his place on his side on the ground, aimed his horn. "Chaos...Control!" A beam of energy shot forward to envelop the children. Before the warp was complete, however, Metal Sonic blasted Shadow with chaotic energy, and he screamed in pain. The children vanished.
"It seems the kids got away...no matter. It was you lot I was after anyway." Metal Sonic grinned. "And it looks like I got exactly what I wanted." Nearby, Rarigan slammed Spike bodily into the ground. Spike groaned, reverting to his smaller size. Sending out metal tendrils, Metal Sonic gathered them all up and began to carry them away.
"Spike!" Twilight called out to him.
Spike stirred. "Rarity..." he whispered, struggling to stay concious. "The dragon...it was you...somehow..."
Rarity nodded. "I know Spike, I know."
Pinkie looked confused. "How could Rarity be a dragon? THat's like when Dashie said Fluttershy was a tree!" That got a few chuckles.
Rarity shook her head. "In the Nightmare..." Everypony shuddered at this. THey knew what was meant. "I was that dragon. How can it be real?"
"Many worlds theory," Tails said. "From what you've all described about the Nightmares, they were possible paths you might have taken, but wouldn't. This dragon version of you must be from a world that took that path. Metal Sonic must have used the device Eggman used to kidnap Dash way back when to find her."
Twilight suddenly shivered. "Oh no...please, any gods, no..."
At Canterlot Castle, Metal Sonic gave an elegant bow. "I will leave them to you, my Queen, while I locate the Elements."
Nightmare Sparkle smiled. "Thank you, Metal Sonic." As Metal Sonic left, tendrils seized the heroes. "Well well well...we meet at last."
Twilight shook. "No...I wouldn't become you...I wouldn't!"
Nightmare shrugged. "True...you wouldn't! You're too weak. Not that it matters." The tendrils pulled them all up till they hung from the ceiling in a cricle, above a runic circle on the ground, alongside Celestia and Luna, who seemed limp. Each pony was hung opposite from the one they cared for the most, and alternately with someone from the opposite world. "After all...before long, everything you all are - including Harmony - will be a part of me." The tendrils pricked all those hanging, letting a single drop of blood fall onto the circle, which glowed, causing them all great pain. Standing in the center of the circle, Nightmare Sparkle let out an ecstatic moan. "Discord taught Metal Sonic...that even Harmony can be corrupted and controlled. In my own world, I was too impatient, drained everyone too quickly, never realized the magic in those I overlooked. ...not so this time. I will drain you all slowly, letting your magic and life continually feed into mine...but I'll keep you alive, with the drain just equal to your recovery rate. You all will feed me for a very long time." She laughed mirthlessly as the others screamed.
Outisde the palace, few remained to fight. The city of Canterlot was in ruins, abandoned. The Eclipse spread its shadow over Equestria.