The Party Hasn't Ended Part 10 starring Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash
"I'm so glad that you decided to come to the ball with me, Dash!" said Star Catcher. Her mane was done up in a formal style, an abundance of curls fashioned into a crown at her poll, the rest falling down the other side in a waterfall of blue and pink. Her ears glittered with diamond earrings and the necklace at her throat sparkled. Dash had never seen a filly look more stunning. She blushed as she took the hoof Star Catcher offered her and they stepped together through the huge doors that led into the great hall of Cloudsdale Flight School.
The roof of the hall was open to the air and the weather had been expressly designed for the evening's celebration. A sliver of a moon shone down through layers of stratus clouds that lit up in its soft light like a veil of glowing yellow-silver. Gorgeous banks of cumulus surrounded them, and illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun their undersides were aglow, salmon pink and lemon yellow.
But Star Catcher had eyes for Dash alone. At her urging, the rainbow-maned Pegasus pony had finally leapt into the shower and then got dressed up and although she DID look a bit uncomfortable in the tack, the novelty of seeing her friend dressed formally for once more than made up for it. The gorgeous dress-blanket and her unruly mane of rainbow hair! It made Star Catcher sigh. Dash's rose-coloured eyes glistened in the gentle candlelight that had sprung up around them from the candles on the dining tables, and when her friend caught her staring at her, Star Catcher blushed and dropped her gaze to the floor.
Every class from Cloudsdale Flight School was there from the seniors to the first years of which Dash and Star Catcher were part. And all their teachers and trainers were there as well, including the Principal of the Flight School the tall and imposing Pegasus pony mare who was the founder of the Wonderbolts, the fastest aerobatics team in all of Equestria. And alongside her was the guest of honour Lord Cozmar. Up on the dais, the Principal bowed to the unicorn pony lord, and Cozmar with a flourish indicated that the band should start playing and music immediately filled the hall.
Dash stood close to Star Catcher, drinking sarsaparilla and looking around at all the older and more experienced Pegasus ponies that crowded the hall, laughing and chatting and drinking. She felt so out of place! but Star Catcher, with her finely-done up hair, her gorgeous jewellery and her formal tack look so much a part of it all that whenever Dash looked at her she felt even more of an outsider. She wished now she'd done something with her long mane brushed it at least! And the tack she was wearing although it was beautiful, seeing as how it was part of Star Catcher's wardrobe felt hot and alien against her coat and she itched to be out of it.
"Oh Dash!" said Star Catcher, noticing how the rainbow-maned Pegasus pony was squirming in her dress-blanket. "Don't worry so much! Just relax a little bit. You look beautiful!" She flashed a winning smile at her and put a hoof on her shoulder. "You just need to smile at everypony and say hello!" Dash tried a smile and Star Catcher laughed at her uncomfortable attempt. "There you go! We'll make a little debutant of you yet!" And then she turned and greeted a few second years who were passing by, pushing their way through the crowd to get a closer view of the Lord of Canterlot.
"Oh Star!" muttered Dash. "Do we have to hang around here for long? Why don't we sneak out and do some flying?" She looked up at the evening sky in longing. "Nopony'll be there! We'll have the whole sky to ourselves..." She shrugged at the dress-coat. It just wasn't sitting right! "I just feel... all wrong in this thing."
Star Catcher's face grew serious. "Oh Dash. You should have more confidence in yourself! I can't understand how a pony who's so talented... talented and beautiful can have so little self-confidence."
Dash snorted. "Beautiful? No way!" she said. "Talented? Maybe!" She smiled as she looked up at the rapidly darkening sky. "Anyway, I haven't got time for all that soppy stuff. This pony just wants to fly!"
Star Catcher turned her blue eyes towards her. "You don't mean you're not interested in... love and romance and
THAT kind of thing, does it?"
Dash nodded. "That's totally what I mean, Star."
"So there's nopony that you like?" asked Star Catcher. "Nopony that you have your eye on?"
Dash didn't answer straight away. She looked past Star Catcher towards a group of third years who were pairing off and flying into the air to begin the first dance. Then she turned back.
"I hate it when you tease me about this sort of thing, Star," muttered Dash. "You know how I feel about that. The only thing I've got my eye on is 'the prize'!"
Star Catcher knew exactly what Dash meant. She'd heard it so many times before, as they lay in bed late at night talking about the future. So she remained silent as Dash continued.
"I'm going to be a Wonderbolt one day!" Dash cried, throwing a hoof up into the air. "Just you wait and see, Star! I'll be streaking across those skies and everypony's eyes will be on me...."
Star Catcher nodded. She wasn't smiling. "I know you will, Dash."
Dash turned and grinned at her. "You really think I can do it, Star?"
Star Catcher nodded again. "I don't think you have any real limits, Dash," she said softly. "Especially after that Sonic Rainboom of yours. If the Wonderbolts ever see it, I'm sure they'd ask you to join right there on the spot!"
Dash's eyes grew wide. "You really think so, Star?"
"I really, really do," she replied.
Dash sighed. "I dunno. I mean, I'm sure that there's a ton of ponies waiting to get into the Wonderbolts."
"None of them are like you, though, Dash," said Star. She moved closer. "You're
. You're one of a kind."
"I'm nothing special," replied Dash.
"Oh Dash. You can't really mean that, can you?" Star Catcher's voice was hurt. "You know, you're... you're really popular here at the school
"Me? Popular?" Dash laughed. "Now I know you're pranking me, Star!"
Star Catcher looked at Dash. The rainbow-maned filly felt her friend's eyes take in each part of her face her rose eyes, her upturned muzzle, her long rainbow mane which hadn't been brushed and which hung on her neck in tangles, that little bruise on her cheek where she'd hit the tree branch during emergency landing training
have I got something on my face?" Dash asked, rubbing at it with her hoof.
Star Catcher shook her head. Her eyes glistened under shy, half-closed lids. "No. I just like looking at you sometimes. When I first saw you I felt like I'd met you somewhere before
Dash arched her eyebrows. "It's so totally weird," she said. "I... I felt the exact same thing!"
Star Catcher's eyes opened wide. "You did?"
"That must mean we were fated to be
to be together," said Star Catcher.
Dash laughed. "Fated? Oh, Star that's so like you! You're such a total romantic." The sarsaparilla was going to her head now, and she felt suddenly sentimental. She moved forwards and, putting her neck over Star Catcher's in a pony-hug, she said "You know, Star even though we're like totally different ponies, I'm soooo glad we're best buds!
Star Catcher rubbed her coat against Dash's, but the rainbow-maned filly couldn't see the tears welling at the corners of her closed eyes.
"It would be so easy for somepony to fall in love with you, Dash," Star Catcher whispered. "There's just so much, so much life in you. I think that's why you're so fast all that energy builds up and builds up in you and you have to let it explode out. I
that about you
" She broke the hug and looked at Dash.
Dash suddenly saw what was in the white-coated filly's blue eyes and turned away.
"I... guess that's the way it works," she said.
Star Catcher had wiped the tears from her eyes and continued. "But there are other ways that that passion can come out as well, you know
Dash looked at the floor. "I wouldn't really know anything about all that."
"But why are you so down on romance, Dash?" Star Catcher waved a hoof at all the Pegasus ponies talking and drinking, and dancing in the air above them. "
Is there really nopony you could share your heart with? Don't you think you'd ever be lonely? Everypony needs somepony beside them!"
Dash snorted. "Not me! All that sissy stuff would just weight me down. That's just the sort of thing that will totally distract you from your dreams!" She thumped her chest with a hoof. "You have to look after number one as soon as you add anypony else to that equation, you're going to end up totally off course!"
Star Catcher looked down into her sarsaparilla. "I see," she said, starting to turn away. But then she turned back to Dash and asked. "I'm... I'm going to get another drink. Do you want one?"
Dash finished her drink and replied "Totally!" The sarsaparilla was starting to go to her head! She gave the empty glass to a waiter and watched as Star Catcher walked away.
Star really was a gorgeous filly, Dash thought with a sigh. No wonder all the colts in their classes were vying for her attention! They didn't even notice her although a few times one of them had approached Dash and she'd thought for a moment that they had been interested in her, but then it had turned out that they just wanted her to give a note to Star Catcher for them. But whenever she did, Star Catcher would just snort in annoyance and say "Why would I want to go out with a foal like him?" and she said this about even the most handsome boys in their class. Dash shook her head. But she knew what those boys were feeling! Star Catcher was not only fast, but graceful as well, while Dash well, she had to admit she wasn't the most graceful Pegasus filly in Equestria.
Thinking about these things made Dash feel like she was alone in the sea of happy Pegasus ponies, and her face slipped into a frown. She hoped Star Catcher would be back soon. But then her face fell even further when she noticed those three jocks who were in the same year as her and Star Catcher approaching. Touchdown, Hoops and Reps. Those three dunderheads! She'd had a number of run-ins with them before, and earned a couple of groundings as a result.
Hoops, the biggest of the three colts, was shoving Touchdown around good-naturedly as they approached. Reps turned to them and muttered "Cut that out you guys!" He turned to Dash. "Oh hey Rainbow Dash! I see you're standing here enjoying the amb-ee-ance!"
Dash rolled her eyes. "Oh, not YOU guys!"
"Oh hey, Rainbow Dash," said Hoops with a snide smile. "Nice to see ya! But...where's your girlfriend?" He looked about theatrically.
"Who are you talking about, dweeb?" replied Dash.
"That pretty little filly Star Catcher of course!" Reps chuckled, jumping in. "You and Star Catcher are a bit too chummy
IF you know what I mean!" He jabbed Hoops in the side with a hoof and his friend punched him on the shoulder with a smile.
"She's just my best bud," said Dash with a sneer. "Not like you and your two BOYFRIENDS."
Reps scowled. "Never had you figured for a filly-fooler, Dash. When we first heard about you and your Sonic Rainboom, you seemed pretty righteous! But now it's all around the school. What you and that... Star Catcher get up to at night. All that filly-foolin' stuff!"
"Filly-fooler?" Dash arched her eyebrows. "Isn't that a pretty big word for such a little colt like you, Reps?"
"I'll show you how little I am!" smirked Reps, pushing his chest against hers. "Or maybe one of my bros can. You should let one of us stallions show you how it's done! We'd cure you of filly-fooling NO problem..."
Dash chuckled. "I'd break any of you lightweights in under a minute! You muscle-heads always lack muscle in the one place which counts."
"Is there a problem, boys?" came a deep and authoritative voice from nearby. The Principal of Cloudsdale Flight School was making her way through the sea of Pegasus ponies and soon was standing right next to them.
no, Principal!" said Hoops, leaping back away from Dash, his eyes flashing left and right nervously. "We were just congratulating Rainbow Dash on coming first in the speed rankings this term... right boys?"
Reps and Touchdown both nodded their heads, ingratiating smiles stuck on their faces.
"Maybe you colts could cool down with some more drinks," the Principal laughed. And then she glared at them, and the three bullies slipped away into the crowd.
Dash tried to slink away as well, but the Principal had already placed her hoof on her shoulder, stopping her from escaping.
"And here she is!" said the Principal, turning to the tall dark stallion beside her. "Lord Cozmar, this is Rainbow Dash, the little first year who we have such high hopes for!"
Lord Cozmar!? Dash's eyes flicked from the smiling face of the Principal to that of Lord Cozmar. The unicorn pony lord was motioning for Dash to offer him her hoof. She hesitantly placed it trembling before him, and he brought it up to his lips in a kiss, a kiss that felt strangely cold against her coat. "Miss Rainbow Dash! So wonderful to meet you at last!"
Dash didn't know what to do. Should she curtsy? Bow? She wished Star Catcher was here to help her! "Uh, uh... pleased to meet you, your... your majesty," she managed at last.
Cozmar's green eyes sparkled in humour. "Did I just become a Princess suddenly? Oh, how Princess Celestia will be surprised!"
Dash blushed, but the Principal clapped her on the shoulder. "I've just been telling Lord Cozmar about all your recent accomplishments, Dash. Fifty thousand feet?" She whistled. "That is some frosty sub-orbital space-kissing I'D have found challenging when I was your age!"
Dash's eyes went wide. "Ah, oh ... thank you, Principal..."
Cozmar nodded. "That is indeed an amazing achievement! And that new technique all the young speedsters are trying to emulate what is it called?" He cocked his head in thought. "Oh yes, the Sonic Rainboom! Remarkable, simply remarkable!"
Dash nodded. Her chest swelled with pride. Now they were talking about stuff she could relate to! "Oh yeah, the Rainboom! Me and Star Catcher have been trying to perfect it."
The Principal nodded. "Yes, the Rainboom. Simply astounding." She came close to Dash and whispered to her conspiratorially. "Dash I've just been speaking with Lord Cozmar about a little idea I've had. I thought you might benefit from being given some greater challenges, so with your consent we'd like to invite you to join the Wonderbolts in some of their training sessions. You know, just to see what you've got!" She winked.
Dash's knees almost gave away beneath her. "Me? The... the Wonderbolts?" Her mouth fell open. "I... I'd love to!" She put her fore-hooves to her mouth in glee. "Oh, Star Catcher won't believe it! She was just saying earlier that..."
The Principal's eyes suddenly focussed on something behind Dash's shoulder. "Oh, and speak of the...!" She turned to the unicorn pony lord. "May I introduce to you another promising young flier of ours, Lord Cozmar? This gorgeous young filly is Star Catcher!"
Dash turned. Oh thank Celestia! It WAS her. Dash beamed at her, but the look the white-coated filly gave her back was unreadable.
Star Catcher didn't even bother to greet the Principal or Lord Cozmar as she approached, but straight away she put a hoof on Dash's shoulder and whispered in her ear. "Uh Dash, can I speak t'you for a moment?" Her words seemed strained, as if it was a struggle for her to get them out.
"Star! Are you OK?" asked Dash in concern. She turned and with her face close to Star Catcher's she at once noticed there was a strong smell of sarsaparilla on her breath. "Have you... how much have you been drinking, Star?"
"I hafta talk to you Dash!" Star said, louder this time, as she pulled at Dash's shoulder.
"Can't it wait?" Dash whispered harshly in reply. She nodded her head in the direction of the Principal and Cozmar. "I'm kinda in the middle of something important right now!"
what's going on?" asked Star, as if she had just noticed the Principal and Lord Cozmar standing there.
"I've been invited to train with the Wonderbolts!" said Dash in delight. "Isn't that totally AWESOME?!"
"The Wonderbolts?" Star Catcher muttered. "They're... they're going to take you away from me, aren't they?!" Tears started in the corners of her eyes. "But I thought we'd always
always be together."
"What are you talking about?" asked Dash, annoyed. "I thought that you'd... you'd be HAPPY my dream was coming true..."
"But what about my dream!?" shouted Star Catcher suddenly. The Principal and Cozmar looked on in bemusement as the white-coated pony shook Dash by the shoulders.
"Your dream?" asked Dash in confusion. "What are you talking about, Star? You're..."
"You're my dream, Dash!" cried Star Catcher with a sob. "I love you!"
She threw her hooves around Dash's neck and falling forwards planted her mouth on the rainbow-maned pony's. Dash stumbled backwards in surprise and tried to pull away, but Star Catcher stuck to her. They struggled for a few heartbeats until at last Dash pushed the white-coated filly off her and she fell to the ground.
The Principal stood by, watching the scene with a look of total confusion on her face, but Cozmar merely smiled, a soft and secretive smile, as he took her hoof in his own.
"Perhaps, my dear lady Principal, we should leave the rest of this conversation for another time," he said. He turned to face Dash, who was staring dumbly at her friend crying on the floor. "You're obviously a little busy with your friend, Miss Dash, so if you'll excuse us
"No, wait!" cried Dash, turning to them and wiping off the saliva and sarsaparilla that still covered her mouth with a hoof but Cozmar merely bowed and winked, and leading the bemused Principal away he disappeared into the crowd of gawking bystanders.
Dash turned to Star Catcher. Her face was red, livid with rage and humiliation. "You
"Oh, I love you sooo much Dash," sobbed Star Catcher. Tears filled her blue eyes. She got back onto her hooves with difficulty and stepped towards Dash, but the rainbow-maned filly fell back, shaking her head.
"Love me?" she repeated. "But
"Don't you love me, Dash?" The look of desperation in Star Catcher's eyes horrified her.
Dash stood silently and looked at all the ponies around them. Some were whispering to each other, and some were just staring. But one or two were smiling at each other, and somewhere somepony laughed.
Dash turned viciously to Star Catcher. "Love you too?" She scowled at her. "How could I love somepony like you?"
Star Catcher's face was agonised. "You
you don't love me?"
Dash shook her head. "No, Star Catcher I don't love you!" she replied, her hooves clenched and shaking with anger. "I
I hate you, you
you filly-fooler! You've made me look
One of the third years, a tawny-coated colt with a red mane, came up to them. He laid a hoof on Dash's shoulder. "Uh, Dash? Maybe you and your friend should
Dash pulled herself away and looked down at Star Catcher in disgust. "She's not my friend," she said.
At Dash's words, Star Catcher sobbed once and then burst into tears. "Dash
Dash turned away. "You've ruined everything, Star Catcher." But the white-coated filly never saw the tears that had burst out in her rose-coloured eyes. Dash leapt into the air and flew across the hall, dodging through the ranks of dancing ponies, until she landed on the other side of the hall and galloped down the corridor that led to the bathrooms.
The tears just wouldn't stop! Splashing hoof-full after hoof-full of cold water onto her face, Dash looked in the mirror at herself. She despised what she saw.
you fool, Dash," she sobbed. She wiped the mixture of water and tears from her face, and when she looked again in the mirror she saw Pinkie Pie there. The little pink pony had tears in her own eyes.
"Oh, not you!" Dash moaned, fresh tears springing up.
Pinkie spoke, and her voice was full of warmth and pity. "Oh Dash
I never knew what happened to you!"
you saw what I did?" asked Dash.
"I was there, high up in the sky above you! in the windows," Pinkie explained. "Anywhere there's a reflection I can peep in and see. But I can't do a vanilla-frosting thing! Oh, I just wish there was some way I could get out of here and
"" Frustrated, she thumped both of her fore-hooves against the inner surface of the mirror and for a moment it seemed to bulge outwards, but then it bounced back into shape and sent Pinkie falling backwards onto her bottom. "Oh cupcakes!" she cried in frustration and pain.
Tears were still falling from Dash's eyes. "Oh Pinkie she ruined everything! Why did she have to say that to me?"
"What did she say, Dash?" Pinkie was on her feet again and was rubbing her bottom.
she said she loved me, Pinkie," said Dash.
Pinkie's face softened in pity. "But why was that such a scary thing, Dash?" Again she moved against the mirror, and again its surface gave a little but nowhere near enough for her to throw her arms around Dash as she ached to. "I mean couldn't you have just said 'I'm flattered, Pinkie, but
but I just don't feel the way you
the way you
'" Pinkie's eyes suddenly flooded with tears, and she rested her forehead against the mirror's surface in pain.
Dash turned her face away.
"Why didn't you say it?" asked Pinkie, louder this time. Her tears were running down the surface of the mirror, distorting her image.
Dash didn't reply, but grabbing hooves-full of water she splashed them angrily on her face. Her long mane was soaked now and hung in soggy strings across her cheeks and eyes.
"Dashy?" whispered Pinkie. "Why didn't you just
Dash exploded into white-hot rage. "SHUT UP PINKIE!" she screamed. "JUST SHUT UP!" She struck the mirror with both hooves, and Pinkie pulled away in shock. "YOU STUPID, STUPID LITTLE PONY! JUST
UP!" Dash slumped over the sink. "Because I loved her, you fool! Because I LOVED her! I loved her so much that it hurt me and I was so scared and
" She sobbed and the sobs wracked her body so violently that it was as if all her energy were ebbing away. "I loved Star more than anything else in the world, you fool! You fool," she muttered. "You fool, Dash. You ruined everything. You ruined her life!" She thumped the sink with her hooves as the tears continued to spill from her eyes. "She never flew again after that! She left and she never said a word to me again but she looked at me with those blue eyes, those beautiful blue eyes! and they looked just like she was staring at a monster." She closed her own eyes in pain. "Like a monster!" She opened them again and stared at Pinkie. "Do you know how it feels for the one you love to look at you like you're a monster?"
Pinkie closed her eyes and nodded.
Dash's face trembled. "It doesn't matter, Pinkie Pie. None of it matters anymore."
"Oh Dash, that's not true! Everything always matters!" Pinkie's heart had broken, but she attempted a brave little smile. "YOU matter!" She pushed her hooves against the mirror. "In fact, you matter to me more than anything else in all of Equestria! Even more than hot-sauce and jokes and
hugs and laughter. I'd give all of them up stone-cold-pony if I just knew you were OK!"
Dash didn't look up. Her body was shivering in pain. At the sight of Dash's agony, Pinkie bit her lip to stop the tears from returning and started striking the mirror again, stronger this time. "If only
I could try and FIX everything!"
"Stop it, Pinkie," said Dash, still staring down into the sink. "It's all over. And it's all because I was too much of a coward to say what I really felt
"Dash, you can't blame yourself forever!" said Pinkie. "You were just a little filly and
"But I still couldn't say it, Pinkie!" Dash replied bitterly. "No matter how many times this memory has been replayed by Nightmare, I've never once been able to tell her how I felt. I was just so scared of what everypony else would think." She sobbed. "And
. When you said
and I couldn't
I really AM a screw up! I got you involved in all of this and now
"No, Dashy! It's my fault," Pinkie said. "I was such a silly, stupid little Pinkie! I was the one who believed all of Nightmare's lies
. The one who let him find you and
" She choked up. "Oh, I would've given anything, ANYTHING at all for you to be with
with me, forever."
Dash looked up at last. Her eyes were almost swollen shut with the force of her crying and her face was barely recognisable. "You really
care about me
that much, Pinkie Pie?" She tried to stand up, but slipped on the mixture of water and tears that covered the sink. But she tried again, and gradually and painfully she pulled herself up until she was looking directly across at Pinkie in the mirror.
Pinkie nodded. "Absotively posilutely Dash! Why, ever since that day you swept me of my little hoofsy-woofsies in the Everfree Forest I haven't ever been able to feel really, truly Pinkie Pie-happy if you weren't there with me!" She blushed.
Dash leant forward, bringing her face closer to the mirror. "You risked everything to come and
save me from all of this? From
Pinkie nodded. "Of course!"
"But why?" Dash's eyes were questioning.
Pinkie looked down at the reflected sink in her mirror world. "You kind of know why, right Dash? Do you
do you remember what I said to you after my party?"
Dash said nothing, but she brought her fore-hooves up until they were touching the mirror. "I just wish I had the chance
to feel you one last time, Pinkie Pie," she whispered.
Pinkie wiped the tears from her eyes, but they refused to stop so she just let them fall, and lifting her forelegs she placed her own hooves against the mirror. And as soon her hooves touched Dash's through the mirror, the surface flashed white and with a sound like the striking of a tuning fork it shattered and Pinkie fell forward through the glittering veil of falling glass.
"Oh Dash!" she cried, throwing her forelegs around the Pegasus pony's neck as she fell on top of her. "You remember me! You REMEMBER me!"
"Oh Pinkie Pie! Of course I remember you! Of course I remember you!" Dash sobbed as the two of them rolled across the tiles, crying from joy and hugging each other until their muscles ached. "How could I ever forget that crazy Pinkie Pie face of yours?"
They finally came to a stop with Pinkie lying on top of Dash. The little pink pony's smile was so wide that it threatened to split her face in half. But then Dash's wings, which had been cradling both of them as they had hugged, unfurled and fell slack to the floor. Pinkie's smile vanished as she looked down at the Pegasus pony. "Dashy, are... are you ok?"
Dash looked up at her with a sad smile. "I... I don't feel so hot, Pinkie," she whispered. "I... I feel so strange. Like
like something has just broken inside of me."
"Broken? What are you talking about, silly?" Pinkie looked down at her, and then she gasped. All the blood seemed to be draining from Dash's face.
"There's a pain... right inside my chest," said Dash, her eyes squinting in agony. Pinkie brought her cheek to Dash's chest the Pegasus pony's coat felt deathly cold.
"It's Black Snooty," muttered Pinkie, sitting up. "I'd know the feeling of that meanie anywhere." Confusion flooded her face. "But... but I thought we broke the dream!"
"I think maybe you were a bit too late," whispered Dash. "When... when I saw you and all my memories came back, I remembered what... what happened to... what I did to you, Pinkie."
"Oh Dash!" said Pinkie. "Don't worry about that I just overreacted like a big silly Pinkie Pie!"
Dash smiled and shook her head. "That was me, Pinkie. It was me who overreacted."
"But I know why, now!" Pinkie protested. "I understand why
"But when I saw you and I..." Dash closed her eyes. "
I remembered part of me just... just broke."
"I saw your face when I left that night, when I ran away... and, and I didn't want to feel anything anymore."
"Dash, are... did Nightmare...?"
Dash nodded. "I... I think he's already in here, Pinkie. I think he's already inside me."
Pinkie wiped her eyes. There was no time for crying anymore. "Dash, I'm going to get you out of here. Twilight will know what to do about that... that evil, mean stowaway!"
Dash shook her head. "Just get out of here, Pinkie." She leant forward and kissed her. "You gave me back my memories... my memories of you and all the totally awesome times we had together. You've done enough for me... more than I ever deserved."
Pinkie didn't reply. She walked around Dash and, slipping her head under the Pegasus pony's water-soaked body, she lifted her onto her back.
"What are you doing, Pinkie?" cried Dash. "I told you to get outa here!"
Pinkie shook her head. "I'm not letting you go, Dash. Ever again." Her round, open face was steeled in determination. "We have to end all of this now." She took a step towards the open door of the bathroom.
Dash lifted her head painfully. "Do you hear that, Pinkie?"
Pinkie shook her head. "I don't hear anything!" she replied.
"That's right the music has totally stopped. He's out there
waiting for us. Nightmare."
Pinkie scowled. "Then let's give that big meanie what he wants a final confrontation!"
She carried Dash with difficulty along the corridor back towards the ballroom Dash may have been just a little pony, but she was all toned muscle and heavier than she looked. But at last Pinkie stepped out into the great vaulted hall and her mouth dropped open at what she saw.
The hall was empty now. The Principal, the bullies, Star Catcher and all the other guests had vanished, and Lord Cozmar alone stood in the centre of the room, a wide smile on his face. Around him, the candles on every table burned green, and flickered as if an invisible breeze were striving to extinguish them, while high above the moon glowered down through the open ceiling, glowing with same limpid green and staining everything with its light.
Cozmar chuckled, and he bowed as they approached. "I'd like to welcome you, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, to this place. Oh, please look around you!" He waved a hoof in an expansive gesture about him. "Draw in its ambience! After all, it's a venue very dear to both of you!"
All about them the hall was decaying. The walls peeled and crumbled, great cracks crackled across the floor at their hooves, while the windows high above bubbled and slid away into slag. It looked as if the whole hall was melting away in the centre of a cold, invisible furnace.
Pinkie glared at Cozmar. "What are you talking about, Black Snooty?"
"Don't you know where we are, Pinkie Pie?" laughed Cozmar. "I thought YOU of ALL ponies would recognise Dash's HEART!" He twirled around on his hooves to take in the whole scene at once. "Oh, how gorgeous it all is! It's such a scene of devastation! And I have YOU to thank for it, Pinkie Pie!"
Pinkie stepped back in horror. "Me?"
Dash slid off the little pink pony's back and struggled to her feet with difficulty. She wiped the strings of her mane from her face and stepped Cozmar. "You sure love to talk, Nightmare," her voice was weak, but inside it was the steel of determination. "But I'm totally sick of your long-winded speeches. Pinkie and I are leaving. Your nightmare doesn't have any power over us anymore."
"You still don't understand, do you?" replied Cozmar softly, shaking his head in pity. "I never created anything. I have just been a guest, here, deep within your heart."
guest?" Dash clutched her chest. It felt as if an icicle had just been thrust into it.
"Oh, so you do understand now?" Cozmar's eyes were sad. "YOU are the one who trapped yourself here. YOU are the one who kept Pinkie out. I've just been sitting here, waiting, waiting for you to finally break yourself. And to think it was your memory of Pinkie Pie that did it in the end! Oh, the delicious irony of your would-be saviour destroying you!" Cozmar laughed, and as it echoed throughout the empty hall, the stars fell loose and began to fall from the sky.
"Dash! Don't listen to his lies!" shouted Pinkie.
"They're not lies, Pinkie," said Dash, closing her eyes. "It's all true. It IS all my fault."
"At last we understand how things are," Cozmar said simply. "Very good. But one last illusion remains to be thrown aside. You see, little ponies, Lord Cozmar and Lady Morava were only ever a small part of my essence." Cozmar raised his face to the sky where the stars continued to fall in streaks. "And although I've very much enjoyed this form, I think it is time for us to show all our cards face up on the table and for you to see me as I truly am!" And with a bow he vanished.
Around them what remained of the hall dissolved away, until Pinkie and Dash were left standing in a void of darkness. Above them, the last stars fell from the sky and flashed away into green mist until only the glaring moon and the white cut of the Milky Way remained above them. And as they watched, the stardust began to boil and shift, coalescing and thinning until it resembled a long, serrated knife blade and the sliver of the moon shivered and grew larger, as if opening up into a universe of green light.
where has he gone?" asked Dash, struggling to lift her head and look around.
everywhere!" replied Pinkie, her mouth open.
The row of ghostly teeth curved up and split open, and the green moon blinked and crinkled in humour as the sky that was the face of Nightmare smiled down at them.
Pinkie stared up, her mouth wide open. "Woooooooah!" she gasped. "You ARE a big ghostie after all!" She turned to Dash and helped her up onto her hind legs. "But it doesn't matter how big of a meanie-pants you are. We've beat you once, Black Snooty, and we can do it again. Right Dashy?"
Dash nodded. She slipped a foreleg into Pinkie's and the two of them stood defiant against the huge form of Nightmare. "You're just a ghost anyway, Nightmare," said Dash. "A bad dream. You're not real. You've NEVER been real!" She managed a chuckle.
And Pinkie looked across at Dash and she laughed as well. And it was a sparkling laugh, a rich laugh that flew up and rose into the dark heavens. But then the laughter stopped, trapped in the air above them, and falling back into a distorted echo it faded dead away as it was replaced with the vicious cutting laughter of Nightmare, laughter that shook the whole universe.
"I TOLD YOU THAT THAT OLD TRICK WOULD NOT WORK IN THIS PLACE!" His voice filled their ears painfully, echoing as if it was coming from every direction at once. The green eye was joined by a second now, and both stared balefully at the two tiny ponies. "LAUGHTER CANNOT EXIST IN A PLACE OF VOID AND DARKNESS! THAT OLD MAGIC HAS NO POWER HERE!"
Pinkie clapped her hooves to her mouth. Beside her, Dash slipped from her and slumped to the ground.
"It's just too much, Pinkie. The coldness. The pain." Dash winced with every word, and she looked up at Pinkie with eyes that begged her for forgiveness. "I'm so sorry Pinkie We gave it our best shot
It's just that
I just can't fight anymore."
"Dash!" Pinkie cried, reaching down to her.
Nightmare suddenly shrieked in glee, and the sound of his pleasure scoured all of existence. "AND NOW IT ALL ENDS! ALL HAPPINESS, ALL LAUGHTER ALL LONELINESS!" The gargantuan face reared back, impossibly far above them, and then it dissolved away into a maelstrom of darkness and screaming winds... and yet the two green orbs stared on. But then they too faded away, until all that was left was the foaming plume of the Rainbow of Darkness, and with a scream of dark joy it poured itself at Rainbow Dash as she lay trembling in the centre of the black maelstrom.
But Pinkie leapt in its way. Her forefeet thrown wide, she received the spray of darkness full on, and it seeped into her like ink spreading across a piece of paper. It coursed through her body, and where the darkness spilled in, its spirit's cruel laughter followed.
"DO YOU THINK YOU'VE SAVED YOUR FRIEND?" Nightmare's laughter was all Pinkie could hear now, for her eyes had been blinded by the twofold night that covered them. "THAT THIS FINAL ACT OF LOVE WILL SHIELD HER FROM MY HATE? FOOLISH LITTLE PONY! YOU HAVE SACRIFICED YOURSELF FOR NOTHING! ONCE YOU ARE GONE, I WILL TAKE YOUR BODY AND USE IT TO DESTROY ALL THAT YOU HOLD DEAR!"
Pinkie cried out as the final dregs of shadow poured into her chest, and she collapsed beside Dash.
"Pinkie?" Dash got to her feet. Nightmare was gone, and all around her was incomprehensible darkness but lying in front of her was Pinkie, unmoving. Dash lifted her up in her fore-hooves, and Pinkie coughed suddenly, and she turned her face painfully towards the Pegasus pony and smiled weakly.
"Pinkie!" cried Dash, hugging the little pink pony closer to herself. "You're.. you're OK!"
Pinkie shook her head. "I'm
kinda not OK, Dashy. But
Nightmare is gone. I'm
Dash's eyes glistened with tears. "Pinkie, what are you
?" she demanded.
OK Dashy," whispered Pinkie. Her voice sounded softer, weaker
as if it was drifting away. "This was the only way
we could defeat Black Snooty. It's OK." She raised a hoof and stroked Dash's cheek. "I'm glad you remembered me, Dashy. It made me soooo happy to see you again, and to feel your touch again
sooo happy," And then the hoof fell away from her cheek, and Pinkie's body went limp in Dash's arms.
"No," Dash whispered. She shook the slack body cradled in her fore-hooves. "Pinkie! Wake up!" But the little pink pony's blue eyes were open and staring, and they didn't react as Dash shook her again and again.
"No!" Dash shook her head, her mane flying wildly around her. "No! Nooo!" Dash burst into tears. "You silly... you silly, stupid, STUPID pony!" Her mane veiled Pinkie's body as her tears spilled down onto her friend's face. "Why? Why did you..."
But suddenly hooves were pulling Dash back. She yelped and turned in terror, but then she saw that the hooves belonged to Twilight Sparkle.
"Dash! Dash! You're awake!" The unicorn pony cried, shaking her. "You're back in the real world!" She pulled her off Pinkie and looked at her, concern scoring her face.
Dash glanced about her. She was in Twilight's library. An almost deafening shrieking of the wind outside was filling her ears now and it made it hard to hear anything. Rarity and Applejack were there near the couch, holding each other and looking on in horror. The little dragon Spike's eyes were moist with tears, and he shook his head in disbelief. And Zecora was there as well, an ineffable sadness her zebra face.
"What happened, Dash?" demanded Twilight. "Where's Pinkie? Why didn't she wake up as well? What happened in there?"
"Nightmare," gasped Dash. Tears poured from her eyes, and throwing herself onto Pinkie's body again she rubbed her face against the little pink pony's. Her coat felt cold, just as if Dash were laying her face against dead stone. "Nightmare... killed her!" she wailed.
Applejack, clutching a softly sobbing Rarity against her chest, turned to Zecora, angry tears in her eyes. "Can't ya do anything, Zecora?" she demanded. "Potions... or yer magical mumbo-jumbo... or...or.... anythin' at all?"
Zecora walked across the room and put her hoof on Dash's shoulder. The Pegasus pony turned to her with tear-stained eyes and nodded, and she moved aside to let the zebra in next to her. Zecora brought her face close to Pinkie's and ran her hooves over her body, muttering in her native language. At last she closed her eyes and turned away.
"Is she going to
be OK, Zecora?" asked Twilight.
The zebra shook her head in despair. "Pinkie's life has ebbed away
" she replied. "
to bring her back there is no way."
Spike burst into tears and threw himself into Twilight's hooves, and she crushed him to her chest as her own violet eyes filled with tears.
"Twilight! Twiiiiiilight!" he wept. "Can't you... can't you use magic or.... ask Celestia... or... or ... DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING!?"
Twilight shook her head. "I'm so sorry Spike. But magic..." she tried to squeeze back the tears but they continued to fall unhindered from her eyes. "Magic... it can do all sorts of wonderful things. With it you can... raise the sun... and the moon, and change winter to spring. But it can't..." The unicorn pony sobbed and she held the little purple dragon closer to her as her knees gave away and she slipped onto the ground. "... it can't bring life back to the dead."
TO BE CONCLUDED