"See now the flowery way that leads to the broad gate and the great fire."
Chapter One: Twenty Years Later
Winter came early that year, bringing with it a piercing and frigid wind. The cold ate through anypony caught in its path, and even Daylight's thick wool sweater did little to hold back the chill.
In an effort to be as quiet as possible, she had used her magic to open the front door of her house before carefully stepping out into the darkness, and managed to shut it behind her with naught but a barely audible squeak. With any luck it would not disturb her Aunt, who was curled up in her bed with the deep sleep only elderly and very young ponies could really manage.
Daylight breathed a sigh of relief as she relished the relative safety of the open night. She had spent a great deal of time memorizing the layout of the house she and her Aunt Applejack had always (as far as she could remember, anyway) shared so that she could navigate in pitch darkness. Any light, even the faint shimmer of a glow spell, would have immediately given her away to the Spectators placed on the main wall of every room.
The small devices looked almost exactly like living eyes, and disturbed Daylight in a way that she couldn't quite identify. She wasn't entirely sure what purpose the Spectators served, but was reasonably certain that it was a transmitter; the eye snapped open at the slightest sound or movement, pupil locked on everypony in view and seemingly content with simply watching.
In the dark and quiet, however, the Spectator was as good as blind.
The bright yellow pony closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the clean, chill air before beginning her nightly walk around the neighborhood. These walks were her only way to escape, at least temporarily, from the grey dominance of the rigid city. She gazed at the starlit sky in wonder as she trottedwhat were they, really? What brought them out at day's end? In her mind she saw them as a billion tiny candles hovering high above her head, flickering in the wind.
A drifting cloud brought her attention to the Moon, and she slowed to a canter. The silvery orb seemed almost like another world. The schools had never taught her about the heavens. Whenever she asked her Educators, they always said that the useless expanse above was not important and that no pony should bother asking such ridiculous questions. They told her that she must commit herself to things more pertinent to her immediate life, such as finding new and better ways to serve the State. Daylight never took much joy in doing the bidding of the State, but she had eventually learned to do as she was told. There was no other way to live.
As Daylight passed the numerous houses and bungalows lining the dimly illuminated street, she noted once again their obvious states of disrepair. Only the odd few seemed almost brand newand probably werebut most were semi-rotten, overgrown with scraggly weeds. It wasn't a big mystery why the houses had been abandoned, though. When the town really began to take off twenty years before and started to become a full-fledged metropolis, the State had begun levying high taxes on the outer-city buildings in an attempt to entice ponies to spend all of their time and money in the city's center. Many ponies outright abandoned their houses in favor of moving to the far more affordable inner-city housing units. The buildings had stood vacant ever since, their once gaily painted exteriors faded to dull pastels.
When the shift had happened, however, Daylight and her Aunt Applejack had stayed right where they were. Thus, their house could be freely counted as one of the nicest of the still-habitable dwellings in the outer city divisions. Applejack had a penchant for yard work and gardening that helped to keep their small plot of land trimmed and well-kept, and she even managed to produce the occasional fresh vegetable in spite of the city's infertile, dry soil. Daylight doubted that she could manage as well even with the help of her magic.
The Change apparently happened during Daylight's early fillyhood, but she couldn't remember any of it. There seemed instead to be a huge blank in her memory, almost as if somepony had broken in and erased it. Every time Daylight tried to ask Applejack about the time period of her missing memories, the aging earth pony would abruptly change the subject. If Daylight wasn't so sure that Applejack was losing some of her mental facilities in her old age, she would have thought that there was something that her aunt didn't want her to know.
Daylight followed her usual nightly route, humming a patriotic State tune that synchronized very well with her hoof beats upon the street's river-rock cobblestones. A small yellow drop-box drew her attention as she reached a crossroads, and she slowed as she passed it. The container hung on an iron post, just below a lantern containing a magical blue flame illuminating a single, bold word painted across its metal housing:
The Department of Public Safety had set up a number of the boxes several years back to help, as they said, 'curb the rising tide of dissent among the citizens of the State.' The objects were simply known as Information Boxes, and it was there that ponies were to submit the names and photographs of anypony they thought to be suspicious or subversive. Daylight shuddered as she remembered the tales of what happened to ponies whose names were submitted to the innocent-looking yellow boxes.
Some said that the ponies were simply banished, or that they wound up imprisoned in a secret dungeon the State had hidden in the mountains to the North. Others, howeverparticularly the younger ponieswere convinced that they were taken away to be killed and ground up in the Haylent factories as food, to be distributed to all the ponies within the State's numerous cities.
Daylight, however, was far more inclined to believe the official story that the Department of Public Safety had posted. The DoPS stated that ponies reported through the Information Boxes were first investigated thoroughly and fairly. If they were found to be of a criminal mindset, they were taken away temporarily to Re-Education Camps. 'No pony has ever been harmed in the execution of the system,' Daylight had been told by an Official Representative of the Department, and that was good enough for her.
Daylight was snapped out of her thoughts by a familiar feeling, such as she had when she was being watched. She spun around in a burst of adrenaline, intent on seeing if anypony was behind her, to be met with nothing but an empty street lit with the dim blue flicker of the Information Box. Worry gnawed at her stomachshe had always known that these walks of hers were dangerous. Nopony was ever supposed to be outside after curfew without a Pass; if the Peacekeepers found her or if anypony ever spotted and reported her, she would be arrested on sight. Even being on the streets during the day without a Pass was a surefire way to land oneself in a heap of trouble.
Reluctantly, Daylight turned her back on the empty street and continued her walk. Her three-kilometer loop was almost complete anyway, so she might as well finish it. However, she hadn't gone a hundred meters before the eerie feeling began anew, prickling at her scalp. It suddenly felt as if a sixth sense was telling her that somepony, or something, had been right where she was standing not a minute before
almost as if a ghost was keeping perfect pace in front of her, invisible yet still there. Suddenly the fur on the back of her neck stood on end, forcing her to turn to check behind herself once more. Nothing.
Her heart pounded noisily in her ears as she slowly turned back around, and she let out a sudden yelp of surprise and fear as she came face-to-face with another pony not ten centimeters from her nose, leaning forward with a huge grin plastered on her face as if she had been waiting for Daylight to turn around. Scrabbling backward, Daylight took half a second to size up the new pony. The stranger was a unicorn, like herself, who sported a coat of grey. Both her mane and tail were blonde and styled somewhat messily, and a small pair of rectangular spectacles perched crookedly atop her nose.
"Well Hellooooo!" The intruder sang.
hello?" Daylight backed up apprehensively, preparing to bolt.
The grey mare took notice of her fright almost immediately. "Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you." At the sign of no change from Daylight she continued reassuringly. "Don't worry, I won't turn you in."
Daylight eyed the newcomer suspiciously before speaking uncomfortably. "Who are you and what are you doing out here? "
"Well, the same thing as you I s'pose!" There was a short silence.
walking?" Daylight asked, still unsure.
"Of course!" the grey unicorn said in a voice just a bit too loud for Daylight's comfort. "I come out here every night to clear my mind. I see you every night as well, but I've never said anything before now. I guess I was just worried that you might, well, you know. Because of where you work and all. But then I realized that you were just a pony like any other and that maybe I should get to know you. After all, we seem to have similar tastes," she winked.
Daylight simply met the odd unicorn with a disbelieving stare.
"So, what do you say, want to talk?"
"No," Daylight said simply and quietly, beginning to trot away.
"Whoops, I just realized that I forgot to introduce myself! I'm Dinky. Dinky Hooves. My mother and I just moved here, so I guess that makes us neighbors. Isn't that great?" Dinky seemed to be following Daylight, still intent on talking.
"Yes. Great," Daylight replied, obviously annoyed.
"Say, I didn't catch your name." Dinky eyed Daylight inquisitively.
Daylight sighed. Responding now might only encourage Dinky, and she really didn't want company. One pony wandering about the neighborhood might go unnoticed, but two was asking for trouble. On the other hoof, if Daylight acquiesced this one time, perhaps Dinky might leave her alone in the future. "It's Daylight Sparkle," she finally replied resignedly.
"Daylight Sparkle," Dinky repeated, "That's a pretty name! So what do you do at the Department, anyway?"
Daylight rolled her eyes. The walk back home was going to be a long one. "Paperwork," she told Dinky, "I'm a secretary."
"Ooh, sounds neat," Dinky replied, genuinely interested.
Daylight raised an eyebrow. "Not really."
"Well, it's better than the job I've got."
"Why, what's yours?"
"I'm a food distributor
at the Rations Dispensary. Mind numbing, to tell you the truth," Dinky shook her head, "I really do wish that we could choose our own work. I think that ponies might be more productive that way."
Daylight frowned. "Well that's just not how things work, Dinky. They've never been that way."
"Well, I heard that ponies used to be able to choose for themselves only a little more than two decades ago! And not just their jobs, they could choose"
"Stop," Daylight said plainly, cutting off Dinky's excited voice. "You know that's not true, Dinky. Whoever told you that was lying, trying to get you hurt or in trouble."
Dinky looked down, and then kicked at a pebble with her front hoof before saying quietly, "My mother told me that. She's never lied to me."
Oh." Daylight couldn't think of anything else to say. Why would somepony's own mother tell such a blatant lie? How could a parent care so little about their own flesh and blood to feed them falsities that would surely put them in danger? It didn't make any sense. She looked at Dinky again, and the light of the moon reflected in the unicorn's amber eyes. Dinky seemed so sure of herself, so certain that what she said was true
some part of Daylight, buried deep down inside of her, almost wanted to believe her. She'd have to ask Applejack
if anypony knew, it would be Applejack.
"Well, I have to go for tonight, this house is mine," Daylight told Dinky as she finished her walk, indicating a small yellow bungalow with her hoof.
"Okay! Good night," Dinky said, "And oh, just so you know, I live two houses down. I hope we can be friends."
Daylight sighed softly and pulled the door open with her magic as silently as possible. She stepped inside and pulled off her sweater, reveling in the warmth of the house. Before heading to bed, she checked to make sure that the Spectators hadn't taken notice of her and that Applejack was still soundly asleep. Even once she reached the safety and warmth of her covers, though, sleep eluded her restless mind.
She dreamed of an ancient, gnarled oak tree more than fifty feet tall and that not even ten ponies, hoof to hoof, could have wrapped their forelimbs around. The tree's interior had been hewn into a spacious abode filled to the brim with books and scrolls. She saw herself inside the tree perusing the books
but the moment she moved to touch the first one it burst into flame. The fire spread, further and further, dancing across the shelf and engulfing book after book. It surrounded her, licking at her coat and slowly enveloping her form in its fiery maw.
Her fur was burningsearing fumes wafted up from the char, choking her lungs, suffocating her. Within the flickering flames before her there was suddenly new movement: a great eye blinked into existence, wreathed in the very flame that was destroying her. As it watched her wither away, its terrible gaze locked with her own horrified stare.
The next morning Daylight awoke to the sun peeking through her window, casting is radiant warmth through the frosted windowpane. She yawned widelyshe hadn't been able to sleep much, given how her mind had kept spinning in circles chasing traitorous thoughts, and the little sleep she had been able to attain had been troubled by vivid nightmares. With another yawn, she shuffled out of her room and into the kitchenette, eyes squinted against the offending light.
Her mind briefly wandered back to her nightmare, but she mentally smacked herself. Dreams didn't exist. They meant nothing. Her thoughts echoed back to her Educators' lessons; the nonexistence of dreams was one of the first things she could remember being taught. The only existence was the here and now, in service to the State. Even offhandedly mentioning a dream could get a filly sent to the Thinking Room.
Applejack was already up and about, fixing a warm breakfast for the both of them and filling the air with the pleasant smells of burning firewood, apples, and baked goods. The elderly pony looked up as Daylight slouched to her place at the small table.
"Mornin' sugar cube!" she cheerfully said, intently monitoring something in the wood range, "Ah thought you'd never wake up; almost figured I'd hafta eat this apple cornbread all on mah own!" The earth pony chuckled at her own words.
"Cornbread? " Daylight asked, a bit confused, "Where the hay did you get cornmeal?"
"Remember that patch o' corn ah managed to sprout last summer?"
Daylight nodded, perturbed. "Yes, I remember that we didn't eat any of it."
"Well, that's 'cause ah dried and ground it up, an' it's been here in the cupboard e'er since!"
Daylight's eyes drifted as she rested her head on the cool grey surface of the kitchen table. Her attention jumped from Applejack's worn-out hat to the drab white cupboards, the icy window, and finally a tiny, plain wall clock that Applejack had hung above the table just a week before. The hands read eight forty-five, and Daylight narrowed her eyes. Something about the clock just didn't seem right.
She felt a gaze on the back of her head, and turned to see the kitchen's Spectator peering at her intently.
"Say, Daylight," Applejack hummed, pulling the fresh cornbread from the oven, "Don't ya have work ta'day?"
"Oh no!" Daylight sat bolt upright, immediately awake, and looked back to the clock: eight forty-seven! She was supposed to be at the Department no later than eight thirty! Her sweater and hard-sided briefcase were almost forgotten in her scramble to get out of the door and thoughts of hot, moist apple cornbread completely flew from her mind. "I gotta go!"
Applejack stood alone in the kitchen as the front door slammed closed, an entire steaming apple cornbread in front of her. She smacked her lips as she looked down. "Well shoot, ah guess ah will have ta eat this all by my lonesome after all! Oh, well!"
Racing at full speed, Daylight managed the ten kilometers to the Department in just under fifteen minutes. She stopped outside of the threatening basalt skyscraper for a second to compose herself before shoving her way through the revolving door. In reality the building was only ten floors, yet had been constructed in a roughly trapezoidal shape, playing on perspective so that the polished black erectiondevoid of any windowslooked almost three times taller than it actually was.
The building's sterile interior had been brightly lit, and the glare reflecting off of the clean white walls, floor and ceiling momentary blinded Daylight. The unicorn ponywhose normally cheerful yellow coat even took on an artificial quality under the intense illumination was forced to squint until her eyes adjusted. Her hoofsteps echoed as she walked through the large, silent lobby and up to a lone slate desk where a single disinterested earth pony sat. The old grey mare didn't even glance up as Daylight signed in before passing through the heavy metal door behind her.
Past a cramped, dim hallway lined only with a dull green rug was yet another metallic doorthis time leading to a small silver room. As Daylight stepped inside the door automatically closed behind her, and spectral voice echoed in from all directions: "Floor?"
"Ten," Daylight tapped her hoof impatiently as the room began to glow with magical energy before surging upwards at incredible speed. Daylight widened her stance unconsciously, a habit formed by long practice, as the room accelerated faster and faster until it lurched to a halt at the top floor. The door of the lift clunked open, revealing a hallway almost identical to the first. Daylight turned and walked to the right, passing rows of evenly spaced black doors until she reached her own office.
The lock was swiftly opened with the key and a small burst of her magic. She set her briefcase down on the desk, relieved at not encountering any of her coworkers on the way up, but the feeling quickly evaporated as she noticed a note written in a disturbing red ink on her desk. It read, quite concisely: Miss Daylight Sparkle, please see me in my office when you arrive. Signed, Chief Interrogator Redsky. The rest of the thin white parchment was blank.
In addition to being worryingly short and vague the message had come directly from the Chief Interrogator, a pony that you rarely ever sawand never wanted to see. Stiffly, she turned left out of her door and walked down the hall she had just come from. Chief Redsky's office was at the very end, thirty doors down, and time seemed to slow to a crawl as she approached the only white door in the hall. There was no ornate woodwork, no handle, and no hinges. The only discrepancy that it bore was a painted image of the Eye, staring lidless, forever open and watching.
An enchantment caused the eye to flicker and follow Daylight as she swallowed her fear and trepidation before nervously lifting a hoof to knock. Before she had even raised her hoof an inch, however, a deep voice resonated from the room beyond.
"Come in," it said as the door swung open of its own volition, "Do have a seat."
The office that Daylight found herself looking into was almost as plain as the lobby downstairs. A red-furred Pegasus sat behind a mahogany desk and, behind him, rows and rows of filing cabinets lined the wall. The drawers were labeled with the letters of the alphabet, and Daylight knew that they contained the names and vital records of every citizen in City Seven.
Chief Interrogator Redsky beckoned her towards a single wooden chair positioned directly in front of his desk. He wore no uniformonly a pressed white collar and tie. The door shut silently behind her as Daylight took a seat.
"Well, Miss Sparkle," Redsky said in an unnervingly cold tone, "You're late." He reached out a hoof and rotated a silver desktop clock to face Daylight. The timepiece read nine o' clock exactly.
Daylight was shaking slightly as she answered, hoping that her meager excuse would be enough. "Well, I, ah, got held up."
Redsky sat motionless, eyes boring dangerously into Daylight. "Here at the Department of Public Safety, employees are never late. Do you know why, Miss Sparkle?"
She shrunk in her chair, terrified. "No
"Because ponies who are late must be
how shall I put it? Let go, " Redsky told her. He paused for a moment to let his point sink in, and then continued, "I trust that this is a one-time occurrence, and that it shall not be repeated?"
Daylight nodded with relief, "Yes sir, it won't happen again, sir."
"Make sure that it doesn't. " He motioned for her to leave, turning his attention back to the files on his desk.
Daylight hadn't needed to be told twiceshe was out of the door as soon as he had finished talking. She returned to her desk quickly, intent on make up any work she might have missed in the half hour she had not been at work.
Apart from the brief but terrifying encounter with the Chief Interrogator, her day could hardly have been considered eventful. Daylight had gone through countless files, pulling the names of specific individuals for various Departmental sections. She had also spent a great deal of time revising news articles, redacting certain tidbits of information that the State would consider dangerous. That afternoon, she put in half an hour of overtime to make up for her tardiness in the morning and signed out at precisely six o' clock.
The warmth of the day rapidly waned on her walk home, the sun's brilliant fiery yellow dimming first to a soft orange and then a smoldering red. Behind her, however, the Department reflected none of the sunset's brilliant colorsa black void in an otherwise sun-washed cityscape.
Daylight shivered slightly as a chill wind brought with it the promise of another cold night and quickened her pace, hoping to reach home before nightfall. Usually she made it home well before the State curfew, but today she was very concerned that she might not be able to make it. Her commuting pass was only good until sundown, and she didn't want any more trouble today than she'd already dealt with.
As she rounded the corner onto Lane Twelve, however, her thoughts were interrupted by a loud ruckus in front of an aging warehouse. Four Peacekeepers, three unicorns and an earth pony all dressed in their trademark white suits and black bowlers, had surrounded an elderly grey Pegasus with an uncanny similarity to Dinky. The Peacekeepers snatched the Pegasus' satchel as they accosted her.
"I've seen this one before!" One of the Peacekeepers, the earth pony, grunted to the others, "She's that courier with the eyes, the one I was telling you about. I don't like her!"
"Oh, let me handle this one," a second Peacekeeper told the first. He turned to grin wickedly at the Pegasus. "Just what do you think you're doing on the streets without a Pass?"
The frightened grey Pegasus struggled to speak. "B-but
but sir, I have a pass
"Oh, do you?" The Peacekeeper magicked a worn scrap of paper from the bag and made a point of examining it closely before casting a fire spell. The pass fluttered to the ground as it was slowly consumed by the flames. "WellMrs. Derpy Hooves, is it? I don't see any pass in here. Perhaps it's at the bottom?" With a spark of magic the satchel was upended, sending dozens of letters scattering into the wind.
"My mail!" Derpy yelled, mouth agape as she made a futile attempt to catch the postage before the other two unicorn Peacekeepers grasped her wings in their magic.
"You're not going anywhere, freak eyes!" The earth pony Peacekeeper lifted a baton in his mouth, and the unicorns followed suite with levitation spells. Derpy looked at them, eyes wide in terror.
Her words were cut short as she was struck harshly against her spine. The unicorns released the magic holding her, allowing her to fall hard to the ground under a hail of blows. Her pitiful screams for help echoed down the street as she curled into a fetal position, attempting to make herself as small a target as possible.
Daylight watched the onslaught in abject horror. Yes, she had heard of the Peacekeepers doing things like this, but frankly she had never believed itsuch reports were obviously just disparaging remarks made by dissenters to mar the image of the Department and the State. Yet here, right in front of her, a group of Peacekeepers was fixing to murder an innocent Pegasus. Agitatedly, she pawed at the ground with her forehoof. She couldn't just stand by and watch her dieshe had to do something!
But these were agents of the State. If they thought that something was right, then it was right. That was how the world worked. It was how the world had always worked. She shouldn't even be considering this matter at all! She should just walk away and forget it had ever happened. This was just a glitch, it didn't matter.
When she tried to do just that, however, she found that she couldn't. Her body was rooted to the spot like a tree, her mind caught in Derpy's voice wailing, crying, pleading for help. The sound stuck in her ears, playing over and over like a scratched record. Derpy hadn't done anything to warrant this attack!
maybe the Peacekeepers
No. No, stop it, Daylight, she thought to herself, trying to block out the quieting screams, It's treason to even think like this! It'll just get me in trouble too! She ground her teeth in frustration, thinking frantically. What should I do? WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Then, without thinking, she spat out her briefcase's handle, lowered her head, and charged at the nearest of the Peacekeepers. The earth pony was hit with enough force to be hurled right into the first unicorn, the wind knocked from both of them. All four of the Peacekeepers froze, taken by surprisethey'd never encountered resistance before.
Even Daylight herself was surprisedand shocked, and horrifiedby what she had just done.
"What the?" the lead unicorn began, "Oh, a little foal wants to join in the fun! How 'bout it, boys?" He stood up and raised the magically glowing baton high in the air before sending it crashing down at the base of Daylight's skull.
Stars exploded through her vision, and she dimly felt something warm and wet run down the back of her neck. She stumbled, head swimming, unable to think straight as blackness encroached on her field of view. Groggily, she inserted herself between Derpy and the Peacekeepersas Applejack used to say, 'As long as you've already bitten off more than ya can chew, why not eat tha whole pie?'
Oh, I can think of a few good reasons, she thought blearily as she saw the baton rise back into the air, ready to strike again. She shut her eyes, anticipating the impact
but the blow never came. All at once, a flash of light and a miniature clap of thunder overloaded her vision and ears. Head spinning, she looked up at the twilit skythe stars were certainly dancing tonightand then around herself in amazement. She was no longer on Lane Twelve, but was lying flat on her back in the street before her house. The only explanation that she could come up with was that she apparently must have somehow teleported through the use of her magic; before now, she hadn't even known that such a feat was possible.
She stood shakily and found Derpy crouched on the pavement, head beneath her hooves, quietly sobbing amidst several crumpled letters and bloodstained feathers that must have been caught in the teleportation's slipstream. Daylight nearly fainted outright as she saw the amount of crimson blood matted into the Pegasus's fur and draining out onto the cobblestones. Derpy's left wing hung limp against her side, missing most of its flight feathers and obviously fractured.
As Daylight's senses began to return over the growing pain at the base of her skull, her mind started racing. So many things had to be thought about. Where she had once been so sure of her beliefs, she was suddenly beginning to doubt them. This atrocity had been committed by the very ponies whose job was supposedly to protect the citizens of the State. But protect them from what? she wondered, never having actually thought about it before, An elderly Pegasus? She was no threat to anypony.
Her head was throbbing, and not just from her concussion. She turned to Derpy, extending a hoof. "Come on, let's get you home."
Derpy looked up at Daylight, cheeks ruddy from tears and eyes swollen. "Youyou saved me," she said, disbelief evident before moaning mournfully, "They'll want you now!"
Daylight grasped Derpy, hauling her back to her hooves. "I don't think they got a good look at me." She supported Derpy's weight as they limped the few yards to Dinky's residence.
Dinky's home wasn't anywhere near as well-kept as Daylight's. The numbers painted on the door had long since been worn away by the weather, and the cracked stepping stones led through a yard overgrown with weeds.
Derpy winced in pain as she fumbled for her key, and Daylight helped her manipulate the key with what little magical energy she could muster. The door clicked like a dying beetle before swinging slowly inward, revealing a small and sparsely decorated room. An alcove containing a small table sat opposite to the door and the chipping paint was brighter in telltale shapes on the alcove's walls, giving Daylight the impression that they had once been covered with book-filled shelves. Dinky sat hunched at the table over something that Daylight couldn't quite see.
At the sound of the opening door, the blonde-maned pony frantically shoved the object into a drawer beneath the table and whipped around to see who had entered.
"Oh, Mother!" Dinky cried in shock at seeing Derpy, and quickly rushed over to take her from Daylight, "What happened?"
Derpy made no attempt to reply; instead, she only ambled over to a far corner of the room and settled down on a soft red futon propped against the wall. She shut her eyes and hugged a tattered yellow doll that had been left there.
Dinky looked towards Daylight as she began tending to her mother's wounds. "Thank you, for helping her get back home. Whatwhat happened, exactly?"
"It was the Peacekeepers. They were attacking her. I
A forlorn expression washed over Dinky's face. "I was afraid that would happen again."
"Again?" Daylight couldn't believe what she was hearing. "This has happened before? "
"Yes, twice before," Dinky sighed, "We used to live in City Two until she was singled out by the Peacekeepers and nearly beaten to death. We applied for a transfer to City Five, and it was granted. We moved as soon as possible, but not a week after we arrived it happened again. Worse that timeshe came within an inch of her life. So we transferred again. To City Seven, thinking that we'd be far enough away from the State center that this wouldn't happen anymore. I see now that we were wrong. She got lucky this time; comparatively, she's not too badly hurt. If you hadn't come along
" her face screwed up in anger.
"But why? Why would they attack her?" Daylight asked.
"Because she's different, that's why! She's defected, according to the State. Inferior! And they say that she's bad because of it! They say that I'm bad because of it!" Dinky ranted furiously, quickly losing control of her temper. Her ministrations became a little rough, and Derpy squeaked in pain.
"Dinky?" Daylight fidgeted slightly as she noticed a flicker of movement on the main wall.
"It's this State that's defected! They say that they want to bring happiness, but they don't mean it! They thrive on our pain! All they care about is themselves! " Dinky clenched her teeth and dropped the roll of bandages as her anger made it impossible to concentrate on her levitation spell.
"Dinky! You need to" Daylight was quickly cut off by Dinky's tirade, and began backing slowly towards the front door.
"Avarice! That's all it is! What happened to love? To compassion? Where'd it all go? It's burned. Burned with all the books. Burned with all the ponies who ever spoke out against them! I'll tell you who needs to burnHIM! Oh, you know who I'm talking about! Even the Eye itself! "
"Dinky, please stop! " Daylight keened frantically. The Spectator was wide awake, eye fixated upon Dinky. Daylight had backed to the door now, trying desperately to remove herself from the Spectator's view.
"Why, I'll do it myself if nopony else will!" Dinky shouted obliviously.
Dinky was going to get them both caught, and that was enough for Daylight. She turned, and with all haste threw the door open and bolted through. She galloped away, attempting to put as much distance between her and Dinky as possible.
Dinky stamped her hooves on the floor and snorted, "I can't take any more of this! This place is
this place is
" her outburst died down when she noticed the open front door and Daylight's absence. "Daylight? Where did you
?" she froze.
Her gaze turned to the wall and the lidless eye staring into her. A tiny red light blinked into existence below it and began flashing to a hellish tempo.
Cold fear slithered over her, rapidly turning to horror as she realized what she had done.