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"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 trotted—what 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 new—and probably were—but 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, however—particularly the younger ponies—were 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 stomach—she 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.

"Er… 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 burning—searing 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 widely—she 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 erection—devoid of any windows—looked 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 pony—whose 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 door—this 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 saw—and 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 uniform—only 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 twice—she 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 colors—a 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. "Well—Mrs. 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.

"Wait, don't—!"

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 it—such 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 die—she 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… maybe the Peacekeepers… were wrong?

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 surprise—they'd never encountered resistance before.

Even Daylight herself was surprised—and shocked, and horrified—by 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 Peacekeepers—as 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 sky—the stars were certainly dancing tonight—and 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. "You—you 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. What—what happened, exactly?"

"It was the Peacekeepers. They were attacking her. I… I intervened."

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 time—she 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 burn—HIM! 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.



Make sure to hit the button, so that you get indentation.

And now... Chapter One!

And the real story begins.

Main info can be found in the Prologue description, and as always, if you notice any spelling, grammar, or glaring bits of discontinuity, then by all means, tell me so that I can fix it. I don't need nasty mistakes festering on my page. Yuck. Anyway, critique is also welcome.

I would like to thank my beta-reader and editor, :iconarchaeidae: for her particularly outstanding work in helping me to smooth out the rough edges, as well as for the creation of the incredible poster that you see above.

Prologue: [link]
Chapter One: Here
Chapter Two: [link]
Chapter Three: [link]
Chapter Four: [link]
Add a Comment:
TheStorm117 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
The way that you portray those peacekeepers makes me think of the Gestapo. If you were trying to get the feel of a corrupt secret police going, you've done it.
Icaron Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! That was exactly what I was going for. ^^
KadenXx Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011
Also incredible fic! I really like your writing style it's descriptive but not burdensome to read. You haven't relied on the established personalities of the mane 6 to drive your plot, Everything you've written is more or less your own creation. It's excellent! I can hardly wait to see how this story turns out.
Icaron Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! =D

I'm quite glad that you like it, it's certainly been fun to write. ^^
KadenXx Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2011
your prologue page you mentioned you were inspired by a handful of dystopian books. I'll see if I can call a few out.

The burning of the books, the fire at the library, and the late night wanderings of Daylight are all from fahrenheit 451 (Dinky representing the starstruck girl).

Naturally Haylent is a reference to Soylent green. (I like the pun there :P)

City Seven = City Seventeen?

It may be a bit of a stretch but the term "state" is used in brave new world. As well Daylights censorship job reminded me in particular of the great debate between John and the Director ,Mustapha Mond, where Mond mentioned censoring even brilliant scientific and social discoveries for the sake of protecting the state. You even touched on the consumerism mentality necessary for the BNW dystopian society to exist, through the idea of coercing the people to move to the inner city for marketing reasons. The Shakespeare quote from All's well also mimics the nature in which Shakespearian quotes are used in BNW.

I wonder though does this equestrian state have a Falkland Island equivilant?

Am I missing any?
Icaron Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You got two out of the big three, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, but you somehow left out Nineteen Eighty Four. ;)

The Eye/Maleve more or less take the place of Big Brother, the Spectators are a rough equivalent of the telescreens, and the "Presentation" in the next chapter would be the two minutes hate, to name but a few.

Eeyup, the numbered cities are a definite Half-Life 2 reference.

Hmm, I actually hadn't thought to put an equivalent of the islands in there, as the storyline I had laid out didn't really need it. But now that you mention it, I may just have to work something out along those lines. It seems like it could be a good addition to the story, if I can find a place for it.

Well, apart from 1984, not really in terms of books. Though, there is a bit of "A Clockwork Orange" in here, namely the Peacekeepers were loosely based on Alex DeLarge and his Droogs, in how they behave, and their white suits and black bowlers. Though I left out the... crotch... things... or whatever you call them, for obivous reasons. :XD:

I did get a fair amount of inspiration from an alternative rock album by MUSE, called "Resistance". (Where the title came from, it's more or less a collection of songs that tell various dystopian stories.)

Apart from that, you pretty much hit the nail right on the head. ^^
darksage999 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011
Small error:

The part where it says "Miss Daylight Sparkle, please see me in your office when you arrive"

you need to change 'your' to 'my'
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Gack! Thanks for telling me. ^^

I somehow managed to miss that every time I proof-read. :XD:
darksage999 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011
lol np ^^
undead432 Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011
Wow, just wow. You know how to make an audience cringe and it reminds me badly of V for Vendetta. The State I mean.
This have to be the most naturally and well developed characters I have laid my eyes on. Continue the great work.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad you think my characters well rounded, that means I'm doing it right. =D
platten1905 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011
No! Derpy Hooves, NO! Leave her alone!

You bastards.....

I swear....I SWEAR !

I pledge my vengeance upon you!

You will feal my fiery wrath and die an horrible death!
platten1905 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011
PS: Great story! Suspencefull and dark but you see a sparkle of hope shining through.

It would be just a bit greater if it was an animated movie - but that's just a dream.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Don't worry, they'll get what's coming to them.

Thanks! ^^
Aww man, I would LOVE to see it done in animation, just like the show, but alas, I think that level of fanart is beyond most brony abilities. But just between you and me, there's a chance it may be done up graphic novel style sometime in the future. ;)
platten1905 Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011
I hope they will! When it's about Derpy - I get very serious ^^

A graphic novel or a comic would be awesome enough.
But it would be amazing as a movie - maybe there's an brony-animator out there. Or Faust reads it and loves it. An R-rated MLP:FIS movie.
QuercusRobur Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
Poor derpy 6_9 shes one of my fav's ,has great lovely eyes.

hope her and Dinky will be ok ,and Daylight too of course.

so this Spectator is in every room or just 1 in a house? from so far i would say room?

watching you sleep O.o
QuercusRobur Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
cant edit :(

also Dinky should be older then Daylight unless the events of the prologue took place a bit after season 1 ends, then Dinky would just be a few years older not much
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, I like Derpy as well, she's such a fun character (Despite not actually having any real screen time :XD: )

In multiple room houses, there would be one in each room, otherwise you'd be able to simply leave the room and do things without it seeing. Though they're really only activated when you make sounds or move about around them, so they don't particularly care about your sleep habits. ;)

And yes, Dinky is in fact older than Daylight. I never said exactly how long after season one the prologue was, I prefer to leave that up to the reader as the time between isn't part of the story, but it wouldn't be more than five years or so, so Dinky couldn't be too much older. After a certain point though, all the ponies just seem to look and act the same, so age doesn't really matter that much in terms of interaction ^^
QuercusRobur Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
well if you speak something in your sleep, something they dont like ,ouch damn them spying on everything O.o
bamakid1272 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011
"Oh brainwashing, don't you just love it" (sarcastic remark is sarcastic). Well, I'm guessing that's why they don't remember before the State took over. I could be wrong, and Dinky and Daylight may have just been too young to remember that far back, but I got the image they were old enough back then to remember it. Of course, I could be wrong. I'm still certain that's the case or mot of the older ponies. Ah well, doesn't matter that much. Either you'll clear it up in the comments/description, or it'll be revealed in the story.

I saw that you said in the comments you had plans to make the State seem less pure evil and more humane. Well, it sure isn't showing up to me. Of course, it's WAY too early to make that conclusion. Still, they've gone outright against everything they said. Then again, most of their support did come from hypnotizing, so no need to follow through. I'm outright detesting anyone willingly in support of the state right now.

I'm still super giddy on two things. One, waiting to see the State get their asses handed to them :pissed:. But that'll be a while :(. Two, just what happened to the rest of the mane 6. So far I see:

Twilight: dead?
Applejack: DO I really have to explain it. . .
Pinkie: Prob helping out the State based on prologue
Rainbow: ?
Rarity: ?
Fluttershy: ?

I'd imagine Rainbow was probably with the Wonderbolts when all hell broke loose, so we find them, we find (or get close) to Dash. The other two, I'm clueless. Really can't wait to see what happens.

Once again, you've made another great chapter. The darkness of this story is from making a depressing world they live in instead the unecesarry grotesquness people have come to expect from all grimdark stories. I'm just loving this story and I'm super excited to see what happens next :icontwilightclapplz:.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The State certainly loves it. Gets ponies to do what you want them to ;)

Oh, they were old enough. There's just some stuff going on that might make it, *ahem* difficult to recall such things. The story will make all clear in time, though.

Well, I don't really intend to make them more humane (I'm not sure that's even possible). What I do intend to do is to add an extra level of depth to the State, by explaining why they do what they do, rather than them just doing it and you never figuring out why. They have their reasons. But like you said, that won't be showing up until much later ^^

Good guesses, can't tell ya any more than that though.
Don't want to spoil anything.

I've always considered grimdark to be exactly that, a grim and dark situation, not these gore-fests that seem to be proliferating nowadays. *cough*Cupcakes*cough*
Like in all the great suspense movies, atmosphere is a much greater tool than bloody violence.

bamakid1272 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
I understand, just happy to know that all my questions will be revealed in due time.

Yeah, when you said that, I was just thinking "it will make them less evil because we understand why." Don't know why, just got that idea. Probably because many times I've seen villans become not as evil after their reasons for whatever are explained. I think it's this fandom makeing me feel sorry for the show's villans. Hoping Discord in season 2 is a full blown bad guy that no one is going to support.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's a possibility, I can't wait to see =D
(I have the ED timer bookmarked... I keep looking at it every hour or so. XD)

I think the reason for that phenomenon is that humans tend to instinctively fear the unknown. One reason we don't like the dark so much, and certainly a reason to why we seek any and every explanation to all the questions of life. When we understand, things seem less scary, and that crosses over to characters as well. We don't fear the evil so much if we know what their motivation is, even though it doesn't make them any less evil, per se. Just my two cents on the subject ^^

Though knowing bronies, we'll support just about anyone, I mean, look at how much of a following Nightmare Moon has ;)
bamakid1272 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
All of those statements are so true. Even I like Nightmare Moon now (take a wild guess what made me like her >_>). I'm certain some bronies will support him, but I just hope they keep him as the bad guy.

P.S. *two bits
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's rather interesting really, how people take the villains and make them good, like Nightmare Moon. I mean, she wanted to bathe the world in eternal night, which would effectively kill everything on the planet. (No Sun, No life) Yet the New Lunar Republic deal come around, which though it has a great soundtrack, doesn't seem like the right way to go. :XD:

Ah, pardon me. ;)
bamakid1272 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
I understand, just happy to know that all my questions will be revealed in due time.

Yeah, when you said that, I was just thinking "it will make them less evil because we understand why." Don't know why, just got that idea. Probably because many times I've seen villans become not as evil because their reasons for whatever are explained. I think it's this fandom makking me feel sorry for the shows villans. Hoping Discord in season 2 is a full blown bad guy that no one is going to support.
Jimperator Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011
Still haven't noticed any mistakes. It's all well-written and as grammatically fit as my eyes can tell.

Definitely starting to see the similarities of this and other dystopian tales. The burning of books, the abusive police force, the fascist architecture obsession with functionality and obedience above all. I'm most reminded of Nineteen Eighty Four.

I do hope Dinky and Derpy will be alright, I'm sure they'll have to flee and hide in the wilderness after that outburst. I'm sure Daylight will find her spirit for resisting the evil regime will grow after she's able to hear the reality from Applejack. I anticipate the next chapter greatly!. :3
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's good to hear, if there's one thing I can't stand it's typos. It's almost a phobia... which leads to meticulous word combing to remove any and every trace of them :XD:

Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of principal sources of inspiration for this, actually. Though behind Ponies of course. Fahrenheit 451 was also right up there. Orwell and Bradbury just have a way with words that I've always wanted to try my hoof at stylistically emulating.

Dinky and Derpy are definitely in a heap of trouble, that's for sure. Details though, I shall not reveal for fear of creating the dreaded spoiler! ;)

Hopefully I'll have it up in the next couple of days, so there's not too much of a wait. ^^
Jimperator Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2011
Meticulous typo combing is never a bad thing!

Fahrenheit 451 & Nineteen Eighty-Four are probably among the biggest examples of dystopic literature. Though perhaps one can also draw parallels to Animal Farm, given the characters and setting. =P

And no thank you! I would never beg for spoilers. Unless I weren't all that interested in something, otherwise I despise them! XD

On a completely unrelated note, I'm curious. Were you a horse furry before the MLP:FiM craze? =D
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I concur wholeheartedly.

Animal Farm, hmmm, I hadn't thought about that actually. It's not my favorite of Orwell's works, but now that you mention it I may just have to work in a reference. ^^

You must have seen my horse portrait :XD:
Well, as a matter of fact I was, and very much still am: Florida Cracker Horse at your service, good sir. Though I did my fair share of bouncing around over the years, trying to find what species fits best (You know how it is, I'm sure), I always ended up coming back to the equine.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're an Stitchy alien type guy. ;)
Jimperator Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011
Heh, it's probably not his greatest work. But as an allegory for the rise of Stalinist Communism in Russia, it does it's job. Sometimes reading this, I think of the character Boxer though. The strong, impressionable young horse on the farm (a symbol of the energy of the masses) who was worked to near-death by the selfish Pigs. A tragedy only compounded by how they actually dispose of him. :(

And yes, I did. XD Also saw the stamps that said furry and such though. I was just curious, don't see a great many equine furs about. ^^ Good on you for sticking with it! Regardless, always good to find a fellow history-loving fur. :3

You'd be right with that limb too. My character is indeed based on Stitch. =D
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It may not have been his best work, or my favorite, but it's certainly one of those stories that sticks with you. I can even recall watching the old movie of it when I was much younger. (Terrible compared to the book, mind you, but I digress) Makes me kinda sick to think of what happened to Boxer... he was the character I always most identified with... =(
But now that you mention it, I can certainly see the parallels here.

Well, we may be one of the more underrepresented species among furries, but we certainly aren't as underrepresented as say, cephalopods. I mean honestly, have you ever tried to anthropomorphise a cuttlefish? It can't be done says I. :XD:
Ahh, History. Always my favorite subject, infinitely interesting, and always applicable to life. ^^

Aha! I had a feeling. ;)
Jimperator Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011
Indeed, I recall seeing the animated film some time ago. His death was easily the most emotional thing that occurred I think. :c

And yes you have a very good point! Poor cephalopods don't get much love at all. XD I think that has to due with how "human-like" an animal is. The more it shares traits we encounter in our daily lives, the easier it is to anthropomorphize. Hence why canines and felines are at the top of the furry-character chart. =P However I have a suspicion the MLP craze will boost the number of equines in the fandom. ;3

Much agreed, History is the greatest story ever told. Full of so many twists, turns and nuances that always stoke the fires of intrigue and imagination.
I-disregard-gravity Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Normally I don't like fics and don't read them, but when I do it's this series.
I'm looking forward to what happens next! You do good work.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! ^^
It makes me happy to know that you liked it =D
I-disregard-gravity Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome. :D
That's great! Especially because I'm a huge fic hater usually. but, you combined many many references and elements from many different games and shows and books that are all about police state, constant watch, so on. So that's some amazing work there!

When's the next chapter if I may ask?
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome, makes me feel rather proud that I can even draw in someone who doesn't usually like fanfics, it gives me great optimism for the future of the story.^^

Ah, references are my favorite aspect of any story (Or movie/game for that matter), it's almost like a literary scavenger hunt. =D

I expect to have it up by thursday at the latest, though there's a slight chance it may be up tomorrow.
I-disregard-gravity Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:D I'm looking forward very very much. You got me hooked here.

Indeed. and to combine them into one big combination, it almost seems like a resistance force would be crushed instantly! How many references did you put in? I'm thinking every dystopia and resistance book, game, show, movie at the moment.

You have made me very happy. Reading that has made me happy. Even if it is Thursday it's only two days away.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aha! It's up now =D

I certainly have quite a few, I wouldn't want to spoil the guessing, but I can say there are references to at least fifteen different works/movies/games/ and even pieces of music, and that there's much more on the way in the next few chapters. ^^
Scoperocker Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011
Aha pinned some of your homages and references down this chapter. I was gonna post my best guesses last chapter, but I'm glad I waited. This makes it a lot clearer to me.

I see
Nineteen Eighty-four
Soylent Green
Fahrenheit 451
There's traces of further novels I haven't read yet.
The numbered cities strike me as a Half-life 2 reference.

"They'll want you now." I love that line. In stories like this it almost always directly translates to "Shit just got real."

Anyway, despite the fact I'm not forgiving you for killing Twilight just yet, you've got me hooked. I see where this is going, but not how.

Applejack's definitely not as senile as she likes to let on. As for Inspector Redsky, I can see him meeting a particularly gruesome fate. Hopefully one involving fire.

Looking forward to the next chapter.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome, I'm glad to see someone taking an interest in the references. Those are something I've always loved in stories and movies, they're rather fun to try and spot, eh? It seems you've gotten most of them so far, though there will certainly be more to come ^^

Ah, I don't blame you for not forgiving me. I don't forgive me for doing that.
But alas! *throws up hooves* The story required it. ;)

I concur, most of these New State freaks deserve a fiery death, don't they? :XD:
WeirdPonyGuy Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2011
Ok. This is getting intersting. I see that you used many resourses mainly used in science fiction. It resembes to some books of Isaac Asimov in stile. It's an interesting and dynamic read so keep the good job.
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, Isaac Asimov, now there's a good writer! I'm honored to be compared to him ^^

Glad you're enjoying, and I'll do my best to make each chapter just as good as the last =D
kitsunechickenhound Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2011
this isnt sad its just down right drepressing and scary
Icaron Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The sad tag was more for the prologue and what is *ahem* still to come. But if it's depressing and scary, then it has done it's job. That's the way a dystopia is supposed to be afterall, no? ^^
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