To Fix You
Author's note: Attention all Coldplay fans!
I have prepared a challenge for you.
For every chapter of this story after chapter 1, I will be referencing a new Coldplay song, (besides "Fix You" obviously).
Your challenge is to read the chapter, looking for a quote from a differnet Coldplay song. If you find it, post your guess in the comments, the answer will be released along with chapter 3!
Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And I will try
to fix you,
A set of eyes opened to find a scene that was reminiscent of many in Equestria, but at the same time was somehow new and unfamiliar to the beholder. With her head lying on the ground, the grass mat beneath her felt cool and soft against her pelt. The light breeze that cooled her blew blades of grass across the bottom of her vision, waving back and forth across a backdrop of tall trees framed by a perfectly blue, cloudless sky that was illuminated by the bright sun hanging high above. She breathed in deeply, inhaling the earthy, fresh aroma of the blades of grass. She noticed that each sense seemed heightened as she took in the scene around her. When she shifted the position of one of her hind legs, she reveled in the sensation of hundreds of feather-like tips slipping gently over the skin of that limb. Her ears perked up to the sound of birds chirping around her, they sounded happy and at ease. But there was another noise in the background. It was a low roar, but not a threatening roar, it sounded rhythmic, relaxing, soothing even. The cycle of sounds seemed to grow, peak and recede in pitch, creating a soothing ebb and flow of sound that matched the harmony of the scene.
The pony stood up and looked around some more, determined to discover the source of this strange cascading rhythm of pleasant sound that was sweeping through the entire scene. Trees hemmed in her vision, and nothing within her view seemed to be producing the sound. Undaunted, she began to walk; crisp blades of grass crunching beneath her hooves as she slowly moved in the direction from which the rhythm seemed to be emanating from. The noise grew louder as she walked, but never so loud that it dominated the scene, it always seemed to underscore her surroundings. But as she grew ever closer, it became more distinct, and she began to recognize the sound for what it was, the repetitive splashing of water. Suddenly, in parting two branches with her front hooves, the entire scene opened up to the pony. Beyond the line of trees was indeed a source of water, but it was unlike anything that the pony had expected. Water, calm and perfectly flat, stretched from where it met the land to as far as they eye could see out towards the horizon. The crashing and receding pattern of sound was caused by gentle wave after wave drawing their way up a stretch of sand, pulled back and forth by the force of an unseen tide. The breeze, stronger on this beach, ruffled her fur and shook the branches of the trees that she had left behind her. Birds remained chirping, and the sun illuminated the entire scene with a bright yet soft light, lending her surroundings a soothing, surreal quality.
"Is this where you go when you die?" Rainbow Dash asked the empty sky, a sky so immense and seemingly boundless that she could imagine herself soaring forever in its great expanse.
"No. This is the place in-between." A voice answered her.
Rainbow Dash jumped backwards. She thought she had been the only pony here, she had not seen anypony else in the surrounding area, yet there had certainly been an answer to her question. She looked around quickly, magenta eyes flicking from spot to spot within her vision, looking for the hidden pony. Her gaze finally settled on the water below her. A series of ripples extended out from a spot a few yards from shore, the ripples rising and falling with the gentle back and forth action of the placid waves. The disturbance was created by the head of a pony, whose entire body was submerged beneath the surface of the water. The face of this intruder looked familiar somehow. Rainbow Dash found herself looking in close to try and discern who this pony was. The pony who bobbed up and down with the action of the water faced her calmly, returning her gaze as if she had not a care in the world and enough time to do nothing for as long as she liked. The other face looked familiar, yet somehow strange. Sporting recognizable features, the pony was also grey, and framed by a mane that, under closer inspection, appeared to be made up of six different shades of grey
Realization hit Rainbow Dash like the aftershock of a sonic rainboom. This other pony was her, but grey. She was staring into the grey eyes that duplicated her own magenta ones in every aspect save for color. This intruder was her grayscale doppelganger.
Memories of her own self being under the influence of Discord came crashing to Rainbow Dash's mind. She figured that this other pony must be the disloyal version of herself. She immediately dropped down into a fighting stance, keeping her head close to the ground and her flank in the air, glaring at the look-alike who still bobbed apathetically in the water. "Who are you?!" Rainbow Dash snarled at the other mare, "Are you a spy?"
"I may be whatever you choose to call me." The spy responded, "But you may know me best by the quality that I represent: Hope."
"What in the hay is that supposed to mean? Who are you? Why are you here? Why am I here? Where are we?" The stream of questions flew from Rainbow Dash's mouth as she suddenly realized the absurdity of her situation.
"Who am I? Have you not figured it out yet, Rainbow Dash? I am you! I am here because you are here, and you are here because of your most recent decision. Do you not recall what I said not moments ago? This is the place in-between."
"You're not making any sense. How can you be me? I'm me. I'm the only Rainbow Dash there is! And what in the hay does 'the place in-between' mean!" Rainbow Dash was close to screaming now, her confusion and anger apparent in her voice and rising emotion. As her anger heightened, unbeknownst to Rainbow Dash, the wind started to pick up. For a few seconds she stood glaring daggers at the spy in the water, before she finally noticed the wind, now more than a gentle breeze, picking up her fur.
"Do you not understand?" The spy across from her seemed to be getting angrier as well, "I am best known by that quality that I represent: Hope. Yet I am you, because you are the one for whom I represent it." The spy paused to let this sink in before continuing, "And as for your location, look around you! What do you see?"
Rainbow Dash turned her head and twisted her body around to gather a full view of the scene. She looked long and hard at everything, both the familiar features and the new, before returning her glare to respond. "I see trees, grass and other plants. I see rocks here and there and faded mountains on the horizon. Everywhere behind me looks like it could be Equestria, yet when I look out in this direction and all I see is endless water and sky. I see emptiness, nothingness. You can see all this! Why are you asking me! Part of this place looks like home but the other part is a just nothing as far as I can see!" she paused before screaming, "THIS MAKES NO SENSE!"
The wind began to blow even more, which caused the treetops behind rainbow Dash to sway back and forth, adding their rustling and groaning to the growing noise of the sea, which was now rolling with increasingly more intensity than it had been before. "Exactly!" cried the spy from the water, "You are in the place in-between. Behind you is Equestria, everything you know, everything you love, everything you have ever known to exist, all lies behind you. In front of you lies the endless sea, the void, the great unknown. You stand on the beach, the edge, about to complete the action you began in consciousness. You are to leave your life behind."
"Are you crazy?" Rainbow Dash was screaming now, emotion surging out of her body like the high wind that now blew in from the sea in front of her. Branches of trees behind her were whipped even further into a frenzy. A large bank of clouds appeared over the horizon where the expanse of water had once met clear sky. The winds brought the bank of clouds closer to the pegasus on the beach at a rapid rate, and the waves of the sea before her grew further in height. The environment around her seemed to react to Rainbow's rising emotion as she continued shouting. "Why would I want to leave everything I know? Why would I ever even go out into some big empty expanse of nothing?"
"Don't ask me." The spy retorted, mocking her now, "You're the pony who tried to kill herself. Or do you not remember?"
"That was different! That was because
Hey!" Rainbow Dash cried, finally realizing something, "You said you were me, but I don't know any of this stuff! How can you know all this when I don't?"
"I am only a part of you - a part that has broken away. I have already journeyed into the great unknown and back, that is how I know. Would you care to hazard a guess as to what I really am?"
"You said you represent hope
" Rainbow Dash tried to collect her emotions enough to think clearly, "Are you saying that you are my hope? That doesn't make sense! Hope can't be seen, it's just an idea!"
"Oh, but you misjudge the power of where you are right now. Down here, the world is not governed by the physical limits of reality. Down here, ideas, concepts, anything can be manifested in physical form. I am the physical embodiment of whatever hope you had left, your mind's own manifestation of what it has lost. Take a good look at me. Tell me - what do you see? We are not so different, but it is what makes us different that is important."
you're gray." Rainbow Dash stammered, feeling stupid for stating the obvious, even though her mind was still turning over itself trying to understand her situation.
"Precisely." The spy stated, "I am gray, dull, fading, diminished, dying
Yes, dying. Do you understand what that means?"
The gray head in the water chuckled. "More or less, yes. Tell me, would you like to see my companions?"
"Companions?" Rainbow questioned, incredulously.
"Yes, companions. I'm sure you would love to see them again." As the spy spoke, the water on both sides of her began to bubble, as if something was rising to the surface in both spots. Gray pony ears appeared, and as Rainbow stood, staring at the boiling water as two pony heads rose up from it. "Rainbow Dash, meet Joy, and Love.
For several moments, Rainbow Dash could only stare in shock. Then, she spoke. "Mom? Dad?" It was undeniable. She was standing, staring at the faces of her mother and father, who had risen to either side of her doppelganger, and were just as gray.
"Hello, sweetie. We've missed you. Won't you come on in and join us?" Her mother's voice was smooth and welcoming, just as she remembered it from all those years ago. Slowly, tentatively, Rainbow began to advance on the water's edge. The rolling in front of her, the frenzied forest behind her, the crazed wind that whipped all around her, and the dense clouds that now covered the scene were all erased from Rainbow Dash's perception as her senses narrowed down to focus on but two things - the faces of her mother and father, smiling, beckoning her closer and closer to the water's edge. Suddenly, one wave, washing up onto the shore, reached closer to the hoof of the pegasus that was being set down on the beach, right in the water's path.
The instant the tip of her hoof made contact with the water, an intense, blinding, unexplained pain shot through Rainbow Dash's head. She closed her eyes and stumbled backwards as the migraine assaulted every one of her senses. She fell to the ground, writhing in pain as arcs of it shot through her skull. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the pain stopped. Rainbow Dash found herself lying in the sand, the water that had shocked her with its effect left behind, and her senses returning. She could feel the wind rushing through her hair and she heard the combined sounds of crashing surf and wind-blown trees. Before she re-opened her eyes, she sensed something that made her spine tingle.
Her nostrils flared as a new scent hit them. It was not the stench of the sea, nor the pine smell of the forest. It was a sharp, unique smell, one that Rainbow could pick out easily from having dealt with it in her past. She had not experienced it for years, but even from having only been touched by its strength once, many years ago, it was so ingrained in her memory that she recognized and feared it instantly. It was a smell that instantly brought back more painful memories of 'the accident' - The stench of death.
Rainbow Dash's eyes flew open again instantly. She saw that she had stumbled a good few yards back from the water's edge, but the frenzied waves were now reaching ever closer, drawing nearer and nearer to the frightened pegasus with each new crest. Rainbow Dash immediately jumped to her hooves and backpedalled some more. But it was not merely the prospect of the renewed pain that the water brought that made her shy away, but what she saw in the water. In a small round patch of the swirling water's surface, rainbow saw red. She had no doubt that it had come from the spot where her hoof had touched the water. She hazarded a glance at her hoof but saw that there was no cut on it. What she saw wasn't her blood, or at least she hoped it wasn't, while she tried to determine where it came from.
She glanced back to the water. What she saw baffled her even further. The patch of red, which, if it was blood, should have been mixed in with the water by all the swirled action, was doing the exact opposite. As Rainbow Dash watched in absolute transfixion, the spot of red grew, spreading outward and enveloping more of the water. It was as if the water itself was turning blood red, and as the stain spread, the stench that assaulted her nostrils grew stronger.
Rainbow Dash looked back out the where the three pony heads had been. The gray versions of herself, her mother, and her father were rising up out of the water. "JOIN US, RAINBOW DASH!" They called, voices no longer normal sounding but high-pitched, demented, and terrifying. Their grey bodies slowly began to expose themselves as the rose from the pounding surf, apparently unaffected by the waves which crashed around them. The expanse of blood-water had grown to envelope them as well, and Rainbow watched with a mixture of horror and fascination as their wings and shoulders rose from the pounding, frothing red conflagration. Suddenly, all three ponies seemed to rear up on their hind legs, as if they were standing half in and half out of the water. When their chests were exposed to her, Rainbow Dash drew in a sharp gasp and felt her own blood run cold. In the middle of each pony's chest, right where one would expect to find a heart underneath the skin, there was a hole. Rainbow stared in abject horror at the forms of herself and her parents, perfectly round holes cut straight through their chests, blood-red liquid draining from each hole as it ran down to join the foaming red of blood that the sea had become.
Rainbow Dash turned heel and ran. She ran for the forest, towards the representation of everything she knew and loved her life, her home, Equestria. She was stopped at the forest's edge. The trees, whipped into a frenzy by the wild weather, shook violently and offered no safe path away from the beach of death. Everywhere she tried to get through, a tree blocked her path. It was as if the trees were alive and actively seeking to keep her there.
Unwilling to go forward and unable to go back, Rainbow Dash turned to the last option that was available to her. She spread her wings and took to the air. As she did so, everything seemed to go crazy around her. The wind buffeted her back and forth, and she had to strain to keep herself from being driven into the ground, or worse, the sea of blood, below. She flew to the tops of the trees, trying to see an opening in the canopy of the forest, trying to find a way to safety. She immediately stopped short of the treetops in the air as she nearly collided with one. It was as if the limb had come up to meet her, and as she flew upwards, Rainbow realized that that was exactly what was happening. The limbs of the trees were growing, reaching up towards her, trying to grab her out of the sky. Rainbow ducked and weaved as she flapped furiously, fighting the elements in order to rise above the reach of the trees.
Reaching what she deemed to be a safe height, Rainbow chanced a look down. The entire expanse of what had been water had now changed to a seething, frothing, foaming, blood-red liquid. The spectacle and the stench combined would have made any normal pony lose their lunch, but Rainbow Dash was flying for her life. She rode every single change in the flow of air over her wings as if her life depended on it, and it probably did. She stared down into the midst of the sea of blood, and saw three sets of eyes staring back up at her - herself and her parents, Hope, Joy, and Love - the spies, starkly gray against a backdrop of red. She stared at them and they stared back at her.
The spies came out of the water. The holes in their chests seemed not to affect them as they flew, undaunted by the winds, towards Rainbow Dash. "JOIN US, RAINBOW DASH! YOU CANNOT ESCAPE. THIS IS YOUR DESTINY." They cried as the rose to meet her.
"NO!" She screamed. In the instant that it looked like they might catch her, she threw every ounce of her strength and all of her raging emotions into the one ace card she knew she held: her speed. She raced the wind, riding the currents of air as she fell into a groove, letting the winds help her as she flew, gathering speed and height as she flew onwards, flying with the storm. The wind bit her face as she strained her wings to propel her faster, trying not to get sidetracked by random gusts as she rode the prevailing winds inland, soaring high above the shaking trees that were no longer able to reach her. The cloud cover was absolute, and to her horror, Rainbow Dash could not see anywhere to land in the dense canopy beneath her. There was no way out, and she couldn't keep flying forever.
Suddenly terrified of losing her race against death, Rainbow Dash hazarded a look behind her. To her disbelief and horror, the spies were right behind her. They did not gain on her, yet she could not lose them. They were right behind her, keeping pace with her strained flying as if it was easy for them. Desperate to get away, Rainbow strained her muscles and her wings for everything they were worth, and flew higher to try and find a more favorable wind. She reached the ceiling of the sky realm that she inhabited, and flew along as best she could with the bottoms of the endless dark gray clouds serving as a barrier above her. Glancing back again, she found that she was still seemingly unable to lose the three gray pegasi behind her.
Then, she saw it. Out of the corner of her eye, something caught her attention. Like a faint, glimmering ray of hope, something bright seemed to flicker in and out of focus ahead of her. Then, like a beacon shining with the promise of freedom, a hole opened up in the clouds and a column of light poured out, cutting an illuminated swath through the sea of darkness. Out of options and running on waning strength, Rainbow Dash made a beeline for this new intrusion, hoping against hope that this powerful light, if it could cut a hole in the cloud ceiling, might be her ticket out of this mad dreamscape.
She felt, rather than saw, the gap between her and her pursuers closing. Behind her, the spies saw that she had a chance at escape, and they seemed to be defying the elements that surrounded all four as they closed the distance between them and their quarry.
The shaft of light was just ahead, but Rainbow could feel her energy reserves starting to run dry. It was a race to reach the escape hole as she felt the spies behind her breathing down her neck. The face of a certain mare flashed through Rainbow's vision - Applejack. The thought of seeing her, if only for one last time, compelled Rainbow Dash to draw strength from every fiber of her being. In a last huge exertion of pent up emotion, Rainbow strained to give one last burst of extra speed, angling herself up to aim straight for the hole that loomed directly ahead of her.
As she passed through the hole in the clouds, she got one last look back at her pursuers. They had come close, but they couldn't touch her, because they were just spies.
She turned back to face her new environment, and her vision was immediately confronted by hundreds upon hundreds of dazzlingly bright lights. She was also suddenly aware that she was no longer flying, but seemed to just be floating. Finally noticing how tired she was after expending so much energy in a desperate flight through a storm, she closed her eyes and gave her mind and body a rest. She floated blissfully as the lights enveloped her. At ease and confident, she allowed herself to rest
confident that the lights would guide her home.