Uhm, keeping up with all of these stories is tough, so I think I'll let Christian do his own thing while I focus on Cruce's side. Even though Cruce is nowhere to be seen. Sorry about the Gaia hiatus. Or like Gaiatus or something!

-Xecliptic Canterlot-

[The world has been devastated.]

[The Strayer Void has consumed all, having transformed Equestria into a crimson realm of islands suspended in subspatial fabric.]

Rainbow Dash: [Laying in the audience chamber of Canterlot's ruined palace. She is injured from the battle with the three Star Ponies, though recovering, much thanks to Vesse's presence within her. {She has been completely corrupted with the Darkness of the very same Ruinous aiding her. Her legs have been unimplemented, as she appears to be a miniature, vermin-winged serpent. Her color is dark; a pale indigo, while she possesses few brighter purple stripes, perpendicular to her body shape.} Her Crossblade is not physically present.]

[Fornax, Neutrino, and Nebula are not within the palace, which is upon its own floating chunk of land, small and isolated from all else. The same is true for Danielle's Tower: the closest of the suspended islands.]

[A single hoof comes down before Rainbow's closed eyes. The dark stranger ponders over this new creature she has discovered...]

???: [This stranger utilizes her magic to lift the hybrid “snake” off the ground, examining the thing closer, an eyebrow raised...]

Rainbow Dash: [Becomes conscious as she levitates, eyes opening slowly at first, though widening when she realizes that this flight is not of her own accord.] Huh? Aah!

???: [She drops the winged snake to the floor, walking closer and keeping her head low, watching the creature.]

Rainbow Dash: Gh! Hey! What's the big idea?! ...Wh... Why can't I stand up?! [She notices her lack of limbs, quickly going into a state of panic.] Wh-wh-wh-where are m-m-my legs?!

???: [Lifts the other eyebrow, watching her squirm around on the ground, semi-amused.] …

Rainbow Dash: Waitwaitwait... [She attempts to flap her wings, rapidly realizing that it's much more difficult to do so, while it's much easier to get air, as she does in moments. Her tail drags against the ground.] Ahh... muuuch better... NOW WHERE ARE MY LEGS?! [Looks down at her body, finding that she is nothing but a “cord” of sorts. Her underbelly is a tad more pale than her back.] What the--?!

???: [Expression blank and unchanging, she tilts her head to a slight angle.]

Rainbow Dash: [Soon realizes that there is another pony (actually the only pony) in the room, and addresses her.] Uh... can I help you?

???: I doubt it.

Rainbow Dash: [She takes note of the horn, as well as the large wings, of this pony: an alicorn.] Who are you...?

Star Diver: Star Diver. {Star Diver is a jet black alicorn, red tipped wings far larger than an average pegasus's. Her tail is straightened out in three spikes, sharp as daggers. Her mane is not so much sharp as it is similar to Rainbow Dash's former appearance, albeit shorter. The colors of both are a solid gray, as well as grayish red highlights. Her cutie mark appears to be a single meteorite.} Star Pony of Destruction.

Rainbow Dash: A Star Pony?! Here?!

Star Diver: If you're finding that hard to believe, maybe you should look around. [Taking to the sky of subspace, she ascends, suggesting with vague gesticulation that Rainbow Dash should follow her.]

Rainbow Dash: [She complies, familiarized only with flight where her body is concerned. Hovering close to Star Diver, she gazes out at the stretch of emptiness before her, landmasses frozen in the void. She gives a whisper.] What...

Star Diver: This is Equestria. What's left of it.

Rainbow Dash: [Dumbstruck, her voice breaks.] How did... this happen?

Star Diver: [She appears to speak in short, ambiguous sentences.] The Storm. That's all I can answer for you. It's not much. I don't know you. You're different. You're interesting. Your name?

Rainbow Dash: ...[She looks away, considering her altered body.] ...I'm... Vesse.

(Vesse: Mm? What is this...?)

Rainbow Dash: (As long as I look like this, I can't be called “Rainbow Dash”...)

(Vesse: Your appearance changes nothing about who you are, Rainbow. You are the same pegasus inside, and your Crossblade is there to prove that.)

Star Diver: Vesse. Follow me. [She jolts off skyward, the alleged “Vesse” falling behind for a moment.]

Rainbow Dash: [With no answer, she complies to the command, giving chase through the red oblivion and leaving the palace and the Tower of ice behind...]

“This atrocity has awakened the majority of the Star Ponies. They walk among us now.”

“Your royal highness, we have been here since the dawning of the void.”

“What have you been doing?”

“Well, Princess Luna... There's not much we can do when it comes to giant holes in the the spacetime continuum!”

“We negative Star Ponies have joined the positive, for this is an unnatural fate. You'd be wise to avoid resting on your laurels. Many of us still feel the need to feed this cataclysm.”

“But a lot of us want Equestria back to the way it was. You had an idea, Princess?”

“To prevent this from ever coming to pass. But, with our heroines bound by Darkness, I fear we may all need to play a more direct part.”

“Consider the Star Ponies at your service.”

[A soft chuckle from Luna.]

“Sister always has.”

Impulse: [Stands perched atop a jagged chunk of earth protruding from a larger mass, overlooking the clustered islands of Canterlot. A fleeting wind within the broken realm blows beneath his wings. He expands them.] … [Mulling over the moment, he turns his head back, still facing the vast distance.] How is she doing?

Rilia: [Sitting beside Slianna, who has suffered crippling blows by Nightmares.] She's still out. How come we can't get to those islands over there?

Impulse: ...[Turns back to the islands of Canterlot.] You can't see it, but there's a force field around the whole area. We can't get in there unless whoever's calling the shots says so.

Rilia: Who do you think it could be?

Impulse: Something that powerful's gotta be the work of a Star unicorn.

Rilia: You sure it's not maybe Darkness?

Impulse: I'm sure about that. I've seen the magic before.

Rilia: ...H-how come you can see it though? 'Cause I sure can't...

Impulse: Only certain ponies can see it, and I... I fit the bill, so to speak. We get in there, and I'm sure your friend will be okay.

Rilia: That raises the question: How do we get in there?

Impulse: Hm, I think the only ones strong or crazy enough to be flying around here are Star pegasi and alicorns. They'll most likely be set up in Canterlot, so if I can send a word to them, we could get in. .

Rilia: I-I hope we find one soon then. I'm not sure how much longer Slianna will hold out.

Impulse: I promise, I won't let anything else happen to her. I haven't seen any of those shadows, so we can rest here for some time... Mm...? [He lifts his head, observing the skies.] I may have spoke too soon though. Someone's coming... What... it can't be...

Rainbow Dash: [Soaring behind Stardiver, having some difficulty adjusting to the shape of her body in flight, and the air resistance it gives.] Uh, hey, Star Diver? Care to tell me what the HECK is going on?!

Star Diver: I told you. The Storm came.

Rainbow Dash: That's not helping a whole lot.

Star Diver: You'll see soon.

Rainbow Dash: Well can you at least tell me where we're going?

Star Diver: Canterlot.

Rainbow Dash: Canterlot... [She gasps.] Canterlot! Oh no. I-is everyone okay?!

Star Diver: You'll see soon.

Rainbow Dash: Stop saying that!

Star Diver: [She does not respond.] … [She lowers her gaze on a small, isolated chunk of land, otherwise uninteresting if not for the gaze back from a familiar face.] … [She gives an unenthusiastic giggle.] Hah. Follow me, Vesse. [She swoops down.]

Rainbow Dash: I thought I was already doing that! [She follows suit.]

Rilia: Hey!

Impulse: I know. I see them. [Smirks as he watches one of the two figures descend.]

Rilia: They're not going to eat us, right?

Impulse: I don't think so!

Star Diver: [She lands a few feet in front of Impulse, Rainbow Dash floating at a greater distance from the group.] You...

Impulse: Me. Yeah. Hi. [He chuckles a little.]

Rainbow Dash: (H-hey, it's... It's Rilia? And Slianna? H-how did... how did they even get here?! Did the Storm thing hit Safa too? … Vesse? … Hello?)

(Vesse: Oh. I apologize. I assumed you were Vesse now.)

Rainbow Dash: (Not funny! They're in danger here!)

(Vesse: I believe the Crossblade may have had a part to play in their arrival.)

Rainbow Dash: (The Crossblade... Yeah...)

Star Diver: I didn't expect to find you out here. Shouldn't you be protecting her?

Impulse: Yes, yes I should, but you Star Ponies seem to be doing a good job of that already. [With an arm, he gestures to the broken city.]

Star Diver: [She is aware of the force field around Canterlot.] You were never the most assertive pony, Impulse. Bash the shield a bit. Get their attention, so they let you in.

Impulse: Just take us to Canterlot, will you? My friend here is hurt badly. [Looks to Slianna.] I need to get the two of them to safety, and this floating rock isn't working that well for morale.

Star Diver: [She grins; a rare occurrence.] You're just too good, aren't you? [Flipping her hair, she lifts herself into the sky.] You there. [Watching Rilia.]

Rilia: Um... Me?

Star Diver: [She nods.] You can't fly. Vesse will carry you.

Rilia: Vesse? [Turns to see the viper-like creature nearby.] Aah!

Rainbow Dash: Don't be scared! I'm not going to hurt you, I swear!

Impulse: I've never seen anything like you, Vesse. But now's not the time to discuss that. Sorry about Star's... charm. You don't mind getting Rilia if I get Slianna here? [Standing beside the injured snake.]

Rainbow Dash: It's not a problem! [She gives Rilia a gentle smile, lowering herself a tad awkwardly.] Uh, hop on, and hold on tight!

Rilia: [She swallows spit, walking up to who she knows as Vesse. She hesitates, lost in Vesse's pink eyes.] ...Do I... know you?

Rainbow Dash: [Those eyes go wide.] No! Uhm... I mean... no... [Clears her throat.] We just met. I'm Vesse.

Rilia: [Her ears splay.] Oh, okay... [She gives Rainbow's tail a tight hug with her arms, legs, and tail.] Please go easy up there, I really hate heights. Like really. Really really.

Slianna: [Barely conscious.] Unh... I-Impulse, I think...

Impulse: Slianna, I'm sorry to wake you.[Low to the ground as Slianna constricts around his back.] Holding on tight?

Slianna: Are we... leaving...?

Impulse: We are. Just hang on as tight as you can for a little bit. We'll be safe soon enough.

Slianna: Thanks...

[They reach the shield. Star Diver is unfazed by it, as she phases through it. A few minutes of silent hang time in the void, save Rilia's whimpers as she holds onto Rainbow for dear life, pass. The force-field flickers, visible to all for a brief moment.]

Impulse: That's our chance. Let's hurry through. [Followed by Rainbow, he darts through the circumference of the former shield. An arcane presence whirs gently, before the massive shield is reconstructed, again flashing for a swift moment.]

[The group joins with Star Diver in one of the only remaining straightaways in the busted city. Despite its condition, the street is lively with guards and many unfamiliar faces. A citizen of Canterlot is seen here and there. On either side of the street, large tents have been built. This sector serves as the housing quarters for the townsfolk.]

Rainbow Dash: (Whoa... Are these... Star Ponies?)

Impulse: [He lands beside Star Diver.] Wow, Star. Awfully courteous of your kind to help out the civies.

Star Diver: [Eyes shut, she does not respond. She only smirks.]

Rilia: [Standing on all fours, kissing the ground.] Oh sweet land, oh sweeeeeet land~.

Slianna: [Simply falls off of Impulse.] Ooogh...

Impulse: Wha--?

Rilia: Slianna! [Scurries over to her.] Hey, hey c'mon now, you okay?

Slianna: I think so. What a feeling... Darkness still hits as hard as I remember.

Rilia: 'Guess they do, huh? Great Growths, you sound better. You're talking, for one, and that's a big step forward~.

Impulse: She's right, but I still think you need to rest inside. Star, lot's changed around here. Please, take us to a good place for her.

Star Diver: This way.

[Star Diver leads the four to the same building utilized as a sick bay prior to the world's transformation. Ironically enough, they are taken to the same room which Rainbow Dash used before.]

Rainbow Dash: (Hey, I remember this place. It sure is nice to see something's still standing around here.)

Rilia: This looks cozy. Slianna, why don't you take one of the beds at the back?

Slianna: Okay. Ri, what will you be doing?

Rilia: I'm staying with you. Someone's gotta keep you company~.

Slianna: But what about Safiri?

Impulse: Don't worry about her. She's with Rush.

Star Diver: I'm part of a group of scouts. There are many of us. We'll find them.

Impulse: That reminds me, I need to be off to find Princess Celestia. Star, where would she be?

Star Diver: Where would you be without me?

Impulse: Hopelessly stranded. [He chuckles.]

Star Diver: Hm. I'll take you to Celestia. We can catch up.

Impulse: Never would've thought you were one to do small talk.

Star Diver: Not to be confused with talking little.

Rainbow Dash: Hey, um...

Impulse: Yes, Vesse? What is it?

Rainbow Dash: Could I come with you?

Impulse: ...[He hesitates, looking away briefly.] Uh...

Star Diver: Let her. I didn't bring her here just to let her roam aimlessly.

Impulse: Oh. Wow. Okay. Well, Vesse, if Star says so, then yes. Star, have you softened up or somethin'?

Rilia: Did someone say Safan~?

Star Diver: ...[Glances at Rilia for a moment before looking back to Impulse.] No. I only believe Vesse may be of use to us.

Rainbow Dash: Of use?! ...Eh, yeah, that's good enough for me.

Star Diver: Good. Come with me. Again. [She gives another smirk, leading Impulse and “Vesse” out of the building.]

Rainbow Dash: [Stops for a moment, looking back at Slianna and Rilia.] Hey! You two!

[The Safans face Rainbow Dash.]

Rainbow Dash: You'll see Safiri again soon. I'm sure of it.

[The two give each other a smile, before nodding simultaneously at Rainbow, who takes her leave... although bumps into the wall behind her before actually doing so.]

Rainbow Dash: ! Urm... (Stupid new body...) [Embarrassed, she makes haste.]

[The Princess is nearby, housed in the “Canterlot Cabin”. She is with her sister. Pinkie Pie is doing her best to cheer up many of the royal guards in the lobby, currently doubling over as a conference room, three Princesses at the head: Celestia, Luna, and Cadance. Three characters sit around a circular, central table, presumably the faces of Star Ponies.]

Star Diver: [Enters first, Impulse and Rainbow following.]

Star Pony: Star Diver? She's back already.

Princess Celestia: [Gasps lightly as she spots Impulse.] Impulse! You are unharmed!

Impulse: [He trots up to the three royalties.] Princess Celestia, I... I failed Equestria, I'm...

Princess Celestia: [Shakes her head.] No no, Impulse. None of this is your fault.

Pinkie Pie: IMPULSE!! [She gallops at a high speed, tackling into Impulse and squeezing him tightly.] YOU MADE IT!

Impulse: GGH!! P-Pinkie! Too tight, too tight!

Rainbow Dash: (Pinkie Pie... wow, am I glad to see you...)

Princess Luna: She's been rather affectionate as of late.

Impulse: [Wheezing.] Pinkie, I'm... so happy... to see you...! But please, I need to breathe in order... to enjoy this reunion a bit better...

Pinkie Pie: Ooh, good point. [She steps away, letting Impulse fall with a thud.] My bad.

Impulse: [Stands back up.] Yes, well... No problem. You can thank Star Diver for finding me.

Princess Celestia: Star Diver, we are in your debt.

Star Diver: It was nothing. He stands out.

Impulse: Do I?

Princess Celestia: I see you've found someone else, Star Diver? [Observing Rainbow Dash.] Hmm...

Star Diver: Yes. She goes by the name Vesse. An outsider.

Princess Luna: She is most unusual. I quite like the wings. Very frightening.

Rainbow Dash: Mhmm... [Frowning, she looks back at them.]

Princess Celestia: Well met, Vesse. I am Princess Celestia, and this is my sister, Luna. This is Cadance. I welcome you to Canterlot... Or... what remains of it. We will provide as much protection as we can. I do dislike cutting introductions short, but I fear we are running out of time. Impulse?

Impulse: Time, right... [He stands closer to the conference table, another Star Pony making room for him.] Time's not looking so good, everyone.

Cadance: What do you mean?

Impulse: The fabric of space has unraveled, which has harmed time some. A lot, actually.

Princess Celestia: It is as I expected. The balance is shaken, with harmony ruptured. Time is not as it should be in this horrible void.

Rainbow Dash: Wait, what are we talking about? Time? Did I miss something?

Impulse: Sorry, I rushed into this without explaining anything. It's been a while since the Strayer Void, as Rush called it, ripped open again, breaking Equestria apart like this. How long, I can't be sure. Because time itself has been ruined by the shattered fabric of reality.

Pinkie Pie: Uh oh, this sounds craaaaazyyyy. Better brace myself. I get dizzy when my head spins too fast. [Leaning on the table next to another Star Pony, she uses both hooves to hold her head tightly.]

Impulse: I've been away from Canterlot longer than I should've. I just got back, but I knew that I would be needed by Celestia's side for this reason, and the reason is time.

Star Pony: Impulse, what have you been doing? You know that you were left on this world to never leave Celestia's side.

Impulse: [He looks up to her.] I-I know, I'm sorry. We've been getting complacent, and she's trusted me with other tasks, I just... When I saw Cruce and Safiri, I knew I should've stayed. I knew that anyone from beyond this world was a bad sign. It meant I had to abandon all posts, and get back to you as soon as I could, Princess.

Princess Celestia: Cruce and Safiri are kind spirits, Impulse. But their coming to this world from another may have unleashed a chain of unspeakable events.

Princess Luna: And what of Reigh, Sister? You remember...

Princess Celestia: Yes, the small one with the Cross-sword, was it?

Impulse: The Cross-shaped weapons are something I heard about from Safiri. From what she's told me, I believe they're used as keys to leap from world to world, opening this Strayer Void. She and Rush recognized the true danger of the void as the Storm. But the Strayer Void had opened once on its own accord. It was the reason Rainbow Dash was taken away.

Rainbow Dash: (I thought it was just the weather acting all funny...)

Princess Luna: Well, then we know little about the first void. We know that Cruce opened one, and Reigh another, sending the Elements of Harmony beyond it.

Princess Celestia: And the last void?

Impulse: Hm... I don't know... Safiri and Rush explained a lot of stuff to me about why Cruce would open it. I know nothing about Reigh, but Cruce would only open the void to return one of his friends to the neighboring world: Safa. But then, how did Rilia and Slianna come here without passing through the Strayer Void? And Darkness? Darkness is an outside force as well. It doesn't make any sense...

Princess Celestia: When we spoke with Rush, it sounded to me like he was very well informed about these kinds of things. I suggest that we carry on with our searches, for time is of the essence.

Impulse: Well put. Soon enough, time will cease completely. We don't feel its effects yet, but... that's coming.

Pinkie Pie: ...[Still holding her head.] What...?

Rainbow Dash: Wait wait, what's gonna happen? Time's gonna stop?

Impulse: I can feel it slowing down. If we don't act soon, the gears'll stop entirely.

Pinkie Pie: But that's awful!

Rainbow Dash: What do we do?! How can we stop something like time?!

Pinkie Pie: But I thought we didn't WANT time to stop! Oohhhh, my head's gonna start spinning. Gotta hang in there...!

Rainbow Dash: And how do you know so much about all this, Impulse?

Star Pony: He's a special one. Impulse is the Star Pony of Time, neither positive or negative. He's a neutral Star Pony. Very rare.

Pinkie Pie: IMPULSE IS A STAR PONY?! [Her head creaks a little bit.] Oops. [She fixes it back into place.]

Princess Luna: Pinkie, we did discuss this beforehand...

Pinkie Pie: Oh, I know. I just thought every good reveal needed a priceless reaction.

Rainbow Dash: (Impulse... a Star Pony... How?)

Impulse: I really detest the idea of deceiving everypony, but it's true. I'm a Star Pony who was given the task of defending the Princesses, making sure that time always flowed as they saw fit. With Celestia controlling the sunrise, and Luna controlling the moon, someone had to take on the “movement” aspect of all of that. That was me. I was in charge of the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff...

Star Pony: And he can't do very well with it when the whole world is like this.

Princess Celestia: When there is no sun...

Princess Luna: When there is no moon...

Cadance: When there's no harmony...

Impulse: Princess. When we find Rush, shall I send someone back in time?

Princess Celestia: Even with time coming to a grinding stop, you think that it would be wise?

Impulse: It is our only move, isn't it?

Princess Celestia: Yes, but... It is very dangerous...

Pinkie Pie: Wait a minuto! Didn't Twilight send herself back in time that one time? She learned some kinda spell in Star Swirl's big 'ol library!

Impulse: Twilight's a strong girl, but traveling through time now would be like trying to swim through molasses. It's too thick; too much for any unicorn, even someone as talented as her. If she tried, she would become lost in the paralyzed currents of time forever.

Pinkie Pie: Oh... [Her ears lower.] And... it's not like she wants to help us anymore...

Rainbow Dash: (Twilight... Darkness is doing something to you. I'll get you back myself if I have to. Applejack, Fluttershy, you too. Hang in there.)

Impulse: What? Why? What happened to her? And all of your friends, for that matter? Where are they?

Pinkie Pie: [She sniffles...] …

Impulse: ...I'm... sorry, I didn't mean to step on sensitive ground.

Cadance: It's alright, Impulse. Pinkie told us what happened. Twilight and her friends were captured by Darkness. They've been forced to do some bad things already, like attack Celestia. Twilight would never do that. They have some kind of control over her.

Princess Celestia: I agree. It is my hope that we will prevent any of this from ever happening. That includes the miserable things that Darkness has done to Twilight and her friends. [Gives a sympathetic look to Pinkie.]

Pinkie Pie: ...Hold on... [Her head perks up.] We saw Rainbow Dash right before things went to crazytown! She looked all scary, remember?

Princess Celestia: Yes. [She nods, turning her head to “Vesse”.] She may still be out there. I hope she is well. She has seen many tiring things... To go beyond this world is something I can only imagine. Perhaps she is doing her best to help heal Twilight's mind.

Pinkie Pie: I hope so. Ooooh, I hope they're all okay...

Impulse: Me too... Well, Star? You're the trophy scout for finding me. Think you can find Rush?

Star Diver: What does he look like?

Impulse: You'll know him when you see him. Small guy, got a red body. Jet boot things. Laser sword. Real snazzy gear. You'll find Safiri with him too, and that should make Ri and Slianna happier.

Star Diver: ...Snazzy?

Impulse: ...Wh-what? Snazzy's a word.

Star Diver: [She chuckles.] Dork.

Impulse: [He frowns wide.] Hey...

Star Diver: I'll be off. Vesse, you're with me. [She leaves the cabin's lobby.]

Rainbow Dash: Huh?

Impulse: Sounds like she wants you to come with. You must've gotten on her good side.

Rainbow Dash: Or maybe she knows I'm not the type to sit around! Alright! [She flies out of the cabin, joining up with Star Diver outside.]

Pinkie Pie: ...Hmm, you know what? Vesse's voice sounds really familiar. [Gasps!] Do you think maybe that's what Rainbow turned into?! ...Noooooo, that's nutty talk. She would never let herself get that snakey.

Impulse: ...Snakey?

Pinkie Pie: What? Snakey's a word!

Princess Luna: Actually, I don't think it is.

Princess Celestia: Hmm... [Watching the cabin's exit, she ponders over Vesse.]