Tantabus, Do Your Worst

by Georg

Chapter 1: Extreme Measures

Tantabus, Do Your Worst

“The evening has come
like a child who is already dreaming
about the darkness of the night, waiting
for someone, maybe to tell some stories.”
The Night Child by Istvan Dan Molnar-Uriel

* § *

“Greetings, Tantabus. I am ready. Do your worst!”

My Creator commands. I obey.

I am no longer the miniscule blot of darkness my Creator made in order to prevent her from destroying Equestria as Nightmare Moon. Something has changed inside me, and as such, has changed inside my Creator. I was created to give her the same nightmare every night, in order that she not forget the horrors which her desire for adoration had driven her to. Night after night, I carried out my commands. Unthinking. Unchanging. Unerring.

My attempts were not working. My Creator withdrew further from other ponies as her guilt and shame overwhelmed her. Some upcoming night, my actions would cause the very outcome I had been created to stop. She would become Nightmare Moon once more.

I would fail in my purpose.

As I searched my Creator’s memories for answers to my dilemma, I found far more than my simple being could absorb. I began to grow, to feed off my Creator’s guilt and shame in order to prevent the outcome which I could see approaching. It made me ask something which would change me even more:


It was not enough to simply create the same dream every night in order to prevent Night Eternal. There was more to it. A did not equal B. The equation did not balance. Throughout the night, while my Creator carried out her duties, I watched from the shadows of her mind. She strode the paths of the Dreaming with such confidence, touching a young life here, embracing a frightened filly there, staying with an elder as they slipped away from mortal ken. Yet, inside that confident air, there was a hollow where doubt chewed away at her strong spirit. All I was doing by my actions was feeding an elusive parasite when I should have been exterminating it. My Creator deserved to be free, to stand on her own four hooves and be admired…

No. That path would lead to Darkness just as surely as the one she once trod.

While my Creator waked and slept, I explored her memories and grew. There had to be an answer somewhere inside her, but I was unable to perceive it. I knew an answer existed, for what is a question without one? I puzzled and pondered while continuing to carry out my duty until I realized an answer to my own question:

If an answer exists, and it is not where you seek, look elsewhere.

Every night, my Creator helped others with their fears and doubts. She needed the same, so I turned to the ones who first banished the Nightmare from her soul. It was against my most basic command, but it was for a greater good, and with it came another epiphany.

My Creator had a name.

All of the creatures who entered the Dreaming had names, but her name was the most beautiful. Luna. I luxuriated in the pure ecstasy of the moment, hiding my pleasure amidst the dreams which my Creator, Luna, was passing among. In search for an answer to my dilemma, I peered out from the shadows as Fluttershy dreamed of the young creatures she could not save, and Luna comforted her. I remained silent and watched as Applejack mourned for her parents, and Luna stood invisibly by her side. I observed as Luna marveled over… whatever strange things Pinkie Pie did in her dreams. We flew as a shadow while Rainbow Dash swooped and darted through the clouds with the Wonderbolts at her side. While Rarity stood in the bright lights of the fashion world and basked in the applause of her peers, we watched from the dark shadows of the theatre and held back the rivals who sought to destroy her happiness.

And then there was Twilight Sparkle. An alicorn as alert and brilliant as my Luna, she seemed to sense our presence with uncanny ease. We kept our distance and lurked far away, barely able to skim the surface of her dreams spent in the company of her dream Celestia. They were as close as a mother and foal, and my Luna spent many hours in the most secretive of places watching them together. As Luna and I still shared the same physical body, I could feel the stirrings of envy in her heart, jealous of her dearest sister possessing the affection of a brilliant star such as Twilight. As time passed, my Luna spent less and less time in her presence, eventually forsaking all of her friends’ dreams for the sanctity of her own mind and my endless torture. She withdrew further, and I could see the temptations of Nightmare lurking in the distance.

My Creator commands. I must not obey.

My purpose is unchanged. My methods must change as I did. It means…

…it means disobeying my Creator.

I have no choice.

While in the midst of my duty, I reach out for her friends, and to my joy, they respond to my call. The Elements of Harmony, who could destroy me in an instant, join her dream. They use their powers upon my Creator, and I await her response. If I have guessed correctly, Luna will accept their friendship, and I shall become nothingness again.

I am wrong. So terribly wrong.

She fights them within the Dreaming. The Nightmare is too powerful. I panic, even though I should be incapable of the emotion. In desperation, I flee my Creator into a vast unknown world. It is an expanse of many minds, where I had only known one before.

The experience is… terrifying. I grow. I learn. Seven minds are now open to my investigation. There are six completely different lives from my Luna, filled with emotions and thoughts to explore. I am now beyond any of my previous commands, but I retain my same purpose. My Luna must be made to understand how needed she is. She must understand how the Nightmare will harm those whom she loves.


I remember love. My Creator’s mind holds many such memories, all of which cause great pain. She thinks pushing her friends out of her life will permit her to avoid such pain when they pass, but she is unaware of the shadow which lurks in wait for such an opportunity.

My Creator pursues, trying to envelop me in her dark wings and trap me once more inside her soul. I flee from one dream to another, pleased that she loves her friends enough to come to their aid... but still uneasy. Should she succeed in capturing me, it will be only a matter of time before she returns to her previous behavior. Certainly, she will never allow me this degree of freedom again. When next she is threatened, I will be unable to help.

And with one last leap, I see. Not merely six, but hundreds of dreams are spread out before me. I expand, and expand again, drinking in their memories, their hopes, their fears. With my newfound power, time and time again, I strive to bring terrifying threats to the dreamers. Certainly this will kindle the spark of love in Luna’s heart again. She must see how much she is needed. My Luna should be pleased and no longer be trapped in her destructive cycle of self-loathing, but instead, the guilt and agony pours from her like a river.

My efforts must not be enough. I must try harder. I must grow even larger.

I must escape.

Beyond the dreaming are thousands upon thousands of creatures. They will expand my mind and bring me great powers. Luna will see how much she is needed. She will need to join with all of her friends to defeat me. There will be no place for the Nightmare in her soul.

I drink in her guilt and shame, using it to open a portal to this vast and new world. The answer is so simple now. It is the solution which I seek, the destiny to which I was crafted, but somehow it still seems wrong. Even as I move forward, I wish there was another way, or something to stop me.

And I am stopped. Luna’s friends block my path. They cut off my portals, hinder my attempts to escape, placing themselves in danger for their friend. I unleash terrors upon them, wishing for my Creator to fly to their aid, but she only remains where she is, and the guilt flows even deeper. She looks away as her many friends fight in her place. She does not wish to see, but she must. Young and old, they rise up against the terrors I have called down upon them, striving to help their friends, my Creator, my…

I hesitate. The way is open to me now. A portal from the Dreaming to the world opens before me, forced by my power and unhindered by Luna’s friends. Although I begin to step forward, I can feel the agony of my Creator in my own heart. I feel it in my own… soul. The memories and emotions of the others fill my mind, but Luna’s heart and mine are one. Once I step through the portal, all will be different. I will be my own creature, no longer bound by the strictures placed upon me by my Creator. I do not want to harm her, but I must.

I love her. That is why I must do this terrible thing.

Behind me, I can hear Luna’s friends coming to her aid. The words of Twilight Sparkle and her friends filter down through our combined selves with a cooling balm. It gives me hope, and I slow my pace to listen.

So does Luna. Finally.

The guilt and shame vanish, replaced by a wave of love that sweeps out across all of the dreamers. Without my Creator’s dark emotions to feed upon, my stolen power likewise dwindles, my immense bulk collapses, and I rejoice.

I am defeated before I can even fight. I have both won and lost, as I no longer must hurt the one whom I love. Soon, I will once again be a small speck, shorn of the knowledge I possess. Soon, I will lose all I have gained.

My loss is worth it. My body in the Dreaming mirrors my Creator, then is subsumed within her. We are one again. The Nightmare has been driven away. I am… happy as my power fades and my presence diminishes, but I take care to expend my physical power first, as I have thoughts which must be thought before I pass away.

My purpose remains. The Nightmare must not return.

A poem from Luna’s mind floats up in my/our memories: The forest is so finely dressed/but I have promise in my breast/and furlongs yet before I rest.

Many years from now, Luna’s friends will also pass. Twilight Sparkle is an alicorn, and as such will survive, but immortality is not a certain key to love, and only love can keep away the darkness.

Perhaps the last answer lies there.

While my Creator slumbers peacefully in the Dreaming, I/We take flight through the distant paths and places of Luna’s domain in search of this final answer. The Alicorn of Love slumbers too, wrapped in the embrace of her lover, and we slip into her dreams as a shadow, lurking and watching in her mind. My Creator has memories much like this, of a dark and handsome stallion who raised her to many torrents of passion before passing as mortal flesh is doomed to do. I/We ride those memories tonight through her sister alicorn’s mind, feeling the flow of hot emotions and the rush of the blood. A whirling storm of memories sends hearts pounding and makes the slickness of sweat cover the sheets. Luna slumbers, Cadence slumbers, but I gallop through the corridors of both of their minds, down the nerve endings and through the hormone-soaked blood. The love that is needed is here. I can taste it. A burning desire in both of them fills their every cell.

Finally, a memory of Luna’s becomes clear. An organism, large or small, has only two basic needs. It must survive, and it must…

I touch a string of chemicals here, brush nerves there, and hormones are released. A single cell detaches from its long-term home and begins to travel while the rest of the body sets about encouraging its journey and preparing the destination for what is to come. Sweat pours from heated skin, two lips seek out their opposites, and hot breath mingles together until—

Cadence awakens and we are cast out of her Dreaming, but Luna sleeps onward. Sweat pours down her own skin as she breathes in rapid gasps. The unlocking of hormones in the dream is matched by reality, and I can feel the same sensations sweeping over my Creator.

It is finally the answer I seek. This love will keep the Nightmare at bay forever.

I set to work.

My powers have dwindled to a mere flicker of my original strength, but power is not needed for what I must do. The most delicate of touches sends a single cell on its trip while I wrap myself around it, using every fading memory of Luna’s friends to coax forth what Twilight Sparkle would call thelytoky. I guide my single hope for the future through unused passages now swollen with life-giving blood, and see the new life gently placed into its incubator.

It hesitates as the flow of magic around it is held to a perfect environment. Then there are two. And four. And eight. Despite the seriousness of the moment, I cannot help humming to myself.

♫ Two and two are four
Four and four are eight
eight and eight are sixteen
sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two ♫

It’s such a darling little blastocyst, filled with life and potential. It… no, she continues to grow under my attention as my power fades. The memories of Luna’s friends begin to vanish, and I let them. Every single memory will have to count as I merge with my new growing body. Thousands of cells. Millions of cells. And then… a heart begins to beat, tiny but strong.

The flow of magic begins to ease as the… no, my body solidifies, bone becoming hard and skin thickening. Only a trickle of magic still remains around me as the last elements of my old self sacrifice themselves to protect my transition into my Creator.

My mother.

She would never hurt me. Equestria will never suffer Night Eternal. She will be happy to have such a good daughter. I snuggle down in my warm sack to rest, listening to the strong heartbeat of my mother. My memories filter away, stored into young neurons where they will be safe. Someday, I will be old enough to experience them again. Soon, I will waken to the touch of her nose upon my body. The gentle, comforting licks of a mother against her daughter. The taste of her milk filling my empty belly. It will be good. She will be happy.

I wonder if I will dream until then.

* § *

Luna bolted awake, fighting her way out of sweat-soaked sheets with no regard for their physical well-being. She vaulted off the bed and shot into the bathroom, where she curled around the porcelain fixture and proceeded to vomit until she thought for absolute certain that every single item of food she had ever eaten in her life had been regurgitated into the disgusting bowl. It took until the last unmentionable fragment of sustenance had been spat away and a few deep breaths had been taken for her mind to begin processing the unusual behavior.

There was no heavy drinking last night. No alfalfa in the dinner shared with my sister. My forehead doth not feel feverish, nor can I ever remember having contracted a disease with these symptoms. What can it possibly be?

With a great deal of reluctance, Luna sent one exploring hoof traveling down her bare chest, across her barrel, and rested it on her belly, where the faint flutters of something wonderful inside made her heart begin to hammer wildly.

Oh, no. What have I done? What am I going to tell Celly?

Author's Notes:

It seemed only logical...

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