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Similar Deviations
False afflictions
running sharply from your tongue
embracing my aching heart
crushing it to dust

Evidence you created
emerging from your mouth
tears rolling down the valleys of your face
brow furrowed in desperate screaming

Appearing for all the world
as the victim of self satisfaction
your rage making almost truths
from disconnected incidents

Real world affections
rolling out of me and over you
mean nothing
like raindrops in the ocean.
Fear, False evidence appearing real.

Fear can make us see things that aren't there, and it can destroy relationships. I've never had any experience first hand with this, but I've watched it happen and its so sad.

This came to mind after a conversation I had last night.
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I was ready to take my place as the world’s last fertile woman. Scientists had worked for 4 years genetically altering my body, while simultaneously extracting and freezing about 500 of my eggs. I could now grow to superhuman feats, my uterus could hold thousands of pounds, my skin would never rip open from inhuman stretching, and my legs would be able to stretch far out without pain, and able to support my body weight for most of my pregnancy. My body was manipulated, now my brains main function is to keep my organs working, and my uterus working to develop a full term pregnancy with extremely big and healthy babies in roughly a month’s time, though the scientists weren’t certain on the exact amount of gestation time. I was now ready to grow a belly filled with at least five hundred large babies.
I was transported to a facility with plenty of space, thousands of square feet wide and twenty feet tall. I was placed on a large bed, with an iron foundation, and a very comfortable yet firm mattress.  The facility was built specially for me, as I would be spending the next thirty years breeding for Earth. I laid down comfortably, my womb injected with my 500 babies.  
Over the next two days my belly swelled into the size of an average full term pregnancy, with a popped out belly button, extremely firm to the touch. I enjoyed rubbing my belly, massaging it with lotion, trying to get every inch. I would just watch it all day, I could see the growth. Three days later I looked to be carrying big quadruplets. One of my favorite activities would be to simply walk around with a bra and pants on, but no shirt, cradling my huge belly constantly with my back arched. I loved how firm it was, I knew every inch of my womb was occupied with life. The growth is a slow and gradual process that happens over the day. I wear very tight spandex which becomes almost translucent over my tummy, and have a grand old time when it rips open by the end of the day. I sleep with my belly exposed, usually on my side, and it takes quite a bit more of the bed by the morning. Two days later and I’m done with the first week of my pregnancy, my belly is a massive ball of flesh, super firm, no kicking yet. My belly button also grows with the added pressure, somewhat comical, a tennis ball protruding in front of this huge womb. When I lay on my back all I see is this beautiful belly, when I sit up I get to rub a lot of it as it sits far over my legs.
Over the next three days I went from octuplets to what looked like twenty healthy babies, healthy fluttering babies. Imagine the feeling of fluttering wings, and multiply it by 500, I imagined this was my “fourth” month of pregnancy. One of the scientists did an ultrasound. Twenty bottles of ultrasound goo later and my belly was shiny and covered up, it took a few ultrasound technicians to cover most of my belly. I just sat back and enjoyed the sensation of wands dancing over my super taut skin. All of the embryos seemed perfectly healthy, plenty big, if not larger than average. I got up, which for now wasn’t an issue thanks to my extraordinary body, and headed for my indoor swimming pool. I sat on the steps of the shallow end and slowly submerged my belly into the shallow water. My belly hit the ground of the shallow end and was still decently high above the water’s surface. I laid back, eyes closed, stroking what I could of my belly, and dozed off.
Waking from my sleep I noticed my belly was a good five inches higher above the water than it was before. I eased myself out and checked the time, it had only been about eight hours. Over the next three days my babies movement got a lot stronger, and my belly shot forward a lot. It was so far in front of me that I had to walk extremely carefully, but of course it ended up knocking everything over. I had a team of professional massage therapists work the far end and sides of my belly with a warm lotion. I requested a lot of belly button work, as it was so distended and swollen from the babies in the front kicking it all day. My belly hasn’t obstructed my view yet, it’s just very long and wide, but I know it will start to grow much higher rather than longer. It grew a wider and longer over the next day, I estimated by babies to be about five and a half months developed based on the strength of the kicks. Three days later I knew I was six months gone, my belly was now almost over the edge of my enormous bed. I simply lay on my side, belly way out in front of me, stroking what I can and enjoying warm massages. The amniotic fluid can be heard constantly sloshing about, and subtle movements seen over every inch of my gorgeous tummy. I just wish I could cradle every inch of my belly, but I always hug as much as possible, I can tell these babies love me a lot. The euphoria is truly indescribable, every movement feels amazing, I feel so gorgeous knowing that every single inch of this incredible belly is life.
Over the next week my belly really started getting high, it grew about three feet above me, before it wasn’t obstructing my view at all but now all I can see is tummy. It grew much wider too, if I sat up in the middle of my bed, the sides of my belly would be covering over half of it, and it was all I could see directly in front of my face, eye level with me. I was told my belly button was enormous too, really red from the babies stretching it out with their legs constantly, it didn’t hurt but I could feel the soreness of it. I had an ultrasound done, with twenty ultrasound technicians using a specially built machine that had twenty different wands attached, and fifty gallons of ultrasound jelly being generously lathered all over my dome, feeling absolutely amazing thanks to my now very sensitive skin, the scientists estimated I had a week and a half to go, although it was going to be up to my uterus to contract on itself, and that I may go overdue, even a week or two. Breaking my water forcefully was not safe given the size of this pregnancy, and a c section was completely out of the question, there was no way to medicate my huge body enough to not be fatal to the babies. Luckily the genetic modifications made me very resistant to pain, my legs and hips stretching way out to accommodate the belly and the sheer size of it weighing down on me didn’t cause me any pain, I knew I would be fine.
A week and a half later, it’s my due date, and no contractions. My belly is way over the edges of the bed now, far and wide, and a good three more feet above my eye level. It constantly quivers with babies who are desperate to get out, but they’re going to have to be patient, and as for me, I wish they could stay in forever. Not to fret though, 500 offspring isn’t enough to keep Earth populated, and I know I’m going to be doing this for a LONG time. I’ve taken my big belly to the pool, which is filled up completely with it. The chlorine free water feels incredible on my skin and my babies really enjoy it. Two days passed, nothing, my belly growing a little bit bigger each day, my high nutrient diet and super human uterus making them quite chubby. Day after day, it grows bigger, a week more and it’s another foot wide tall and long. And finally, after two more days, my water breaks, nearly flooding the room. I’m taken to the birthing chamber, and my belly is hoisted up so that I’m free to birth. The contractions aren’t very painful, they’re not pleasant, mostly just pressure, and I can feel these babies going through my birth canal in a single file line, one by one, they slide out easily with my stretchy skin. Push after push, over the next four hours, I’ve given birth to five hundred big, beautiful, healthy babies.  Of course I love them all, I’ve bonded with them, and they will know who I am, but they’re going to extensively interviewed families all over the world. After birth my belly is still as big as it was when it was occupied, I’d have to wait for it to contract to normal before I could begin my next pregnancy, but I was ready to start again. I’m definitely going to enjoy the first week more this time, simply because I get to cradle my whole belly, of course being barely able to by the end of that week. This first five hundred were a beta test of sorts, a lot more than five hundred, and multiply that by nine, 4500 babies are born each year, so I’ll be expecting a bigger and better belly in the near future.
Just a generic belly expansion short story. I'm not a great writer, but this is a good way for me to get to visualize my fantasies better, and if you like it, it's a win win. As I always will be, sorry for any grammar/spelling mistakes, and if the switching from past and present tense is confusing. My stories aren't meant to follow any style of writing, I don't spend an hour proof reading, it's just for my enjoyment, and hopefully yours.
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When my eyes are closed
  You are there to love me
But awake I've found that
  I just can not believe
 Do you really love me?
   I can only hope it
 I'm lonely on my own and
   I hope that I can cope it
  Boys, I really love you
    And girls I hate to say
  It's hard to fall in love
    When no one knows you're gay
I wish it really was raining men...
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A young girl of the age of four
Sat silently on the kitchen floor
Eating cookies to her hearts content.
Unaware of any ill intent.

She ate until she could no more,
And quickly moved up off the floor,
She put her vice back in its stash
For her room she quickly dashed.

As she walked through the room,
She heard a voice mutter "doom"
Unsure of it she couldn't see,
What in this world could it be?

But the darkness made her blind,
No trace was there for her to find
So warily she kept on walking,
And silently it continued stalking,

Her heart raced as she peered,
Pace quickened as she steered.
Not stopping for any hesitation,
Kept heading for her destination.

In her room, door slammed shut,
Her imagination cought in a rut,
Of horrors recently conceived,
Monsters so vivid she believed,

Then as the  floor boards creeked.
Overcome she quickly peeked.
Nothing seen, nothing moving,
but the danger was ever looming.

But she kept staring,
Nostrils flaring,
Struck down by fear,
Horrible images did appear.

In her room, door locked shut,
In her bed she curled up.
Watching shadows on her wall,
Tightly clutching her favorite doll

She noticed something oddly prying
Something watching, something spying.
It started creeping towards her bed,
She stiffened with a sudden dread.

She shut her eyes so very tight,
Not sure if she'd survive the night.
She felt it graze her tiny arm,
Triggering every alarm.

And as she wished her mom goodbye.
She couldn't help but begin to cry.
Then the beast licked her little head
And she knew she'd soon be dead.

Then it let out a fearsom mew,
And finally she thought she knew,
So her eyes flung open wide,
To find her kitten by her side.
A suspensfull tale of a little girl and what took place during her late night cookie raid.
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You are
sugar
on my
coffee.
But
sugar
makes me
sick.
Sugar
makes me
weak.
So I
prefer
black coffee.
And now
I hate
sugar.

You are
the cream
on my
chocolate.
But cream
makes me
fat.
And
that is
a fact.
Cream
makes me
fat.
So I
hate
cream.

Sugar
you are.
Dream
and
cream.
Delicious
yet
atrocious.
So I
hate
sugar
and
cream.
:giggle:

i think it has symbolism in there, and some meter too. i'm not really sure. But still, i hope you like it!
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June 7th

My parents dropped a nuclear bomb on me today, but I'll get to that in a minute.

A few new developments - no, that isn't meant to be a pun - but where to begin? Most importantly, I think, the clinic has set me up with a house. They're paying the rent and the water and electric for the duration of my pregnancy. It's nice. There aren't any video cameras monitoring my every move, anyway. At least I don't think there are. Of course, the clinic can reach me there any time they have to. The house is near campus, it's comfortable enough and I've been told that arrangements have been made for me to study at home when I get so big I can't move.

Well, they didn't put it like that, exactly, but it's what they meant. As I think I've said already, Dr. Yamada and the others have an odd sort of etiquette when it comes to telling me things, as if they think I can't translate from scientist-speak. It's weirdly endearing, when it isn't frustrating as hell.

I'm filling up pretty quickly now. Nothing's in motion yet, so I'm just feeling very heavy and, well, pregnant, although that's meant in more than the literal way. I'm not sure how to explain it properly. I've experienced more than my share of morning sickness at this point, but I'm not going to tell you about that, and anyway, who would want to hear about it in the first place?

(I realized just now that I keep writing "you," but who exactly do I mean by that? Not the doctors, and not you, because you're just a laptop computer, but that's all we are when you get down to it, right? Meat computers, programmed, ultimately, to reproduce? I don't know. If it's true, I must be a Pentium 20 or something. Maybe all this is meant for some past version of myself so she'll know what to expect, like that probe they sent out from Voyager with all the animal sounds and music. Like a time capsule, only in reverse. End of tangent.)

I don't know how I'm going to make it through another eight months of this. I can picture myself, immobile, packed full to bursting with babies, my little spider-limbs finally outdone and comically useless. Like Lilith, or Gaea, or Shub-Niggurath (without all the tentacles). Entire cults of black-robed Internet fetishists chanting my name.

So. As for this impending cataclysm I promised I'd tell "you" about. I've been calling home every Saturday since I moved overseas. My parents are, of course, overly concerned with their daughter's welfare. I don't mind so much. Everyone needs a little coddling once in a while. Today went much as past calls had - until my mother, entirely out of the blue, broke the news to me: my little sister, Bai, who I'm pretty sure I've mentioned somewhere previously, is coming to stay with me for a while. Three weeks, in fact.

"It'll do her a world of good to see her sister in America," Mom said. Or something to that effect. "You'll just need to meet her at the airport, and I'm sure you have a spare room in that house you're renting out of your stipend."

"Ah," I said.

That's the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but an ah.
"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
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"Rainbow Dash, Rarity Belle... let me cut right to the chase. To be different, truly DIFFERENT, has nothing to do with appearances, tastes, abilities, species, or little personality quirks. Being different means to have a barrier erected between your heart and others'...Like the both of you have."

"What?" They ask together of course, eyes wide.

"What do you mean by that?"

"My word," Was all Rarity could say.

"I will explain, in time, but first let's talk more about what being different ISN'T, The characteristics ponies THINK sets them apart from others, but ultimately are but sand lines in the surf."

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series 'Princess Celestia'
Different From Everypony Else
Part 2 of 2

++++

I am Doctor Freudian Excuse. And I am currently facing the most painful trial of my life.

"So remember: being crazy is all in your head! The only reason all those nasty thoughts aren't going away is because you're not thinking enough NICE thoughts! Positive thinking; that's the key! Smile all your problems away! Make that your life's new motto, and drill it into all your patients' heads, and watch their neuroses melt away! Say it with me: Positive Thinking!"

Doctor Hoof Wave did not stop smiling the entire time. My eyes wandered to the duck cutie mark squarely on Dr. Hoof Wave's flanks.

"QUACK! QUACK!"

"Who let that duck in here-?!"

How can somepony repeat the same thing in slightly different ways for over an hour? Each more banal than the last?

If I had to see another 'happy face' slide I might need therapy.

Thankfully the slideshow finally ended. Unfortunately, his smile stayed where it was. This convention was becoming painful.

As Hoof Wave stepped down from his soapbox (where was that podium we were promised?) Dr. Head Scratcher asked:

"Dr. Hoof Wave, I must voice some, er, concern about your methods."

"Oh no need to worry, I come from a long proud line of experts in positive thinking."

I had to say. "Your biography said that your parents were circus clowns, and they begged you to pursue any profession but psychology."

"Oh, you read it?" Hoof Wave grinned wider.

"It was the only reading material in the lobby. And you wouldn't let anyone in until you had your preparations done remember?"

"Positive thinking must have perfect timing!"

"That's comedy!"

"Same thing." The 'good' doctor collected his equipment. "Well, I'll see you around! Got to host a lecture on teaching magic kindergarten. Busy, busy, busy!"

Dr. Head Scratcher looked at me. "Why are we here again?"

"Because it was this, or five hours of Dr. Ego's latest speech on why sapient thought does not exist."

"It really doesn't exist after the first two hours."

"You lasted a whole two hours?"

"I've built up an immunity."

"Maybe we try Dr. Id again?"

"Don't even joke."

I personally don't get why psychologists even have conventions in Equestria. All we do is argue, it's a wonder Windigos haven't froze us solid yet.

"Hey, where's the rice pudding?" Declared an Earth pony with an hour glass cutie mark pushing alongside us.

"Ugh. How does he keep getting in here? His credentials are different each time!" Head Scratcher exasperated.

"And how would you know that?"

"I'm properly paranoid." Head Scratcher replied.

Who was that pink haired white pegasus with the smiling sun cutie mark and thick glasses who kept appearing at these things? She always seemed to be everywhere.

+++

I'm happy that Twilight and, to an extent, Applejack, have been considerate enough not to reveal the true identity of Sunny Day to the world at large,(even if I have to customize her a little for certain events). Creating avatars has always been Lulu's forte. Hers always function with a commendable level of autonomy, Mine barely move without elaborate preprogramming. NO! I did not use an avatar to spend the day with Twilight! I would never do that. I simply create one when I need do paperwork and be somewhere else to learn new things.

+++

"What do you mean the chariot ride to Ponyville's canceled?!" Head Scratcher snapped at the unresponsive Day Guard.

"We've been experiencing some, er, rogue weather erm, doctor, I'm afraid you're going to have to rely on ground transportation."

On the road back to Ponyville we saw what they meant. Pink clouds raining chocolate milk? What insane unicorn was responsible for this? Knowing our luck we'd have to deal with the culprit after Princess Celestia cleaned the mess up!

Head Scratcher must already be trying to deduce what form of chemical imbalance the culprit suffers from. Head Scratcher always assumes that all mental ailments stem from some physical, tangible deficiency. Bad body chemistry, genetic defects, or some pathogenic disease... that sort of thing.

Me? Let's just say I didn't pick my name out of a hat. TLC says we balance each other out.

But this wasn't our worst problem.

"ISN'T IT GREAT HOW WE'RE GETTING TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER?!" Dr. Hoof Wave cheered as he hugged us both in the carriage we had rented.

Apparently Canterlot had decided to dump Hoof Wave on Ponyville (us) where 'everypony is crazy anyway' ("Why else would they go around naked?"). How this stallion held onto his license I'll never know.

The asylum was built far outside what had been a simple peaceful hick town.... (once upon a time,) Still, our humble sanitarium had never housed all that many patients. I remember some doctors suggesting to close us down and let Ponyville Hospital take on the mental patients in full. This would've been disastrous. While Ponyville Hospital did have a mental ward, it was a small, downright temporary affair. I dread our more dangerous patients being there.

Ponies! Some of them thought mental illness was something that just happened randomly and passed just as randomly... like rough weather. Then there were the ones who thoughts ponies were just born crazy and there was nothing to be done for them. Don't get started on the 'just a phase' crowd!

As far as medical practitioners went, we were below proctologists. Ponies didn't acknowledge our existence unless they had to. The asylum wasn't list even on Ponyville's official map!

Sorry, sorry, I suppose I was ranting a bit there. Every profession has its own 'hidden world' shielded from respectable society. If more ponies accepted us, maybe we'd catch some cases early enough to treat.

We returned to the asylum to find 'Screwball' still in her cell (for once). Maybe the new locks were actually going to hold her in this time. 'Barking Mad' had made a mess again. And 'Creepy Crawlie' had clearly skipped his medication again; lapsing into his usual rants about "the bugs."

Roid Rage and the other Orderlies hadn't caused any trouble according to our intern Tender Loving Care, nicknamed TLC. We'd hired her because she was the only pony I could find working on her doctorate with a black belt in Neighponese karate.

I HATED the convention, but it had been mandatory. At least it'd only lasted a day. What idiotic bureaucrats were monkeying with our branch of Equestrian medicine and why hadn't Princess Celestia reassigned them to Stalliongrad yet?

++++

For the record, I since have. I was sure to send them a cup of hot cocoa as a welcoming present. Heh. Though it might have been more of a frozen popsicle by then. I'm sure they enjoyed the scarves though.

++++

One patient saw the mad weather outside her window and complained that her medication wasn't working. Another worried he was relapsing.
It was surreal to actually tell them what they were seeing was real for once.

That was when the most garish, painful, and out-of-tune mockery of music invaded our asylum.

I began to suspect I was hallucinating until I asked TLC and Head Scratcher confirmed what I was seeing. Shared hallucinations don't work the way most sci-fi novel antagonists 'say' they do. Nope; what was happening was very real. And that was not a good thing.

Marching like the lead of a parade was a one-monster-band chimera. Head of a horse, and several other pieces, 'dragon-horse', a 'draconequus.' It was headed straight for our front door. The therapy staff gathered.

It pulled out a microphone from nowhere, tapped it, the noise of his claw hitting it coming out of our own intercom system, and called out, "ATTENTION, EVERYPONY, ESPECIALLY THE MENTALLY DERANGED AND CRIMINALLY INSANE! AS OF TODAY YOU ARE RIGHT AND EVERYPONY ELSE IS WRONG! CRAZY IS THE LAW OF TODAY, YESTERDAY, TOMORROW, AND THURSDAY-AFTER-MEALTIME!"

Inside Screwball cheered.

Hoof-Wave stared like an idiot. Head Scratcher's jaw fell from his muzzle. TLC paled. The orderlies hide inside. My mind went blank.

"Who are you? What are you? And what do you think you're doing here?" Head Scratcher finally built up to nerve to speak to the towering freak of nature.

We should have noticed the day and night going mad too, but we already at our shock limit I think. The chimera tossed off the instruments that continued (tragically) to play without his help. He put on a pair of sun glasses, and assumed a pose of great self-importance. "I, am Discordance Apophis Typhon. Or just Discord. I am the Spirit of Disharmony. I'm here to help liberate some ponies you've been trying to inconsiderately force to your way of thinking. Now would you all please step aside so I can get started? I'm about two thousand years behind schedule."

"Not happening," TLC declared boldly, her horn glowing brightly. "These are our patients and you're not taking them anywhere."

Discord grinned so wide his whole head should have fallen off. "I was so hoping you'd say that."

I braced myself.

Discord snapped his fingers. I heard every asylum slam open. Screwball was out and about in nanoseconds. Barking Mad barreled out, barking happily. Creepy Crawlie trotted out to escape 'the bugs.'

The chimera vanished from sight and reappeared behind us. He slammed a soundproof glass dome on top of TLC, that quickly proved impervious to all physical and magical attacks.

"HEY! What do you think yer doin'?!" Roid Rage snapped at the intruder, the fact it was a impossible creature meant little, I suppose.

"Oh a tough guy? Oh put'em up! Oh put'em up!" Boxing gloves appeared on Discord paws as he made several amateur boxing moves.

"Ya think this is a joke smart guy-?!"

Discord's punching gloves hit Roid repeatedly while Discord got himself a drink from a minibar floating next to him, drinking the glass then letting the contents burn a hole in the ground. Roid kept bouncing back into the creature's fist. His lower body was now a inflatable boxing dummy.

As that happened, Discord looked at Screwball with a blink as she trotted by. He gave a strange smile and zapped her beanie, causing her to suddenly begin flying with it like a helicopter blade. "There you go beautiful, enjoy yourself," He said, throwing her up and allowing her to buzz around.

Discord yawned and snapped his fingers and Roid was back to normal and more angry than I had ever seen him.

Then Discord's shadow tapped Roid Rage on the shoulder and punched him out when he turned around to look, then high-fived Discord.

The other orderlies leapt at Discord all at once and vanished into a dust cloud of violence.

"That's it, boys! Keep it up!" Shouted Discord, suddenly next to us in a director's chair, wearing glasses and a beret, shouting through a megaphone.

"Excuse me, but I think I know what your problem is," smiled Dr. Hoof Wave. "You clearly aren't thinking positively enough. So you're seeking to compensate for your negative outlook. But you can generate your own positivity! Make yourself happy! So there's no need to cause public disturbances to validate yourself."

"Oh really?" Asked Discord rubbing his hands together sounding eager and enlightened. He snapped his fingers and appeared on a therapy couch.

"Oh yes. Your attitude is clearly a result of a bad relationship with your mother, a negligence from your father, plus your siblings sent mixed signals by both being kind and hazing you, willy-nilly, thus, you're not able to discriminate between playful teasing and malicious misbehavior. And I think a happy relation with your foster family on the side that came to a tragic end."

Discord gasped and slapped his paws to his face, "OH! Oh my! Oh my indeed!" It was the worst acting I've even been subjected to, and Hoof Wave just lapped it all up. Or maybe his face was just permanently frozen in that smile. "I can't believe it! You got it all right! I feel so much better now! I feel like a brand new me! How can I ever thank you, doctor?!"

"Oh it's good enough to help a troubled soul in need."

"I have some friends who could use your help too. Would you like to meet them?"

"I'd love to!"

"Okay!" He slammed a small black box on top of Hoof Wave. No, 'black box' doesn't cover it. It was like looking into a hole in the universe! No light reflected off it and it had no shadow.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Head Scratcher gasped.

"Just introducing him to some friends. Residents of My Mother, really." He jammed a funnel on top of the 'black box' and blew a dog's whistle. Out of nowhere countless shadows -- ponies, dragons, griffins and more besides! -- flowed down through the funnel, into the box. We heard Hoof Wave scream. Then silence.

Discord removed the box. Hoof Wave stood there, colored all gray now, with an expressionless face, stared into nothing.

"...Life has no meaning. Our existences are pointless flashes in the ever-expanding darkness..."

"Seems they helped you too." Discord patted him on the head. He didn't respond.

We shared a looked of horror. I took back every last stupid thing I thought about his stupid smile. Then I noticed TLC's breaths were getting shallow and her motions sluggish. I began to beat futilely on the glass. I looked back at Discord.

"LET HER OUT! She's suffocating!"

"Oh is she? I must have forgotten to drill air holes. Silly me. I always seem to forget those. Bad Discord." he playfully slapped himself.

TLC's eyes dimmed.

"STOP IT PLEASE! Let her out!" I begged.

"Whoa--kay." The glass vanished with a pop. TLC gasped in fresh air. She fired a bolt of magic shaped like a hypodermic needle right at Discord. He CAUGHT IT with his bare hands! He twisted it into a bow. "Now, now. Silly filly. A little girl like you shouldn't play with sharp object. All HELPLESS, and unable to do a THING to help anypony."

"I am not helpless!"

"Oh yes you are. Always have been. All your self defense classes, all your learning, have been a waste of time. No matter what you do, it's never good enough is it? You're always helpless. A helpless little foal. Scared to be all alone . Always needing others when she says she can take care of herself. What a silly little baby. Aren't you?" Discord's eyes began to swirl different colors. TLC's eyes did the same.

"Silly...little...ba-ba..."
The centers of her eyes went huge and...she began to suck on her rear hoof.

"Tender!" Dr. Head Scratcher cried going to her side, then smelled her soiling herself. "MONSTER!"

With a finger, Discord flicked him back into the wall next to the front door, leaving an impression. "Oh, I'm not a monster, I'm just...morally unique."

The orderlies were still fighting, but now looked like rubber hose cartoon characters slamming into each other mindlessly.

Screwball came down and decided to join in the fun and tied them together like they were rope. "YIPPIE! THIS IS FUN! LET'S DO THIS SOME MORE! OH WHAT A CUTE AND BIG BABY!"

TLC began to wail like a newborn. "LOUD BABY! BAD!" Screwball backhoofed her, she cried louder, Screwball back hoofed her again.

"GOLDEN TIARA STOP IT!" I jumped to tackle her. Discord plucked me up between two claws.

"Now now, let her have her fun. It's not nice of you, trapping all these poor ponies inside just for the crime of thinking differently. How rude. I think you, and your friends, all need a change in perspective." Discord pulled a battery powered drill and put on a surgeon's mask. "This will only hurt for a second! So be sure to struggle and squirm a whole lot!" The drill bit began to spin as he brought it close to my head.

++++

Before the wave of rainbow light came, I had burned all of my own medical notes, turned all my furniture upside down and glued the carpet on the ceiling. I had thrown my beloved collection of drinking-birds off the roof of my house telling them to fly, they hadn't.

Head-Scratcher had painted all the walls polka-dots while TLC had acted like a unicorn toddler (with the magic reserves of an adult mare!) gleefully reeking confusion.

I found out my parents had been brainwashed to think they were five years old again and were in Nurse Redheart's care for bones they broke trying to climb a jungle gym. I didn't have time to visit them.

Barking Mad was confused when her family stopped acting like dogs and began acting like ponies again and carefully led her back to the Asylum.

It was a good thing Earth Ponies were made of iron. Screwball had fallen out of the sky when her propeller stopped lifting her through the sky. At least she didn't struggle when we found her.

It took a while to get Creepy Crawlie out of the hole we found him in. At least he was himself for another twelve hours after taking his pills. It hadn't helped Discord had made his delusions real.

Hoof Wave, I helped him sit down in one of the waiting room. He hadn't spoken since the wave of rainbow light had reversed the chaos. I don't want him to tell me what he saw.

A red in the face TLC had thrown any memento from her childhood she had into the garbage.

We found someone outside waiting for her: a purple Earth pony filly with a worn donkey doll with a little note book and quill.

"Excuse me. Your job is to help others right? But right now, you look like you're the one who needs help. Wanna talk about it to my little friend? She promises not to tell anypony."

+++

"Yo. Mr. Happy Clown. Can you hear me? I know you can. Don't you ignore me." Spoke a purple adult pegasus, poking Dr. Hoof Wave. "Are we going to have to do this the long and hard way?"

No response.

"Don't turn into a complete jerk on me. Look. So life isn't about ignoring things, and it isn't about overlooking the real problems, and it's not about pretending those problems aren't there, big whoop. Your job to help ponies deal with those problems right?"

No response.

"Geeze. This is going to take a while."

++++

One knock on my office door later (technically mine and Head Scatcher's until mine was back in order), an elderly purple unicorn came in, her mane was all gray.

"Can I help you?" I asked. Head Scratcher was personally double checking our patients.

"No. But I am here to help you and your staff, Dr. Freudian Excuse."




This would be of course where Rarity would look at you, my loyal and faithful interviewers.

She had to ask, "Are any of you even licensed psychologists?"

I said, "They have special dispensation from me, my little pony."

Rainbow Dash snapped, "Now hold on! Are you saying these guys acted as head-doctors for the head-doctors?!"

"Of course. Did you think that ponies who heal minds would be spared? If anything, they'd be the first targets of a monster who delights in -breaking- them! Once I realized Discord was loose again, I issued a royal command to all the therapists I could reach to relocate to neighboring countries and await further instructions, immediately after summoning you all to Canterlot. Not all of them received my orders. And not all the ones who received my orders escaped Discord's eye."

RD tilted her head. "Weren't you three supposed to be writing a book about the six of us and Ponyville?"

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth pony): We were? OW! I mean yes of course we are!)

"What?" Rarity opened her mouth. "Applejack told me that Mayor Mare said it was a weekly documentary and you weren't supposed to be let in until Ponyville had at least recovered to the point of basic functionality again!"

"Now now, you know better than to trust in rumors." I said with perfect elegance and wisdom wearing my most perfect poker face. "That's how gossip gets started."

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Hey Dash, Daring Do was a great book series wasn't it?)

"Huh? Well I'm still reading through it." Then RD smiled and nodded. "But of course it is! I can't put it down!"

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Heh. And it's series worth sharing. It's been great to see you enjoy it now. After everything that happened, I had to transcribe the entire thing from memory! I was really tempted to change a few things. But in the end, it didn't feel fair to the author. OW!)

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): We are getting off-track, Celestia.)

Yes. I believe we most certainly are.

"Young foals like to think that teachers only exist at schools. That they don't go out shopping or have any sort of lives outside the classroom." I was tempted to mention a certain something that symbolized how much Cheerilee was loved by her students but some secrets are just meant to be. I know, I know, I've seen ponies who think themselves secret kings of society use that justification. But there's a difference between foals who have learned their lesson, and ponies who want to want to keep everypony ignorant to a real and present danger. Did you know some powerful ponies tried to make the monsters of Everfree into 'just rumors?' Guess how it ended.

"Adults like to think they've matured past this perception. But too many adults don't really think of psychologists as ponies either. That they exist AS their job, that they don't have families, insecurities, or hobbies of their own. Dr. Head Scratcher's sister in Appleloosa thinks Discord being free was a good thing because she spent it as a seapony. She's sent me twenty-seven letters so far, demanding his release." I see them gasp. And here came the question.

"How could ANYPONY want Discord free?"

"Because she liked being a sea pony. She sent me another twenty-five letters that somehow made it through filtering demanding I use my magic to make her a hippocampus." I left out how enticing the fantasy was of using her as a the first step in select ponies wanting to be remade into a reborn sea-bound tribe.

"How unnatural," Rarity said. I wonder about the telling her the irony of her saying that, considering she had a hippocampus as her direct ancestor (pruney hooves was a tell tale sign even if I hadn't searched each of the bearers family trees after they purified Luna).

"Now, Rainbow Dash. I have shown you illusionary differences. Now let us discuss a very real difference you have place around yourself."

"What?" Rainbow asked in honest confusion.

"You carry inside you a truth that separate you from you fellow pegasi. That you were given the choice: Equestria or Cloudsdale. Of course, everypony 'knows' you were brainwashed into thinking one little cloud was your hometown. With all the delusions running rampant, it's hardly outside the realm of possibility, right Rarity? That 'announcement' before Cloudsdale went stark raving mad must have been just an lie."

"Princess . . . stop . . . please." Rainbow Dash begged, as I reopened up old wounds.
-
A swirlie-eyed pegasus trotted off of Cloudsdale with her wings folded laughing. During free fall she turned upside down. "Look! I'm falling UP!" Her laughing stopped abruptly.
-
"And because you bottled up this difference, it nearly cost you, your dearest friends: not all Nightmares end with a repentant pony. Friends who all forgave you almost instantly. It separated you from your friends, just like at the bottom of your heart it separates you from the pegasi of where you were born."

"Princess enough." Who else but these six would dare say 'Enough,' to 'Princess Celestia?' Their bond smells like Mother. "Can't you see you're hurting her?" Rarity reiterated.

I keep my mask on. I've taken it off far too much lately, even for them. She can't be allowed to see this hurts the sun as much it hurts her.

"What makes you think I can't?" I ask evenly. "So why, Rainbow Dash, after your friends know and have forgiven you, why do you still keep the truth secret from your hometown friends at Cloudsdale?"

"Because I've barely MADE friends with them! I only stopped treating them like a bad memory a year ago! None of them are true blue friends, the way Rarity or Twilight Sparkle are. When Discord told them what I did, they hated me. Threw vegetables and everything. I never want to go through that again!"

"Even after accepting the taint of chaos did addle your thinking like everypony else ? Even if we arrange for you come clean in a controlled environment where the facts aren't being twisted by a master of deception?"

"No! Not even then! Besides, I've made up for my mistake, haven't I? Helped save the world from Discord? From...well, Nightmare Whisper, too? Doesn't that entitle me to SOME leeway? Why go air my dirty laundry? Why dig up old bones? Pegasi NEED an 'infallible' hero they can aspire to! Someone a little more down-to-earth than an omnipotent Alicorn...no offense."

"Yes, you went on to become such an infallible hero, that your friends have had to save you from yourself, TWICE."

"PRINCESS!" Rarity gasped.

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Stop it!)

"So, Rainbow Dash... you've chosen to carry that burden alone forever?"

"She isn't carrying it alone! I'm carrying it too! And so are Pinkie, Twilight, Applejack, Trixie, Fluttercruel and Fluttershy!"

Finally.

I give a small smile but no more. "Be sure to remember that. Isolating yourself when you don't need to doesn't end well. You must either resign yourself to taking this secret to your grave... forever driving a wedge between you and the rest of Cloudsdale... or you could own up to your mistakes. You want to be a hero? Then you have to accept there are sides to yourself you can never show."

"Princess you could tell them all if you really wanted. We couldn't stop you. But it's not really ABOUT Cloudsdale, is it?"

Ah Rarity. She deserves a medal. Most ponies would be too caught up in my diction by now.

"You're right, Rarity. Cloudsdale has been healing piece by piece. They simply want to move on. Yet... pretending it never happened is just as dangerous as digging yourself into a hole."

"Maybe. But I'm still confident that I'm picking the lesser of two parasprites."

"And I'll respect your decisions, whatever they may be. But please consider, Rainbow Dash: you've already accepted that no matter what choice you made, Discord would have still won his game in the maze. Now please accept your own decision. Since when is Rainbow Dash fickle about her choices?"

And that did it. I saw the spark of enlightenment in her eyes.

"Never. I'm never fickle."

"If you want to help Cloudsdale, ask if you're doing it because you're loyal to your fellow pegasi, or because your conscience won't let you rest. And accept that answer. And help those you can help instead of lamenting over those you can't."

(Interview's Notes (Pegasus): Okay! I get all of that! But why are you bringing this up NOW? She just proved she's matured after, er, after everything. Since when does Princess Celestia go out of her way to hurt one of her ponies?)

(Interview's Notes (Unicorn) to (Interviewer Pegasus): For once in your life: shut up. Celestia, I'm sorry.)

"No no no it's, it's okay. I think I needed to hear that."

And there was Rainbow Dash's loyalty, a material so strong that it could only be broken by striking it against itself. Covering one of my eyes with my mane is an old trick, but it works, nopony has to see the sun shed a tear over a rightfully cruel question asked by someone so dear to her. I silently evaporate it.

Rarity asks, "Princess are you alright?" After I said those things to a friend of hers? How generous of her to her goddess.

"I'm perfectly fine my little pony. Thank you."

And my little pony, I don't think I ever thanked you for helping Scootaloo complete her impossible skateboard stunt that managed to land her in Rainbow Dash's front step when both were in their hour of need.

(Whispered Interview's Notes (Pegasus): But I never mentioned that! Oops.)

Heh. You didn't need to. Scootaloo is an artist with her skateboard, but even she couldn't do that kind of jump all on her own, in particular when she was as distracted by the kind of pain she was feeling.

(Whispered Interview's Notes (Pegasus): I just gave her a little boost. It was her idea to visit Rainbow Dash. I just made sure she didn't do anything stupid. Those three, they try so hard they can't see their talents right in front of them.)

That passion will serve them well later in life.

(Interview's Notes (Unicorn): Princess, you've beaten around the bush long enough. You need to tell them. Tell them your real reason for speaking to them. I want them to continue as is too. But we both know that isn't how life works.)

I know.

"Rarity Belle. Rainbow Dash. My little ponies." I take in a deep breath. "Let us now discuss the true heart of why you're here. Both of you have developed the most deadly weapon a pony can have. You now carry inside you the resolve to kill."

The two gasp.

"You think I wouldn't notice? You think I wouldn't know? You are all precious to me. This is a true difference, my little ponies. It isn't one you've placed on yourselves that you can just let go, it isn't an illusion that you can just shatter. This is a difference that is real. And it can not be removed with any flick of magic." I hug them both with my wings. They're startled silent.

"What are you talking about?" RD asks first.

"Kill? Me? Never." Rarity looks aghast at the thought.

I sigh. "You don't need to lie to me. I am not going to hurt you or punish you. Rarity, when you fought Dame Cheerilee to save Sweetie Belle. Rainbow Dash, when you and Rarity both chose to put Nightmare Whisper out of her misery when you believed you couldn't save her. It wasn't just a dumb animal, not some demon or zombie. These were ponies you knew, Fluttershy was someone who helped you save the world twice over. Killing someone that dear to you should be unthinkable. But in both instances, you were doing it out of love for another."

I turn to Rarity.

"For Dame Cheerilee, it borne of your love for Sweetie Belle and others who you felt a responsibility towards, and you reacted in murderous rage. And in the case of Princess Gaia you tried to kill her because you loved her, not because you hated her." Then I sigh in sympathy. "But it was the tinniest bit easier the second time with Princess Gaia wasn't it Rarity?"

Rarity and RD said together. "Don't call her that."

"What she is now, she is, she can't escape it. No more than I can escape what I am."

"Should we call Princess Luna 'Nightmare Moon then?" Rainbow Dash dares to ask.

Over the line.

I narrow my eyes, Rainbow looks ready to soil herself. "I said 'Princess Gaia' not 'Nightmare Whisper.' They are as different as a kiss and a strike to the face, remember that. "

I see their eyes widen as realization begins to creep on them, but RD says quickly to escape that truth. "But we didn't actually kill ANYPONY! So it doesn't count!"

"That is in the eyes of the law, only. Each soul chooses its own path. You had each already made the decision to kill well before those fights ended. And that decision was yours alone, and it will stay with you forever."

My two ponies are in silence as they look at each other, then at me, then at themselves. They don't know what to say. What can they say?

My elder sister planned the roads a black filly, and built all roads as a red mare, and ends them as an old white Alicorn, but my ponies were the ones to choose what route to take. You don't want to see a universe without roads of fate. Believe me, it was much more terrible for mortal than it ever was for the Alicorns.

"You regret," I noted.

"Of course I regret!" Rarity snapped. "When push came to shove I acted like a savage!"

"Savages don't regret," I say. "I've lived a VERY long time, indeed. I've seen how ponykind functioned BEFORE the three tribes, and before the First Age. Before there was any semblance of civilization. Want to discuss savagery, my dear? Try stallions fighting each other to the death to mate with as many mares as possible. Marriage, as you understand it, not existing in any shape or form. And when predators came around, oh, you should have seen it! Herds dispersing like a cloud of mosquitos, racing away in all directions! Every pony for herself! Stragglers who fell behind? Eaten. Unmourned."

I saw the two of them pale. In for a penny, in for a pound.

"Art? Music? Parties? Nonexistent, at that time. THAT is savagery. And... they... had... no regrets! "

The two shuddered.

"Be happy and thankful you, my dear mortal ponies, can afford the luxury of regret. Animals can not understand regret, and Alicorns cannot afford to."

I would be lying if I said I didn't love Twilight like my own filly. I love all my little ponies: from Donut Joe to Pumpkin Cake. Yes Flim and Flam too, though they sadden me.

I was saddened by the death of Blueblood's mother. The same way I felt sadness at the death of Filthy Rich's father and grandmother.

I hate Discord for it, but he's right. I may be a pony, but I'm not one of them. I don't see such deaths as the fading of their hateful influence. All I see, is one of my ponies who left this world still trapped in their darkness.

" On Hearts And Hooves Day So Did Descend The Demi-Alicorn Cupid A Smile On His Face

Tasked By His Mother, Sixth Venustas Ai Astarte, Concept Of Love (All Loves), To Spread Her Message In Her Place

So Did Opportunity Offer Itself To A Young Pegasus, Loathsome That Love Spurned Her Many A Time To Seek Revenge

Forged From Iron Taken From The Chariot Of Tirek Or So She Claimed She Made A Spear With Which Her Wrongs Would Be Avenged

The Demi-Alicorn Cupid Was Not A Warrior, He Was A Messenger, An Archer To Be Sure

But Never Had He Been Forced To Defend Himself Before

With The Spear The Young Pegasus Slew The Demi-Alicorn Cupid, Hate Bringing Worse Than Death

For One Moment Across Creation, All Forgot What It Meant To Love As The Concept Of Love Drew In Breath

What Followed Was For Moment Across Creation Was A Feeling Of Sorrow And Despair

And Anger Of The One Whom The Most Pain Would Bare

Never Had Sixth Venustas Ai Astarte, Concept Of Love (All Loves), Known Loss So That Cut So Deep

Never Had She Known Rage So As When Her Son's Demise Rose Her From Her Sleep

Love Does Not Know Grudges. Love Does Not Know Malice. Love Does Not Know A Selfish Taint.

But It Does Know Loss, And Vengeance. A Mother's Love Knows No Restraint.

So Descended Venus To Retribution Make

So Terrible Was Her Fury That The Earth Itself Did Quake

The Young Pegasus Did Not Know Fear, She Merely Thought, "Now I Shall Slay The Goddess Of Love Herself! As I Did Her Son So Dear"

But Venus Struck Before The Pegasus Could Lift her Spear

With One Stroke Of Her Magic Venus Impaled The Young Pegasus Who Son's Life She Stole

Where A Heart So Young Yet So Black Had Been, Now Was A Heart Shaped Hole

The Young Pegasus Looked Upon Herself In Shock, And Fell To The Ground Having Breathed Her Last

The Young Pegasus' Name Itself Was Wiped Away In Venus' Fury Before The Day Had Passed

So Did Venus Pass Judgement For The Loss Of Her Son Whom She Loved So Dear

Not One Trace Of This Pegasus Remains, Where Her Earth Bound Home Stood Would Lay A Molten Crater Before Her Family Could Shed A Tear

Others Say Venus Did Far Worse Than Send The Pegasus To Her Brother Mortis, Concept Of Death

And Annihilated The Young Pegasus' Old Identity And Self, Stripped Her Of All Who She Was Since Drawing Her First Breath

And Remade Her Into Venus' New Child. Making Her That Which She Hated Now Adore

Others Say She Tasked Her Partner Among The Draconequi, Pandora, Fury of Desire, Make The Pegasus Vanish Forever More.

The Spear Forgotten, Was Taken By Strife, Fury Of Natural Selection.

She Would Give As A Birthday Gift To Her Youngest Sibling With All The Proper Direction.

But None Of The Four Other Draconequi Were Given It To Hold

Venus Took The Remains Of Her Son, And Returned To Her Own Domain Her Sorrow Untold

And Pegasi Across Equestria Felt The Irresistible Urge For Seven Days After To Have It Rain

The Prophets Say, To This Day Venus Wields Her Son's Bow From Her Vista But Could Never Heal Her Pain


I look at the confusion in their eyes. They barely understand a word. I keep forgetting not all of Twilight's friends are like her or Pinkie Pie. These two only know their own lives, their own world.

"That piece was written by Princess Luna before I learned of her identity as Nightmare Moon. I will not say how much Luna invented and how much is an actual account. But it does not do justice to the wrath Venus felt. Or how thorough her retribution was. It is something I will not share with you. For if a mortal mother's fury is terrible, imagine the wrath of a mother with the power of creation at her hooves. Venus could feel grief, but she wasn't allowed to feel regret."

"Black Heart and Hooves Day, the mythical day it was said that more couples broke up before or since in all of Equestria's history," Rarity whispered grasping for something she knew.

"Was the shockwave across existence when Cupid was murdered. The idea of one of my nieces or nephews dying had seemed impossible." I suspected Entropy might have helped The Young Pegasus forge her weapon, but I never found proof. "The Young Pegasus had singlehoofedly killed the idea of spreading love."

The two ponies looked at each other then me and asked together, "What you mean, 'spread' love?"

"Exactly. You think death must either be the end of things, or the next step on the road. But it's not as, black and white as that. "

The two look at me in complete confusion. "I don't quite understand…"

"And I don't expect you to. Death is but a door for you and me. But Alicorns aren't like the Element of Harmony: If one of us is annihilated, I mean truly no more...for instance, not only would there be no sun, the mere IDEA of something CALLED a 'sun' would vanish from the mind of everything alive."

I realize my mistake as I see fear and panic settle into their minds as the idea I've given them takes root. Cadence I wish you were here. I stretch out my wings and touch their foreheads, letting calm and peace spread through them before worse can take them.

"My point is, I cannot have regrets as a pony has them. Otherwise, they would have destroyed me by now. I can remember my mistakes, feel sorrow for them, but I cannot afford to feel regrets for them the same as you. I say again: So take comfort that you're allowed to regret. Animals cannot understand regret, and gods can not afford to have it."

The two sat in silence in front of me. Unsure and awkward in this world I've pushed them into.

"And that's is true difference." I sigh. "Rainbow, and Rarity. In your own way you're now more like me than members of my own family."

I don't blame them for looking at themselves to see if they've sprouted wings or a horn, I may have overdone it on what I've shared with them all at once.

"You are decent, upright, true-hearted, rational, and above all else, good ponies who made the decision to slay another. That is what separates you from practically everypony else. And I am truly sorry I can not take that away from you." I let my aura shine a little and nuzzled them and they nuzzled back.

"And I want you to know... that it's alright. I forgive you completely. I do not scorn you, or disdain you, or love you any less for this difference. How can I? I, also, know fully well what it means to be willing to kill another!"

They gasp.

"You... you do?" Rainbow exclaimed. "Who... who was it? Discord?!"

"A sister of Discord's, named Strife."

"Discord has a SISTER?!"

"Don't worry. She is no threat to you my ponies."

"Because you killed her?"

"No. Though I did try. Sweet Mercy... how I tried. Long story."

I sighed.

"Rainbow, Rarity... a day may come where the world will have need of your... willingness. If it should... please. You must be the ones to do the deed. Do not allow any of your friends to be cornered in such a way... that they're forced to lose their innocence."

"You make it sound almost like we're not the same ponies anymore," Rarity said.

"We all go through life as different ponies. The joyful foal, the cynical adult, and the wise old mare. I only hope that all of you become greater than you are."

(Interview's Notes(Unicorn): Celestia, I just wish to say, you have always been, and still are, a wonderful teacher.)

Thank you.




Lickety-Split wished his grandma was herself to see this, (lousy, rotten Diamond Dogs!) Four adult ponies, all of them eager to hear her old tales about the First Age. He'd had audiences before, but they were usually bored sorts with nothing better to do... that, or bullies looking for material to tease him about later. It was a dream come true, ponies actually WANTED to hear about his family's stories!

First there was a freckled courier named Speedy Delivery who had come to deliver some old books that were supposedly from the First Age (having been copied or restored six or seven times). Lickety recognized the author's name, 'Moochick' from his family's own stories, so he knew they had to be authentic, few ponies knew the names anymore. Lickety-Split didn't even need to resort to bribing him with an extra large tip. The teenage colt mentioned something about "Better than having to work on my birthday again," and was amazed by Lickety-Split's claims of the world in the age of myths.

And there was Lyra Heartstrings, Ponyville's resident harpist. She was also known to sit strangely, and try to walk on her back hooves while trying to pick things up with her front hooves. "I know it can work. I know it can," She'd always say.

Lickety-Split wanted to pass her off as one of Ponyville's weirdos, but given the personalities of the ponies in his stories and with what ponies said about his family's stories, that'd be boring holes in his own boat.

She was a perfectly polite and friendly mare, but if you got her started...

"During that crazy 'Gaia' Festival I felt so liberated I got a few steps in on my rear hooves in public. And I ran right into Twilight Sparkle with this white and pink Earth pony. And...the Earth Pony told me my way of trotting wasn't wrong! And not to give up! She sure sounded nostalgic.

"I wonder if I met her in Canterlot and just forgot. Remember the unicorn I met during my music study in Canterlot? Sparkler? She's moved here to Ponyville, turns out she was born here. I didn't know Ditzy had a second daughter. Then there's Twinkleshine and Minuette. They're a couple of magic students I met at this Birthday Get Together 'open to anypony and everypony.' It was supposed to be part of some scheme to get a shut-in they knew to try and open up. We're pen-pals now. They say they've even met Princess Cadence! Can you believe it?!"

And the only difference between Lyra and Old Pinkie Pie's blabbering was that Lyra came with an off switch. That switch was Lyra's other half, Bon Bon.

Bon Bon was a chatterbox in her own right. But she limited herself to mountains of small talk (this had gotten her a garbage shower during the brief reign of New Fluttershy). It was a irrefutable scientific fact that wherever Lyra was, Bon Bon was close by.

And that left Moth, Bon Bon's twin sister. The poor mare had wandered into Ponyville, one day, nearly starved to death.

Moth had gasped out her name barely awake.

It had taken lots of tender loving care. They'd considered taking the vagrant to Nurse Redheart. But the hospital was so far away. She just looked so famished. No need to get doctors involved. Moth had been so dirty, Bon Bon hadn't even recognized her until after they'd gotten her bathed!

"How could I forget my own twin?"

But the more time she spent with her sister, the more memories poured back in.

"I'm sorry, Bon Bon, I was traveling and I got lost."

"I can't believe our parents never kept us together. Like having two of us was a problem." Bon Bon remembered commenting looking through their photo album.

Having no place to stay, Bon Bon had instantly offered her twin a place at the home she shared with Lyra. Moth wasn't without her quirks. She had freaked out when seeing the spa twins for the first time, like she was scared they were going to hurt her. Then Moth told Bon Bon she should forget about it and Bon Bon did. The four of them were now good friends. Moth also had an inexplicable habit of casting fearful glances up at the sky. Was she worried about dragons?

Moth had also accidently made Rarity think Bon Bon had no idea who Rarity was, (neither had Berry Punch, but she had been downing salt again).

The strangest incident was when Lyra and Bon Bon had introduced Moth to Dr. Whoof (Lyra's biggest source of human lore).

"Hello I'm the-"

Moth had screamed her lungs out at the sight of him, and had run away in stark terror, yelling, "I don't wanna die!" hit her head on a pole, and fell unconscious.

"Er, maybe it's best if I just let you be," The Doctor said awkwardly.

Moth swore when she woke up that she was fine.

If Bon Bon didn't know any better, she'd swear Moth looked ready to vomit anytime she expressed love or affection for Bon Bon or Lyra. She'd gotten dreadfully sick after giving a hand-made card to the both of them last Hearts and Hooves Day, but had viciously refused to see a doctor. Bon Bon worried about her sister, but loved her all the same. Also strange was when Bon Bon and Lyra had gotten caught up in the whole Iron Will thing and let herself become a jerk to everyone, Moth acted weakened, almost anemic. But the phase passed, and so did Moth's weakness.

The worst of these episodes was after the Want It Need It incident that if not for a personal favor from Celestia and everypony still dealing with the day of chaos could have gotten Twilight Sparkle in much hotter water.

Moth had been just as blindly besotted with that 'incredibly amazing doll' as everypony else. (Bon Bon blushed at the momory). That night Moth shivered helplessly like she was bleeding to death.

"Maybe we can go see Zecora. She might be able to help." Bon Bon suggested.

"NO!" Moth neighed in full panic mode, "NO! I mean, not Everfree Forest, not the creepy witch-doctor."

"She's not some wicked witch." Bon Bon assured her sister.

"Who started that witch rumor?" Lyra quipped.

"I didn't!" Bon Bon swore.

"What do you think she keeps in there?"

"Oh I bet stuff like dragons blood, eye of newt, zombie-powder, toad-stools, timber wolf fangs, leeches-" Lyra quipped.

"Ick. Leeches? Dirty blood suckers."

"They didn't choose to be that way." Moth said.

"Doesn't mean I'm gonna let them suck the life of me! Besides, they're leeches, they don't have feelings. They exist just to feed off others."

"Right. They don't. It's stupid to think they could. " Moth agreed sounding sad.

Bon Bon and Lyra stayed by her side all night. She had stabilized by dawn.

In spite of her erratic sickness, Moth had been able to take part in the running of the leafs with Bon Bon.

"How'd you switch numbers?" One confused pony had asked. That was just part of being twins though.

Bon Bon had been about to try and break the door down just before Lyra, making noises like a out-of-tune harp, had tried to eat her . Bon-Bon and Lyra had both recovered, Bon Bon had spent several evenings with Moth just to remind her that she loved her. Saying she wasn't a leech just using her.

"So tell me more about the humans! Megan and her siblings!" Lyra asked eagerly in the present.

"Don't worry! We're getting to the humans, but we can't overlook the ponies who helped out. Megan wouldn't even have gotten to Dream Valley without them after all."

"They all seem like minor characters to me," Lyra said.

Lickety-Split narrowed his eyes at the adult, "There's no such thing as extra or minor character in real life. They aren't just...narrative devices. They're real, These ponies existed.  Hay, one of them might even be your ancestor!"

"Watch your language young colt," Bon Bon defended her friend.

"You're not my mother."

"Can you, can you tell me more about the Flutterponies?" Moth asked butting before the conversation turned ugly.

Lickety-Split pounced, "One book said they were the size of regular ponies, another said they were the size of dolls. Their wings had really powerful magic, but they could only really access it as a group."

"You sure they're real if nopony can agree on what they looked like?" Bon Bon asked.

"Maybe they just changed over time," Moth suggested passively.

"I never thought of that," Lickety-Split admitted, "Unlike the other tribes, Megan didn't meet the Flutterponies until later. The Flutterponies were reclusive, and didn't want to be bothered by the outside world." Lickety-Split smiled proudly and held a hood to his chest, "Of course, Lickety-Split The First and Megan changed all that."

"Of course." Bon Bon rolled her eyes. Lyra, Speedy, Lickety and Moth's glares shut her up.

"So the Flutterponies, looked like other ponies?"

"Well they had wings like butterflies, and some pictures suggested they had feelers like some bugs do."

"Did they have compound-eyes and horns?" Moth asked leaning closer.

"Erm, not according to anything I heard."

"Oh." Moth settled down again.

"Doesn't sound bad to me, I mean, ponies with bug eyes? That would be just creepy." Lyra laughed.

"Yeah, just creepy," Moth answered, half-heartedly.

"And bipedal ponies with hands and their maternal material near their front legs instead of their back legs wouldn't be?" Bon Bon ask unbelieving.

"They'd be cute! I know they'd be." Lyra looked around sad to see she was in the minority. "...I know they'd be."

"Did the Flutterponies...have a queen?" asked Moth, looking somewhat curious. Hopeful?

"Yes they did, Queen Rosedust. She was kind and loved her people dearly."

Moth looked quite surprised. "Oh...well she sounds nice..."

"She also didn't want the Flutterponies involved with the rest of the world at first, she wanted Flutter Valley to remain apart. Even in the face of disaster. But after the events of the Smooze, she saw it was impossible to pretend other ponies didn't exist."

"Excuse me," said a voice. Twilight greeted the group and took a seat in the old house Lickety-Split was using for his 'story time'. "Mind if I sit in? I was told you know stories about the First Age and Paradise Estate."

Lickety-Split could hardly contain his excitement at another adult joining in. And not just any adult! Princess Celestia's envoy! "Sure, the more the merrier!"




That's my Faithful Student, she always follows through on my suggestions for research, she even showed me her notes when we spoke.




"Hey you got a visitor, Fruitcake, OW! What was that for?!"

"She has a real name!"

"You wanna make something of it?!"

"Maybe -I- . . . whatever. Can I go in?"

"Sure. She's not dangerous to you."

"Then why are you keeping her here?"

"Doc says she's dangerous to herself. Don't ask me, I just work here."

The wingless pink pegasus looked up from her bed. Everything sharp or edged had been removed. And the bed sheets were firmly secured to the bed.

"Who are you?" The pink pegasus asked aloud.

The orderly opened the door and in stepped the coolest cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane this side of a Sonic Rainboom!

"Hey, I'm Rainbow Dash. Wanna talk?"

"Talk about what?"

"Anything. Everything."

"Let's talk about getting Princess Gaia to give me wings again."

"I'm sorry. She can't do that anymore."

"Then can you get Princess Celestia to grow me new wings?"

"I'm sorry."

"Then what is there even to talk about?" The pink pegasus with a cupcake cutie mark turned away from me.

"Don't you have a sister and cousins who are worried about you?"

"So? I can't live in Cloudsdale anymore. Too dangerous. I might fall off. No one to save me."

"Twilight's been giving you wings."

"...That are too fragile to do any sort of decent flying."

"That's crude! There was a freakin' unicorn at last year's Best Young Flyer's competition and she came in second place! And she had had those wings for only a few days! As long as you don't do something stupid like set them on fire or fly to the upper atmosphere at high noon with the sun goddess within waving distance you'd be fine!"

She didn't look back. "And be able to take part in the Ponyville tornado spout?"

"Look. If . . . if I lost my wings, I, I'd want to just curl up and vanish too. But, but you owe it to those who love you to not give up. Unless you happened to born out of some cloning machine, I KNOW there have to be ponies who care about you somewhere. Ponies who are fighting for you. Who haven't give up on you. And if I have to say anything, I'd say you got the better deal."

"WHAT?!" She snapped at me.

"You got yourself back. You got your sanity back! Look around you at how many ponies don't!"

"If I can't have my wings back too then what's the point?"

'UGH! How do the others make this look so easy?' "Look girl. I'm sorry this happened to you. Really really really sorry. But where there's life, there's hope. If-if I lost my wings, I don't know if I could still follow my cutie mark. YOU CAN!

"And I know what it's like. I've been injured once. And I didn't have the bits for them to speed up me healing after I was out of the emergency room. I know it stinks, being trapped on the ground. To see the sky above you, almost mocking you. Like your hooves are glued to the floor. And you just feel so dang helpless ! But breaking down won't change anything."

"NOTHING can change anything! IF NOTHING CAN CHANGE! THEN WHY SHOULD I WASTE MY TIME LIVING?! AT LEAST I WOULDN'T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS!"

"BECAUSE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LIFE THAT'S A WASTE OF TIME! THERE ARE-"

"WHAT?! Ponies who are worse off than me?! Is that you're going to say?! So that should be make me feel better?! What'll happen then you try to console that one filly at the bottom whose life DOESN'T have somepony worse off?!"

I was speechless.

I lowered my head.

"I'm sorry."

"Words don't fix a thing."

"Horseapples. Filly, I've seen words destroy ponies, and I've seen words save ponies, like me . You're totally right. This isn't fair to you at all. But it's even less fair to your friends and family that their cousin, daughter, work buddy, and Flight Camp graduating class-mate, lost something that she should have never lost, then lost even more, then finally got back what made her -her-, and began trying to destroy herself!"

She didn't sound angry or irritated this time. Just, sad. "Please . . . go away."

"No way!"

A differently orderly came in, "Yes way actually. Sorry miss, visit time is up."

"But I-"

"Sorry. Asylum rules."

I growled. "Fine! But I'll be back."

"Don't." The pink pegasus said not looking back at me.

'No. Not gonna happen. I'm loyal to Cloudsdale, no, I'm loyal to the pegasi who make up my home town the same way I'm loyal to Ponyville's ponies and my friends and to Celestia. I won't let her give up. I'm in this for the long haul. We'll reach the finish line no matter how long it takes.'




A knock at the door. On a Saturday?

This was the day Cheerilee normally got to have a little peace and quiet. On top of that, she didn't get many visitors, outside of the occasional student seeking guidance (which she honestly wished happened more often), except when Berry Punch wanted to go out clubbing.

She looked through the peephole and said surprised, "Rarity?"

"Can I come in please dear?"

"Of course." Cheerilee opened the door first before asking, "What do you need?" The mare's expression was difficult to read.

"I don't need anything. I was just wondering darling, if, if maybe we could spend the afternoon together? I'm sure I could help clean house while you grade papers or something."

Cheerilee blinked and smiled. "Of course we can. Thank you Rarity."

"No Cheerilee, thank you. " Rarity said kindly.

"Rarity, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but what brought this on?"

"Oh...I just thought I'd try to make some new friends with an old classmate, you can never have too many."

"That's nice Rarity...now why are you really here?" Cheerilee asked. "I'm a teacher, Rarity, telling when somepony is making an excuse is part of the job."

"…I just felt that you're a wonderful teacher, a wonderful pony, and Equestria would be less without you." Rarity smiled. "I've never seen a mare who cares for foals the way you do. You care for Sweetie too. And I understand the choices you've make to protect her. And I know how heavy that weight is. So if you ever need a generous shoulder to help carry the burden, you can count on me."

A glimmer of understanding shone in Cheerilee's eyes. "Thank you Rarity. Please, just thank you."

~Fin
EDIT: STUPID TEXT LIMITS! HAD TO CUT A BUNCH OF STUFF FROM HERE TO THE PREVIOUS PART!

This chapter takes place right after New Game Plus or rather Mmmystery on the Friendship Express. Celestia takes this chance to talk to Rarity and Rainbow Dash of what it makes to be ACTUALLY different.

Meant to be one chapter but ran a little long.

I felt it all needed to be said BEFORE the final chapter of Mind Games was released.

Directly inspired by some questions on the tropes page.

This chapter was only beta-read twice rather than four times like they normally are, does it need to go through the editing again?

First chapter: [link]
Previous chapter: [link]
Next chapter: [link]

The fanfiction's Trope Page is feeling neglected. Check it out! [link]

Check out the recursive fanfiction and fanart of the Pony POV Series! [link] Many of it approved by me as canon.

Edited by super speed by Kendell2. AND our producer of the Audio Adaption.

MLP FiM: Copyright Hasbro

EDIT: STUPID TEXT LIMITS! HAD TO CUT A BUNCH OF STUFF FROM HERE TO THE PREVIOUS PART!

2012 June 1st Typos edited by Sentreriaaa [link]

2012 June 3rd Added one word to Rarity's sentence to Cheerilee about her excuse, but I felt it was an important one after a reader's suggestion.

2012 June 15th Continuity with RD's crash and medical magic in this verse.

Made the above a bit more clear.
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Pony POV Series

Celestia

The Third Alicorn

OPTIONAL CANON

By Kendell2 and Alexwarlorn

WARNING! SPOILERS FOR ROYAL CANTERLOT WEDDING AND PONY POV SERIES: ORIGINS!


My sister's Night Court was just beginning. The sun had been set and the moon raised. I thank Mother and Father I have Lulu back for many reasons, including that I don't have to function on catnaps as Princess of both the Day and Night anymore. I don't physically need to sleep, but it still does wonders for my sanity. Just as a settled in to read Twilight's latest friendship letter, a knock came on my door. "Hmm, now who could that be?"

As I open the door, I am greeted, for the second time at such a late hour of the day, by my pupil. Only this time, she does not appear to be in a tizzy over discovering horrifying secrets no mortal should be forced to know from a book which shouldn't even exist, only…somewhat confused, uneasy.

"Why, hello My Faithful Student," I reply. "I didn't expect to have you visit me again so soon. Not that it isn't a pleasure to have you visit."

She shifts uneasily at my gaze. No, not at my gaze, at the thing on her mind. "Hello, Princess Celestia. And I know…I just had something on my mind. It's been on my mind for a few days, since we…had our talk."

I give her my full attention, that's something I didn't expect. Well, something I should've expected but hadn't. I had cut our conversation short due to the time after all. "And what you want to know is an answer only I can provide, correct?"

She nods slowly, looking up at me. I can see the admiration in her eyes, but also some fear, or uncertainty. But it's not of me, thank Mother and Father. "Yes."

I give a nod of my own in turn. "Come in. I'll make some tea."
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Once we're set down with tea on the table, Philomena sleeping on her perch nearby, I break the ice. "Alright, My Faithful Student, I promised you there will be no secret you cannot ask me, minus the details of the war, or any war for that matter, and I will keep that promise. What is it that is on your mind?"

Twilight doesn't reply for a few minutes, I can tell whatever it is frightens her by the look in her eye. Finally, she looked up at me. "You said that one of your sisters…One that you last saw just before you came to Equestria…That her name was Cadence…" she explained, serious. "Was that Cadence my Cadence who was my foalsitter when I was a filly?"

I give a smile, finally she asks something I can happily tell her. "I wondered when you would finally get around to asking that question, Twilight, I practically gave you the answer already," I reply. "Yes, Princess Cadence is indeed my sister, Cadence, the 14th, Concept of Harmony and Music…But that idea scared you, didn't it? That's why it took you this long to decipher the truth?"

Twilight nodded, fear clearer in her eyes. "Cadence…she was one of my best friends when I was a filly…One of my only friends…She taught me a lot of really important spells…Including one that was really important…"

I give a small smile. "The Memory Spell you mean."

Twilight gave a small nod.

"Yes, I remember…"

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I peaked through the door to Twilight's room. I'd had Cadence tutor Twilight when it came to emotional and mind magic, since Twilight was having difficulty with those areas. She may have been a great student, but everypony has areas they need extra help with.

"Alright, Twilight, this spell is very important," Cadence told her, still a teenager at the time. Her voice was calm and warm, like she always used to talk to the foals she watched over. "It's related to my signature spell in a way."

Twilight looked up at her with her typical excitement, both at Cadence's presence and at the prospect of learning a new spell. She took out her notebook, Smartypants beside her with "her" notebook as well. "Really? That spell? The one you use to make ponies love each other?"

Cadence shook her head. "Twilight, I don't make ponies love each other, that's not a good thing to do…trust me on that. My signature spell repairs the bonds between ponies. This Memory Spell could be considered an aspect of my spell, it reminds ponies of what's important to them."

"And what is that?" asked Twilight, taking notes as she listened.

Cadence chuckled. "That's a good question…here, let me show you…" she said, putting her horn to Twilight's head, her horn glowing blue as she cast the spell. "What do you see?"

Twilight closed her eyes as the spell did it's work. "…Me being with my mom and dad…with you and with Celestia…And with Spike…I see everypony I care about."

Cadence nodded as Twilight opened her eyes. "And that's because we're all the most important thing to you. If you lost sight of that, that's what the Memory Spell would bring to your mind, to remind you of what matters most to you. But it doesn't just do it with people, it does it with other things too. Like if somepony really loved writing, but became sidetracked by something to the point they lose sight of their passion, the Memory Spell would remind them of how much it mattered to them."

Twilight blinked, then nodded slowly. "Oh, I think I get it!…Um…" Twilight looked down. "Do you think, maybe…"

Cadence pulled her close and put a wing over her shoulder. "You want to see your parents, don't you?"

Twilight nodded. "Yeah…now that you reminded me of them…"

Cadence gave a warm smile. "Alright, let's go send them a letter and have them drop by."


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"When you sent me those letters and reminded me of what mattered…" said Twilight, giving a small smile. "It reminded me of what Cadence said about the Memory Spell, how it reminds a pony of what's most important to them…I realized that if being reminded of what was important to me restored me, reminding my friends of what was important to them with the Memory Spell would probably free them too…"

I consider telling her I did not send the letters, but I don't…One revelation at a time. "And that was very smart of you, Twilight. I wish I'd thought of it three thousand years ago."

"Thanks...I just wish I'd made better use of the Want It, Need It Spell..."

"Yes, I'm certain Cadence did not teach you to use it in that fashion, but you did go temporally insane thanks to the trauma Discord inflicted on you, so you weren't exactly in your right mind," I reply, trying not to make her feel bad. Yes, she messed up, but I'd be a fool to blame her for an act committed during a momentary lose of sanity, I've seen Discord's work before, she's fortunate it was only temporary. "Please, continue, my faithful student. Why did it take you so long to ask me this question?"

She looked up at me fearfully. "Because…now I'm afraid…afraid that she was keeping something like what you told me from me all this time...She's the closest thing I had to a best friend when I was little…I was scared that…that my Cadence is a lie…That she'd just fade away and there'd be just this stranger…" Her eyes misted up.

I smiled. "Twilight, I never stopped loving Mimic as my mother on Earth, or the Paradise ponies as my family. You should have realized that."

"But-but Discord…"

"Twilight, Discord's case was very unique. Dissey's…Dissey's choices in Equestria, and the choices he made before he came, were so fundamentally different that neither part of him could accept the other as a part of himself. As for Cadence hiding something from you, she has hid nothing. She doesn't know any of what I told you."

Twilight just stares at me. "What? But she's-"

"Exactly like me and Luna were when we were born into your world," I explain. "Cadence has no memory of the Alicorn/Draconequus War, her stand against Havoc's Avatar, or any of it. She also has no knowledge of the events three thousand years ago, or even one thousand. Her mortal form is barely any older than Shining Armor."

Twilight blinked in confusion. "But…how is that possible? I…I thought she was the Alicorn Princess in the Hearts and Hooves Day myth…Teacher, are there…any more of your family in Equestria?"

"I'll let you know as soon as I do, my student. Or maybe you already do. Hopefully, this world will have already matured by the time waves of change begin again."

"Alright…then who was the Alicorn in the Hearts and Hooves Day story?"

I can't help blushing. Of course she'd bring up one of my family's most humiliating of moments. "Well…It's a long story…" I reply, but she just looks expectantly at me. "It actually happened before Discord's reign, during the time of the three tribes."

Twilight blinks at me in confusion. "But how…it calls her a princess, but you and Luna were the first Alicorn princesses."

"Hearts and Hooves Day is one of the few holidays to have survived from the pre-Discord Era," I explain, trying not to look as embarrassed about the story as I really am. It wasn't me, of course, but talking about something humiliating a sibling did can be just as humiliating as doing it yourself. "Ponies have associated Alicorns with the princess position for nearly two thousand years. So naturally when one turned up in an ancient story, the story mutated and dubbed her a princess. It was one of my siblings…I won't tell you which, it's too embarrassing…"

"And?"

I actually blush. "…I'm sorry, Twilight, but this is my sister we're talking about. Someone I looked up to and respected…"

"And you don't want to say something about them that would humiliate them if they were here?" she asked, looking up at me.

It's my turn to simply nod in response.

She nodded too. "I understand, I'd feel the same way about it if was a part of my family."

"Thank you, my Faithful Student."

"Just tell me this, please. You said the Draconequi effectively had reign over the world back then. So how could she have even come to Equestria in the first place?"

"And that was one of the reasons they were given that right to begin with…when my sister assuming a vulnerable material form…it's part of the reason we didn't do so very often at all, even if dying in material form is meaningless...in a manner of speaking."

"…And the dragon…"

"Was her Draconequus partner's mortal form. It's a long…long, humiliating story."

"…I see…But back to the point, how can Cadence only be as old as Shining Armor? Everything you told me, it happened over three thousand years ago, so how did this happen?" Twilight asked me, clearly confused.

This time I sigh, I should've seen that question coming. It pains me because I can't provide an answer. "I'll tell you the honest truth Twilight, I have no idea. Neither does she…I'll tell you all I know of how the Cadence you know came to be, Twilight. This is actually one story I have no problem telling you. It's actually one of the happiest moments I had in the thousand years Luna was imprisoned."

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It was before you were born, Twilight, but I remember it perfectly. Alicorn memories do not fade, something that is both a blessing and a curse. Since my sister was still imprisoned, I stayed up both day and night, catching only catnaps in-between when I could manage. It was honestly lucky the stress this caused me didn't drive me insane. I don't need to sleep, my body can function without it entirely, it's my mind that needs sleep's embrace.

It was a winter night when I heard the news, the day before Hearts and Hooves Day. I had just risen the moon and lowered the sun like I did everyday, and was taking my coffee break before Night Court began its session when I heard a knock on the door. "Come in," I called, having been used to such happenings day and night. When one rules both day and night for nearly one-thousand years, you become used to it. Believe it or not, there were assassins who were polite enough to knock, I'll have to tell you that story later, my faithful student. It's actually quite humorous.

My Earth Pony guard entered. Despite what some racist Earth Ponies think, there are a large number of their tribe in my Royal Guard, it's just mostly they remain at the castle when I travel, so they're not often seen.

"Your Majesty," he said, bowing.

I bid him to rise. "Hello, isn't about time for you to be heading home for Hearts and Hooves Day?" I ask. Obviously, the entire Royal Guard couldn't leave for the holidays, but I was fair to those who had good reason to leave.

He nods. "Yes, I was just getting ready to end my shift, but an important message arrived for you."

"Oh, I see. In that case, please tell me the message so you may get home to your wife, I'm certain she misses you."

"Yes, I'm sure she does…I've received word from Blue Song, she had her foal a short while ago."

Blue Song was one of my nieces, well, technically speaking, my multiple times great niece. After the eighth great, I just dropped the greats altogether with my realitives. I knew she'd been expecting a foal, so I wasn't really surprised, yet.

"Oh, that's very good news, is it a colt or a filly?" I was quite excited though, after all, no matter how far the line, that child was still family.

"A little filly."

"Ah, and I suppose it's a unicorn."

"No…"

That surprised me, but I knew her bloodline had both the other tribes in it, so it was possible. "Oh…Pegasus?"

"No…"

"Oh, then it must be an Earth Pony."

My guard looked to be trying to make himself as small as possible. "…It's all three."

Of course, I had chosen that moment to take a drink of my coffee, which I promptly spat in a random direction. "WHAT?!" I used the Royal Canterlot Voice in my surprise, then calmed down enough to realize it…and that I'd spat my coffee on Philomena as she sat on her perch. "S-sorry…"

Philomena merely sighed and heated herself off to evaporate the coffee.

He took my reaction surprisingly well. "It's fine, your majesty…As I said, the filly is…like you, an Alicorn."

I was, for lack of a better word, speechless. Twilight, that should've been impossible. And that's coming from someone who witnessed Destruction blow up a black hole from the inside out. Even if there were still other Alicorns, they'd have been born as one of the other tribes, but most certainly not an Alicorn. It was only Galaxia's intervention that allowed myself and Luna to be born Alicorns on the mortal plane. A mortal pony, under very rare conditions, can become an Alicorn, but that was something I'd only seen in the Truth, and never in a newborn foal. It wasn't just not possible, it was so impossible that it escaped all the possibilities I'd imagined happening, and you know how many I have.

I didn't manage to form a centuries old plan to redeem my sister by only planning along one path. I certainly didn't only plan for at least half the Elements of Harmony to already be living in Ponyville. Or rely on Nightmare Moon subconsciously helping fire forge your friendships. I dared not expose Cadence to The Truth when she was old enough and I'm not Rota Fortuna, I cannot see the future. And yet, this impossibility had just happened. I hadn't been so shell shocked in over a thousand years.

"A-an Alicorn…" I finally stuttered out. "Blue Song's daughter is an Alicorn?"

He nodded. "I couldn't believe it myself, Your Highness, but that's what the message said."

I nodded slowly, finally coming out of my daze. "P-please s-send a letter to them, telling them I'll be coming to see my new niece tonight," I replied, in a distant voice. I had so many thoughts running through my head. Twilight, at that point, I was the only Alicorn on Earth. Galaxia had been…had been murdered by Discord and Luna was a Nightmare imprisoned in the moon. And then I'm told there was a new Alicorn! My mind was going through every possibility from a mutation who wasn't a true Alicorn to a new sibling of mine. "Then please get home to Silver Platter, Silver Axe…"
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My chariot descended through the snowy night, the Pegasi drawing it looking straight ahead, a unicorn standing directly in front of me, using her horn as a light to guide us through the night and the snow. My guards and I would normally have simply flown ourselves, but the storm required a unicorn to light the way for us. I didn't blame anyone for the snow storm, I had known it was scheduled in advanced. Normally, winter is over before Hearts and Hooves Day, but that year there were bad insect infestations, so a brief run of winter weather was put in place to drive them off. In retrospect, I find it fitting that the beginning of the end for my family had begun in snow and ice, and the occasion of that day would as well.

We landed near my niece's house, she and her husband, Bright Blood, lived not far from the palace, but I'm required to have an escort most everywhere I publicly go. It's a burden, but necessary. I'd much rather have my guards have to disable an assassin than do so myself, not because I can't protect myself, but because I'd protect myself too well. I'm a goddess, sometimes even I'm afraid of how powerful I really am. And I never want to kill one of my little ponies, even one who seeks to do me harm.

I disembarked my chariot, flanked by the two guards who would guard the door, leaving them there as Bright Blood let me in. He was a white unicorn stallion, a little uptight, but goodhearted. At the time, he looked tired, but proud and relieved, which was understandable, considering the situation. "Hello, Aunt Celestia, it is good to see you. We didn't expect you tonight," he replied, giving a light bow. Sometimes it feels so good to have family that actually sees me as family.

"Hello, Bright Blood, and I understand that. Normally I would come tomorrow, but…is it true? Is your daughter an Alicorn?" I ask, trying to keep the disbelief out of my voice.

"Well, she certainly looks the part," he replied, I could hear pride in his voice. The pride of any new father. Twilight, I know it doesn't seem like much, but to hear a father describe his newborn daughter as an Alicorn, but not behave any differently than a normal father warmed my heart. He loved her no matter what she was. "But you're the closest thing we've got to an expert on that…"

"I'll be able to tell…" I reply, but could already feel it. The energy radiating from Blue Song's bedroom, it felt…familiar, but I couldn't put where I'd felt it before. Due to the snow, she'd had to have her child at home, so the energy still hung in the air from the magical pulses the birth had given off.

"It was surreal," Bright Blood told me. "Blue Song absolutely demanded to be alone to have the baby. She said she had to. She looked ready to headbutt me! She actually attacked the doctor when he wouldn't leave! She tried to leave the house, and wouldn't stay in with all of us for nothing. Obviously, we couldn't let her have the foal out in the snow, so we all ended up standing out there while she had it in the room. Thankfully, we'd already sent all the workers home for the night before the storm came in. And now the doctor says her magic has been completely drained. I could feel the magic pulses she gave off clear outside…Is that…well, normal? I mean, you're the only Alicorn I know, so I don't know…"

I gasped lightly. Yes, Twilight, it IS just like when I and Luna were born to Mimic. It was the energy given off when an Alicorn is born, but it's significantly less than when a pony evolves into an Alicorn, that's the only reason I can think that I didn't sense it happening when it did. "Y-yes, if she is truly an Alicorn, that is perfectly normal, at least by my knowledge. It happened when I was born, my mother was compelled to be away from everypony to have the baby, it's just how it is…May I see the foal?"

"Well, Blue Song is really tired, I mean really tired, but let me check with her."

Yes, Twilight, he didn't say "Yes, Princess Celestia", he put it in his wife's hooves. Unlike with most ponies, who respect me too much for it, I try to have some degree of personal relationship with my blood family who live in Canterlot. Not nearly as close as I would like, but close enough that they know I don't expect them to treat me differently when I make a personal visit. I'm family to them. Besides, if Blue Song was as exhausted as I was told my mother was giving birth to me and Luna, then he had every right to deny me access if she wasn't up to it. I didn't tell him, but giving birth to an Alicorn or Draconequi in their true form is incredibly strenuous to a mortal,  Shady nearly died having Discord and Mimic, a unicorn with far more magical reserves than Blue Song, was left completely drained by mine and Luna's birth. I found out later it took nearly a year for Blue Song to be able to use even rudimentary telekinesis again, and the doctor had had to do some emergency care to save her life that night. Meanwhile, I think Bright Blood absorbed some of the excess energy gave off. He's always been much more powerful after that day.

While Bright Blood went in to get his wife's permission to enter, I thought about the energy I felt. It felt so familiar. I just couldn't put it together…I'm pretty sure it was just my mind trying to avoid dividing one by zero and telling me a supposedly impossible truth. You know how hard your mind sometimes fights against something you've believed was impossible Twilight, and this was something I had thought was impossible for three thousand years.

Bright Blood emerged from the room after what seemed like an eternity. "Alright, come in please."

I enter the room, the feeling increases. The room felt like friendships forming, like the entire room was in perfect harmony. Like the harmonic bonds between everything were being pulled closer together and strengthened. You may have felt it around Cadence when you were a filly, but this was far more intense. I could tell by how they looked at each other that Blue Song and Bright Blood were more understanding of each other than I had ever seen them.

Blue Song was curled up on her bed, looking up at me with that tired, but happy smile a mother who just had her foal always has. But I could see her muscles struggling just to keep her head up to look at me, and the bandages covering her lower body from the doctor's emergency operations to save her life. Blue Song was a sweet, blue furred unicorn mare, had a heart of gold. That's something I really liked about her. And she could sing like an angel too. "Hello, Auntie," she said in a hushed voice. I could tell from her voice she struggled to have the energy just to say that. Bright Blood trotted in and stood by his wife's side.

I gave her a genuine smile. "Hello, Blue Song," I replied, keeping my voice down in case the filly was sleeping. I waited for her permission to come closer. No matter how much I wanted to see the newborn, a mother's right to decide the affairs surrounding her child was one I refused to trample upon.

"…Please, come closer, but please be quiet, she's sleeping."

I slowly approached the bedside, looking down at the bundled little foal next to her. When I got up next to her, Bright Blood followed me and uncovered the filly…And I think my heart skipped a beat.

There laid a newborn filly, with wings and a unicorn horn, her pale fur pink, her little tuff of a mane multiple colors, purple, magenta, and cream, her wings having a gradient to them. Her Cutie Mark, yes, her Cutie Mark that she already had at close to birth, just like me and Luna, a heart shaped jewel with golden trim. My brain finally divided by zero.

"Cadence…" I whispered, eyes wide as I stared down at the sleeping little filly before me. The filly who was once a mare that I had last seen locked in mortal combat with Havoc's Avatar. You have to realize something Twilight, if Havoc had won that fight, he'd have utterly annihilated her. There was no way, as insane as he was at the time, that she could've challenged his power, lost, and been spared. I had given up hope of ever seeing her again. Now she was right in front of me, a newborn. I can't describe how that moment felt…Imagine the feeling one has when their baby sister is born, then combine that with the feeling a pony would have when their older sister comes home after they disappeared for a long time. Multiply that by a thousand. It didn't even enter my mind to think of the hows or the whys. My sister was alive! But I did manage to restrain myself, but only barely.

"Auntie, you're crying," I heard Blue Song say, sounding shocked.

I wiped the tears from my eyes as best I could. "It's alright…It's just been a very long time since I've seen another of my kind…She is an Alicorn, there's no doubt about it…What's her name?"

"Mi Amore Cadenza, Cadence for short…it just came to me…" Blue Song said, looking down at Cadence and weakly nuzzling her to keep the foal content and reassure her that mother was nearby. She didn't even react to her foal's impossible cutie mark, as natural as her wings and horn.

And that confirmed it. "That's a beautiful name…" I reply. "And she's beautiful…"

"Thank you…"

Bright Blood nodded, leaning down and nuzzling Cadence, then looked thoughtful. "So…will she be able to move the sun and moon like you when she's older?"

I shook my head. "No, I am the personification of the day…there are reasons I now rule the night, but she is not Day. At present, there's no way to tell what she'll be…But I know it will be amazing," I reply, telling only a half truth. After all, even if I knew what powers Cadence would most certainly manifest, I couldn't tell them without revealing things about their daughter they needn't know.

Now that my mind caught up with itself, I began thinking of what it could mean. Twilight, there's only one conclusion I could draw; the only way Cadence could've escaped that battle with her life is if she had won. And Havoc's Avatar would not have lost the battle unless he was mortally wounded. I couldn't fathom that until I connected it with what he did with Discord. Even insane, Havoc wouldn't have just allowed his Avatar to be devoured, he was too prideful for that. He must have not needed it anymore, or couldn't use it anymore. Since Cadence evidently survived and he'd cut off all paths to his own realm from the battlefield, meaning his Avatar was the only way he could physically interact with his remaining children, the latter was the only logical conclusion I could draw. This made something else make sense as well, that Discord was not stronger than he was. Havoc's Avatar couldn't even manifest on our plane due to the power contained in it, meaning Discord wouldn't have been able to either. But if it was weakening, dying at time, then Discord only got a fraction of a fraction of Havoc's power. No matter how much my mind fought it, the only logical outcome was that my sister had mortally wounded Havoc's Avatar! And I still believe that to this very day.

My thoughts were broken by a tiny yawn. I looked down to see the little Alicorn blinking sleep from her eyes. Then those little purple eyes looked up at me. Our eyes met…and I realized something I had known all along. That those eyes were my sister's, but they weren't. They had her spirit in them, but they had an innocence. They were the innocent eyes of a foal who hadn't yet seen the world, who was curious and interested in everything she saw. I felt my heart sink a little. I knew then that, while my sister was inside that little body, she wasn't the same. She was like me and Luna were three thousand years ago.

But then, the little one giggled and clapped her little hooves together. Cadence looked up at me happily, but curiously, as if she was trying to figure me out. Twilight, the reason me and Discord's infant self got along so well was that a part of me remembered and missed the friendship I once believed I had with him, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it. I recognized the look in Cadence's eyes at that moment as the same I saw in Luna's eyes when we first laid eyes on Discord's infant self after we were brought to Paradise Estate following our birth. Eyes of someone who remembered something we just couldn't truly remember, full of curiosity and a vague confusion. As I said, Alicorn memories never fade, even if parts of it are buried so deep we can't consciously remember them.

I lowered my head to be eye level to her, so she wouldn't be scared. She gently put her tiny hooves on my muzzle, feeling me. She then backed up a little, against her mother's belly to get a better view of me. I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit. "Hello, Cadence, I'm your aunt, Celestia," I said in a warm tone, as warm as I could manage. I was sorely tempted to say "sister" but I decided against it. All things considering, the less Blue Song and Bright Blood knew about their daughter's past, the better.

Cadence giggled and smiled, hugging my muzzle with her little hooves, then yawning widely, being only a newborn after all.

I decided it was best to let her get back to her dreams. I had much to think about myself as it was. But still, I decided to check one last thing. "Blue Song, may I sing her a lullaby?"

Blue Song gave a nod. "Sure, that would be wonderful."

I nodded, then begin to sing.

"My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
Isn't it time we started home?
My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
Who ever dreamed how far we'd roam?
Crickets are calling, evening is falling,
Over the meadow and glen.
My Little Pony, My Little Pony,
When will I see you again?"



I sung it several times, looking down at the little foal's eyes. I saw a spark. I saw something in her reach out as I sang. Naturally it would, after all, she had wrote that song several millennia ago, during the First Age. If I sung you a song Minty had sung in the time that never was, you'd probably react the same way because she's a part of you. She smiled brightly, as I always did feeling the sun's warm rays as a foal here in your world, and slowly sunk off to sleep.

I didn't take Cadence away from her parents, I didn't exert much control over her life in her early years outside of spending precious time with her. But I did make sure to deeply ingrain the responsibility her powers would come with in her mind. How vital it would be not to abuse them for selfish or stupid reasons. I did tell her of some of the times my stupidity had harmed those I cared about, though mainly ones since I came to Equestria. As you know from Nightmare Whisper, a child having the power of a goddess is a very dangerous thing if they don't know how to use it properly. But most importantly, I and her parents made certain she would have a kind heart to not misuse her abilities selfishly.

I don't know if you've read of it, My Faithful Student, but Cadence's birth causes another shockwave. We tried to keep her secret, but most of the unicorns in the surrounding buildings had felt the magical overflow released when she was born. By the time I'd arrived to confirm it, half the city already knew. The tabloids had a 'gold rush' with it, but I couldn't bring myself to let "Sunny Day" fan the rumor that she was a mutation, a foal who had absorbed a twin in the womb and grown wings as a result. I just couldn't make my niece, and sister, a freak Twilight, I just couldn't do it. We did try to hide her wings at first, but that didn't last long, unfortunately.

So, I finally publicly announced that, yes, there was another Alicorn. Reaction was…not what I hoped it would be. Remember, not everypony thinks the best of me. Some wondered if I was going to drown the newborn Alicorn in her sleep or send her to spend her life in a convent. Others suggested I was just going to make her lifetime ambassador to Neighpon. Cadence did indeed end up spending much time abroad, but for very different reasons. Not that it mattered to the paparazzi and tabloids. What your three little friends, "Gabby Gums" wrote about me was the nicest thing any tabloid generalist had ever said about me, so you know they jumped on me with this fact for all it was worth.

I dreaded to think what Nightmare Moon would have done to her if she had found her, or Discord had discovered he now had three Alicorns to torture again, let alone one of them being the one who mortally wounded the being a sizeable portion of his power came from. She may be a mare among ponies, My Faithful Student, but she's still young among the beings who would see her harmed if they got the chance. Someday, she will be a goddess with great power, but for now she's a child who doesn't know the power she truly wields. She is mature enough to be considered an adult, but still young as far as my race goes.

I also had to make sure the nature of Cadence's magic was revealed gradually, least she be swamped by desperate ponies begging her to make somepony else fall in love with them. Not that she could.

I did make her a Princess, like myself and Luna, because I knew it she had as much a right to it as we did, after all, if she hadn't held off Havoc, we'd never have made it to Equestria at all. And she had mortally wounded his avatar, which had it's own benefits. Even if it lead to Discord's reign, as insane as Havoc's Avatar had become, and as much influence he had over the universe, she may have simply left us with the lesser of two evils with Discord.

The main problem was to think of a way to explain it to the masses without making myself seem to be showing favoritism based on her sharing my species. Thankfully, she had plenty of right to the title by blood, as she was descended from my sister's blood. I was also able to convince them as her power grew that she had a similar dominion over something in our world as I had over the sun and moon, which was the truth. So the elites agreed to make her my fellow Princess.

I'd be lying if I said Cadence wasn't the envy of her cousins, Twilight. I imagine she connected more with me, and the foals she oversaw along with their familes, than she did many of her own relative. Of course, many of Galaxia's descendants have claimed the title of 'Prince' or 'Princess'. And I've done nothing to stop them. Few ever do anything with their authority other than use it to boss others around in childish ways that ultimately harm no pony but themselves. Some actually do good with it, I'm truly proud of them, but for many, it's simply a way to elevate themselves. But Cadence, Cadence was the first pony I had actually GIVEN the title to. Something about that simply made it a bitter pill for them to swallow.

Once her true powers began to awaken, I did have her come to live in the castle so I could instruct her more closely, having the same set up you had with your parents when staying with me.

I should point out, Twilight, that Cadence's power isn't exactly love, that was Venus' territory, Cadence's domain is Harmony. She can repair the bonds between ponies, not create them, at least not with a wave of her horn. And it isn't just love she can repair, but all types of bonds. Sadly, at first she didn't understand this. She actually "invented" the Want It, Need It Spell all on her own, I had to tell her it already existed, that disappointed her. Still, she managed to find some good uses for it. Yes, believe it or not, that spell does have positive uses.

One thing that didn't, however, was her attempt at creating a love potion, she ended up recreating the Love Poison from the Hearts and Hooves Day tale, and spiking the punch with it at a royal event. She was a filly at the time, she didn't know she was doing something so wrong. She thought it'd spread love, not cause mass hysteria, or leave me in love with a zebra ambassador until Cadence managed to teleport him so far away that I couldn't find him in an hour. And unlike everypony else, I could clearly remember everything I had done, as I said, Alicorn memories don't fade. I didn't think such a curse could affect me like it did my sister, but I didn't count on it being empowered by Cadence's magic or that she would think to do this during an eclipse. I had to spend the next three days curing all the victims and finding that ambassador. It was lucky he was understanding enough of the situation not to ruin our relations with his homeland.

The amount of trouble I had to go through to make sure other nations and the Canterlot elite didn't think I'd brainwashed their dignitaries left me was a pounding headache, and don't get me started on the one what the tabloids gave me when they had a field day with it."

"I thought you didn't get headaches, teacher."

"So did I."

"Oh…"

That said, Cadence was still punished so she wouldn't dare do it again. She also dared not sit on her royal rump for a week…still, it was the only way she'd learn.
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I looked down at the filly before me, after her mother had given her a proper spanking for her misdeed. I was not smiling. She had her head down, sniffling, scared. I looked at her sadly, disappointed. "Cadence…Do you understand the trouble you've caused? How much more you could have caused?" I asked simply. She nodded, not lifting her head to meet my gaze, ears pinned. "And you know that was a very bad thing to do, a very bad thing, and an abuse of your powers, correct?" I asked, another nod.

"I…I just wanted to help, Auntie Celestia…" she responded, finally breaking down crying. "It…it's just, I see you raise the sun and moon everyday…you do what you are…But I don't even know what to do…I'm love, aren't I? So what am I supposed to do? I don't know…I tried doing something I thought would spread love, not…not cause what happened…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…" she sobbed, tears streaming down her face.

I sighed, resisting the urge to put a wing over her back. "Cadence, you are not love. You've repaired the bonds between friends. You're harmony. You are to bring ponies together, repair the bonds between them when they're damaged, rather it be mother and daughter, brother and sister, best friends, or lovers. But you have to realize, you can't force a bond on anypony, you have to let it grow naturally. You can help ponies do that, but you can't force them to. And you can't force yourself to learn what you're meant to do, that will come with time. You have to learn how to use your gift, the responsibility that comes with it, before you can even think about spreading that gift to the world. Do you understand?"

She sniffled, looking up at me with tears in her eyes. She gave a small nod. "I-I'm sorry…"

I smiled and kissed the top of her head. "I know…And I forgive you. But you're going to have to earn forgiveness from the ponies you geassed. Okay? And as punishment, the maids are getting the day off tomorrow, you're going to scrub the entire castle, top to bottom. Inside and out." I was tempted to add that she had to use a toothbrush, but I decided that'd be overkill.

"I understand, Auntie Celestia, and I'll make it up to those ponies…I promise…"

And she did…but she still had trouble knowing how to help bonds grow naturally. She needed to be taught, and experience was the best teacher. I had her begin foalsitting, both to give her experience building bonds with new ponies, and to teach her some humility. You've been informed of how my sister once acted due to hubris, I did not want our niece to go the same route. She loved the job. She was very good with foals, and learned how to use her natural powers to settle fights between them, but she still didn't click with anyone…until she came back one day, talking about a certain shy, socially awkward purple unicorn filly she'd set for that day.

Cadence grew up, and began working as a dignitary, her powers being useful in cooling hotheads when talking with our allies, and potential enemies. It's not a permanent position for her, but until she's old enough, by Alicorn years, to rule next to me and my sister, it's what she will do. She's done a lot of good for Equestria, and our allies. She's spread friendships among the world, between us and a large number of foreign powers. She's done more than enough good to make up for her mistake, at least in my eyes…

When you and your friends liberated my sister, it got a little confusing. The problem wasn't so much explaining there were three Alicorns as it was confirming to everypony that I was truly over 1000 years old and the two of us were an old pony's tale come to life. Luna was, as you can surmise, as shocked as I was to discover our sister had survived. I had to convince her that keeping Cadence ignorant of her past was in Cadence's best interests by reminding her why Galaxia didn't awaken us until she had no choice. While you were in Appleloosa, I had Cadence make a quick return trip to Canterlot just for Luna's sake while Luna was still recovering from her purification. And Cadence had her first meeting with her long lost Auntie.

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"Aunt Luna, why are you crying?"

"Oh…it tis nothing, dear niece…It hath just been so long since our eyes have beheld yet another of our own race at all…let alone a new one…"
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"Princess…Could you really restore her memories if you really wanted to?" Twilight asked, looking up at me.

I simply nod. "Yes…I could."

"…Then why haven't you? It'd make you feel better, wouldn't it? You and Luna?"

I sigh, of course she'd ask that. "Yes, it would…but I won't do it. Because, Twilight Sparkle, I don't want to steal her earthly life from her," I explain, trying to explain it in a way she'll understand. "Galaxia didn't take mine and Luna's from us until it was absolutely necessary, and for good reason. She wanted us to live, to enjoy life with our family and friends. I think if the good Discord had triumphed over the original, she'd never have restored our memories at all…Twilight, none of this changes a thing about your relationship with Cadence. The Cadence you remember so fondly was not an illusion. Even if I did restore her memories, she'd still remember you. Just like I remember all of my old friends. It would change nothing. Even before I took you as my apprentice, Cadence talked about you. She was elated when she found out you'd be coming to live in the palace. You were her favorite foal to sit for, because you were the one who she bonded with. You were, are, her best friend, and nothing will change that."

Twilight smiled up to me. "I understand…Thank you, Princess…"

I smile back and put a wing across her back. "Any time, Twilight Sparkle. Anytime…And thank you."

She blinks at me. "Thank me? What did I do?"

"I want to show you something," I said, looking over to a book shelf and taking out a letter, with a crystal heart as it's seal, Cadence's personal seal. "Cadence sent me this not long after she heard I sent you to Ponyville to learn about friendship."

I open the scroll and begin to read. "'Dear Aunt Celestia; Zebrafica is lovely this time of year, the diplomatic mission is going well. Thank you for sending Shining Armor to be my bodyguard, it's nice to have a very dear somepony here with me. He's been strangely looking over his shoulder lately but won't tell me why. Do you know? I hear Twilight is staying in Ponyville, that you've given her an assignment studying friendship. To think, that little filly saved the entire world, I'm so proud of her…Twilight studying friendship, are you sure she needs to study it? When I was little, when I didn't have anyone I really connected to except you and my parents…She was the first one I really clicked with. That I really came to think of as my friend. I think she was the one who taught me an important lesson; how it feels to actually form a real friendship…And that's a lesson I use a lot out here on this trips, forming friendships between Equestria and these other places…I owe Twilight a lot…

Love, Princess Cadence'."

I look up at Twilight, who has tears running down her face, but a smile on her muzzle. "That wasn't so long ago, Twilight…Still worried Cadence will suddenly become a stranger?"

My student shook her head. She looked at me through tears of joy. "No…No I don't…Thank you, Princess..."

I give her a smile. "It was a pleasure, My Faithful Student."

~Fin
Twilight may have learned a lot about the history of Equestria, and the universe as a whole, but she still has one nagging unanswered question, about the only other Alicorn she knows. Just how did Princess Cadence survive her showdown with the mad god of Mass Hysteria? And how did she get to Equestria? She's about to find out.

NOT RECURSIVE FANFICTION! THIS IS A REAL CHAPTER!

Well, an Optional Canon chapter, meaning this is up to you rather or not its actually part of the story line, but Alexwarlorn [link] let me right a REAL chapter for the Pony POV Series! I'm a promoted Fanboy!


Alexwarlorn also wrote a few scenes, and did a LOT of editting.

MLP: FiM: Copyright Hasbro

Pony POV Series belongs to Alexwarlorn! I'm just the guest writer!

EDIT: Edits throughout decreed by Alexwarlorn.

EDIT: Added a new scene at the beginning of the talk they had, it was Alex's idea originally, I just wrote out a scene for it.
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Charlie huffed blowing a strand of hair from her face and slouched with an elbow on the counter. The stool pinched her butt randomly where it was cracked when she shifted in a certain as yet undefined way. The kiosk was smelled heavily of pretzels which she initially found pleasant but now haunted her dreams. It was cramped with the appliances to produce and bake them, giving her barely enough room to squeeze around them under ideal conditions.

It was the end of week two of her summer internment at the  ‘Pretzelmaniacal’ booth at the local mall. Week one consisted of her brief training and was the longest period of time she had seen her boss. On the second week she was turned loose to run the little food kiosk on her own, only seeing Elise at the end of the afternoon when the owner/manager took over. Charlie at first was pleased at trust she assumed she had been entrusted with but then quickly realized that the booth could be run by a trained monkey. Not even a particularly well trained or bright one.

The headband of the blue visor that was part of her uniform bit into her forehead uncomfortably. The polo shirt that was the other part of her uniform was also ill-fitting, either being too big or too small dependant upon the circumstances of the day. That was her own fault. Currently, it was the latter.

She rubbed coarse knit of the blue uniform shirt over her enlarged middle where it uncomfortably itched. In anticipation of the relative privacy and strategic positioning of her lone outpost in the middle of the downstairs east wing of the mall she had requested a larger polo to be able to accommodate the judicious use of her magic cap. It seemed like a good plan at the time but the shirt produced was not quite big enough to fit a belly pregnant with a single baby much less the two which she had temporarily borrowed. A request for a larger shirt was denied as even the current one was a hard won concession. Elise didn’t care if ‘baggy was in’ as Charlie had offered as an excuse. ‘It’s unprofessional’ Elise had countered.

Charlie’s bemoaning train of thought was interrupted as she pulled up the side of her shirt up from where it was tucked into her pants and slipped her hand underneath. She scratched furiously for a moment, feeling blissful satisfaction as she chased the itch across the expanse of her middle until the sadistic stool once again bit her rear causing her to yelp and fall off. She landed on her feet but stumbled against the prep station trays, knocking a container of sesame seeds to the ground where the top popped off and sprayed the seeds across the floor in a splash.

“Mother of f-” she bit her tongue and didn’t finish her outburst. She looked around to see if any of the passing crowd had noticed the spill and conspiratorially ducked down, quickly scooping the seeds back into the container. She picked out a couple pieces of hair and the remains of some insect and quickly replaced the container back on the counter, looking around innocently. The maneuver seemed to be performed swiftly and smoothly enough to not be noticed. Given her heavily pregnant condition, it was quite the feat of agility. Then she then again, she has had lots of practice in the last almost year since she had acquired her cap. Lots and lots of practice.

That was the only real benefit of the job her father had ‘helpfully’ found for her. She was at the mall, which is where she would have been anyway when looking for bellies to borrow and was in a way the perfect blind to remain hidden in the open while she hunted. People didn’t want to make eye contact with any of the other kiosks that were hawking their various useless items. Her booth tended to be lumped into the same category and so she felt as she had a cloaking field wrapped around it. The booth barely had more than half a dozen customer in her whole shift on any given day, she’d assumed that the traffic when Elise took over must pick up. Elise had mumbled something about the mall’s policies required her to be open during this time as way of explanation when Charlie wondered why they were even open. Besides, the upstairs pretzel shop was much better as Charlie had found out for herself. The customers she did get were usually the same bunch every day. In fact, as she was looking up for a moment to scan the crowd as she habitually did for any pregnancies, she saw one of them and frowned.

Him. Again.

“Dieter? Dennis? Darryl?” Charlie tried to remember his name. She was sure it was with a D. Just about positive. It was her brother Jon’s latest friend of the year, mercifully without Jon who was at his own job. As usual he seemed to hover a bit away just within line of sight and fidgeted, craning his neck in her direction. He looked nervous as usual and pulled out a slip of paper out of his pocket which he consulted then wrote something with a pen he fished out the other. She puzzled at this behaviour, not for the first time. He straightened his hair and seemed to check himself over and came walking in her direction with something not quite approaching confidence. This was the fourth time he done this out of the six times she’d seen him since she started working the kiosk. The other two times he walked away after scribbling something. She discreetly watched him come towards her out of the corner of her eye as she returned her attention down to the magazine she kept behind the counter.

“H-hi Charlie,” he stammered with a shaky smile.

“Yeah, hey...D...d...dude. What’s up?” Charlie slid off the stool, forced a smile that didn’t show in her eyes and looked up at him.

“Good, yeah, good,” his eyes flicked up to hers and he cleared his throat looking around. His eyes dipped down every time they passed back over her only to bounce back up and away when he noticed she was looking at him directly. What was his problem? It was like he was scared of her or something. She looked down to herself. Her belly? Was this causing him some sort of discomfort? If it was, she wished he’d just say something or go away. Preferably go away.

She couldn’t take the awkward silence anymore, “So...you want a pretzel?” She prompted helpfully.

“Oh yeah, yeah. Just seeing what you have,” he made a big show of looking up at the sparse menu and scanning the components of the prep station before her. He bobbed his head and made exaggerated noises of contemplation. His eyes would stray back over to her periodically where he would give her his weird little smile and go back to reviewing the menu for the upteemth time.

Charlie rolled her eyes, familiar with this bizarre routine of neuroticness and leaned back against the cutting table behind her, taking the opportunity to crack her lower back against the table edge. She pushed back hard, eliciting a couple pops from her spine which helped alleviate the mounting tension that her unwanted customer was inducing. She sighed in both relief and frustration as she arched her back and twisted slightly. “Donald, it’s all the same stuff that’s been there since the dawn of time,” she blurted out.

His eyes were locked onto her middle. He jumped as he realized he was being addressed and his face flushed. He had a panic stricken expression on his face. He was tense and looked like was about to run. “Huh, what?”

He had definitely been looking at her middle that time, she was sure. Did he have some sort of issue with it? Everyone else she had regular contact with when she was using the hat seemed to treat it like it was nothing out of the ordinary. He didn’t seem to follow that pattern. “The menu, it’s the same things as every other time you’ve been here. Plain, butter and salt, sesame seed, poppy seed or any combination of the above. Choice several of drinks in three different sizes,” she glanced down at the sesame seed container and remembered the earlier spill, “I recommend the sesame seeds.”

He gave a nervous laugh that sounded a bit forced. “Yeah, sorry. Just don’t know what I’m in the mood for today.”

The entrepreneurial side of Charlie decided she might as well try a bit of salesmanship, “Well,” she offered with an easy smile, folding her arms over her middle as she leaned back and gestured with one arm, elbow held in the other, “you could always just buy one of each? Then you’ve got all your bases covered.”

Her confidence seemed to have rubbed off on him as he smiled more brightly. “Yeah, good point. Um, how many is that?” He started to look up again at the menu only to have his eyes slide down to her middle again.

She rolled her eyes and counted off on her fingers. “Plain, butter and salt, butter salt poppies, sesame…” she muttered to herself and counted quickly. “Nine?” she turned to the side to look up at the menu herself. She silently rechecked her figures pointing out the choices to herself while she scratched the small of her back with the other. Damn shirt. She’d wear a t-shirt under it if it was just a touch too warm for comfort in the cramped little booth with the pretzel baker. The metaphorical buns in the oven didn’t help either.

“Yeah,” she heard him agree in a distracted voice. She looked back over to him to catch him, once again, looking at her middle before darting his eyes back up. What was his skeeze anyway?

“Alright, one of everything then,” she sweeped the crud off her prep area and started fishing pretzels out the warmer beneath the counter. “Want a drink?” she asked as she started spread the butter-like substance to adhere the ingredients to the baked goods.

“Yeah, Dr. Pepper.”

She stuck out her tongue and made a face, not looking up from what she was doing. “Gross.”

For the first time, he laughed naturally, which was the most pleasant noise he’d made in the time she’d had the misfortune of knowing him. “You got something against Dr. Pepper?”

“Yeah, it’s gross,” she smiled slightly, still concentrating on what she was doing.

“No it’s not! It’s awesome!” He seemed more relaxed now, folding his arm, “What’s so wrong with DP?”

She looked up and smiled coyly, “Other than it’s utterly disgusting? Nothing at all,” she went back to spreading toppings deftly and bagging the pretzels into a pair of bags. She smirked as he chuckled at her.

“Whatever, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Charlie folded the bags up, placing them on the counter and wiping her hands off with a towel. “Large?” She looked up and asked him as she ran her hands down her belly, smoothing the shirt over it and tucking the fringe back into the beltline where it started to ride out.

He stared at her middle for a moment with his mouth slightly opened. “Yeah...no! What was the question?” He snapped his mouth shut and looked back up at her, his face blanching.

Charlie raised and eyebrow and pointed at the sign above her head. She looked at him dubiously, “Small, medium, or large, what size do you want?”

“Oh, yeah, large. Large is good,” he coughed nervously and looked away suddenly, scanning the crowd as if he was looking for something.

“Oookay,” Charlie shrugged. Whatever. The sale was more than she’d made in the rest of the day so she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, no matter how weird the horse. She gave him the total and he rammed a fist into his pocket, his strangeness returning in full force as he muttered to himself and desperately did anything but look back at her. He placed a double handful of coins along with some bills he pulled from his wallet on the counter besides the register. There was also a lot of pocket debris. Amongst the lint, keys, a bottle cap and a battery there was a wadded piece of paper that was partially open. Charlie curiously leaned over to see it, tiptoeing to rest the bottom of her very large belly on the counter to see. “What’s that?” she asked curiously.

It was the same piece of paper she’d seen him scribbling before every encounter, she imagined. She couldn’t tell what it said since it was folded away from her but she could tell that it seemed like a pair of column with check marks next to them. Something was scribbled at the top of each and there seemed to be some numbers along one side. His eyes bulged in his head and swiped the paper away as she reached for it, fast as a mongoose. “NOTHING!”

Charlie flinched, hopping back. She rubbed her middle where the sudden movement had made one of her guests kick. “Alright, sheesh!”

“It’s homework,” he stammered suddenly. He looked like he’d been caught in the middle of something.

“It’s summer,” she countered suspiciously.

“I mean it’s home work,” he purposely paused between words, “some stuff I got to pick up to do stuff around the house.”

“Uh huh,” her eyes narrowed then she just shook her head, “whatever, keep your mysteries.” She took the money for the purchase from the pile herself as he had backed away from the counter defensively. She flicked away a bit of link clinging to a coin. “The rest of that is yours,” she nodded to the change. He swept the money off the counter and crammed into his pocket, opposite the one that he had shoved his precious secret note she noted, and hesitantly took his bags of pretzels and drink which he only took after some prompting with a shake of the bags. “Thanks for visiting Pretzelmaniacal, enjoy your pretzels and please come again,” she droned as she was required to. Under her breath she added, “I’m sure you will,” with a strained smile.

“Yeah, thanks. See ya Charlie.”

“Yeah, lates Dillan,” Charlie said disinterested, fishing her magazine back from beneath the counter.

“It’s Derrick actually,” Derrick said as he backed away.

Charlie flipped the page and pretended to be totally engrossed with the contents, “Yeah, that’s what I said.”

She watched him walk away from the edge of her vision until he was gone. He was heading in one direction then suddenly swerved in a different direction as if he had a change of mind. Charlie grunted, annoyed. So he was heading for the escalator to watch from the upstairs balcony. She knew all the good viewpoints in the mall from her own ‘hobby.’ What the hell was up with that boy?

Her shift ended a few hours mercifully enough. The unwanted attention of her ‘favorite’ customer from earlier had hovered in the periphery of her vision most of the rest of the afternoon until just before her boss’s arrival. As was typical, she dismissed her guests just when she saw her coming to her booth, sending the babies back to their respective mothers to be wherever they were. Elise seemed to have a rather large moral chip on her shoulder and had given Charlie a hard time the one time she had decided to hold on to the pregnancy for the trip home. The lecture on responsibility and how she was personally responsible for the collapse of western civilization was enough for her to end the temporary pregnancy in mid rant causing Elise to suddenly lapse in her train of thought and end the rant. As nice as it would be to be able to relax at home and enjoy the purloined belly, it just wasn’t worth the trouble. She’d look for any new ones on the way out of the mall but none crossed her path. Not being in the mood to hang around the mall any further she just headed out to the parking lot.

The one purely upside to accepting the purgatory of a summer job was that as part of the deal her parents had given her a car. Well, a van anyways. It was hers, with the condition that she maintained a good school grade average (easy enough) and worked to pay the insurance and gas herself. It wasn’t the most impressive of vehicles, a simple white van that was used for a delivery service before being retired, but it ran okay and got her where she needed to go with little fuss. The freedom of her own wheels had been intoxicating but blunted by the fact that she was tied to a job. ‘Part of growing up’ her parents had chimed. Bah. Humbug. Still, she was proud of her ride, inherent responsibilities or no.

She was just fishing the keys from her pockets when she heard the slap of running feet on the asphalt, faint at first then rapidly growing. Realizing that there was someone (rapidly) coming towards her. “Danny!” she muttered as she recognized who it was. She scowled, balling her fists suspiciously.

Stumbling to a halt about twenty feet away was that boy again. He was clearly winded, face red and gulping for air. He held a hand up as if to ward away her clear annoyance and then a finger to signal that he need a moment to recover. Hands on his knees he took deep breathes and fought to will his breathing to normal. In one hand he held the mysterious slip of paper from before. He tried to say her name and only managed a croak then went back to gulping for air again waving for her to wait again. Charlie crossed her arms and waited with what little patience she had left. She was somewhat curious about why this boy seemed to have taken a new leap in his stalking. She felt disturbed but felt she might as well hear him out, if for no other reason than to feel fully justified in the anger that was mounting.

“Charlie,” he finally managed between inhalations.

“Yeah?” she prompted when he paused taking breathes again.

He swallowed and straightened himself up. His mouth moved to speak again and he gave her a quick look over then paused. He seemed to have become mentally lost again, swaying where he was for a moment.

“Okay, whatever, bye,” Charlie finally had enough. She turned and unlocked the van door, opening it to get in.

“No no, wait!”

Charlie turned back to him, giving him a very serious look. “Stop following me, okay? I see you again and there’s going to be trouble, got it?” She stabbed a finger at him for emphasis.

She had gotten in and was just reaching to slam the door shut when he glanced down at the paper he had a death grip of in his hand then suddenly blurted something out that made her pause with a chill.

“YOU’RE PREGNANT!”

Charlie paused and had to actually give a quick look to confirm she wasn’t then turned to him slowly, eyes wide. “What?”

The boy shuffled from foot to foot and rubbed his head with one hand, “I mean, you were, earlier,” he gulped and looked her in the eye, “you’re not now, but you were. When I bought the pretzels.”

Now it was Charlie’s turn to stare dumbly. She blinked, swallowed out and forced out a soft laugh. “D-don’t be stupid, of course I’m not. I wasn’t,” she leaned back in her seat to offer the irrefutable evidence of her currently unpregnant state, “See?”

The boy shook his head. He seemed to be having an internal battle that was making it difficult to form coherent sentence. “No. No, you were, and, and,” he stammered and prodded a finger at the paper in his hand, “this isn’t the first time. Sometimes you’re pregnant and sometimes you’re not,” he was clearly in distress, turning in circles and muttering to himself as he gathered the courage to go on, “I don’t remember it well, but I have been more lately.”

He took a few steps towards the astonished Charlie, offering his carefully guarded note then backed away. Charlie numbly took it and after a moment looked down to exam it. Her breath caught as she realized what it was.

“See, I wrote it down,” Derrick smiled hysterically as a look of dawning realization came across Charlie’s face, “I watched you, and I wrote down if you were or weren’t pregnant every time I saw you.”

There were two columns on the page of loose leaf paper with a series of checks, either in a column labeled ‘is pregnant’ or ‘isn’t pregnant’. Along the left margin there were a series of dates and times, some dates repeated but with different times. Thinking for a moment she realized that they were accurate. The most recent were coincided with her work schedule but the older ones she realized were from times when he must have been to her house with her brother Jon. They started about two months ago. He gave her a moment to digest the information then started rambling again when she looked back up to him.

“See, see?” he looked a little crazed, as if he expected for her to refute him but grew more confident when she didn’t. “I started noticing it and wrote it down cause I couldn’t remember if I didn’t,” he spun around again and then took a few more steps towards her, lowering his voice, “I don’t know how you do it, but I know it’s happening, right?”

Charlie was dumbstruck. No one had noticed anything before. No one. Not her parents which had seen her pregnant and not so on too many occasions to count. They never reacted as if there was anything unusual going on. Elise reacted with disdain but even then she didn’t seem to act like it was unusual, just distasteful. Not the innumerable people that had witnessed her doing it in public with no attempt to hide it. Not Mrs. Robbin from next door who had been her first go to person when it came to borrowing pregnancies before she had her baby. And Charlie had come to her dozens of times when she felt the urge and had used the hat directly in front of her dozens of times, at point blank range usually while in the middle of a conversation without so much as a hint of anything being amiss. But somehow, he had. Not only noticed but clearly had gone out of his way to document it, record it and confront her with his evidence. A cold chill went up her spine. She couldn’t deny it. She could, but she knew he’d never believe her. The look on her face was clearly all the confirmation he needed.

“What do you want?” she quietly asked after a minute of silence.

“Want?” he seemed confused by the question and took a step back looking less confident than he had just been a moment ago.

She held the paper up to him. “What do you want Derrick?” his name finally clicked her head, given the circumstance. “You’ve been following me around, you’ve been writing this stuff down, what do you want from me?” she felt a deep fear she hadn’t known before creeping up and the gravity of her situation was quickly overcoming her. Where was he going with this? The thought occurred to her, would he demand the hat to keep quiet? She considered retreating out of there as quickly as she could but realized that with her nerves as they were now she was certain she wouldn’t make it out the parking lot without crashing.

He stared for a moment then shook his head suddenly, “No, I don’t want anything!” he blurted out. “I just want…” he paused and seemed to rethink what he was saying, “I just would like to know, how do you do it?”

Charlie looked him over critically. He seemed frightened, curious and...something else. She didn’t feel like he meant any harm, just that he was overwhelmed with the discovery of something impossible that had made him question his sanity. It was a rather rare of moment of empathy on Charlie’s part. She had initially been shocked at the discovery of the hat’s ability but had overcome it quickly with the thrill of actually using it. He was clearly distressed with the knowledge that something that shouldn’t be able to happen was. He looked on the verge of tumbling over the edge and running through the streets screaming. She wondered why he was having such a much harder time coming to grips with this. She figured she must be simply more mentally robust than him. “Yes, that must be it,” she thought to herself, “after all, I am pretty awesome.” She decided it was safe enough, but she still needed to know something.

“Okay, tell you what,” she started, “you tell me how you figured this all out and I’ll think about it.”

He seemed to relax and smiled a little, “alright, fair enough.” He looked around the parking lot, “You want to go somewhere to talk?”

Charlie nodded. She wanted to get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later, “Yeah, I kinda want to get something to eat.”

Derrick lit up suddenly. He reached around to his back pocket and pulled out a rolled up bag, “Want some pretzels?” he unfolded the bag started to reach inside, “I still got some left.”

“No!” Charlie laughed, leaning away.

“They’re not too mangled?” Derrick offered again with a smirk.

Charlie wrinkled her nose and tried to contain a grin, “No, thanks, really.”

“They’re warm?” he held the bag out to her face.

“Seriously, don’t make me punch you,” Charlie swatted the bag away and cocked a fist back. Derrick feigned fear, cringing away from her and they shared a laugh. “C’mon, get in,” Charlie reached across and unlocked the passenger door.

Derrick ran around to the other side enthusiastically and hopped up to the seat, “Thanks, seriously.”

“Yeah, well, get started. Start from the beginning,” Charlie ordered more seriously as she backed out of the parking space.

“Okay, so it was a few weeks ago, right after school let out…” Derrick began with a deep breath.
This is the first part of a new story involving Charlie. It was too big (hurk hurk) to fit into one deviation so I split it into two parts. If you read them out of order, it probably won't make sense. Well, less sense anyways. This story is preceded almost directly by 'Charlie: Interim' located elsewhere on my page. Enjoy.
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Pony POV Series
Shining Armor Part 3
By lz0291
Edited by Alex Warlorn, Kendell2, And the producer of the Pony POV Series Audio Adaption Louis Badalament.

"I love you and I respect you, Shiny, but... why do we have to go all this way?"

"To get the new season shirt of course," I replied for the fifth time.

Myself and my sister, Twilight Sparkle, were at that moment walking down a street in Canterlot. She was wearing only a saddlebag, advertising her status as a college mare. I, on the other hoof, as a respectable officer of the Royal Guard, wore a lovely red shirt, as well as a saddlebag. Spike meanwhile wore a Twilight Sparkle on his bottom while reading a newspaper.

"Yes, but there's good sports shops nearer the castle! We're about to walk past one! You're waving at one of the workers there!" Twiley protested.

"He went to my school and his brother is in the Guard. He's also more of a Cloudball fan," I explained my wave.

Twilight groaned as the shop worker in the Baltimare Ravens shirt waved back.

"And we still can't just buy a new shirt in there because...?"

"They might have touched TROTTENHAM shirts in there before hanging them up! You've no idea what kind of hooves have touched them afterwards either. Only at the Maresenal Store are you certain no greasy Lillywhite Spurs germs have touched your shirt!"

She gave me a look as a newspaper page was turned by the dragon on her back.

"...Are you serious?"

Was I serious? Was SHE serious?!

She then advised, "You should start following Caledonian Hoofball, then maybe when you're going crazy like this you'd be out of my mane for a week while you travel up north to buy your replica shirts..."

"I'd mail-order them," I quickly retorted.

Besides, Caledonian Hoofball was a two-pony race until mere weeks before that day, between the big two Clydesdale clubs, Manegers and Gaelic. The former however had dropped to Division Three due to massive financial problems. They'd even sold off their historic shares in Maresenal a few months ago.

"Why didn't you mail-order THIS?!"

"You know what the mail is like delivering to the barracks! Come on, Twiley, it's only a short trip away on carriage! Besides, you've not been to the stadium in a long while..."

"I'm not a big fan of hoofball."

"You liked it as a filly."

She fumed a little at that one.

"No, I liked reading the hoofball rule books you gave me! And why are you wearing the old one to buy the new one?!"

"It's a charity drive. Buy the new shirt, put in an old one as a donation, you get a discount because the club donates half the sales tax to charity. Help build drinking wells, afford more food aid, and some poor deprived Zebrafrican gets a chance to wear a real Hoofball team's shirt!"

"...Pretty sure most Zebra would prefer Neighcastle. Or Trotts County. Or Paisneigh Buddies. Or Foalventus." She muttered.

"Pha, Foalventus? Itallion lightweights!"

"...Foalventus four, Maresenal one."

"Four-three on aggregate! We had an away goal so when we were denied that penalty we were denied the win!"

"Ugh, this is why it's impossible to debate sports! There's always something. The referee got it wrong, the timer was started too slow, its not fair to have Fleetfoot be the lead flyer for the Wonderbolts team because too many other racers slow down to enjoy the view..."

Twiley was amazingly quiet for the rest of the walk. Spike was noisier turning newspaper pages. Then we neared the station. It was originally going to a magic powered-tram system, but the CCBC had dug in their hooves against that one. A small perk of both our positions was a discount on the Canterlot Bus Carriage Service, that was going to supposedly be replaced by a rail system in one year or two once they got a viable steam engine working (The Princess was very confident this technology could work. She already had the blueprints drawn up after wresting with the 'Conserve Canterlot's Beauty Committee.' Being...well, Princess Celestia, she'd worked out a compromise).

Our discount was better than a Mollusk card. We both produced the relevant identification to get the discount at the ticket office - my Royal Guard identification card, and Twilight's student pass (formality more than anything when you're The Princess' personal apprentice).

"I hate public transit. It's hot, crowded, and hard to read..." Twilight complained as we headed for the platform.

"Spike likes it. Don't you, Spike?" I prompted.

"Huh? Oh, yeah."

He folded up the newspaper, shoving it into one of Twilight's saddlebags, only to grab one of the free papers given away on public transport in Canterlot (sometimes its hard to believe he's still considered a baby dragon, especially given he's been around as long as Twilight in Celestia's gifted school). It meant when the bus arrived, Twilight simply tried to read the other paper and was complaining about its articles within a few moments.

"Ugh, another Sunny Day hatchet job. She's trying to claim Hogwarts and the Unseen University are both going to surpass the School for Gifted Unicorns next year."

"Everypony else just reads the fashion pages and the funnies before they do the crossword," Spike commented to no one in particular.

"Oh, and you read the fashion pages?" Twilight pondered.

"Well, yeah. Look at all those gemstones in the Autumn collection!"

"You know the princess laughs at the tabloids most of the time, Twiley," I replied. I didn't follow Sunny Day personally, but heard plenty about her and Celestia's laugh from the older guards.

"Yeah. Usually, she does. But tabloids are still awful filth. I'll never forget the outbreak of 'Molestia' articles that came out shortly after I began living at the castle." There was more than a hint of venom in her tone. "Celestia certainly wasn't laughing then. Neither was I."

"For the record, little sister, all the REST of us had sharp words with anypony who quoted that garbage at us. Mom, Dad, AND me."

There was relative silence, other than the hubbub of the other bus passengers. I enjoyed getting suspicious glares from posh-looking passengers who either preferred sports more 'cultured' (shorthoof for elitist and boring), or were Lillywhites.

After ten minutes, we reached the first stop, getting off the Celestia Line service at Princess Cross station, to catch a Picafilly Line service and then get off at Hollowneigh Road. That journey was shorter, and five minutes later we had just a short walk to Emareates Stadium, our route taking us right towards the official store, called the Armory.

"Still don't know why I had to come..." Twilight muttered as we started walking towards the stadium. Spike was back on her, back, and both newspapers were away.

"It's educational!" I protested.

I got another look for that. I didn't bother trying to justify the statement.

"Okay, you're here to stop me from going overboard and buying full Home, Away, and Limited Edition Historical kits."

"...How much would that cost?"

Ninety bits for the shirts, forty for the shorts, forty for the socks... A hundred and seventy a kit. Two hundred and ten for the historical... And I'd probably have looked at other things in the store as well. I might even have tried to buy a Season Ticket even though I rarely had match days off. The charity discount was only about ten bits.

"Probably close to nine hundred bits."

Ironically, it wouldn't have been any great loss to me to have spent my savings on all of that, especially since I could have just gave the season ticket to somepony else. I believe the word is 'D'oh.'

"Would it be that bad? All you've really got for civilian clothes is that shirt you have on right now."

"I have a hoody somewhere!" I protested.

"You gave that to me last winter."

Snow plus Unobservant College Student Wandering Around In It times Overprotective Big Brother ≠ Actual Maths, but does equal 'Twiley here's a jacket for the winter.'

"...Scarf?"

"Dad still has it."

"I know I had a tracksuit..." I tried lamely.

"Shrank in the laundry, you and your squad used it to make a Nightmare Night decoration to annoy a Trottenham supporter."

"Oh. Well, maybe I should buy a few more things..."

We neared the store, only for Spike to spot a possible problem.

"Hey, they've got big signs outside. What are they for?"

I began to read as we neared, and the information was not pleasant.

"...It says that they've been having shipment problems in replacing their stock recently and all they have left for new season stuff is what's listed there in those sizes." Twilight helpfully noted, and then the penny dropped as she noticed the key part of the list.

Only home kits in my size were actually in stock. Even the extra apparel like hooded shirts was all out - unless I wanted it three sizes too small, that is.

"...Which means I never had to come in the first place. But I suppose you had no way of knowing this would happen," she then said.

Hooray for a rational sister!

"Anyway, let's just get the shirt. And since you came all this way for nothing, Twiley, how about I get you something?"

"Wait, is that the Away kit?" She asked, pointing at the purple and black banded shirt in the window.

"Yep."

"Hmm..."

"I kind of like that too..." Spike confessed.

Of course, inside, there were a few other things of interest after all. We left the store, my bits having paid for One Stallions Home Jersey for the new season, one Mare's Away Jersey, one Junior's (Dragon's) Away Jersey, one large Stallion's Saddlebag with the club crest, and two books on the club's history. Sadly my Royal Guard ID didn't fit in the only card holders they had in stock. If it had, I'd have probably experienced a much easier morning a few days later...




I awoke. I hadn't been too surprised remembering that dream. Those events had occurred only a week or so before my promotion ceremony, and as it turned out, they were the last occasion on which I spent any meaningful time with my sister. The previous night had been uneventful, and my thoughts had been lingering occasionally on what I was leaving behind for two years. Waking up from that dream somewhat hammered the point home.

My sister, friends in the guard who hadn't come with us, Maresenal, radio shows, the occasional play, birthdays, and Hearth's Warming Eves. All to be missed for two years. I could probably catch up on new books as I knew that ships could get letters and small items sent to them eventually, but I wasn't kidding when I said it was tricky for Twilight to get letters to me.

Items can be sent to ships, via 'post-onwards' boxes in the Admiralty Section of Horse Guards, the administrative building in Canterlot City that deals with the paperwork for the Royal Guard. Unfortunately, items must come from the Royal Mail, be registered deliveries dispatched by courier, and would all be examined.

This meant that if she were to send a letter from Ponyville, the Postmisstress there would need to send a special courier out instead of simply chucking it onto a mail train to be sent to a sorting office in Canterlot. That made it more expensive, but you might think quicker.

Wrong. There's only ever about twenty on duty at once to check all incoming and outgoing mail with scanning spells, and they're also performing other duties besides scanning. All of it is sorted and categorized by those twenty Royal Guards, and each letter is given a priority based on the sender. Letters from family often get low priority.

On top of that, only a limited number of small physical items can be sent to a ship once per day through the anti-teleportation wards, as for security they're only lowered around the communications room for a brief period daily. A brief period in which the room is also full of Naval Cavalry ready to fight off any 'unwanted deliveries' and a blast containment spell for good measure.

I'd thought her returning to Canterlot following the Summer Sun Celebration would have eased all of that, as it cut out a large portion of it, but...well, you know what happens next.

Anyway, back to me waking up from the dream. We were by that point well underway, and it was oh five thirty hours according to the ship's clock. The time I usually get up anyway.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Did waking up in a genuinely strange place disorientate you, Captain?)

Not really. At the time I had my mind on other matters.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Hoofball and an inefficient mail system, apparently.)

Quite. As it is, cabins on ships are quite similar to quarters in the barracks. Quite a bit smaller, of course, with the desk designed to mostly fold away, and with some ship-board safety notices pinned to the back of the door, but overall, it was not wholly alien to me. The occasional turbulence did disorientate me a bit at first, but it soon passed. Oh, and they call them 'portholes' instead of 'windows.' Nothing to see half of the time anyway, just clouds and ocean, even when the sun is up.

I did feel a bit confused when I noticed it was still dark out, until I recalled Princess Celestia's earlier warning, and dismissed it. After yesterday it was a relief to put on my armor with my horn again. I'd been asked to meet Commander Shepard in her ready room at seven hundred hours, so I decided I would see about something to eat before that and catch up with whichever of my troopers were awake.

Instead, I was met outside my door by a nervous Hoofmaiden: a blue-coated unicorn.

"Oh, Captain! You're awake!" She said with obvious relief in her voice and body language.

"Is there a problem, ma'am?"

"Well, I'm not sure. Cade... The Princess said not to worry about the sun not being up yet, but I usually wake up later than this and for some reason I woke up at five instead. And then I saw that some of the soldiers on the ship seem to be wearing green armor and fatigues, and they were acting like nothing is wrong..."

"Ah, I presume you know that if the Royal Guard wears green it's supposed to mean they're expecting trouble?"

She nodded.

"Did you see any of my troopers wearing green, or just the Air Naval Cavalry from the ship itself?"

Air Naval Cavalry are basically members of the Air Naval section of the Royal Guard that, instead of being crewmembers on the ships, acted much like the regular Ground Guard did back on land, providing security and being there to respond to anything dangerous.

"I'm not sure..."

"Naval Cavalry would be wearing green berets instead of helmets, and have plumeless helmets hanging off their armor instead," I informed her of the differences to watch out for.

"All the ones I saw in green were wearing berets... Are they expecting trouble?"

"I don't imagine so. Air Naval Cavalry operate differently from the land-based guard. They wear their green armor and fatigues all the time. I think the tradition is when they're at sea or in the air, they're supposed to be ready for anything. And I think when the Air Navy are on alert they flash red lights."

We both took a glance at the electro-magic lights that gave a bright but artificial glow in the corridor.

"...Do they have to change the bulb?" She wondered.

"I think they might use magical bulbs," I guessed.

By the way? She was partially right. I would later learn that there was a minotaur Petty Officer First Class called Kryten who had the task of confirming bulbs were at the right alert status if a change in alert was called. Generally, if one was wrong, he simply hit it a bit until it changed color or, you guessed it, changed the bulb.

"Oh. So then there's nothing to worry about?"

"I don't think so... no."

She was satisfied by that and wandered off after saying goodbye. I headed for the ship's mess hall, as planned, noting that a few of the green-clad Air Naval Cavalry moving around, along with the Air Naval crew wearing their white sailor shirts and the flat caps they wear. I was suddenly a little jealous of their geeky but comfortable uniforms.

There, I found Sergeant Thunderchild, Lance-Corporal Apple, and Private Audience talking with an Air Naval Petty Officer by a table. I got a muffin and headed over to join them. None of them had any plates or food, but the sailor pony seemed to be nodding at something.

"Well, I'll try and speak to the Master Chief about that, if your officer is okay with that," he was saying.

"Good morning, troopers, Petty Officer. Something for my attention?"

"Morning, Sir. Quite possibly. You see, Private Audience here was wondering about some of the naval ranged arms, so we were asking Petty Officer Turnip if we could arrange him to try some..." Thunderchild began.

"Ah, yes. You're probably interested in their miniature gunpowder cannons," I said to Audience.

"Yes Sir. We never had any gunpowder weapons back at the castle and I was wanting to see how they compared to crossbows," He replied.

"They kick like a mule," the Petty Officer, an earth pony, said.

"Er, beg your pardon, Petty Officer Turnip but... How could you have fired one?"

"I didn't. Mister Broadside did." He motioned his head towards a nearby unicorn in naval uniform.

"So..." I wondered, but he continued.

"He pulled the trigger, lost his telekinetic grip on it, and the gun flew back and smacked me in the face."

"Sounds painful," I noted.

"Not really, I was rendered unconscious at the time, Sir. It was the headache afterwards that hurt."

"I see. Anyway, if you're wanting to ask, I can maybe speak to Commander Shepard about it..."

Turnip however raised a hoof to cut me off.

"Er, begging your pardon, Sir, but Commander Shepard will merely redirect you to the Master Chief Petty Officer in charge of the Cavalry. I could ask him for you."

"Very well, thank you, Petty Officer. If the Master Chief is willing to let a few of my troopers take a few shots I'm sure it'd keep them entertained."

The naval crewpony bid his farewell and promised to give me an update later in the day. And reminded the troopers not to stand directly behind someone holding the guns.

It certainly would keep the troops entertained, even the pegasi and earth ponies that couldn't fire the miniature cannons. I'd probably give it a go myself if I could, and be thankful for the lack of actual targets while the ship was in flight. This wasn't to say I can't hit the broad side of a barn. The problem was, I can and I did. And our archery range was three miles from the farm I hit.

Ah, well. Archery is rare in the Guard anyway. It's a fairly frequent special talent, true, but even unicorns with the advantage of telekinesis found bows tricky to use, even crossbows, which are much easier to aim. Most unicorns simply made do with their magic instead of a bow.

Suffice to say, with my shooting ability, I was one of the ones relying on magic, which even if I did have aiming talent, would probably still be the case, considering my specialty is defensive spells, which caters to a completely different style. Private Audience however was one of the best archers in the Guard. It helped he was skilled in using a long-range vision spell. Training with the miniature cannons would probably be a good way for him to pass his time.

Huh? What did I do to pass my time? Well, when it turned out I'd have more free time than I thought I'd have, I was bored stiff. I was way too used to having books on hoof with Twiley. I'd have even taken up a challenge from Spike for a game of Draco Kong.

We all fetched ourselves some breakfast and sat down at a table.

"So, how are the troopers settling in on the ship?" I asked Thunderchild as we made our way towards fetching breakfast.

"Well enough so far, Sir, but not many of them are awake yet, of course," he said.

"Of course. Have Sergeant Foaly and Sergeant Reinolds spoken to you about any duty roster plans?"

"I assumed you would want to discuss that with us all and the other NCOs after you saw Commander Shepard, Sir, but we've been having some informal discussions."

"I see. Lance-Corporal, what about your rung of the NCO ladder?"

"Not so much, Sir, we just asked Corporal Griffen a few questions about Griffin countries. I went to bed early 'cos I was traveling yesterday."

"Yes. I hear your family reunion had some sort of brunch to avoid."

"Yup. There was this one time me and my buddy Heath were at the reunion when it was in Savvaneigh, and Heath somehow got into an eating contest with mah cousin Applejack..."

"Er, Lance-Corporal..."

"...That was a draw so they tried a burping contest which Heath won, then a lasso contest, and then a horseshoe throwing contest..."

"Lance-Corporal Apple..."

"...then they decided to try swimming for a tiebreaker, all of us forgetting Heath can't swim..."

"Ellis, can this one wait? I was going to ask you about yesterday," I said.

"Oh! Right, sorry, Sir. Uh, I can finish that one real quick though. Long story short, Heath screamed every time she saw a swimming pool for the next six months. Anyway, what did you want to know about yesterday?"

"Just wondering how it went."

"Not bad. Ponyville's a nice town, and Sweet Apple Acres is a bit bigger than the farm back home even if they got less ponies workin' it. My cousins put some serious effort into it, Applejack and Big Macintosh are real hard workers, even by Apple family standards. And if you're asking about Twilight, yeah, they liked her alright. Applejack said she hopes they'll be friends before Twilight leaves, and some pink pony asked if I wanted to come to a 'welcome to Ponyville' party for her, but I had to go."

'Good luck with that,' I thought.

"Okay. You didn't see her in town, did you?"

"Not so much, saw her on my way to the train station when I was heading back, but Spike and her were talking to a yellow pegasus."

"Probably Weather Patrol stuff," Thunderchild added.

"Quite. Anyway, Thunderchild, quick question. Yesterday, you were offering to try and be with Twilight's chariot team, but you knew about this at the same time...."

"Ah, well, Sir..."

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Oho! Did you realize he might have been wanting to keep an eye on Twilight for other reasons?)

Actually, that was not what I was getting at. Besides, Thunderchild's primarily attracted to a mare's wingspans. Talks about them constantly. Ergo, Twilight is not his type. So what I actually said was:

"You knew you'd just make me check on the team that had been assigned to confirm everything was all right, didn't you?"

"Yes," he said bluntly.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): And you believed him?)

Of course I did. I'm not going into details, but let's just say 'Spitfire of the Wonderbolts preening her wings' and 'catatonic state' and we'll leave it at that.

"Oh, Sir, what exactly is this country we're going to called anyway?" Private Audience wondered.

"It's called the United Republics of Columbia. All I know is they apparently vote for their head of state every four years, they've got a large Air Navy, their Air Naval Cavalry are called Marines and are a separate branch of the military, and that the city we're landing in, Liberty City, is about twice the size of Manehattan. While local independent griffin clans think being unified means Columbian griffins are insane. I was hoping Corporal Griffen might be able to give us more information at some point later today. I think the Princess felt somepon... someone with direct experience of Griffin culture would be more useful than books."

"...I doubt that, Sir," Lance-Corporal Apple said, nodding his head to point at something.

Private Running Gag was talking to said Griffin.

""...I'm the black and white stallion with the black and white armor, can I marry your daughter now?' And the king said 'Sure'."

"Well, that's his braincells committing mass suicide. The Black and White Knight joke. Ellis, do you mind giving us some story about your buddy Heath again in case Gag comes over here with a different bad joke?" I said.

"Oh, sure, Sir. Well, there was this one time Heath figured she could build her own rollercoaster..."

Despite the fact Heath had allegedly died seventeen times, Bitter Apple's stories were infinitely more friendly to the braincells than one of Gag's punchlines. Well, I say punchlines, but it was more like being pummeled by a crowbar...




Breakfast concluded with a story that apparently ended in Heath being the first non-pegasus to reach a nearby Cloud Village without the aid of magic, but sadly not staying there very long and landing in a lake that inspired another six month spell of aquaphobia. It was nearing seven, so I went towards the ready room. Commander Shepard and a Master Chief Petty Officer waited there.

"Ah, good morning, Commander." She said, confusing me for a moment until the whole ship-captain and royal-guard-commander thing came to mind.

"Good morning, Captain."

"Commander Sparkle, this is Master Chief Petty Officer Spartan. He commands the Air Naval Cavalry detachment in the Flotilla."

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Isn't that rank a senior non-commissioned officer in equivalent? Why would an NCO be the highest ranking Cavalrypony in the whole Flotilla?)

Air Naval Cavalry work differently. Officers are usually only found on Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships and Carriers. A very senior NCO like the Master Chief would usually be in charge on a Frigate, and as the lead ship, the Frigate's commanding officers were in effect commanding officers to their departments on the whole flotilla. Besides, a Master Chief Petty Officer or a Sergeant Major usually have at least twenty years experience under their belts - Spartan probably had been a soldier a decade before I realized fillies did not have cooties.

Anyway, Spartan nodded as he was introduced.

"Pleased to meet you, Commander."

"Likewise, Master Chief. "

"We were going to discuss the security arrangements for the ship and for the Princess, but it occurs to me she might wish to be present. Master Chief was wondering if you would be okay with rescheduling the meeting to lunchtime?"

"I'd not object to it, but I'd hoped to clarify my unit's position aboard."

The Master Chief nodded.

"Easy enough. We'd need to clarify your platoon call sign for use with our own radios, but for ship-board security I think we'll probably be better off having a one to one mix of units, maybe put them in groups of four, two of yours, two of mine. Just so your ponies get to know the ropes a little faster."

"Seems reasonable. I've no idea about a callsign though. We're a bit of a misfit group from various regiments and companies." I admitted.

"Maybe just go with that, Commander? Use 'Misfit' for a callsign?" Shepard suggested.

"Misfit... if you're okay with being Misfit Actual, that's fine by me."

Callsigns were a unit's nickname using radio or even letter communications. My Platoon ended up being Misfit, making me and my command squad Misfit Actual. The first section or squad of ten ponies was Misfit One, commanded by Sergeant Foaly (who had previously been Hunter Two-One, apparently) and further broken down into two teams of five, Misfit One-One and One-Two. After that was a small specialist five-strong Scout team, Misfit One-Three, and then Sergeant Reinold's second section, Misfit Two.

As you can guess, I accepted that nickname for the unit. Unfortunately, it also gave Running Gag an unfortunate amount of ammunition for his 'humor.'

"Good. Well, we're halfway done from my perspective, sir. If you could maybe have a squad roster prepared so we can decide who to put with who that would be most useful."

"I'll try and get that done just now then, if I can beg your leave, Captain?" I said to Shepard. She nodded.

"Oh, Commander. I spoke with Petty Officer Turnip about your request. I'd be happy to accommodate some of your troopers to let them train with mine on the gun decks. I'll hammer out the details with you when we've got our rosters ready," Spartan added as I was leaving.

"Thank you, Master Chief."

And that was the end of the meeting. I went to my NCOs to try and figure out who would go where (which you can already guess: My squad remained my five-strong Command squad, Foaley got First, Reinolds got Second). By the time we were done, it was ten hundred, or ten AM, and the sun had not yet risen. A few of the civilians in Cadence's entourage seemed to be getting nervous, even knowing the sun would rise late.

And honestly, I was nervous too at that point. It didn't help that I'd looked out and saw the Mare In The Moon was missing, but I assumed it must just be an optical illusion or something.

(Interviewer Pegasus: Or were attempting not to admit your sister had been right about a mad lunar goddess being unleashed?)

Yes...there was that. I wasn't the only pony who observed the Mare In The Moon's absence, but thankfully military discipline kept talk about the apocalypse to a minimum. Only one or two suggested making Running Gag a live sacrifice, kidding!

By eleven hundred, I wondered if Cadence may have known more about this phenomenon, and sought out a hoofmaiden.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but where would I find Princess Cadence?"

The unicorn I spoke with named Twinkle Shine; white-coated with a pink mane and blue stars cutie mark. "Oh, Captain! She's, er... Wait, you don't know, do you?"

That wasn't good.

"Know what?" I asked, trying to sound polite. Minuette from before, then approached and answered.

"The Princess... Er, in summer months, she allows herself to sleep until the sun rises."

"...And no one realized this may have been a problem with the known fact of a delayed sunrise?"

"Well, yes, actually. We're instructed to wake her up if the sun hasn't risen by lunch time." Twinkle Shine said brightly.

"Oh! What a relief! I was almost starting to think if the sun does not rise again she'd never wake up."

The hoofmaidens giggled.

"Oh, no, Captain! Not at all!" Twinkle Shine managed to say.

"Ah. Hang on. She decided she wanted a long lie in, didn't she?"

"...She might have."

"Well, please inform the princess when she awakens that I was looking to meet her for lunchtime. Or breakfast... whichever she'd prefer after waking if it's noon."

The two hoofmaidens shared excited glance, like a pair of schoolgirls.  

"...It's to discuss security with Commander Shepard," I then finished.

The two hoof maidens looked a little bit pouty at that.  

"Er, okay, Captain."

As I was leaving, the sun began to rise.

"Go figure." Twinkle Shine muttered.

"Quite," I agreed. I didn't know why at the time, but that sunrise seemed more beautiful that day for some reason. I guess the slowly creeping fear in my mind that the sun may never rise again may have had something to do with it.

"If you'll wait here I'll see if the princess has awoken, Captain," Minuette then said, entering the room.

I waited with the other hoofmaiden. It had to be my imagination, but I could have sworn I saw the twilight sun sparkle a little in the shape of Princess Celestia as it rose.

"Ah, good morning, Your Highness..."

"Good morning. And Minuette, I've told you before, unless someone is there, it's Cadence, plea... Someone is there, aren't they?"

"Er, yes, Your Highness. Captain Sparkle..."

"Oh, I see. Actually, two things. One, it's okay to call me Cadence if it's just him. And tell him if it's just you and the other hoof maidens he can call me Cadence as well. Er, it is just him, right?"

"Yes, Your... Cadenceness."

"Okay. Two, I was wanting to speak to him, could you send him in please?"

Twinkle Shine seemed to stifle a giggle. I blushed just a little.

"...Right away, Cadence."

Minuette then returned.

"The Princess will see you now, Captain," She said, giving her fellow hoofmaiden a glance.

"Thank you," I said in reply, and awaited the inevitable...

"Oh, and Captain? Cadence would like you to know you can call her Cadence in our company."

"I see, very well," I replied, as they closed the door and began giggling.

"Ah, good morning, Shining..."

"She calls him Shining!" I heard from the door, accompanied by a small but audible squealing noise. And a duet musical number with Twinkle Shine starting, then Minute.

She calls him Shining, do you think there's a chance?

The guard and the princess? Maybe so.

It depends on how it will go

If there's a chance for romance.

Cadence stared at the door as we both blushed, which, unfortunately, was easier to see on white than her natural pink.

"...I have no idea what's got into them. Anyway, Shining, I was wondering if you could maybe bring Corporal Griffen up to my quarters at about lunchtime so you and I could ask him about the Griffin lands."

"Actually, Cadence, the Captain would like to see us both then to look over some security arrangements with Master Chief Spartan."

"Oh. Wait, I thought you were... Oh, ship captain and all that. Sorry, I just woke up. Er, what time is it anyway?"

"Just after eleven AM."

"Huh, and we moved across how many timezones . . . so it's about ... Nearly half a day late for sunrise back in Equestria. I wonder who Auntie was welcoming back anyway... Oh well, I'm sure I'll find out eventually. So, where would I meet you and Commander Shepard?"

"Her ready room. I could come and fetch you when it's time?" I offered.

"That would be good, Shining. Anyway, I've got to get ready. My mane must look a mess..."

I detected she wanted neither a confirmation nor a denial of this claim and bid her farewell until later. I passed the two giggle-stifiling hoofmaidens who finishing up the last verse of their song after I passed…

Do you think there's still a chance?

Well nothing happened yet
But with two years I bet.

There's a chance for romance.

I was happy none of the officers were there to see me be the subject of a cheesy love song with the princess, or else I probably would've died of embarrassment.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Wait, that's it? You were in a mare's room right after she just woke up and all you did was talk like a gentlecolt? She asked about her mane and you thought she never wanted a comment?)

What did you expect me to do at that point, declare I really loved her mane? Anyway, after leaving her room...

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Wait, what was she wearing?!)

Is that really relevant?

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Is it?)

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): No, it isn't. Please continue, Captain.)

After leaving her room, I then went off to find some of my troopers to see how things were going. I hadn't been speaking to Sergeant Reynolds about his team for ten minutes before the ship's announce system crackled into life and a voice rang out across all decks.

"This is the Captain speaking. Could Commander Sparkle and Princess Cadenza please report to the communications room as soon as possible?"

"...Why do I have a feeling that isn't good?" I found myself muttering.




The Communications Room of the ship was the only place that the anti-teleport wards could be partially dropped. I had been quite close to it when I had been summoned, subsequently finding Commander Shepard speaking to a lieutenant commander.

"Commander Sparkle, this is Lieutenant Commander Bond, my second officer, and chief of communications."

I greeted the unicorn, who didn't have a chance to make his own reply, before an Alicorn came barreling around the corner.

"What's wrong?! It sounded urgent!" Cadence said quickly, and then noticed that three sets of eyes were looking at her in some confusion. Yes she looked worried, what do you think?

"Your Highness, are you aware you have a hairbrush tangled in your mane?" Shepard asked.

"Er, yes. I did think it was urgent..." She was naturally a bit flustered.

"...Your Highness, maybe you had better finish getting ready before we start?" I offered.

"Um, no... Bit late for that now, Captain..." She mumbled.

"I asked you both to attend here as the communications room just received two requests to lower the barrier for urgent messages as soon as the sun came up. One from Canterlot and one from Liberty City."

Cadence gave a small gasp. "I see. Does the Canterlot message possibly explain what was happening last night?"

Shepard replied in the affirmative, as we entered the communications room. A couple of Ensigns saluted, then went back to sorting the mail that had arrived earlier in the morning. It was a small room, with a sealed-off area where scrolls and parcels were sent by magic teleportation. The room also held numerous machines: Radio arrays, a device to translate and transmit Horse Code, and finally, it had a small table with the two messages. One was a Canterlot scroll bearing Princess Celestia's personal seal, the other bearing the seal of Equestria and markings showing it was from a diplomatic mission. Cadence seemed a little reassured at seeing her aunt's seal.

Commander Bond then read the Canterlot scroll. The contents of that letter probably don't need any time spent discussing them, but after the five minutes of surprise and shock...

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Beg your pardon, Capitan, but could you perhaps cover the
aftermath of hearing about those events? I'm interested to see how you reacted to the news it held.)

Very well.

"To the Captain of My Vessel Invincible, to my beloved niece, and her Guard Commander. I am sure you may be curious about some recent events, especially the late sunrise. I informed you there was nothing to worry about, and I was correct. I am delighted to inform you that with the efforts of six brave mares, my sister, Princess Luna, has been returned to us..."

Cadence and I shared a sudden and surprised reaction.

"Sister?!"

"Auntie has a sister?!"

"...Yes, that's about how myself and Commander Bond reacted. It gets better." Shepard noted.

Bond continued.

"Princess Luna, has been returned to us and cured of her long standing illness. You see, a thousand years ago, to my everlasting regret, my little sister was lost. It's difficult for me to explain in detail how, but the most common history of what happened goes something like this: Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there were two regal sisters who ruled together, and created harmony for all the land... "

"The story of the Mare in the Moon?!" Cadence and I said together.

"...The story that Twilight was worried about yesterday?" Cadence then added, giving me a worried glance.

"Yes, the Mare in the Moon. In hindsight, anyone who read the story should probably have wondered about who the 'regal sisters' were," Bond noted.

"I, er, I asked Auntie about her family, once when I was a filly, but she said that she only had nieces and nephews left in this world. I assumed all her direct relatives were... no longer with us."

"Heh, 'left in this world...' clever wordplay, Your Majesty...." Shepard said.

Cadence then looked a little shaken.

"What is it?" I asked, a little concerned.

"I...I was having strange dreams last night about another Alicorn, nightmares is more like it...I thought I was just having a subconscious reaction to Twilight's worries...then before I woke up, I felt something strange, warm...like something was calling out to me..." she replied, seeming more than a bit confused."

"The rest of the message might shed some light on it, you do represent Harmony, correct?" Bond asked.

Cadence nodded. "Harmony, music, and bonds, yes."

"Please, continue, Mr. Bond," Shepard said.

He proceeded with his story, ending on the Elements of Harmony. Since we both knew the legend, we really should've expected that.

"I must now confess that the six mares who aided in freeing Luna were in fact the new bearers of the Elements of Harmony. A farmer named Applejack, the Element of Honesty."

Before you ask, yes, Lance-Corporal Apple was excited his cousin had helped save the world, after he'd recovered from fainting. Well, excited isn't exactly the word. Proud would be a better term. The Apples are apparently very tight knit, so Applejack saving the world will probably be a matter of great pride to the Apple family for a long time.

"An animal care-taker named Fluttershy, the Element of Kindness. A baker named Pinkie Pie, the Element of Laughter. A dressmaker named Rarity, the Element of Generosity. A loyal weather pegasus named Rainbow Dash, the Element of Loyalty..."

Bond and Shepard then paused to put in ear plugs.

"Er, what are they for?" Cadence asked, but Bond continued.

"And my personal student..."

We both answered Cadence's question by loudly shouting "WHAT?!" I think Cadence may have used the Royal Canterlot Voice accidentally, but I'm not sure, I was too busy trying not to have an aneurysm.

"...My personal student, a unicorn wise beyond her years that Cadence and Shining Armor probably know, Twilight Sparkle, the Element of Magic."

Cadence and I both stood there stunned for a few moments.

"...Element of Magic, eh?" I managed to say, even as a train of though ran through my head, every carriage bearing my little sister faced down the Mare in the Moon, an insane goddess as passengers.

"I... Twilight... What... Captain, we need to turn the ship back! I have to make sure...." Cadence began, but Bond cut her off.

"At this point, my dear niece Cadence might feel tempted to turn the ship around. I am sure Twilight would like to tell you and her B.B.B.F.F. that she and her new friends are all fine, so you should keep going. Cadence, Shining Armor, I regret that you have had to learn of these events in such a manner as this, and for that, I apologize."

Bond paused. We were both silent. No one asked about my nickname. Bond continued.

"I will send you both more detailed personal letters from myself and Twilight later on, but as much as I would like to tell you about your newly returned Aunt, I'm afraid I must go now to get to know my little sister again. It has been a long time since I have seen her, after all, and she has missed much of the progress Equestria has made in the intervening time. Yours Sincerely, Princess Celestia Amaterasu Solaris Equestria."

Silence then fell for a moment, ruined a bit by one of the two ensigns banging a spanner off one of the machines in the room.

"...Ensign, is that the recommended method of maintaining the radio?" Shepard asked.

"It is, actually," Bond replied for the ensign.

"Oh. Carry on, then."

At that point, I was somewhere between internally jumping for joy, pride at being the elder brother of a mare who saved the entire world, fainting from shock, and imagining the likely priceless look on the faces of Prince Blueblood and anyone else who had ever belittled and/or bullied Twilight at that very moment. The fainting idea felt the most inviting.

"...There was a second scroll, I believe?" Cadence eventually said.

"Yes. It's quite a bit shorter but perhaps more worrying..."

"Look, Commander, Captain, I'm sorry, but if I could be brutally honest, I can't imagine what could at this moment worry me more than having just learned my little sister was involved in some sort of battle with an insane goddess!"

In hindsight, there are in fact a lot of things more worrying, especially given that Nightmare Moon didn't seem out to kill any of her 'new subjects.' Except those who 'got in her way,' I'd learn. In fact, forget hindsight, it was still worrying! But this was one occasion where what I said about thinking about things like that immediately blew up in my face.

"...Our ambassador in Liberty City reports that a Hooviet ship on a diplomatic mission arrived there an hour ago, and asked her directly if they could meet with Princess Cadence as soon as she has arrived and is ready," Bond said quickly.

I blinked for a few seconds.

"Okay, that's a pretty good thing that's perhaps a little bit less worrying," I conceded.

Cadence looked at us all in brief bewilderment before she spoke.

"Alright, I've got to ask now. This isn't the first time I've seen Guardsponies act strange the second the Hooviets are mentioned. You'd think they were collectively worse than the Mare in the... Oh, that metaphor doesn't really work any more does it..."

"From here on out, you might want to try substituting  'The Great Destroyer'. Griffin myth, a strange being with godlike powers that once ruled a foreign land and then ravaged their own lands for amusement," Bond advised.

"...Never heard of it, Bond," Shepard said.

"Me neither," I added

"...You two?" He asked the ensigns, who shook their heads.

"Well, the point is, you act like they're some huge problem or issue. Why is that?" She pressed on.

"Your Highness, what have you been told of the Hooviet Empire?" Commander Shepard inquired.

"Authoritarian one-party state where the lower classes are virtual slaves, frequently saber-rattlers, frequently tries to turn any diplomatic discussion to their advantage, tries to exert influence in other nations, and Equestria is currently on peaceful terms with them. They fought a war with dragons I did not want to learn more about. I know it's not exactly a happy land of gumdrops and rainbows, but that doesn't mean we have to be all... paranoid the second we mention their name. It's not like they're Lord Voldehorse."

She then gave a small and triumphant grin at having figured out a decent metaphor.

"A modern metaphor for a modern Princess. Fitting, Your Highness," Bond said.

"Quite. The issue, Your Highness, is not necessarily their ideology or how they run their country, but more their conduct abroad. They present a severe security hurdle as we were unaware they would be present, and no doubt they are present because of you. In fact, a great many other nations likely sent their own entourages. This presents an excellent opportunity for the Hooviets to test us."

"So they'll make some snippy remarks, maybe have a junior officer pick a fight with Shini.. er, Captain Sparkle or his troopers. What else are we worried they'll do, leave a bag of burning dog poop on the doorstep of the embassy?"

"Yes, actually. That and break in, possibly trying to take a few pictures of you sleeping, then mail copies to the Canterlot tabloids," I said.

Cue the whole room raising its collective eyebrow at me.  

"It nearly happened once before to Princess Celestia!" I pointed out. Thankfully, they'd found Celestia wide awake (you don't live over a thousand years by being a heavy sleeper) who offered them tea and politely told them how easily this could turn into an international incident should she reveal it to the public (and that she now had their hoof prints on her tea cups to prove they'd been there). Needless to say, it gave us a little leverage in negotiation after that. Celestia may be genuinely benevolent, what's behind that pretty face can be scary sometimes.

"Yes, He does have a point. They could just as easily leave something behind to send the message that they broke through, or worse, actually do something," Bond agreed.

"Would they seriously risk being caught doing something like that?" Cadence wondered. "You'd think they'd be afraid of having my aunt, well, BOTH my aunts, enraged at them for threatening my safety."

"Your Highness, this is a nation that went to war against Dragons. I doubt there isn't anything they'd risk."

Cadence nodded at that.

"So what do you know about this Hooviet clash against the Dragons?"

"That it was violent and a lot of deer and dragons were killed in the fighting."

"That's probably enough for you to know in dealing with the Hooviets. It's almost enough for us too, except we have to remember one extra thing, don't we, Commander Sparkle?"

I sighed.

"Yes. The Hooviets don't care what they lose in regards to achieving objectives. They took much heavier losses than the dragons, lost territory and treasure instead of gaining any, territory they held onto was razed black, their air-fleet was made a crippled mess, and had to pay a tribute to Queen Tiamat to keep her from razing their capital to the ground personally. And they took it as a learning experience to try again later! If they want to do something, odds are good they'll be ready to try it by force even in the face of disaster."

Funny I said that really...

"Perhaps I should keep that in mind if I enter a discussion with any Hooviets. And if they want the last sandwich at the snack table to let them take it..." Cadence then said.

"Perhaps. Anyway, I think that's all for now, Princess. If we receive any further messages we'll let you know. But since we're almost all here, perhaps I can have the Master Chief come and meet us in my ready room to discuss security arrangements..."

And that's precisely what happened next. We brought the meeting, previously delayed until after lunch, back forward. Quite boring really, and probably not worth your time, so shall we move on?
Shining Armor is given a two year tour of the world to be the captain of Princess Cadence's body guard. Yeah. That's all. That's everything Yep. Nothing what so ever else. *AJ's Liar face*

"Time is an ocean in a storm."

This storyline runs PARALLEL to the events in the Dark World storyline narrative wise.

Previous Chapter: [link]

Next Chapter: [link]

First Chapter: [link]

By Lz0291 and edited by three of us together. [link]

MLP FiM: Copyright Hasbro

The Pony POV Series Trope Page is feeling neglected. You can help keep it up to date! So many characters and so little description on the 'minor' ones. [link]

Check out the recursive fanfiction and fanart of the Pony POV Series! [link] Many of it approved by me as canon.

Did anyone else know about us now being on Fan Labor Wiki? This is a surprise to me.
[link] [link]


AND NOW! For all the geeks out there! Here are the schematics for the Invincible by LZO291 himself! [link]

Name: Her Highnesses Ship Invincible
Class: Invincible-Class/Type 23 Frigate
Type: Frigate
Compliment: 330 Officers and Enlisted plus 20 Air Naval Cavalry. Space for an additional 50 passengers or additional crew.
Length: 155 Meters
Beam: 30 Meters
Propulsion:
2 x Alicorn-C Mag-Rotor engines each with 2000 shaft horsepower
4 x Vortex 15 Anti-Gravity Magic engines
Speed: 190 knots/250 kilometers per hour
Max Altitude: 4500 meters above sea level
Armament:
30 Guns
6 Ballistas
6 Catapults
60 unicorn horn firing ports
2 forward rocket torpedo bays
Other Aircraft Carried: 2 P-10 Eckswing Light Patrol Airships, 2 T-5 Firefly Shuttles/Fishing Launches, space for a further 4 light airships.
Builder: Royal Airship Yards, Neighport News

HHS Invincible is the lead ship of her class, and presently the flagship of the diplomatic flotilla of Her Highness, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza Equestria, as she embarks on a two-year world tour to extend the hoof of Equestrian friendship to the many other nations of the world. As the only Frigate in the Flotilla, she is the largest ship in terms of size, crew compliment, and armament.

Launched ten years ago, Invincible has patrolled the East Coast for much of this time, and has served to carry diplomats to foreign missions on numerous occasions before. The two-year mission will be the longest deployment Invincible has ever undertaken, and will see her travel a distance equivalent to going between Manehattan and Los Pegasus three hundred times.

Invincible has nine decks, including a cargo/hangar deck, the three gun decks and the command deck. Space is set aside as an axillary cargo/hangar deck, but it is more commonly used as an indoor playing field, which at fifty by twenty-six meters is large enough to accommodate a range of different indoor sports. It is also used for large gatherings of the crew, or for the official purpose of carrying additional cargo/light airships.

The ship also carries four smaller airships aboard, two multi-purpose T-5 Light Auxiliary Airship shuttles and two P-10 Light Patrol Airships. Though it could carry up to eight of either type, Frigates generally carry two of each type instead.

The shuttles serve as transports, taking up to twenty passengers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. The shuttles can also act as fishing boats, trawling the sea for seaweed, or even water to take back aboard to be desalinated. The P-10s meanwhile act as small escorts for the ship or for the shuttles, and can also carry a small passenger compliment if required

Finally, Invincible has a number of small five-pony escape pod balloon-rafts, each little more than a sealed and buoyant gondola attached to a lighter than air balloon. Though they have no propulsion of their own, a few pegasi or griffins can easily pull the small pods behind them like a chariot.

2012 09 22: Term Seaskypony removed at author's request.
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