A shadow came to us in our dreams, with tales of better times
Ponies, although united by their similarities, have been equally divided by their differences. Since the dawn of their days, ponies have recognized three main species amongst themselves; the unicorns and their magic, the earth ponies and their noble strength, and the pegasi who tamed the sky. The Alicorn Sisters, who ruled over all three aspects, were relatively new in pony history, less than five centuries into their reign...And still not as mysterious as the fourth pony race, oldest of all. An ancient but timid folk, the batponies are an old race, with their noble families tracing their lineage back to great ponies of legend where pegasus flight and draconic prowess were combined. Exclusively nocturnal, their sensitive eyes squint and complain at the harshness of the sun, and so they prowl under the cover of night; this, added to their fanged appearance, has led to a thousand and one stories and rumors being spread throughout the villages they inhabit. Do they shapeshift into terrible creatures, to steal away the unfaithful's firstborn foal? Or are they bloodthirsty vampires, with a hunger for lonely maids still out past moonhigh?
These are, of course, nothing but rumors. It is widely known amongst scholars that batponies feed almost exclusively on fruit, except for one or two variations who prey on smaller animals such as rodents to complete an omnivorous diet. But ponies love their gossip and fairytales, where a handsome knight rescues a lady in distress...and who better to play the mindless monster, than the bat-winged creatures with sharp teeth? Batponies have been the victim of nationwide slander for millenia, and it's suggested that it's this, more so than their dislike for the day, that led their colonies to live underground. Drawn to the lakes and caverns deep under the earth, the batponies have gone mostly unnoticed by modern pony civilization, going as far as to avoid the worst of Discord's reign. Completely independent, their society sleeps by day and uncovers the trapdoors and cavemouths that lead to their villages by moonrise, to go about their nightly business as our surface cities would under Celestia's sun.
So connected are they to the moon that they claim to heal quicker and easier by its light, feeling more energized as day falls to night. And more revitalizing than all was the birth of Luna, Goddess of the Moon. We now know that quite some time passed after the Ascension and before Luna reconnected with her people, for she was swept away by the praise the sun-dwelling ponies showered the Queen of the Sun with, leading to an impressionable younger sister to try and look as closely related as she could to Celestia. But, with Princess Amore's aid (as credit is given where credit is due), Queen Luna slowly but surely embraced her batpony heritage once more, and started visiting underground colonies with Amore by her side. She was apologetic at first, but if her folk resented her embarrassment, they showed no signs of it; they came to her willingly, eagerly, and no other people have been so devoted and worshipful to a ruler before nor since. To them the Younger Alicorn was not a monarch but a deity, and in a dozen languages they called out Mother to her. Mother Night, Mother Moon, Mother Darkness, Mother, Mother, Mother. It made sense for them to view her so- the shadows of dusk shielded them from the sun's burning light, and it was in the cover of night that they were able to feed and work and live. Luna was the embodiment of Night, batpony ascendant, benevolent protector and fierce defender. Each batpony commune would welcome her with loud reverie and feasts, present her with bouquets of moonflowers and lavish gifts, hoofcrafted presents and their little children, so that they might be blessed by Mother Night.
Luna was, to say the least, overwhelmed. She had known reverence, worship and respect...But love, the way these ponies loved her, so deep and so loud and so true? Not like this, never like this. This was the fierce passion she had seen others look at Celestia with before, the look of adoration and loyalty and trust. These were her people, her children, likely the only children she'd ever have, and she had failed them most shamefully. She would say this often and loudly, ever apologetic for her neglect, but swore under the light of the moon to never turn her back on them again. In fact, it was long past due for Equestria to stop turning its back on the batponies as well. To be shunned, shamed and feared was something the batponies had never deserved, and Luna was now determined to right these wrongs. She started their inclusion in pony society by conferring with Celestia, requesting that she be given a personal guard of her own. Celestia was, admittedly, stunned at first. An ever more noticeable breach had opened between the Sisters since Starswirl's disappearance and the height of Celestia's secret romance, so this seemed to her a way to spread their split onto political territory. However, eventually the Firstborn Alicorn saw sense in her sister's suggegstion and the kindness batponies were owed, and together they decreed that a Night Guard would be established, composed of three thousand bat ponies and as many non-bats that might be desirous of joining. They would aid Luna in her task of watching over the night streets, as well as protect and honor Luna's person as she travelled over dreams, all the while carrying the banner of their new order. The white-armored knights of the Queensguard were sworn to both Sisters, but it was clear to see they were somewhat useless to the younger alicorn, as they were exclusively diurnal ponies and retired to rest by midnight. And so it was that this new order of dusky shields and star-pointed spears came to serve the Mother they cherished so well. Their training was overseen by Princess Amore, who would test and knight a score of batponies each time it came for her to visit The Everfree down from the Frozen North, and bathed in the glow of the Moon they'd swear their oath to be the warrior in the darkness, the sword in the night, the shield of sleepers, to remain faithful and true with Mother Night as their witness. And so did the Night Guard come to be.
finally, full-moon luna here, fully embracing her batpony looks :] the banner they carry was designed with the first three thousand ponies to join the royal guard, represented by the three stars, connected in a constellation and resembling a crystal, like the ones the sisters were reborn from. the crescent moon is meant to be holding or cradling them, as night shields the bat ponies. finally, thank you so very much to GloxiiArts and Jellyroll13 for lending me their characters!
Nice to see full-moon luna here. I laughed to myself seeing the green pony "butt freckles". I got what i wanted, more freckles . I will be honest and say i am still not entirely sure i like that "aureola" above Luna, but i guess this is an artistic choice to show her " godhood".