"Now, as I was saying commander, to deal with the rising hydra problem in the south, I have already *buuuuuurp* Oh, oh my." Celestia turned pink, much like the toy sold in stores that they still haven't fixed yet. She burped again and again, as a total of four scrolls popped from her mouth in green flame and sat on the table.
"Princess, are you alright?" A guard adorned with medals and such asked.
"Yes, commander, it seems to have passed, although I now have things I must discuss with my sister. Know that the problem on the frontier will be taken care of in short order. Please excuse me."
Floating the letters towards the reading room, Princess Celestia started a fire in the hearth and called her sister to her.
"Look Lulu! We have more mail!"
"And the reason you got me up three hours before I have to raise the moon?" Luna asked with a frown.
"Because it's not from Twilight!" At hearing that, Luna was wide awake and literally jumped into position on the couch, excited to see what public enemy number one had written them.
"Sister, aren't we getting a little excited to see what we're getting from the most wanted criminal in Equestria?" Celestia asked.
"Who cares, it's fun! Open it! Openitopenitopenit!"
"Alright! Alright, first one is for me."
Dear Princess Celestia,
You are a terrible liar. If you don't know, then just say so. I'm not here to judge. Also, it's no fun if I just TELL you what I'm doing, you have to figure it out on your own. Let me guess, you had Twilight do it. Also, when you sent me the letter, I burped it out like Spike. What's up with that? Also also,
If a unicorn sits in a chair, then uses magic to lift said chair, will they be able to fly?
"Hmm, no, I didn't ask Twilight to figure out his motives, I really should. She's a bright filly. He figured out that we were lying to him on the hooves and magnets thing. It was kind of a weak lie. He burped the letter out like Spike?"
"That's hilarious!" Luna giggled, imagining the grumpy and stern pirate captain burping up scrolls.
"If a unicorn sits in a chair, uses magic to lift the chair, would they fly? Well, wouldn't they need a solid ground point to push off, I mean......."
"WEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEeeee" Cried Luna as she sailed around the study in circles on a flying chair, coming ever closer then farther from her sister, until she crashed into a shelf and buried herself in fallen books. "That was fun! I'm glad he keeps asking us these questions!"
"I swear, you are such a foal sometimes, now, next letter is... huh?" Celestia was startled as another letter appeared, this time the normal way. She opened it and read.
Dear Princess Celesta,
In regards to 'Griffin the griffin', I believe I have determined his goal. He intends to incite a slave rebellion to free the griffins from captivity in Gem Fido, and murder a large number of dragons in order to decrease the population, which will in turn stabilize the northern provinces. There must be another, nonviolent, way to achieve this, and so we have set out after the Griffin Pirates in an attempt to sway them to peaceful means. We have also discovered that in all likelyhood, Griffin is actually an alien who came to our world to escape his own, only to find that outside of Equestria is the same as the world he left, and so decided to do something about it. This however, is only a theory, and while the probability of the existence of aliens is unlikely, it is possible, and this theory at the moment makes the most sense. Wish us luck on our quest.
Sincerely, your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.
Ps, I am still unaware as to the mechanism behind how we hold things without fingers. While I believe it may be a magic field similar to magnetism, centered around the hoof, I must run more tests. Magnets however, work by having unpaired electrons all spinning in the same direction, creating a field. I did not have to research that, it was in atomic physics 101.
After reading the letter, both princesses sat there in awe.
"So, even Twilight doesn't know for certain how the hoof thing works, and Griffin had the foresight to assume she would attempt to figure out his motivations, but an alien? Has Equestria been visited by beings from another world? If true, this is incredible, and also disturbing. If Griffin truly is from a different planet, the fact that he is here means that others could also find their way. In the worst case scenario, it would mean invasion. I don't believe that this is the case however. Twilight does have an.... overactive... mind. There is a reasonable explanation for all this, we just haven't found it. No point in berating her on her theories though. We'll just have to capture him and get the answers straight from his beak." The sun princess mused.
"Alright, so the next letter then. Also for me, well, aren't I popular today?"
Dear Princess Celestia,
I met your son today. Discord locked him up for 2000 years over a misunderstanding. What kind of villain locks up family for two millenia over a little spat? Anyway, that's not the point.
Do you like bananas?
At this point, Luna's face was blank, while Celestia was near tears.
"Um, Celly?" The younger asked.
"He, he, he, HOW DARE HE!" She boomed.
"Griffin the griffin is a menace to society! He must be punished!"
"Calm down! It's alright. It's alright. Listen, it's okay. What happened between us is over, and it was much more than a little spat. You did what you needed to do. I wasn't myself, and you tore yourself up over it for far too long. I already forgave you for it, even though there was nothing to forgive. His words may be hurtful, but I think if we look at it, this is his way of telling us to let go. All of his letters have been attempts at trying to break us, make us let go of ourselves. This one is something we NEED to let go of." Luna cooed to her older sister. Having to banish her only friend in the world for a thousand years was still a terrible wound on her heart, something Griffin had casually opened up.
"I'm sorry for that outburst Luna, it's just, sending you away was the hardest thing I've ever done, and he's making a mockery of it. That and the fact that Discord took away the only other family I ever had being brought up, all the while with the Wethoof hydra problem, it's just, it's not easy. Everypony looks to me to know what to do, and I have to make the right decision every single time, or else the innocent suffer for it. Countless times I've looked to the other stars in the sky and begged of them, 'Tell me what to do!' and they never answer." Celestia poured her heart out.
"It's alright. I'm here now, and your son has been freed from whatever bound him. It's time to look to a brighter future." Luna comforted her.
"Disarray, you just left one day and didn't say anything. I always wondered where you went, even if I never showed it, I loved you. You were my son....... If Discord locked him up, it was because he tried to stop him from destroying the world. Then we sealed Discord in stone. I, I haven't seen my son in two thousand years. It, it's good to know that he's okay." Celestia wept bitterly. She would never show her emotions to others, this was the one time she broke down.
"Well, that explains why you burped out the letters." Luna giggled. Celestia caught the giggles from her, and pretty soon they both began to laugh, having forgotten the pain the letter had brought them.
"Alright, one for you."
Dear Princess Luna,
Have you ever mooned someone?
Luna just blushed furiously while stuttering incoherently.
"How did he know about that time you were a filly at flight school?" Celestia mocked.
"You swore you'd never speak of that again! He truly is a menace!" Luna scoffed. Celestia began laughing first this time.
"Alright, last one. This one is written differently. Odd."
Dear Princess Celestia,
Where I come from, there is a saying about those who find themselves graced with the opportunity to do great things: "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
Well, I can't speak at all, and my spear is taller than me.
It is unlikely that you have heard of me, and I could care less if you have. I do not bow to your sovereignty, as I am not a natural-born denizen of your realm.
Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to move on to do something great. I am exploring your territory - Princess, and I mean the entirety of it - in the name of Science and Exploration. Should you see fit to assist me, I would not turn it down, and all findings and observations recorded on the expedition will give a small tribute to you.
I look forward to encountering you one day, and hope that we may meet as friends, for we have much to discuss, indeed.
Oh, yes, before I forget. My feathery compatriot here, one "Griffin the Griffin," (odd name, is it not?) has asked me to mess with you. As I always love a good joke, I shall oblige.
Have a riddle: I have two coins. They add up to thirty bits total. One of them is not a nickel.
Sincerely, Echo the Diamond Dog
P.S. - LUNA IS BEST PONY! BWA-HAHAHAHAA!
"And now a diamond dog is sending us letters as well." The older princess stated.
"I thought they were illiterate?" The younger asked.
"They are. This 'Echo' seems rather well refined for a pony, let alone a diamond dog."
"Perhaps because he is a mute?" Luna suggested.
"Indeed, with his writing, it sounds as though he is insulting us, while at the same time remaining respectful. He say's he does not care about us, then indirectly asks for assistance in exploring our realm..... curious. Now the riddle, I have two coins. They add up to thirty bits total. One of them is not a nickel. If one is not a nickle, then how do they add up to thirty? We have no fifteen bit coins." Celestia thought.
"He said ONE of them is not a nickle. So one's a nickle, the other is a quarter. Come on, you can't have lost your wit have you?" The night princess stated.
"Aha and, Luna is best pony? WHAT?!?!?" Celestia raged.
"First Pipsqueak, and now Echo the diamond dog. Looks like I'm the new favorite. Better look out sister, pretty soon I'll be replacing you, bwahahahaha!" With that, Luna walked out of Celestia's study, swishing her tail merrily at the fact that she now had two admirers.
"Eh, Twi, are y'all sure this was a good idea? We're 12 days away from Stalliongrad. Ah mean, they're a pair of griffins, they can fly, we can't. They're gonna be travelling faster than us. How do ya expect us ta catch em?" Applejack asked.
"Yeah, I mean, I could be there in like, a minute, but I've got all you slow pokes holding me back." Dash bragged.
"Quiet this instant Rainbow Dash, you are the fastest flyer in Equestria. Just because you are more expedient then the rest of us does not make us slow." Rarity scolded.
"We'll just have to outsmart them! We'll head to where they're going so that we arrive before they do!" Twilight proclaimed.
"Except that we don't know where they're headed." Applejack, ever the voice of reason.
"Well, they went down the east coast. If we are right about their plan, they'll head up the west. There's a small settlement at the edge of the Volcanic Wastes, a hot spring giving fresh water, the sulfur making for excellent plant growth. It's actually why the jungle grows so well without earth ponies looking after it. They will probably stop there before heading back to Equestria and finally Gem Fido. Now, the wastes are normally a haven for criminal activity, but......." Twilight explained before trailing off.
"But, all those ghastly dragons migrated there. They will have all skipped town. I hope that the criminal filth get caught." Rarity scoffed.
"It also means that we'll have him trapped between a rock and a hard place, or dragon and group of ponies in this case. Then we can nab him and haul him back to Canterlot to face his crimes!" The purple unicorn decreed, taking a dramatic stance and her mane blowing in an unseen breeze.
"I, I hope he isn't mean....." Fluttershy whimpered.
"Oh trust me, he's mean! He's a great big mean meanie pants! He's also funny! I asked him if he wanted to be my friend, and he said 'I'm afraid not', then threw me a FRAYED KNOT!" Pinkie giggled as she shook the piece of rope in her mouth like a wild animal.
"Pinkie, that doesn't even make any sense! How can he bear one of the aspects of friendship like laughter when he doesn't have any friends? I mean, he's an unkind, greedy, grumpy, disloyal, lying PIRATE! I can't believe I actually thought he was telling the truth with his alien thing. He probably knew I'd freak out and used it to escape with my books!" Twilight was mad. All the rest just nodded. Griffin symbolized the exact opposite of the very things they cherished.
"Here Echo, want some gems? I sold most of the supply to the town for bits, but I saved some for ya. Well, you and my own hounds. They deserve a break every now and then. No no, I won't let you pay for them. It's a gift for thinking of killing you. Well, once we save the town, I'll have to leave right away. I'll probably be chased by the reinforcements coming and besides, I don't want to be seen as a hero. Last thing I need is some kiddos going around playing pirate. It's dangerous, and I don't want anyone getting hurt who doesn't need to. Don't worry, when we get in the thick of things, you can count on me. I won't leave you hanging. Our kind gotta stick together! Mayor still thinks I'm gonna off you in the hydra fight. I feel kinda bad about lying, but what are ya gonna do right? Rock and a hard place."
I had gotten drunk for the first time. I've had alcohol before, but never in excess. Having found another brony, it was cause for celebration, and so Gilda and myself went back to Wethoof for a small party in the barracks. Echo had hard cider, while I settled for vodka. Cider burns my throat, and so I don't care for it. Vodka however is one of the greatest things ever invented, especially when you're drunk on it. Gilda wasn't too happy about me giving away the gems, but considering I was the one who earned them, and I let her buy whatever she wanted anyway (She bought a biker jacket and a bandolier for her chems, she looked freaking HOT HOT HOT in it. Other than that, we bought six pairs of sunglasses, one for each of my crew and one for Echo.) so she wasn't really in any position to complain about me getting drunk or giving him most of the remainder of our unconverted income. She actually loosened up a bit.
Daring was a bit daring and took to chugging, which caused her to pass out and landed her a one way ticket on the hangover express tomorrow morning. Echo didn't seem at all phased by the alcohol, and Ginger Snap, who was now out of the hospital, didn't look too impressed at the fact that we were all getting plastered before the important job tomorrow. She kindly informed me that Trixie would be out of the med tent in another day or so. Even Tythus joined us for a bit, although being a stick in the mud he only had one drink before hitting the sack. All in all, it was a good evening. Okay, so I've never had any friends to hang out and go drinking with, and I may have gone a bit overboard. Sue me. Actually don't. My brain will punish me enough when I wake up tomorrow.
Another good thing about Equestria, no licenses. It's a good thing too, or else I would have been pulled over for flying under the influence. Me and Gilda flew Ditzy Do-style back to the camp, threw Etch and Growl the rest of the gems, telling them to knock themselves out, curled up, and went to sleep.
"Okay, so once we pass through Amareica, we head west to Bitsburg, then follow the shore south to Tailton springs. Then, we just keep an eye out for them. Here's hoping we get there before they do." Twilight explained to the route to the rest of the group.
"Ever wonder why all the cities and towns and stuff have pony related names? PONYville, TROTtingham, CANTERlot, HOOFtin, BITsburg, aMAREica, TAILton Springs? It's like the pony in charge of naming things thought it would be funny to put pony puns in them all." Pinkie asked.
"Pinkie, I think it's better to just NOT ask those questions, or else you end up spending your entire life trying to figure it out and getting nowhere. Then you wind up crazy. Twilight replied.
"Like Lyra?" She asked.
"Like Lyra." She confirmed as she folded up the map and put it away.
"Wait a minute, where did I just put that? I don't HAVE saddlebags on! GAAAAAAAAAAAH! If I ever find out who asked the princess about the hoof thing I swear I'll..... I don't know what I'll do! Now I'm seeing everything like that!"
"*Achoo!* Uh, I hope I'm not coming down with something. Must have been the alcohol. Great, Mr. Migraine is here. Crap." As I got up, I noticed that in the middle of the night, Gilda had cozy'd up to me. Probably not meaning to, cute nonetheless. Of course, my brain kicked in that I was falling for the bitch griffin who just about everybody hated, but they hadn't seen this side of her. I have. I stretched myself out, drank the dew off a banana leaf, and once it was dry, put it over her as a blanket. I took my dragon teeth out, as well as several left over bits of reinforced thread that Etch and Growl had gotten back when I first made my harness. I carefully put holes in each of the teeth, threading a string through each. Eight necklaces. There were three teeth on mine, each of the others only having one. I put one next to Gilda, one next to Etch, one next to Growl, and put one in my pack for Trixie when I saw her tomorrow. I had three left.
"So, eight members total. Three more. I need a potion maker. That's one. What's missing? I need two more. What is missing? We don't need a musician, after all, the endless charm of my singing voice shall serve that purpose, and here, everyone just breaks out in song anyway. The music comes on it's own. I suppose we could use a chef, but it's not really necessary since I can do that too. A DOCTOR! We need to have a medic, although the potion maker might double as that. It depends on what I can get. And a craftsman...pony...dog....whatever. Someone to make and maintain arms and armor. So, apothecary/alchemist, doctor, and crafting specialist. Three more crew members. Bleurgh. Of course, they have to know how to fight too, or they won't be very helpful."
"What'cha thinkin about?" Gilda got up, apparently, the banana leaf blanket made her too hot.
"Crew members. Put the necklace on. It means you're part of the crew. One for you, one for me, two for the dogs, one Trix, remainder three. One for the potion maker, yet to meet, one for the one who knows how to heal. One for a crafter, crew complete, by the worker of leather, stitch, and steel."
"You're speaking in rhyme again. You're worried, aren't you?" She asked.
"Yeah. Not about fighting the hydra's, we'll kick ass. I mean, we have sunglasses now, it's impossible to lose. I'm worried about Trix. What I'd really like is for her to get better, then we kill the hydras and bail before the reinforcements arrive. We've been lucky so far. Everything has just... fallen into place. No, I'm sure we'll pull this off. It's the future I'm worried about. Echo is the same as me. He's from the same place, sent here by Discord. I'm not sure about the one who sent me. What other forces are at work here? Are we mere playthings for the divine? Yeah, I could beat Echo, but that's only because he never had to fight till he got here, and I did. He's an alpha. The other alphas will know how to fight. If they're as strong as he is, I'm gonna die."
"And now you've gotten philosophical, you're depressed. What happened to, go as far as you can, and if you die along the way then you do?" Gilda inquired.
"Just because I've been around pain and stared death in the face more times than I can count doesn't mean I'm just gonna walk into it if I can avoid it. In case you didn't know, dying sucks. I've slowly been dying on the inside for years. I have a reason to live now! I have a purpose. I wanna succeed! I wanna be the one who looks at the corruption, grabs it in my own two hands, and snaps it's neck! There's a storm coming. If I go sailing on it, I want my ship to be in top shape. I need to step up my game. Gimme that damn chemistry book."
She passed me the tome, which I flipped through, searching. Holding a candle up to it, I began looking for something I recognized. Something I knew. When I found it, I let out a near maniacal laugh.
"Yesssssss." I hissed as I pulled out two vials, as well as some of the basic compounds that I had Etch and Growl dig up for me in their spare time. In the smaller vial, I put aluminium, iron oxide, and sodium, sealed it, and put it in the larger vial, which I then filled with water. "My guardian star is the Mythbusters."
"What does that mean? What did you make?" Gilda asked, a little bit afraid of me in my partly drunken state.
"Do not question drunk science!" My outburst woke the rest of the camp. Etch and Growl lumbered over to me to look at what I had made. I quickly told them to put the necklaces on, then had them gather around.
"Do you want to see some pretty lights?" They all nodded. Gilda air lifted the dogs in the usual manner. We flew a small distance from camp to where a lone tree stood in the middle of the are that had been cut down. That was my target. I flew at it at high speed, throwing the double vial as hard as I could before pulling away. It shattered on the tree, as did the one inside. The sodium mixed with the water, creating a spark, which then caused a reaction with the aluminium and iron oxide. It lit up brightly, causing Gilda and the dogs to cover their eyes while I stared right at it with my sunglasses on. After all was said and done, they looked at the smoldering stump that had once been a tree.
"WHAT. THE. HELL?" They all asked in unison.
"When you're drunk, you forget things. Sometimes when you forget things, you remember other things. I got drunk, forgot my confidence momentarily, but remembered how to make thermite. Thermite is.... well.... it's basically portable lava. A little creativity on the trigger reaction, and we now have a very safe bomb capable of melting through steel. If the first vial breaks, then nothing happens, if both do, whatever is in the immediate area and directly underneath gets turned into a steaming pile of molten slag. We will be using these to murder the crap out of everything. They also work as an excellent flare! Aluminium and iron are ridiculously easy to find, all you need is a spark, which is what the sodium and water is for. We can mix it with clay to make it moldable so it can stick in place. Gilda, since you're the ranger, you'll be carrying a lot of them. You dogs too. You can dig underground, so you can act like sappers and spies." Giggle, spy, sapper. SPAH SAPPIN MAH DOMINION!
"This will chew right through any armor, as long as it's not dragon scale. Replace some of your arrow heads with these by sticking the tip into the vial's cork. Each of us will carry three at all times for personal use, separate from what we ration out of our supply for each mission, and I'll have some in my pack for Trixie as well. Now get some sleep, tomorrow, we're gonna fuck up some hydras." I had regained my confidence. Let's see these bastards mess with me when I can turn them to goo with my mind. Not literally, but you get the idea.
Gilda flew the hound pair back to the camp, while I just hovered there for a bit, staring at the east. After a while, she came back to get me with a worried look on her face.
"You're still worried, aren't you? Not about today, but the future?"
"A little." She wrapped her arms around me as the sun just barely began to rise.
"Let's get back to camp and get some shuteye, we have a big day today. We'll worry about the future when it get's here. When it does, you'll think of something. You always do."
Also, Carnelian made some art since I can't!
Seriously though, when it comes to drawing, I may as well have hooves.