After a thousand years, everything was coming together at last. The steward of the sun could no longer summon up the magic necessary to keep her sister imprisoned so securely in the moon. She could no longer resist the subtle, millennial plans of the constellations, the Star Beasts. Everything was coming into alignment.
The stars were right. And so it was that the four mightiest of the Star Beasts descended upon the moon. Draco, the green dragon. Cetus, the blue whale. Scorpio, the red scorpion. And Cygnus, the yellow swan. Their work was the result of a thousand years of effort to free their imprisoned mistress.
On the surface moon, the four of them worked ancient, eldritch, black magic together. There was a bright flash. And so, she was there. An alicorn, larger than even her sister, with a black coat, a two-foot long horn that could channel unfathomable power, and turquoise, dragon-like eyes. Great wings that could conjure up windstorms powerful enough to strip every leaf from every tree in a large, healthy forest. She was power. She was the Night. She was Princess Luna, free at last from her prison, as the four Star Beasts had expected, risen at last from an enforced slumber of a thousand years.
Princess Luna looked to each of them. Then she lay down on the moon, closing her eyes.
“Five more minutes,” she insisted.
“Argh. Alright. Alright! I’m up.” Luna groaned, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. “Oh, God, I hate waking up…”
“Mistress,” Scorpio insisted. “You’re free!”
“Right on,” Luna responded, extending a hoof. Scorpio used a claw to bump it. “Good to be free.” She stretched for a few moments, ruffling her wings. “Who else is here…Draco! You look like you’ve packed on a few pounds.”
The dragon constellation rubbed a hand behind his head in embarrassment. “Um…maybe a few, mistress.” He said with a slight chuckle.
“Ah, no worries.” Luna assured him, as she began to turn around. “Nothing wrong with gaining a little oh my God Cetus what happened.”
The blue whale constellation blinked a few times. “Mistress?”
Luna stared, wide-eyed, as a long, uncomfortable silence began. It wasn’t broken for some time, until Luna whispered, albeit quite audibly, “my God you’ve gotten fat.”
Cetus was taken aback. “Uh…well, m-mistress,” the whale constellation said, “I…well, with you gone, I may have turned to, um…comfort food…”
“Comfort food?” Luna asked. She still had not blinked. “You’re a Star Beast! I thought you ate…I dunno…solar flares and stellar wind or something! How do you get fat off of that?”
“I’m not that fat…”
“You are a sphere, Cetus. A nearly perfect sphere. Artists would kill to be able to draw you freehand.”
Scorpio chuckled at that, and Luna extended a hoof again, which Scorpio bumped. Cetus looked dejected as Luna turned to the last of the Star Beasts. Another silence began, though this one was somewhat shorter as Luna looked to Draco for help. “Who…?”
“Cygnus.” The swan constellation said, bowing her long neck. “Ursa…couldn’t make it.”
“Couldn’t…?” Luna asked. “Wait, wait, wait. What the Hell could keep Ursa from releasing her sovereign from a millennium of unfair imprisonment?”
“Something about a maternity leave or something…” Draco explained, taking out a clipboard from somewhere and looking over the papers there. “We didn’t want to ask.”
“Maternity?” Luna demanded. “With who?”
“We didn’t ask,” Draco repeated. “But we couldn’t find her – ”
“You couldn’t find a bear the size of a mountain?”
“ – and Cygnus was free and had the power necessary to help release you.”
“Oh, well, thank Heaven for that,” Luna said, rubbing her eyes. “I’m so glad that Sydney – ”
“Cygnus,” the constellation corrected.
“ – whatever, that the swan could spare some time from her busy schedule,” Luna finished, before letting out a long sigh. “Sorry. Sorry. I’m cranky. I’m always cranky when I wake up at the twilight. Ziggy – ”
“ – whatever, I’m sure you’ll do fine.” Luna stood up, walking a few paces from the Star Beasts. “Not quite what I had in mind – no offense, a giant swan kind of doesn’t strike the terror I’m looking for, but whatever! I can run with this. Certain majesty, I guess. Now, then, just wait there while I start assembling Argo Navis. We’ll – ”
“Um,” Draco interrupted, again checking his clipboard.
Luna turned, looking at Draco. “Yes?”
“We…don’t really have time for that, mistress.”
Luna blinked. “What? No, we have plenty of time. The imprisonment ended on the sundown just before the longest day of the year began.”
“It’s…” he checked a pocket watch that extended from a pocket he didn’t have. “It’s only about an hour before dawn.”
The shepherd of the moon’s jaw dropped. “What?” She demanded, stamping forward. “No! Why? How? I said five more minutes, not eight more hours!”
“You did say five more minutes…” Cetus said, cringing slightly. “Um…you said it a few times…then at one point you told us to shut up and leave you alone for an hour…”
“Argh!” Luna exclaimed. All her plans. A millennia of scheming about how to get back at her sister for trapping her in the moon! She had dreamed of it: Argo Navis, the Boat constellation, descending from the skies, smashing down into the courtyard of Canterlot, with her at the helm…Draco guiding it down, exhaling fire and death at the pegasi royal guard. Scorpio and Ursa would deal with the earth ponies and unicorns, of course, while Cetus would be…
…God he’d gotten fat. Luna’s thought process ended there as she realized she really didn’t have time to think about how her plans were coming to pieces before her eyes.
“Fine!” Luna exclaimed, turning around again and looking up, into the sky of the moon, where the blue-green orb of Equestria sat. “We do this the boring way. We fly!” Luna, Draco, Scorpio, and Cygnus all took to the sky, sailing off towards Equestria and Canterlot.
“Um…” Cetus said.
Luna paused, and the three star beasts that had taken off with her stopped as well. The shepherd of the moon stared. “Cetus?” She asked. “We’re flying now.”
Cetus looked down. “Well…you see, the thing about that…”
“You can fly. I’ve seen you fly. You’re a Star Beast, of course you can fly. Get your fat ass – ” Luna stopped talking as she realized. “Oh my God you’re so fat you can’t fly. How is that possible?”
“I’m not that fat…”
“How did you even get to the moon?” Luna demanded. Draco coughed. “You had to be carried?” Luna demanded. “You made Draco carry you?”
Cetus blinked a few times. “I’m sorry…”
“I’m sorry too. My God, Cetus.” Luna turned to Draco. “Okay, pick his fat ass up and carry him again. Try not to sprain anything.”
Draco obliged, hefting the whale constellation with only a minimal amount of fuss and beginning to carry him. Luna glared at Cetus, wondering how he had been able to just let himself go so much and on nothing but stellar wind.
At least Tia won’t be a problem, Luna thought. I’ll just drop his fat ass on her. Luna considered, then shivered at the thought of being trapped underneath Cetus’ bulk. No, that’s too mean. Ugh. I’d do less damage if I dropped the moon…
Luna stomped through the halls of Canterlot twenty minutes later. She’d encountered a few royal guards, but simple sleep spells had been enough to take care of them – somehow she just wasn’t in the mood for death and destruction anymore. Not that she’d ever really wanted it to begin with – she was just cranky, she admitted to herself, from being woken up. Scorpio and the swan followed her. Draco and Cetus really should have been here, too, but the former had to remain with the latter – and the latter couldn’t fit through the halls, anyway.
“Argh!” Luna exclaimed finally as she returned to the throne room. “Where is she?”
“I’m sure she’s somewhere, mistress,” Scorpio assured his ruler. “Perhaps one of the royal guards knows?” he grasped one of the slumbering pegasi in his claws and held him aloft. Luna leaned forward, horn glowing slightly as she channeled magic to cancel her sleeping spell.
The guard awoke slowly, eyes fluttering open. Given that he found himself in the pincers of a giant scorpion, with Luna staring down at him, he took the surprise well.
“Gah!” Luna exclaimed, sticking a hoof in his mouth. “Ow! You could shatter glass with that!” The guard stopped trying to scream at last. Luna withdrew her hoof. “Okay, now I only have – ”
Luna blinked at the guard’s exclamation, before shaking her head and pressing on. “Whatever. I only have one question. Where is Celestia?”
The guard stared in wide-eyed shock. “B…but you’re just a foal’s tale!” He exclaimed.
“Sure. This is a hallucination. Now where’s Celestia?”
“At the Summer Sun Celebration!” The guard responded, cringing. Clearly he had not bought Luna’s line, but then again she hadn’t tried very hard to sell it. “In Ponyville!”
Luna stared. “No.” She said.
“Pardon?” The guard asked.
“No. There is no place called Ponyville. That’s stupid.”
“…actually, there is,” Scorpio informed Luna. “It was founded about six hundred years after you were imprisoned.”
Luna blinked a few times. “…earth ponies?” She asked. Scorpio nodded sagely, and Luna found herself unsurprised that those country hicks would be so unimaginative with names. “Okay…” Luna said, conjuring up a map of Equestria as she remembered it a thousand years ago, and holding it aloft for the guard to see. “Where is it?”
Scorpio released one claw’s hold on the guard, so that he could point, though it took him a few moments. “H-here,” he said.
Luna nodded. “Right. Near my palace – ” she began, before stopping and realizing what she had said. “M-my palace? My ambrosia garden? I am going to murder Tia if those freeloading ponies ate even a single fruit!”
Luna turned, spreading her wings and taking to the air. She was followed swiftly by Cygnus and Scorpio, the latter of whom simply tossed away the guard he was holding, who quickly picked himself up and began running off, hollering “Nightmare Moon” over and over again for some reason.
Draco, still carrying Cetus, caught up with them a few minutes later. “Murder,” Luna stated. “Sooo much blood…”
“That’s…kind of dark, mistress,” Draco said.
“Fine, I won’t kill her, I’ll just trap her in the sun.” Luna responded after several minutes of mulling things over. Her eyes were narrow. “Trap the shit out of her…”
They flew in silence for a few minutes. Luna looked to the swan. “Kylie, you’re – ”
“Cygnus,” the swan said.
“Whatever. You’re being kind of quiet. It’s creeping me out.”
The swan looked to her queen. “I’m sorry, mistress. It’s just…well…”
Suddenly, the swan was there, flying right next to Luna. “I can’t believe I’m actually here and I get to help you overthrow your sister I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I might actually be able to replace the great Ursa I mean I know she was on maternity leave but I thought they’d find her but then Draco showed up and told me that they needed me and now I’m here and EEEEEE I’m so happy!”
“Gah!” Luna exclaimed in the middle of that, beating her wings furiously to try and get some distance from the Star Beast swan and her sudden burst of enthusiasm. “Personal space! Personal space!”
Celestia pouted to herself even as she spread the zap apple jam across her toast, an early breakfast for her early day today. She stood alone behind a stage, waiting for the events to begin, butter knife and jar of jam held aloft by telekinesis along with her toast. She was thinking about Luna again, as she tended to do on this day, every year. Maybe she had overreacted nine hundred years ago…
…No, she hadn’t overreacted, she decided. She was the older sister. Luna should have listened to her, instead of turning to the foul, abominable magic of darkness and corruption and becoming Nightmare Moon.
The white alicorn took a healthy bite from her toast. Celestia couldn’t help but feel she was forgetting something. Her most faithful student, Twilight Sparkle, had sent her something about a prophecy or something. Celestia had mostly ignored the letter, giving it a quick skim before firing off a carefully-prepared generic response and adding something or other about friendship. She had been busy, didn’t Twilight know by now that the Summer Sun Celebration was the busiest time of the year for the ruler of Equestria?
Besides, this wasn’t the first time Twilight had read some book and made a prophecy about doom and gloom and it hadn’t come true.
There was a sound from behind her. Celestia absent-mindedly turned around, and saw herself staring at a midnight blue alicorn with a paler, a more vibrant-blue mane and tail, turquoise eyes, and a moon-shaped cutie mark.
The zap apple jam, butter knife, and toast fell from her grip. “Luna?” Celestia asked incredulously. A million emotions raced through her mind at the sight of her sister, lost to her nine hundred years ago…how had she – was she free from – was she still…?
“Tia,” Luna responded, a look of relief on her face, tears in her eyes. “I’ve missed you so much…”
Celestia stared. This – this wasn’t Nightmare Moon. This wasn’t the insane mare that had tried to make the night last forever. This was Luna, a hundred years early! Her sister! Celestia rushed forward. “Luna!” She cried, tears staining her own eyes.
“Tia!” Luna called back, forelegs spreading wide as a wide smile appeared on her face in spite of her tears.
Celestia skidded to a halt, but it was too late as she found herself encompassed in a flash, so bright that even she couldn’t see.
“Suck it!” Luna’s voice called out from the glare – only it wasn’t Luna’s. It was Nightmare Moon’s. “Suck it on the suuuuuuuuunnnnnn…!”
Wait, Celestia thought, just before a magical sleep claimed her, and she felt her physical body being broken apart and stitched into the sun. It has only been nine hundred years, right? Maybe I shouldn’t have skimmed Twilight Sparkle’s letter…
Luna’s hooves stamped around on the wooden floor beneath her with joy as she spun in circles. “Ha!” She laughed, as her four minions joined her – or rather, Draco, the swan, and Scorpio joined her in the room itself, while Cetus looked in from another, larger room. “Hahaha! I did it! I did it! Take that, bitch!”
Luna’s magic swelled from her horn, and a bright, burning orb appeared in the center of the room. It gave off considerable heat, but it was firmly encased in the princess’s black magic, preventing its heat from growing too unbearable.
“What is that?” Draco asked, leaning forward and inspecting the fireball.
“The sun,” Luna exclaimed, prancing in circles around it, as she transformed back into her normal large, black-coated form and proceeded to make obscene gestures at the orb of fire using her front hooves and hips. “I shrank it. I can do that.”
“Cool,” the swan said, eliciting a wing-to-hoof bump. Afterwards, the swan stared at her wing with a look of pure joy on her face, which only made Luna feel even better, almost good enough to want to put the effort necessary into remembering the swan’s name.
“Er,” Cetus asked from the other room. “What now?”
Luna stopped prancing, standing still for a moment, before shooting Cetus a glare. “What?”
“Well, it’s just that now that Celestia’s trapped, I guess you have to rule Equestria, right?” Cetus asked, rolling a little to get a better view into the room. “But that’s not going to be easy if the royal guard doesn’t trust you. You might have to try and build up a power base. There’ll be rebellions and revolutions and ponies trying to overthrow you, not to mention you have to build up a whole new reputation with foreign countries…”
Luna stared as Cetus droned on and on and on, before her eyes widened in horror. “Oh God,” she said, as she began skidding backwards towards Cetus, slowly and looking like she was trying to fight against it. “Oh God! Cetus! I’m being dragged down your gravity well!”
“What?” Cetus asked.
“Help me, Scorpio!” Luna cried as she continued to appear to be dragged backwards.
“I’ll save you, mistress!” Scorpio cried as his claws locked onto Luna’s forelegs.
“It’s no good!” Luna cried, continuing to skid backwards and dragging Scorpio with her. “He’s so fat, he’s gonna devolve into a black hole! We’re gonna be spagettified! Save yourselves while you can…!”
Draco let out a sigh, planting his hand firmly upon his face. “Mistress, he does have a point…”
Luna stopped abruptly, glaring at Draco and ignoring Cetus’ tearing-up eye, though she spared a moment to bump Scorpio’s outstretched claw. “Boo, you’re no fun.” Luna informed the dragon. “Come on! Can’t I have five minutes of joy?” She trotted over to the sun, grasping it in her hooves with little effort. “Blah blah blah, rule the land, blah blah blah. I can do that, no problem, I’m still Princess Luna, I’ve got divine right to rule. If that doesn’t work, I’ve got divine wrath. As soon as I get back to my palace and make sure my ambrosia is okay…”
Scorpio suddenly skittered to the side, placing himself firmly between Luna and where Celestia had been standing when Luna had appeared. Luna blinked a few times. “What was that about?” She asked.
“Eheheheh…” The scorpion chuckled. “Um…ask Cetus.”
“Ask Cygnus,” the whale said immediately.
“Ask Draco,” the swan said swiftly thereafter.
Luna looked expectantly to Draco, who was glaring hate at his fellow Star Beasts, before looking back to his liege. “Er,” he said.
The shepherd of the moon continued to wait.
The Mare of the Night was a remarkably patient pony.
Draco looked down, tapping his two index claws together. “You know how Ponyville was founded hundreds of years after you were exiled?” He finally began in earnest. “There’s, um…there’s a reason why it was, ah…founded right next to where your palace used to be. And your zap apple garden.”
Luna stared. “What the fuck is a zap apple?” She asked.
“Why is it called…oh, wait, I get it.” Luna said. “Lightning storms, bang. Guess they kind of look like apples, I can see…” Luna trailed off as she realized what she was saying. “…they got into my garden, didn’t they?” She asked, her voice frighteningly calm.
Draco continued to tap his claws together. “Er,” he responded.
Luna blinked a few times. She was taking this…rather well, actually. “Well.” She said. “I guess that makes sense. I mean, first they don’t appreciate me. Then I try to make the night last for one measily day, so that the ponies can see the effort I put into it, but noooo, Celestia is all it’s a slippery slope, Luna! First it’ll be a day, then a week, then you’ll try to make the night last forever! I have to stop you! So then she locks me in the moon. Then I come back and learn that those freeloading ponies have been eating my ambrosia. That’s okay. I understand. They’re just mortals, they don’t know any better – ”
“They, er…” Draco said. “They don’t really eat the apples.”
Luna blinked. She turned to Scorpio very, very slowly. “Explain.” She demanded of the scorpion.
The Star Beast trembled a little, before skittering to the side. Sitting on the floor was toast, and a butter knife, and some kind of rainbow-hued jam.
Luna stared. “What.”
“They make jam, mistress,” Draco explained.
Luna blinked a few times. She backed up several paces, so that she was standing right next to Draco, though her eyes were locked on the spilled ambrosia jam. “Draco?” She asked.
“Y-yes, mistress?” The constellation asked.
“I’m evil now.”
Draco stared. “Evil?’”
“Yes, evil. Pure evil. I am now a being of distilled, refined hate and rage.”
The Star Beasts stared at their mistress. “Really?” Scorpio asked. “Because you seem kind of calm – ”
“Give it a moment.” Luna said, eyes still locked on the zap apple jam. She breathed in deeply, then let out a long, slow breath…which quickly grew in intensity and furor into a scream of unbridled loathing.
“I am going to fucking murder you, Tia!” Luna shouted. “Fuck! My fucking ambrosia?” She galloped up to the sun. “God, Tia, trapping me in the moon is one thing, but letting these fucking fucktards into my garden just so that they can have something to spread on their toast? Do you know how many millions of years I spent trying to make trees that grew in moonlight?”
Luna grabbed the sun with both front hooves, shaking it violently. “You can’t just give away my things!” She shouted. “They’re mine! You need permission! Oh you are so fucking lucky that mom and dad are just abstract concepts of light and shadow or else I would so tell on you!”
Luna continued to shake the sun. “I don’t care if you’re getting dizzy!” She shouted after a moment, presumably having heard a telepathic plea from Celestia. After several more minutes, she released the sun, letting it float and spin in place, and breathing heavily.
“Gah!” She exclaimed, stomping around the sun. “You’re staying in there for a thousand – no, ten thousand – no, a hundred thousand years for this! And as for the fucking ponies…” Luna turned, rubbing her hooves together. “Oh, I’ll think of something. I’m a fucking goddess, there’s got to be something that I can do to make them pay. I mean, fuck. My ambrosia and they’ve been making it into jam. That’s, like, a cardinal sin. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, thou shalt not steal my fucking ambrosia and make jam out of it.”
Luna turned to the sun, apparently hearing Celestia say something. “God damnit, Celestia, I’m not going to make the night last forever! I just wanted a day, maybe two! God, everything is always slippery slope this and start of darkness that with you!” She paused, listening to Celestia. "What the fuck is a Nightmare Moon?"
“Why not make the night last forever?” Draco asked.
Luna stared at the dragon. “Uh, ‘cause they’ll all freeze.” She said. “The ponies. They actually have to do stupid little things like breathe and stay warm.” She glared at the jam on the floor. “And steal my fucking ambrosia…”
“I thought you were evil now,” Draco said.
“Hey, Draco’s right,” Scorpio said. “Maybe not forever. Just make the night last, I dunno, a month, maybe two. But don’t say that. That seems like a good punishment. Make ‘em scared.”
Luna put a hoof to her mouth in thought. “Hmm…” She thought. “Well…yeah, actually. That seems good. Get a little famine going, little cold weather, claim I’m going to make the night last forever…then in a few months’ time, I’ll raise the sun, claim that I’m a forgiving goddess and their suffering has…yeah!” Luna beamed. “I like this idea! Good work, guys – ”
A brown-coated pony stuck his head in through the door, looking at a clipboard as he did. “One minute, Princess Celestia,” he said, glancing up. On seeing Luna and the four Star Beasts, he frowned. “Where’s the Princess?”
“I trapped her in the sun,” Luna responded after taking a few moments to deal with how easily the pony was taking in the sight of an alicorn and four constellations in physical form.
“Well that’s just great,” the pony responded. “That throws off my time-tables completely…what are you? Her understudy?”
Luna blinked a few times. “I beg your pardon?”
“Look, can you raise the sun or not? ‘Cause otherwise we’ve got literally nothing to fill in the program gap.”
Luna looked to the Star Beasts. The swan shrugged helplessly. The shepherd of the moon turned back to the pony. “I’ll be on in thirty seconds,” she promised.