Celestia had transported Twilight and the others outside of the city near where Marcus had landed his ship. Marcus was the first to notice them. “Hey you’re all back,” he said. He then stopped upon seeing Celestia. “Princess Celestia, it’s good to see you again.”
“I’m afraid I’ve been locked away for some time so I need to be reacquainted with everyone,” Celestia said. “Unfortunately, I cannot say I recognize you. But now’s not the time to talk, we must leave immediately.”
“Oh it’s no problem and-” Marcus was cut off as a large explosion took place inside the city of Vector. “Yeah… I think now’s a good time to go…”
The incident in Vector would alert most of the Imperial Army meaning they only had minutes to get out of there. On the flip side, it meant that returning back to HQ would not be so much of an issue. “Once we get back, Basil will get you up to date on what’s been going on, Princess,” Marcus said as they took off.
“Basil?” Celestia asked. “As in the Basil whose father served in Parliament? I have not seen him since he was a colt.”
“The same one,” Marcus replied. “I think he, along with everypony else, will be rather glad to see you.”
(A/N: For the next part here, the song I’m using is “The Gestahl Empire” from Final Fantasy VI.)
*Meanwhile, back at Vector, Ghidious stood on the balcony outside of his palace while his three generals stood behind him, waiting for him to speak. “Losing Celestia is unfortunate as well as the facility here,” he said softly. “But it does not matter now. Our army is as powerful as ever, and we’ve never been this close to our goal as we are now. General Leon, how goes our campaign in the north?”
General Leon, the large red earth with black mane, said, “We are moving closer and closer into the mountains my lord, but the enemy fortress is massive. It will take hours to breach their defenses, and even more trying to siege it.”
“I see…” Ghidious said. “General Raines, what is your report?”
“The little pests keep hoofing their noses at us my lord,” Raines said, sneering. He was a dark blue unicorn with red lensed eyes and a very cruel nature. “Hoofington’s landscape is very particular, allowing them to run and retreat into the alleyways if they must.” Personally he would’ve had the entire town reduced to rubble, but Ghidious would not have that.
“Hm. And you Bellatrix?”
“It seems there has been an uprising in Cloudsdale,” Bellatrix said. “The mayor we put in charge there apparently has ties to the rebellion and has been trying to kick out our troops.”
“Our beloved Dolores Keaton?” Ghidious asked. “Pity, she seemed like a pony I could trust, but I was wrong. Very well, we’ll have to apply more pressure if we’re going to get this rebellion out of our way, even if we have to take them out one by one. Bellatrix, you will be returning to Cloudsdale and see to it that Dolores be removed permanently.”
“It will be done,” Bellatrix said, bowing.
“Leon and Raines, your forces will work together to take care of Hoofington,” Ghidious said. He could easily sense the tension between the two ponies. Just because they worked together didn’t mean they had to like each other. However, the two nodded simultaneously. “And one other thing… if any of you or any of your troops happen to spot Princess Luna dwelling around someplace, I want to be notified immediately.”
“Yes my lord,” the three together said, bowing.
“This will be our most glorious hour,” Ghidious said. “Once the rebellion will be put down, the Equestrian Empire will finally be able to claim its dream and the world will be ours and ours only!”
“All hail Emperor Ghidious!” the three generals said at once, lifting up their hooves to salute.
“Princess Celestia,” Basil said, taking a bow soon after the group had returned back to the base. “It is good to see you again.”
“It is good to see you again as well Basil,” Celestia said, bowing her head. “How is your father?”
“I’m afraid he passed only a few months ago,” Basil said. “But it’s alright; I know he would want me to keep fighting on. And now that you’re here, we can certainly believe now that there is hope.”
“From what I hear, the Empire has its armies all over Equestria,” Celestia said.
“Indeed,” Basil nodded. “That is our one advantage. Keeping them spread thin will allow us to hold on a little longer.” He then sighed. “My worst fear is that they’ll change tactics. If the entire Imperial Army were to come storming here, we’d only last hours at best.”
“I know Ghidious well and I’m afraid that he’ll be more than willing to do that,” Celestia said grimly.
Basil then smiled. “Well, let them come then. It seems we’ll need to start going on the offensive if we want to end this war. But I do have an idea, and I will need your subjects if they’re willing to help.”
“You want us to what!?” Rainbow said.
“The only way we’re going to get an upper hoof on the Empire is if we infiltrate and gather Intelligence,” Basil said. “Therefore, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy will infiltrate in Cloudsdale, and Applejack and Pinkie Pie will infiltrate in Hoofington. The Empire had installed a head of state for Cloudsdale but secretly she’s working with us. I do not know how long it will be before they figure it out but any news will be good for us.”
“It all sounds like a good plan and all but… won’t they recognize us?” Fluttershy asked.
“Not with these,” Basil said as soldiers brought in what appeared to be Imperial soldier armor. “We managed to recover some of these from the soldiers. Don’t worry, they won’t need it anymore.”
“It’s a little heavy for my taste,” Rainbow said. “But it will do. Also, even with this one somepony’s gonna notice my coloring.”
“Ah yes,” Basil said. “We already thought of that. Rarity?”
“Close your eyes dear,” Rarity said as she levitated a bottle of spray paint over.
“Hey what are you-? Stop, don’t-!” But it was too late as Rarity sprayed her over and when she was done, Rainbow’s mane and tail were now a navy blue. Surprisingly it suited her.
“Heh heh, guess we’ll need to start calling her Blue Dash now,” Applejack said.
“Ha ha, very funny,” Rainbow grumbled. But she had to admit, it wasn’t that bad.
“So what are Rarity and I going to do?” Twilight asked.
“I have a special mission for you two,” Basil said. “Do not worry, Snowblind, Arwen, and Dax will be accompanying you on this. In Manehattan the Empire has installed a large communications array. This is how the Empire is able to communicate across all fronts. Also, it is able to pick up on our communications as well, which is why it needs to be taken out. Destroying this will be a huge blow to the Empire.”
“But the place is heavily defended,” Celestia said. “However, there may be somepony on the inside who can help you get in.”
“It sounds dangerous but… we can handle it,” Twilight said.
“Good,” Basil said. “Now that we’ve all got the plan down, it’s time to make our move.”
At the small bar that was down in the basement of the base, Marcus and Jazz were sharing a couple of drinks. “Hey Marc, I’m gonna head back to the ship and do some quick calibrations,” Jazz said, getting up.
Marcus nodded as she left. However, he wasn’t left alone for long. “Ah Marcus, I figured I’d find you down here,” Basil said, taking a seat next to him.
Marcus took a sip of his drink. “Won’t be here for long; Jazz and I need to refuel and then we’re outta here.”
“Already?” Basil asked. “You can’t just leave, I need you to-”
Marcus quickly silenced him. “Oh no no. Don’t even do that Basil. You know I’m not part of your rebellion. I’m in this for the money, and only that. Not to mention you owe me pay now and before.”
“It’s not that easy to keep a rebellion in budget…” Basil muttered. “It doesn’t matter Marcus, the Empire by now has your ship in their files, you’re a wanted criminal to them now.”
“Not if I can provide my services,” Marcus said, taking another swig. “Being a smuggler, doing services like that can easily wipe away your record.”
“…You wouldn’t do that…” Basil replied.
“Like I said, I’m in it for the money,” Marcus stated.
Basil sighed and got up. “The choice is up to you, but I hope when you do choose you feel that it’s the right decision.” And with that, he got up and left.
For a couple moments Marcus sat there, looking at the bottom of his glass. He then sighed and took his last swig. “Wherever I’m going I hope there’s a cantina nearby,” he muttered.