56w, 3dHuman in Equestria
51w, 3mSpacebattles Bronies
4w, 6dProtect Celestia
49w, 3dHumans Aren't Bastards
51w, 17hSB Fic.Group
- Show All Groups
29w, 4dG1 Ponies: Credit Where It's Due
18w, 2dShining Armor and Cadence
8w, 4dFriends Of All Generations
14w, 3dPonies aren't Monsters
14w, 1dFirst Contact Stories
11w, 3hVallett's Private Library
4w, 16hThe Good HiE List
1w, 18hMegan is best pony
6d, 2hThe Peacekeepers
The party, like all parties, wound down as the day and light faded. Celestia took to the skies twice more, making adjustments to the path of the sun before landing. Ponyville citizens wandered back to their homes and businesses, paying homage to either Celestia or Luna before leaving.
Mister Cake, Missus Cake and Pinkie Pie began cleaning up, setting aside dishes and cleaning up trash. They banged the dishes against trash cans before setting them onto the carts for the return trip to Sugarcube Corner.
Celestia approached the Cake's and dipped her head low. She patiently waited for them to bow their heads to the ground before speaking. "Carrot Cake, Cup Cake, I wish to commend you for such wonderful catering. I shall personally make sure your bakery is well compensated for your efforts today."
Carrot Cake wiped his brow and dipped his head. "Why thank you, your highness," he said.
Cup Cake held a foreleg up to her face to cover her blushing cheeks. "We're very honored!" she gushed. She looked to Carrot Cake. "We can take that vacation in Reino!"
Celestia chuckled slightly. She looked around, looking for a pink blur. "Now, where's Pinkie Pie? She was right here a moment ago..." She suddenly stopped as a weight settled on her withers. Her eyes tilted up as the weight moved forward,, up her neck and head. "Pinkie Pie?" she asked as the Earth pony appeared in her peripheral vision. "How did you get on my back?" she asked, eye brow arching.
Pinkie Pie jumped off and landed, twisting in midair so she faced Celestia. She landed with a mild thud and looked up, grinning. "Did you like the party?" She gasped. "You did like the party!" She rose on her hind legs and clapped her hooves together, horseshoes clanking. "I'm so glad! We worked super hard on it for two whole days to get everything together!"
Celestia spoke up. "And you did a marvelous job of it, too!" She looked at Pinkie Pie, her eyes meeting the Earth Pony's. "Pinkie, if you could, there's a meeting with Luna, Megan's family, the Princess Ponies and the other Bearers of the Elements. After you help the Cakes a bit more, could you please attend?" Her smile fell away and her eyes glanced away. "We might need Laughter after the tale of Nightmare Moon is told."
Pinkie's mouth formed an 'o' before she nodded furiously, mane bobbing up and down. "You can count on me!"
Celestia smiled at her before turning off and trotting away. She approached Queen Rosedust and the other Flutter Ponies as they stood away from the library, close to the main road. "Leaving so soon?"
Rosedust looked up. "It's a two-day journey back to Flutter Province," she said. Her gaze drifted to the road, and even farther down. "Wings or hooves, I've got a lot of work to do." Her head whipped around and she looked at Morning Glory as she stood by her husband and son. "And I have an old friend to help."
Celestia's horn glowed briefly and a quill, inkwell and scroll appeared, floating in the air. The quill dipped into the inkwell before scribbling across the scroll. After a few minutes, all three objects vanished once more. "There will be a chariot here in a half-hour," she announced. "They'll take you anywhere you wish to go."
Morning Glory's wings glowed briefly and she blinked. "Thank you," she said, grunting slightly. She cleared her throat. "Sorry, it's been a while since I've talked this much," she said, her mouth half-curling into a smile. She looked around, eyes focusing on the bouquet of flowers tucked into Sparkling Dawn's saddlebags. "Can we stop off at Hoofington, please? I wish to thank that Unicorn who gave those to me."
Sparkling Dawn leaned over and nuzzled his wife's cheek, giving her a quick kiss. "I'd like to thank her, too." He looked to Rosedust. "Please?"
Rosedust nodded. "But of course. I'd like a good word with her, too." She looked back to Celestia, her neck craning up. "I'll be in touch within the week. I do believe it's time for Flutter Province to once more be represented in the Senate, and to be in contact with Equestria once more." Her eyes shifted. "And perhaps Morning Glory can get the help she needs as well."
Celestia smiled and blinked, her eyes bright. "Of course, Rosedust." She knelt down and leaned forward, bowing her head to Rosedust. "It's been good to see you, my old friend. I hope the next time isn't as long as before."
A rather unladylike snort came from Rosedust. "I should hope not." She looked around, her eyes focusing on Luna as she stood with Megan and Mike. "I daresay your sister will be needing you, Celestia." She waved her foreleg at Celestia. "Now go, shoo!" She paused before hopping up onto her hind hooves and wrapping her forelegs around Celestia's neck in a hug. "And thank you for coming to see us."
There was a pause before Celestia tilted her head, leaning into the hug. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as Rosedust let go. "My pleasure," she whispered. She bowed to Morning Glory, Sparkling Dawn and Blazing Day before walking over to Luna, Megan and Mike. The smile fell away as she saw Luna kicking at the dirt, sending clods sailing into the Everfree Forest. "Are you all right?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
Luna nickered slightly and tossed her own ethereal mane about. She half-closed her eyes and the mane became more solid in color and shape, settling down against her head and neck. She waited as Twilight and her friends wandered over, along with Danielle, Michelle, Molly and Danny. "I might be, but time will tell." A wan smile crossed her lips. "A shame I got rid of Mimic's Golden Horseshoes, isn't it?"
A grin crossed Celestia's face for a moment before she shook her head. "I don't think so, Luna." She glanced over as the Princess Ponies approached, Sparkle in the lead. The quill, inkwell and a new scroll appeared once more. "Princesses, shall I send for a chariot large enough for you all, or separate ones for two or three apiece?"
Tiffany spoke up. "We are here for Luna." She spread her snow-white wings and jumped up, hovering in the air. "She'll need our support for this, I think. Our own personal needs can be met after."
Celestia nodded. The quill scribbled over the parchment before the writing implements disappeared once more. "I have them on standby," she said. Her eyes glanced up at Spykoran, even as the Great Dragon's head dipped down. "Spykoran?"
Spykoran's eyes darted back and forth between Celestia, Luna, Megan, and Mei Long. He snorted, shooting smoke from his nostrils. "Jormun the Red shall need me." He rumbled. "Talk has reminded me of Dargoth's nest, and what happened there." He raised his arm and the claws squeezed together. "Never again, Celestia. The bears will NEVER AGAIN threaten the Dragon Clans, as long as I am king." He leaned forward, putting his head on the ground so his left eye stared at Megan. He waited for Molly and Danny to come into his view before speaking once more. "It warms my soul in ways gems never could to see you three once more. It might be some time before my next visit, but mark my words, I will be back and see you again!"
Megan sighed and wiped her eyes. She walked up to Spykoran's muzzle and spread her arms out, hugging it as much as she could. "I'm so glad to see you again, Spike," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks." She stepped away and wiped her red eyes. "But you'd better come back, unless you want the Mag'ne angry at you," she said, cracking the tiniest smile.
Danny rolled up and patted Spykoran. He looked down at the ground, shaking his head. "Yeah, we got a lot of stuff to catch up on," he said, his voice husky. "And the king of the Dragon Clans can probably get away with a lot of pranks, right?"
Spykoran chuckled, holding most of it back. "On occasion, Danny, although the Clan heads do a bit more than send me to my room." His eye focused on Molly. "Still so silent?"
Molly's eyes drifted to the ground. She clasped her hands behind her back and kicked at the dirt. "Just not sure what to say," she mumbled. She shrugged and looked to Megan, then to Danny. "Sorry, Spike. Just not sure what to say."
Spykoran's left arm stretched out, a single claw snaking out right next to Molly and brushing gently against her. "Just being here is enough, Molly." He withdrew his arm and straightened up, spreading his wings. He glanced down at Mei Long as she uncoiled herself. "Ready?"
Mei Long slithered around, pausing in front of Megan, Molly and Danny. "It was an honor to meet you. The stories Spykoran told of you were always very entertaining." She suddenly stretched out, sailing into the air in a corkscrew. She twisted about, settling into a holding pattern above the library.
Spykoran beat his wings, buffeting the entire area. Magical barriers sprung up around everyone, keeping them on their feet or hooves as Spykoran took to the air. He paused in the air and waved at Megan, Danny and Molly before turning and flying off, quickly dwindling into a pinpoint.
Mike walked up to Megan and slid his arm around her shoulders, hugging her tight. "I won't ask if you're all right," he said, keeping his eyes on the dragons as they disappeared. "But... " He sighed. "Are you?"
Megan put her left hand over Mike's hand and squeezed. "I am, and thank you." She leaned back against him. "I still can't believe Spike is king of the dragons!"
Danny nodded. He grabbed the wheels on his chair and twisted around to face Megan. "I still remember him, Surprise and me teaming up and introducing April Fool's Day to Dream Valley." He looked to the sky and shook his head. "What we did to Hydia that one time at the Volcano of Gloom was talked about for years!" he said, spreading his arms wide.
Molly nodded. "Oh, yeah. Or when I brought those books about chemical reactions and he tried mixing up something for his fire breath?" She rubbed her forehead. "It took the weather team an hour to put out that fire." She snorted. "Good practice for them, though."
Luna cleared her throat and unfurled her wings, flapping them and getting everyone's attention. "It's time," she said, bowing her head. She looked to Danny. "I mentioned Nightmare Moon to you, by accident, although perhaps on purpose." She trotted forward. "It's not too long a story, but it's one I need to tell you."
Danny nodded, keeping his eyes on Luna. "Off to the Everfree, then?" At her curt nod, he wheeled around and began rolling off, in the direction of the hole at the edge of the Everfree Forest, Megan, Molly, Danny, Mike, Danielle and Michelle following him. The Princess Ponies and their Bushwoolie honor guard followed, with Twilight and her friends taking up the rear and Spike on her back.
A sudden shout stopped everyone in their tracks. "Wait a gal-derned minute!" an elderly voice croaked out, grabbing their attention as Granny Smith toddled up, forelegs resting on her walker. She paused before Celestia and Luna, bobbing her head. "Yer, majesties, mind iff'n I talk tah mah granddaughter fer a minute?"
Applejack stopped and swung around as Granny Smith walked up to her. She trotted up, eyes narrowed. "What is it, Granny?" she asked, concern in her voice. She leaned over and looked around, past Granny. "Whare's Applebloom or Big Macintosh?"
"Back at Sweet Apple Acres," Granny Smith replied. She let out a tired sigh. "There's something... something I gotta tell yah all back at Sweet Apple Acres. It concerns the Mag'ne." She toddled around Applejack, looking up and over at Megan, Danny and Molly. "Or rather, tha woman behind the legend."
Megan broke from Mike's side and walked up to Applejack's side. She knelt down in front of Granny Smith and extended a hand. "You know of us before today?"
Granny Smith nodded, eyes unfocused for a moment. "Our line, dates back tah Dream Valley, Megan." She looked to Applejack. "Ah put off telling yah 'bout this, mostly on account of... of them." She cleared her throat, coughing slightly. "Yer parents were gonna tell yah, but that night and that storm took 'em to Key'Tuck, to run with the Herd." She suddenly looked to Megan. "Although now ahm wondering, what is Key'Tuck, really?"
Megan coughed into her hand. "Actually, I think Key'Tuck is... my home state of Kentucky." She barked out a laugh. "It somehow got mixed up in... your mythology!" She looked back over her shoulder at Celestia. "And we are going to have a talk about that, young filly!"
Danielle snorted. "Whoa! Go, Mom!"
Mike cleared his throat. "Danielle, not now," he said, admonishing his eldest.
Megan bit her lip. "Applejack, there was a Herd before I arrived, so I'm certain that's where your parents are." She looked up to the sky as the horizon began turning a brilliant crimson. "They're up there, among endless plains and rivers with crystal-blue water."
Applejack looked to the ground and sniffed, a single tear rolling down her cheek. "An' apple trees with tha ripest and biggest apples ever?"
Megan swallowed and reached out, patting her on the back. "As big as my head." She stood up and bowed to Granny Smith. "It was an honor to meet you, Granny Smith."
Granny Smith's head bobbed. "Same here, kid." She toddled up to Applejack's side and wrapped a foreleg around her neck, pulling her in and kissing her granddaughter on the cheek. "Now don' be out late, yah hear?"
Applejack nodded and returned the hug. "Ahl be home soon, Granny." She broke the embrace and looked to Luna. "There's just somepony ah gotta be there fer."
Granny nodded. "Gotcha." She waved a foreleg at everyone before turning and walking off, muttering to herself as she went.
Megan spun about on her heel and quickly walked back up to Mike's side. She took his hand and the pair began walking back to the outskirts of town and the field. The rest of the group quickly followed the pair. After a few minutes, they reached the edge of the Everfree Forest and the hole in space.
Everyone clustered together into a tight semicircle. The Princess Ponies and the Bushwoolies stood on Luna and Celestia's right, while Twilight, Spike and the other Elements of Harmony stood off to the Alicorn's left. And finally, Megan and her family stood and sat directly across from them.
Luna's horn glowed and cushions appeared behind everyone. "I shall be as brief as possible, but no reason for you all to stand on my account."
"Or mine, either," Celestia said, winking.
Rainbow Dash patted her cushion and plopped back onto it, grinning. "Almost as comfortable as a cloud!"
Rarity looked at her own cushion. "And it complements my coat and mane as well!" She looked to Luna and bowed her head. "Thank you ever so much!"
Megan, Molly, Mike, Danielle and Michelle all sat down. "Thanks!" Michelle said.
Danielle nodded. "Thank you, Princess."
Pinkie Pie turned her head around and pulled a carton of popcorn out of her mane. She put it down between her forelegs and stuck her muzzle into it, chewing loudly, before suddenly looking up. "What?"
Applejack's upper lip peeled back. "Pinkie Pie, dah yah mind? Tha princess is about to speak!"
Luna shook her head. "It is all right, Applejack." She fixed her eyes on Pinkie Pie. "As long as she does it quietly, that is," she said, clouds suddenly rolling in.
Pinkie Pie nodded. "Okie doki loki!' she said, sticking her muzzle back in but the noise somehow muted.
Serena and Starburst looked up at Luna. "If you need anything, we're right here," Serena said.
Luna turned and looked down at the mint-green Earth pony and nodded. "Thank you." She looked to Princesses Starburst, then to Sparkle, Tiffany, Primrose , Royal Blue and then to the Bushwoolies. "Thank you all." She cleared her throat and began speaking, clear and with just enough force to be heard easily by all.
"It all began after Discord's attack and rampage. Before, the ponies and other Equestrian citizens enjoyed the night, staying up late and having festivals." She looked to the sky and her eyes half-closed. Her horn glowed and the sky turned deep-blue. Stars began twinkling, tiny pinpoints of light. "But then the self-styled Lord of Chaos came, shattering Equestria's peace and almost destroying our nascent nation." She snorted and stomped a hoof on the ground, cratering the dirt.
Luna growled as she looked down at the various ponies closing up their shops and hurrying home before dusk. She sailed through the sky, landing at a balcony at Paradise Castle and entering her private chambers. "Why are they in such a rush?" she groused to the room's other occupant, her older sister and ruler of the day.
Celestia glanced up from the couch she lounged on and rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, Luna!" The book she was reading closed and floated down onto the table in front. "It's getting late for everypony." Her jaw shot opened and she yawned, drawing it out as long as possible before rolling her eyes. "See?"
Luna's lips quirked in a smile, but it quickly fell away. "You're tied to the sun and the Heart's natural rhythms, dear sister." Her mane changed from solid to a trailing, translucent stream of energy. "Just as I am. But the other ponies aren't." Her head whipped around and she stared out the window. "Megan told us that humans worked and played all hours of the day. Old books in the Vault show people at clubs and factories and shipping done all hours of the day. Why not here?"
Celestia rose from the couch and trotted over. She extended a wing over Luna's torso in a sisterly embrace. "But Equestria isn't Earth, Luna." She looked out the window herself. "We're still agrarian, and Earth didn't have Discord to deal with." Shadows fell over her eyes, but they quickly lifted and she smiled once more. "Don't worry, Luna. Everypony still appreciates your night."
Luna looked down to the floor. Her head still hung as she extended her own wing over Celestia. "I guess," she mumbled. She stood there as Celestia left, going to her own private chambers. It was some time before she moved.
"Over the years, the ponies remained inside during the night. My heart was torn apart by jealousy, by loneliness. Then one fateful day, I was alone when I heard a voice..."
Luna growled and tossed her head back. Her crown shot off her head, hitting the wall and bouncing off. Her mane flared and brightened. "Why won't they COME OUT!" she screamed. She stomped on the tiled floor once more, cracking it. "I worked so hard on the stars, the moon!" Her wings flared out and clouds appeared near the ceiling as tears fell from her eyes. "Why don't they love me?"
"I love you."
Luna whirled around, eyes brightening and her horn sheathed in energy. "WHO IS THERE?" she cried out. "Hoofmaidens? Servants? SHOW YOURSELF!" She looked around, stopping as she caught something out of the corner of her eye, near the mirror. She trotted over, head tilting to the side. "Wait, are you... like the mirror? From Molly's old storybooks?"
The glass fogged over and a pair of glowing eyes appeared, bright blue in color. "I am here," the voice said. "I see you, Princess Luna. I see the wondrous work you do on the night, and all the hard work you pour into it. And I am sad." The eyes turned downward. "I wish others saw what I see."
Luna blinked. Her mouth turned dry and she swallowed. "T-thank you. I-I'm glad for your kind words." She trotted right up to the mirror. "But who are you?"
"An admirer, and perhaps one day, a friend."
"I spoke at length to the voice and eyes through the night, putting off other duties. Over the next few years I spent much time speaking to the voice. It grew into a face, head and neck. A dark reflection of my own visage. And one day, about... nine years after I first heard the voice, it gave me an idea..."
"Why not make it night during the day?"
Luna paused in her pacing. She looked to the mirror. "Say what?"
The image turned to her. "Keep the moon in the day. Don't let Celestia hog all the glory, Luna! You are a princess too, after all!"
Luna's face hardened. "I am a princess! As written in the Lord of the rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, all shall love me and despair!"
"And so I... I... " Luna's voice broke. She shut her eyes and nickered. She gritted her teeth together and opened her eyes once more, only to rear back her head back in shock as she saw Danny sitting there, in the middle of the tight group. "Ah!"
Danny suddenly reached out and up, wrapping his arms around Luna's neck in an embrace. "It's all right," he said, his own eyes closed.
Megan and Molly rose up and stepped up to Danny's side. They each wrapped an arm around Luna's neck, placing their other arm along Danny's back and hugging tightly. Luna's eyes widened in shock for a moment before her upper lip quivered. A shudder ran through her body. "B-b-b-"
Megan, Molly and Danny eventually broke the embrace. Megan looked to Luna. "If it's too much, you don't have to continue." She shrugged and looked around. "What happened? Short version, too. Don't draw it out."
Celestia's eyes shifted to Luna. "Luna, your voice sounds a little... hoarse?" She cleared her own throat. "Perhaps I should finish?" A sigh escaped her. "You haven't been able to recall all the details of that year, anyway, right?"
Luna blinked. She bobbed her head. "Very well, Celestia." She waved a foreleg at her older sister. "Please continue."
Everyone's eyes focused on the alabaster-white Alicorn as she drew herself up. She waited for Molly and Megan to sit and for Danny to wheel himself back before speaking. "One day Luna, or something resembling Luna, kept the night sky in place, refusing to lower the moon or send away the stars. And so a war was fought, culminating in one final battle..."
The two Alicorns circled in the dim sky as lightning flashed and winds howled. Celestia stopped in midair as she regarded the warped, twisted version of her sister. Her horn glowed and a beam of golden energy shot forth, striking her fellow Alicorn's shields and strobing over it. "Luna, for Herd's sake!" she cried out, tears streaming from her eyes. "Please, don't do this!"
Luna paused. Her eyes flashed and she sneered. "I am no longer Luna!" she shouted. "As I have said, you pathetic foal, my name is Nightmare Moon!" Her wings flared out and her mane and tail flowed around her body as she looked down at the flaming wreckage of Paradise City. "The night reigns supreme, Celestia. As it was always meant to!"
Celestia stopped in the air, her entire body locking up. She regarded her sister, his mouth a straight line. "Luna, Danny? Megan? Molly? Rosedust? Wind Whistler? Do any of these names mean anything to you?"
Nightmare Moon growled and kicked at the air, sending out wind with each hoofbeat. "Those ancient names? HAH! They shall be expunged when I rule Equestria, and soon this entire planet! Even the Dragon Clans themselves shall bow to me!"
Celestia's eyes fluttered closed. She bowed her head and five pendants and a crown floated up to her. The crown landed on her head, right in front of her horn while the five pendants floated in front of her head. Her eyes half-closed and the jewels embedded in the crown glowed, shooting a beam of energy out to the pendants. "Then I have no choice," she stated. "Goodbye, Luna."
Celestia reared back before thrusting her head forward. The energy beam from the crown intensified as her horn blazed like a torch. A beam of multicolored magic shot forth from the jewels, striking Nightmare Moon and enveloping her. She bucked and reared, but a vortex appeared behind her. Nightmare Moon's form wavered, becoming diluted. Her eyes met Celestia's once more before she vanished.
The moon above wavered. A dark, spotted silhouette of a Unicorn head in profile appeared. Celestia stared at it for a moment of eternity before she lowered her head. A final tear dropped from her eyes as the moon lowered and the sun rose. She tucked her wings in as she and the jewels floated down to the ruins of Paradise City, still burning.
She touched down on a street near a pair of Earth ponies clad in the armor of the Equestrian Armed Forces. They bowed their heads as her hooves touched the pavement. "Milady," the larger one said. "Nightmare Moon has been defeated?"
Celestia grunted. "Yes," she finally said. The jewels dropped to the ground and Celestia visibly winced. "You will soon find the Shadowbolts disappearing. As for the Ursa Minors and Majors, coordinate with the dragons sent by the Clans to drive them off and back north." She looked around. "This feels... wrong."
The second Earth pony raised his head. He bit his lip before speaking. "Milady, several Unicorns reported their own magic not working properly here." He stomped the ground. "And it also feels wrong to me. Pray tell, what is happening?"
Celestia cocked her head to the side. "Something is wrong." She turned back to face them, but started as the jewels and crown suddenly vanished. "What? NO!"
The soldiers both stepped back. "Your majesty, the Elements of Harmony?"
Celestia looked up once more. "I see. So, that is my punishment." She looked back down to the soldiers. "I am no longer in harmony, therefore, the Elements are not mine." She cantered back around and straightened herself up. "Follow me. Paradise City is dying."
The wind still howled, crying all through the land.
Megan wiped her eyes and shuddered. "S-so you were... banished into the moon?"
Luna nodded. Her eyes drifted up to the sky as it darkened and the sun dipped close to the horizon. "For a thousand years." She looked to Twilight, Applejack and the rest of the Elements. "Until my sister's faithful student and her friends broke the chains of hatred that bound my heart." She glanced at Celestia. "And my older sister has been cultivating a rather healthy appreciation for the night while I was in the moon, too."
Applejack blushed slightly. "Ah, tweren't nothin', Princess."
Molly shook her head. "This is..." She focused on Luna. "Are you all right, now?" she asked, pointing at the ground for emphasis. She glanced around at the ponies. "Well, I mean... she became Nightmare Moon and the Elements of Harmony healed her?"
Tiffany grunted, gaining everyone's attention. "We're not so sure it was actually Luna who was Nightmare Moon." She held up a hoof as Luna turned to her. "Your memories of those years is spotty at best, young filly! And there are still doubts about what happened."
Starburst nodded her head. "Agreed, Tiffany." She looked to Luna as well. "The point at the moment is this, Luna. You're better. The Nightmare is gone and you've been remorseful over what happened back then." She rose up and walked over, holding out a hoof and touching one of Luna's forelegs. "Look to the past, but not so much you're tripped up by the future."
Luna bowed her head and a smile crossed her lips. "Wise words, Starburst." She looked up to the sky and sighed. "And the time is late," she said, standing. Luna bowed her head to Megan, Molly and Danny. "Thank you for listening, my old friends."
Molly and Megan rose, bowing while Danny leaned forward. "The honor is ours, Princess," Megan said. She looked to the sky and her brow wrinkled. "My memory's a bit faulty, but isn't there some more to do for the night?" She waved her hand around. "Some flying and guiding of the moon?"
Celestia's horn glowed and a golden beam shot out into the sky. She looked to the Princess Ponies. "Your rides will be here in ten minutes." She walked up and dropped her head, going down to one foreleg. "Thank you, my old friends."
The Princess ponies each returned the gesture. "Thank you," Sparkle said. She looked to Luna. "We'll be in Canterlot for the Gala. Will we see you there?"
Luna rubbed her chin. "I wasn't planning on attending, but with you six there?" She stomped the ground and the area rocked slightly. "Of course!"
Celestia looked to Megan. "Speaking of which, Megan, is your family free next Saturday? It's the Grand Galloping Gala, one of the most important social events of the year. I'd be honored if you could attend."
Megan looked to her husband as he sat on his cushion. "Honey, I believe you're off next week," she said, winking.
Mike snorted and rose, followed by Michelle and Danielle. He bowed at the waist. "I'd be honored," he said, smiling.
Megan threw her arms around him and kissed him lightly on the mouth. "Thanks!" She looked to Michelle and Danielle and stepped around to them. "Although you two, after your little 'adventure' with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, I'm not sure if letting you attend this Gala is right."
Danielle's shoulders slumped and she frowned. "Ah, Mom!" she cried out. "Come on, it wasn't that bad!"
Michelle nodded furiously. "Yeah, and it was only a little tree sap!" She tugged at her hair. "See, it all washed out in Twilight's bathroom!"
Danielle rubbed the bridge of her nose before her left arm shot out, hitting Michelle in the upper arm. "Not helping!" she growled out, glaring daggers at her younger sister.
Megan pursed her lips and whistled, getting both girls' attention. "I was mostly kidding when I said that." She looked at Michelle, then Danielle. "Mostly, though." She paced a bit before them and crossed her arms over her chest. "But I want your word that you'll behave yourselves at this event, all right?"
Both Michelle and Danielle nodded. "We will, Mom. I promise," Danielle said.
Pinkie Pie suddenly hopped up. "Wait!" she cried out, trotting over. She rose up on her hind legs and jabbed a hoof at Danielle, then Michelle. "You better do a Pinkie Pie promise, just to make sure!"
Twilight groaned. "Pinkie!"
Pinkie glanced back at her, craning her neck. "What? This is important!"
The two young ladies crossed their chests. "Cross our hearts and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in our eyes," they both chanted, placing a hand over their right eye. Danielle looked at Megan. "How's that, Mom?"
Megan nodded. "Good." She walked over to Molly and Danny. "What about you two?" She leaned over Danny's shoulder, grinning. "Come on, it'll be fun!"
Danny shrugged. "Why not? Molly, you in?"
Molly nodded. "Oh, yeah!" She stepped around to Megan's side and placed a forearm on Megan's shoulder, leaning on it. "Someone's gotta keep you two out of trouble!"
Chuckles and laughter rang through the field for a minute before Celestia and Luna walked over to Megan, Molly and Danny. Celestia looked at the three and sighed. "I never thought this day would happen," she whispered. "But now, it must end." She looked up at the sky. "It is time for dusk, for the day to end and night to begin."
Megan stood up and stepped up to the Alicorns. She hugged Celestia and then Luna. She waited for Molly and Danny to hug the Princesses before speaking. "We'll be back," she said, voice thick and eyes wet. She motioned to the sky. "All right, now put on a show for us, please?"
Celestia spread her wings and leaped into the air. She flew up, up and up into the sky, turning into a silhouette against the almost-set sun. The sun finally disappeared down the horizon and the sky turned black. Luna followed her sister into the sky, her own deep-blue coat turning her nigh-invisible. The moon rose into the sky, a giant orb hanging low. Stars, twinkling and bright, appeared, at first a dusting and then more and more. Three shooting stars streaked across the night sky as day ended and night began.
Danny held up his hand and waved. "Beautiful, Luna. Thanks." He wiped his eyes and swung his wheelchair around to face Pinkie Pie and wheeled himself over to her. He leaned forward and extended his hand. "I hear you like pranks?" A sly grin crossed his face. "I like pranks. Surprise and I played a lot of pranks. Spike joined in, too."
Dash flew over and landed next to Pinkie Pie. "Hey pranks? I love pranks, too!" she said, rubbing her hooves together. She floated around Danny. "Got any more embarrassing pictures of Celestia and Luna? Those were great!"
Danny's head darted around. "Sure, but maybe tomorrow?" He clamped his mouth shut as a yawn shook his body. "It's been a long day for me." He cocked his head to the side. "Probably for you, too."
Pinkie Pie's right eye widened. "Are you crazy?" she asked, hopping up onto his lap. "There's so much more to do! This party-"
"-is over," Megan said. She looked to Pinkie. "Sorry, but not all of us have sugar for blood. And I don't want to strain Twilight anymore than necessary when she teleports us back to Earth." She snapped her fingers. "Speaking of which, excuse me." She walked up to Mike and leaned in close, cupping a hand to his ear and whispering in it. He leaned away, glanced at Twilight and nodded, prompting Megan to kiss him again.
Applejack let out a sigh. "Well, much as I'd like tah stay, Granny Smith needs tah talk tah me back at Sweet Apple Acres." She looked to Fluttershy. "Need somepony tah walk wit' yah back te yer cottage?"
Fluttershy, silent through most of the various conversations, nodded and smiled. "Thank you very much, Applejack!" She let out a sigh. "I just hope Angel Bunny's not been waiting up for me. He can get very cranky if I stay out too late!"
Applejack rolled her eyes. "Oh, dear Herd..." Her eyes caught Mike and she tilted her chin up. "Hey, Mike! Still on fer tomorrow?"
Mike raised his hand in a thumbs-up. "Not a problem, AJ! We can even talk about that... mutual problem we noticed, you know?"
Applejack winked at him. "Gotcha." She leaned forward a bit and locked her eyes on Mike's hand. "Say, what's that mean, anyhow?" She raised his right foreleg and looked at her hoof. "A thumb... that's good right?"
Mike opened his mouth, but simply nodded.
Applejack and Fluttershy said their goodbyes before turning and trotting off, away from the Everfree Forest and back to Ponyville. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie soon followed, the former flying and the latter bouncing along.
Sparkle looked up as the Bushwoolies hopped around her and the other Princess Ponies. She narrowed her eyes and scanned the sky, finally focusing on three white blobs gradually growing larger. "It seems our ride will be here, soon." She looked to Twilight and smiled faintly. "It was a pleasure seeing you, again. I knew you'd make her proud!"
Twilight's eyes widened. "Wait, what?" Her head darted around. "Wait, make who proud?"
Any answer was cut off as three Pegasi-towed chariots swooped down, touching down and trotting to a landing in front of the Princess Ponies. Cracker Roll disconnected from his harness and trotted up to Sparkle, dropping to one knee. "Princesses Sparkle, Tiffany, Starburst, Primrose, Royal Blue and Serena, we are here to fly you back to Crystal Castle." He rose and walked to the back of each chariot, unlatching a ramp and letting it drop down. The Princess Ponies and Bushwoolies boarded and Cracker Roll quickly latched each ramp once more before hooking himself back up to his harness.
Sparkle looked to Twilight and smiled faintly. "I'll tell you later, but I think you already know." She turned away as the Pegasi began galloping off, spreading their wings and taking off into the sky.
Twilight hopped up and down. "No, I don't! Wait! Come back here!" She galloped after the chariots, but skidded to a halt as they flew off. She rose up and waved her forelegs. "Princess Sparkle, please!"
Megan ran up to her and dropped to her knees. She placed a hand on Twilight's back and rubbed it. "Twilight, you all right?"
Twilight sighed. "Yeah, but that was... weird." She looked to Megan. "Did she mean my mother? The original Twilight?" She looked to Megan. "Who did she mean?"
Megan shrugged. "Not sure at the moment, Twilight. But, I do have a question for you." She looked around and spotted Spike standing near Rarity. "Would you and Spike like to sleep over our house tonight?"
Twilight jumped into the air, whirling about. "Really? Really?" She leaned in and threw her forelegs around Megan in a hug. "A sleepover? Of course! I love sleepovers so much!" She let go and galloped past her up to Spike. "Spike, we're going back to the library to get ready for a sleepover!" She suddenly stopped and leaned in close to her assistant. "Spike, you all right?"
Spike looked up at Twilight and sighed. "Actually... I can't." He looked to Rarity and his cheeks blushed slightly. "R-Rarity and I were talking." A goofy grin crossed his face, but he coughed into his fist and continued. "The green dragon, it's my fault," he said, kicking at the dirt. "And I wanna make sure Ponyville's not threatened again by it. So I wanna get those gemstones he wants as soon as possible."
Rarity spoke up. "Spike and I were discussing things, and we agreed to go out tomorrow at dawn to the gem fields and fill up those carts that nasty brute wanted." She looked to Spike and smiled. "Spike even agreed to dig up an extra cart for me for Sapphire Shores' next tour date." She reached out and gingerly touched Spike's arm, sending him spinning away. "Such a darling helper, wouldn't you say?"
Twilight's eyes followed Spike as he spun about, rubbing his arm where Rarity's hoof touched him. Her horn glowed and the dragon was suddenly enveloped by a violet wave of telekinetic energy, stopping his little dance. He floated over to Twilight, who regarded him. "Spike," she began. "That's very mature and thoughtful of you." She lowered her head and nuzzled him on the cheek. "I'm very proud of you, my number-one assistant."
Spike flinched slightly, but stayed in that spot. "Aww, come on, Twilight!" he said, scratching the back of his head. "You're embarrassing me!"
Twilight chuckled and looked over her shoulder as Megan walked up. "Megan, I'm sorry, but I... can't attend the sleepover." She looked back to Spike. "Spike's still a baby dragon, and it wouldn't be right for me to leave him alone like that."
Megan nodded. "Not a problem, Twilight."
Rarity looked about. "What? Why, this can't be!" She motioned to Spike. "Spike can spend the night at Carousel Boutique, Twilight!"
Spike's mouth stretched into a rather wide grin as he rubbed his claws together. "Y-you m-mean it, Rarity?" He hopped up and down. "Really?"
Twilight opened her mouth, but Rarity waved her off. "Ah, ah ah! I insist, darling! I know how much you adore sleepovers, and it would be the height of selfishness to make you miss one." She looked up at Megan. "Please make sure to take care of Twilight, dear. She's one of my best friends!"
Megan bit her lip, but nodded.
Twilight's horn glowed and Spike floated over once more. "Then at least let me get you to Carousel Boutique in a timely fashion." She looked up to Megan. "I'll be back in a few minutes." Her horn suddenly flared and she, Spike and Rarity vanished in a flash of light.
Mike planted his hands on his hips and shook his head. "This is... the wildest day of my life." He looked to Danny. "I met dragons, today. Real, honest to god dragons!" He barked out a laugh. "Dragons. Dragons!"
Molly rolled her eyes. "Yeah, Mike. Almost as odd as that honeymoon trip Danny and I sent you and Megan to. Remember Autobot City and the giant robots you took about two hundred pictures of?"
Mike shrugged. "Yeah, but come on, Molly! Dragons!" he waved his hands about and grinned. "Dragons are... dragons!"
Danielle shook her head. "Yeah, but the Autobots are cool, too." She walked up to Molly. "Did you meet any dragons in Dream Valley, Aunt Molly? Some unpublished work or something Mom hasn't written yet?"
Molly smiled at her niece. "Oh, yeah." She pointed to Danny. "But he's the 'expert' among us. He and Spike tracked down a dragon gang once."
Danny leaned back and groaned. "Oh, don't remind me about those bullies! They were worse than those jerks making fun of Ditzy." He snapped his fingers a few times. "What, Sticks and Stones?"
Any response was cut short as Twilight popped back into existence, a small suitcase hovering beside her. She looked around, a small sheen of sweat on her brow. "Sorry about that!" she said. She waved at everyone with a foreleg. "Now, gather around like before. Just... like... before..."
Megan, Mike, Molly, Danny, Michelle and Danielle all gathered up any items brought over with them in the morning, moved in close and knelt down as far as they could near Twilight. The Unicorn planted her hooves and grunted, her horn flaring with violet power. There was a bright and loud pop of light before all seven vanished.
A blinding light flared from the ether as six humans and one Unicorn suddenly appeared in the backyard of a two-story house in Kentucky. Molly slumped to the grass, looking up at the cloudy night sky. "Dramamine," she mumbled. "Next time, bring Dramamine."
Megan leaned on Danny's wheelchair, rubbing her forehead. "It's easier this time, but still sucks." She sucked in air and tried standing up, but slumped back down. "Danny, you all right?"
Danny was leaning forward, arms resting on his thighs and head hanging low. "Just fine, Megan. Now the world must stop spinning." His head raised slightly. "Do any other Unicorns know how to teleport? A lot did back in Dream Valley."
Twilight groaned. "Some do back in Canterlot, but not around Ponyville. Sorry, everyone."
Mike blinked several times and heaved himself to his feet. He wobbled around a bit before gaining his balance and standing still. "Okay, I think you should teach a few. Just a suggestion, mind you." He stood up straight and groaned. "Twilight, you all right?"
Twilight groaned. "I... wanna go to bed," she mumbled, head resting on her forelegs. "I'm all right, just so tired!"
Mike stepped over and slowly knelt down. He reached under her and picked her up, grunting. "I must be out of it more than I thought," he said. He walked over to Megan and Danny. "Hon, how are you?"
Megan planted both hands on the wheelchair's armrest and pushed herself to a vertical base. She cried out slightly, but remained standing. "Yeah, fine. Michelle, Danielle?" she said, whipping her head around and wobbling, almost dropping back to her knees.
Michelle and Danielle were standing side-by-side, arms around each other's shoulders as they slowly rose to their own feet. "We're okay, Mom," Danielle said.
Molly was soon standing, too. "Fine as well." She breathed in. "Guest room, please?"
Megan nodded. "No way am I sending you out like this." She looked down at Danny and waggled a finger at him. "Same goes for you. There's plenty of room and you know it." She looked to Mike as he held Twilight. She reached out and brushed her mane. "Twilight, you okay?"
Twilight nodded, biting her lip even as a yawn escaped. "Fine," she finally said. "Yeah, just exhausted like last time."
"I'll get you upstairs," Mike said. He began walking to the porch. "This might sound stupid, but you use a bed, right?" He swallowed. "The ponies in the 'My Little Horsey' novels use beds, but I..." His voice trailed off and he blushed. "Sorry, Twilight."
Twilight giggled. "Not a problem, and yes. I use a bed."
Michelle sighed as Mike opened the sliding door with one hand and walked inside. "No brushing? No makeup or hair curlers or ghost stories?" Her face fell. "That's no sleepover!"
Danielle snorted. "I don't think we're in any condition for that, Michelle." She and her sister began walking to the house, but stopped in front of Megan. "Good night, Mom," Danielle said, reaching out for a one-armed hug.
"Yeah, 'night Mom," Michelle said as she too hugged Megan.
Megan returned each hug and gave her daughters a quick kiss on the cheek. "Get to bed," she called out to them as they went inside. She looked around at Molly and Danny and shook her head. "I still can't believe this." She let go of the armrest and walked up to the solidified rainbow. She pressed her hand against it and pushed. "Equestria." She looked up at the sky and smiled. "Dream Valley, you made it."
Molly walked over and placed a hand on Megan's shoulder. "Sis, you all right?"
Megan glanced over her shoulder and nodded. "Yeah." She turned around and embraced molly, hugging her. "I am, now." She let go and walked up to Danny. "They made it."
Danny grinned. "No doubt in my mind, Megan." He grabbed the wheels and spun about, rolling up to the ramp and onto the porch. He looked down at the wheels and laughed. "Megan, they're glowing!" he said, pointing to the rims as they shone. He looked up at the hole in the sky, nearly invisible in the darkness. "Luna!" he said, cupping his hands to his mouth, "thank you!"
Megan and Molly walked up. "What a day," Molly said.
Megan nodded. "And I think tomorrow will be just as fun!"
"Sir, there's movement inside the house."
The occupants of an unmarked van across the street from the Richards' house stirred. One man, nearing fifty, with wire-rimmed glasses and brown hair with streaks of gray, sat up. There was the tiniest of whirring from around his hips, knees and ankles when his legs moved. "Lights on and someone's home?" he quipped.
The other occupant looked at a monitor mounted to the side before nodding. "Yes, sir. Lights have just flickered on." He looked to the older man. "Move in now?"
He shook his head and leaned back. "Nope. They just got back from across that inter-dimensional bridge and are obviously tired. Let them get some sleep before I go and talk to Missus Richards."
The other occupant hesitated before speaking. "Sir... pardon me, but are you sure that's wise? We have no idea where they've been or what's on the other side." He shifted around in his seat. "It took us far too long to track that radio signal down, and it's only you and me here?"
The man nodded. He reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He flipped it on and pressed some buttons before handing it over. "Recognize this man?" he asked.
The other occupant took it and looked at the image of a man in an older-style naval uniform, with a beard and parrot perched on his shoulder. "Hector Delgado?" He looked up. "As in Admiral Delgado of the Seventh Fleet?"
The man nodded and reached out, taking the phone back and slipping it back inside his pocket. "That's the one." He chuckled slightly. "He had some... odd passages in his memoirs, particularly around 1982, when there were some similar sightings of unidentified objects in Kentucky airspace." He focused on his subordinate. "Two years before first contact, mind you."
The occupant nodded. "If it was hostile, they would've attacked then, you mean?"
He shrugged and leaned back. "Not sure." He leaned to his right and reached into a bag, pulling out a volume of 'My Little Horsey'. "But Admiral Delgado reported a pink, flying pony. And what does Missus Richards write about?"
"Pink flying ponies?"
A smile lit the man's features. "Precisely." He put the book back. "So, ponies spotted around that time, Megan Richards lived in the area, still lives in the area and has written about ponies." He paused. "And the radio station? K-COLT from Equestria, from what we've been able to get?" He smiled. "Ponies."
The other occupant nodded. "Makes sense to me, Mister Chase." He stood up and walked over to the driver's side seat, sitting down. "Back here tomorrow, sir?"
Chip Chase nodded. "Sounds good to me, Lieutenant." He looked out a window at the house. "I can hardly wait."