56w, 6dAussie Bronies
ROYAL PAIN IN THE PLOT
Princess Celestia furrowed her brow, concentrating on the battlefield spread out before her. The enemy, emblazoned with dark colors and the emblem of the Night, a silver crescent moon, held their positions for the moment as they waited for the Sun Princess to make her next move. Celestia chewed her lower lip worriedly. The enemy had her trapped like a ship in a bottle. All her cavalry had been lost early on in the struggle, quickly stonewalled and then methodically crushed underhoof by a joint counterattack from the enemy infantry and cavalry. Once Celestia's mobile forces had been destroyed, the enemy magi had sliced diagonally across her ranks, effectively cutting off her access to the two fortifications on either end of her side of the battlefield. The opposing infantry had then risen in a single massive swell and had gained much ground, forcing her to retreat a bit and cutting off her maneuverability in the rear, pinned against a cliff edge as she was. Celestia raised her head up from the field to look the opposing commander in the eye. An almost reptilian pair of irises gazed back steadily, filled with a cold confidence and intelligence.
Nightmare Moon idly flicked her ethereal mane this way and that, like a scorpion positioning its tail for the final blow. "Please, dearest sister, why must you prolong the inevitable?"
Celestia calmly spat back, "Your inevitable defeat, maybe."
"Oh, how you wound us." The armored alicorn chuckled darkly from across the battlefield. "My sympathies go out to your fallen brethren, but we must digress - you cannot keep this up forever."
"Actually, I can. Being a goddess does have some advantages, you know," Celestia bluffed, stalling for time as her ancient mind raced for a possible path to victory. Her heart sank as she realized there was none; Nightmare Moon was poised to assault her commanding officers in one fell swoop. There was nothing she could do at this point.
Her sister blinked slowly, before shaking her head. "You would use the immortality-card, 'Tia, despite it's obvious drawback." She smiled wolfishly, pulling back midnight lips to reveal a mouth full of serrated teeth. "We can do this forever as well."
Celestia returned her gaze to the massacre about to take place right in front of her, a small amount of panic creeping into her usually placid features. "So what now, Nightmare Moon? Are we to be to eternal foes, locked in battle until judgement day and the world's ending?"
Nightmare Moon snorted with amusement. "That, or you could just surrender."
"Never," Celestia growled.
The Dark Queen of the Night casually shrugged in a laissez faire guesture. "So be it." Her long, black horn shone with a midnight aura, and one of her two remaining cavalry moved into striking distance. Celestia gulped. There was no way out. This was where it ended, after all these years of rule, finally, finally, she would be toppled from her perch... of Equestria's greatest chess player.
Nightmare Moon reached a hoof over the battlefield and flicked over the king piece. She leaned back and smiled smugly. "Checkmate."
Celestia bowed her head in submission to the victor. "Do I have to say it?"
"Yes." The reply was smooth and silky, an evident pleasure at her discomfort rang clearly Celestia's ears.
Celestia let out a sigh, before speaking out in her rarely used Royal Canterlot Voice. "I, Princess Celestia, Ruler of Equestria and Shepherd of the Sun, hereby decree that... I... That I smell like dragon dung."
"Aaaaaaannd?" NIghtmare Moon's eyes glittered with malice.
Celestia shot her a look of pure venom. "And that Princess Luna does not suck at chess."
A lightish-blue smoke began to swirl around the other alicorn like a miniature tornado, eventually swallowing her dark armored figure whole. There was a bright flash of light, and the tornado abruptly dissapeared, to reveal the smiling features of Princess Luna. She clapped her hooves together excitedly and let out a girlish noise of excitement. "Oh, 'Tia that was so much fun! Thank you so much for playing with us!"
After learning to how to control the transformation into her spiteful alter-ego, Luna had occasionally used it's boons to her advantage. Being Nightmare Moon gave her unprecedented amounts of power, tactical skill, confidence, and not to mention every stallion in the castle had been caught staring at her flank at one time or another. Secretly, she rather enjoyed that last part.
Celestia rubbed her hoof to her temple, trying not to listen to the snickers and chortles coming from spectators. "I am so going to get you back for this."
Luna's horn lit up and all her black chess pieces reassembled themselves back in their appropriate starting positions. She reached around her back and picked up an abacus, fondly rearranging some of the beads on it's strings. "Please. By our calculations you had no chance at all."
The smoke sharply emitted from Celestia's nostrils was from the ozone itself being vaporized with the pure energy of her snort of vexation. "It's not my fault I didn't know you'd gotten so good at chess. You spend all your time in the library, I never get to see you." The Sun Goddess pouted. "I wish you would spend some more time outside. That trip to Ponyville will do you some good. After all," she winked slyly. "If memory serves, a certain knight will be there, undoubtedly happy to see you."
Princess Luna turned her nose up. "We and Abacus need no company from the stuck up nobles here at the palace, so we will gladly welcome the change of scenery."
Celestia giggled. "Abacus? You named it?"
Luna bashfully stroked the outdated mathermatical instrument in her hooves. It had served her well in the recent days. "...Maybe."
"Well then, I'll be sure to tell Sir Apple that he has some competition!"
"...Shut up, 'Tia."
"Hey, Uncle Buckshot?"
Buck paused at the entrance to the hallway. Her turned his great head around to peer back into the dark bedroom. Apple Bloom's shape could barely be seen, snuggled up deep into her bed. Her pink bandanna, now a staple of her appearance, was folded neatly on the bedside table.
A few days had passed since he'd landed the job at the Ponyville Railyard. Since that time, he'd been able to bring the place completely up on track with its orders, thanks to his seemingly legendary strength allowing him to move entire sections of cars to and fro in the yard. In the little time he'd been working, he had been doing so as a shunter, sorting the cars and placing them in front of the station for the ponies pulling the train. He hadn't actually pulled a train yet, but Whistler had been so pleased with his work that she'd promised him he'd be on one after he took a celebratory day off (and a pay raise, to boot). Buck had decided to spend his free day with the Apples down on the farm, and after giving them the good news, they had insisted on celebrating his new found success by having him over for dinner. After much feasting on all kinds of country delicacies, Buck had taken Apple Bloom upstairs to bed, as she had eaten far too much and had been nodding asleep at the table.
"What's on your mind, Bloomie?"
Apple Bloom's voice was hopeful. "Do ya think ya could tell me a story tonight?"
Buck thought for a moment. "Righto," he accepted and sat down on the edge of Apple Bloom's bed. "What would you like to hear?"
Apple Bloom burrowed under the covers even further, so only the top of her adorable face was sticking out. "Ah'd like ta know the story of how ya got yer Cutie Mark, please."
Buck flinched slightly, as if he had been hit.
Shoulda seen that one comin'...
The memories of that particular day had been burned into his mind. Literally. It wasn't often a volcano erupted in Equestria, and a cataclysm like that happening in one's back yard, destroying one's home, and killing one's parents tended to prove memorable. While the act of getting his mark had been acheived through desperation, Buck had to admit that his special talent had been realized on that day. Looking out for his family truly was how he defined himself.
Then again... I guess that wasn't the only good thing to happen that day.
Buck smiled broadly as he remembered meeting his best friend on the day of the eruption.
"How 'bout I hit ya with a double dose, Bloomie?"
"What's that, Uncle Buck?"
"A two-for-one deal. I've got two... No, scratch that. I've got three stories to tell about how it happened, because they are just so intertwined."
Apple Blooms face lit up with excitement. "Three? What are they?"
Buck scratched his chin with a hoof. "Number one is how I got my cutie mark," he said, gesturing to the horseshoe and apple mark on his dark teal flank. "Number two is how I met the best friend I ever made." He paused, and slowly rotated the yellow bandanna around his neck. "And number three is how that friend gave me this." The silver moon on his chest was revealed to the filly, softly glowing in the darkness.
Apple Bloom's eyes grew ridiculously huge. "Is that... Is that another Cutie Mark?" she gasped.
He chuckled. "Struth, I've got no idea what it is, to be honest. But, I can tell you how I got it. Let's start at the beginning of story number one, shall we?"
Apple Bloom nodded and leaned back into her pillow ready to listen to the ancient knight's tale.
The bit after the chess match was heavily influenced by "Luna's Progress" by a Mr. Talon.
Anyway, Super Lunas and Bedtime Stories and Friendship, oh my!
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