"T-Twily?" A tall muscled unicorn stallion stood, frozen outside his own house. The moonlight barely being enough to shine some light on his dark blue coat and purple lion-like mane. His face was one of disbelief. "That really you?"
Twilight flashed him a nervous smile before nodding. Lilly also scooted away.
And just like that, the dam broke. His already shiny pink eyes reflect more moonlight as his eyes started watering. He let out a breath he had been holding and jumped her, grabbing her in a tight bear-hug. He didn’t attempt to hide his sobs as he buried his muzzle in her shoulders.
Twilight patted him on the the back, seeing her friend cry made her eyes water.
"Shh...All is well I am here..." She reassured him. While technically not all was well, the world was still stuck on Eternal night.
I took Orion a while to calm down, his tears made a small puddle under them. Twilight used her wings to hug him and a hoof to wipe away his tears.
"W-Where..." Orion pulled a small handkerchief from a pocket on his jacket and blew his nose...very loudly. "Sorry." He cleared his throat. "Twily, how are you? Where were you all this time?"
"Well, I was basically imprisoned by the Elements all this time." She pulled away from the hug and gave him a reassuring smile. "I’m fine. But, I would like to know how you’ve been fairing."
"Don’t you worry about me Twi. I-I’ve been fine, waiting for you to return as my letter said...Still can’t believe you found me!" He chocked back another sob and grabbed her again. His huge hooves practically crushed her...again...
"Of course! I couldn’t leave my trusty right hoof behind! You would never leave me." Orion again let her go so Twilight could breath again. The cold temperatures bow became much more apparent as she shivered.
"Oh yes! Sorry I forgot how cold it could get during night-time."
Orion got up and opened his door with his magic. She held it opened for Twilight and was about to close it behind him when he caught Lilly in his peripheral vision. He stumbled but regained his bearings. He re-opened the door smiling at the Thestral and held it open for her.
Lilly went in, staring in thought at Orion who stared back. She could barely contain the excitement at meeting her hero and there was a small skip in her steps.
When Twilight saw Lilly enter she remembered not having introduced them to each other.
"Oh my! I’m so sorry I’ve forgotten introduce you. Ahem! Lilly, may I present Orion the beast hunter, right hoof stallion to the Third Princess of Equestria, Protector of Equestria, Winner of certain mare’s-" Twilight winked at Lilly as a smirk played on her face. "- hearts and all those tittles."
To that, Lilly blushed a bit but otherwise ignored Twilight.
"And Orion, allow me to introduce, Night Lilly, savior of the Third Princess of Equestria, professional herbalist-"
"Well I wouldn’t say...professional..." Lilly interrupted Twilight. Just when Twilight was about to speak she interrupted again. "Could you...Keep my introduction short? I don’t really have any tittles."
Twilight huffed. "Fine..." She also mumbled underneath her breath 'Even if I love to use them' She cleared her throat and spoke again. "Orion, allow me to introduce Night Lilly."
Orion nodded with a smile. "It’s a pleasure to my your acquaintance Miss Night Lilly."
"I-um...The pleasure is all mine-!"
"You don’t say?" Twilight chuckled.
"Hey!" Lilly protested then cleared her throat. "And you can just call me Lilly."
"Likewise." Orion agreed the turned to face Twilight. "Soo...I guess we need to address the elephant in the room."
Twilight looked around the living room searching for the elephant or at least a small statue. "Umm...I don’t see it."
Lilly and Orion both face-hoofed. Orion let out a groan and Lilly just took a deep breath to give herself patience. "Twilight, 'the elephant in the room' is one of those phrases we talked about."
"Really? Pray tell Orion what did you mean?” Twilight raised an eyebrow at him.
"I meant, that we need to address the obvious issue." He pointed at a nearby window. "I don’t think you could explain why the moon hasn’t lowered for almost two straight days?"
Twilight sighed, it was a tired and sad sigh. "Yes, yes I can." She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "What did Auntie tell you after you got back from you trip?"
"Well, she told me about the shaman she and Princess Luna fought, and the curse, apparently it found a way to complete itself and turned her into a wicked mare." He took a sharp intake of air. "She told me you had disappeared after the battle and was unable to give me more information."
"Well that is true, it at least spares me an explanation. Anyways, after a thousand years I woke in Canterlot, I waited until I could access my full power and used the stars to break the harmony chains on mother. She was brought back to Equus but she was still wicked and I and Auntie’s protégé failed to stop her. We hid in the head-quarters and mother hasn’t lowered the moon since."
Orion blinked a couple of times.
"Huh, and I guess you need my help to save Equestria....again?"
Twilight winced slightly. "I’m sorry Orion, I really don’t want to impose such burden upon you but-"
"Twi, don’t you dare apologize! I swore allegiance to you! So I will ALWAYS stand by your side no matter what you do! Because not only are you my Princess but my friend."
After his cheesy speech, Orion’s already stary eyes twinkled even more, a spark also lit up in Twilight’s eyes. All of the sudden, a hexagonal sapphire appeared before him.
"The Element of Loyalty! Fit for you, don’t you think?" Twilight mused, her spirit was lifted at the sight and she started to resemble her previous personality.
The sapphire then started glowing and moving but not towards Orion, instead towards a small drawer to a side of the room. Twilight looked at it with wonder before turning to Orion with a quizzical look. Orion shrugged and carefully approached the drawer. He lit his horn and opened it, immediately the sapphire went in and a blinding white light caused everyone in the room cover their eyes with a hoof.
After the light died down Orion stared at the opened drawer with a smile. His big body covered it so Twilight took flight and motioned for Lilly to do the same. They flew and took positions to look over Orion’s shoulders.
In the drawer, was a golden chest piece almost identical to the one Twilight was wearing, the difference was that Orion’s had silver plates that covered the neck of the user. The sapphire incrusted itself into the chest piece near the middle.
Orion levitated the chest piece to his eye level inspecting it. He took a deep breath and blew the dust off causing Twilight and Lilly to cough and use their wings to blow away the dust. Orion then pulled out his handkerchief and polished the chest piece.
He then levitated something that was in a dark corner, causing both Twilight and Lilly to look over. When the moonlight that entered through the window hit it, they noticed it was a bow and quiver filled with arrows.
Orion donned the chest piece and adjusted his quiver behind his back and did the same with his bow.
"Say no more Princess!" He saluted at Twilight who rolled her eyes and nodded.
"We have to be quick, we still need to find the others...and head to Headquarters to make sure Auntie doesn’t worry her mind off...and also apologize for freezing Sunset..." Twilight said sheepishly.
"Who’s Sunset?" Both Orion and Lilly asked causing the both to look at each other.
"Auntie’s protégé apparently, she tried to stop me from coming into the Everfree as soon as possible so I froze her." Twilight shrugged as if nothing.
"Why art you looking at me like so?"
"No reason." Orión made his way towards the door and opened it."We better be going if we’re going to catch 'Le Voyageur'” He motioned to the door with his head.
"The what now?" Lilly asked.
"'Le Voyageur' if I remember correctly it means 'The Traveler' in prench." Twilight tapped her chin with a hoof.
"Correct. It’s a prench commercial aircraft, apparently it’ll depart towards Canterlot today and it’ll pass above the Everfree forest." Orion stated.
"How do you know?" Twilight asked.
"I might be ageless but I still need food, and bits to by set food, so I work at the administrative offices for the shipyard." Orion said as a matter of factly.
"Don’t get smart with me!" Twilight warned. "Why do we need to go on an aircraft? Can’t we fly through the Everfree?"
"Aircraft are currently the fastest wat to travel, it only takes them a few minutes to get to their full speed, this commercial aircraft should only take about...an hour to get to Canterlot meaning just above 30 minutes to Everfree City."
"Okay, I get your point. How art we getting on? Ponies didn’t react positively to us..."
"We could always fly and break-in!" Lilly broke into the conversation. "Twilight can levitate you behind us while we fly and intercept the ship."
"Great idea Lilly! Come on." Twilight grabbed Orion in her magic, earning a small protest from him. She the unfurled her wings and Lilly did the same. "Lilly, lead the way."
With powerful wing flaps the took off gaining a lot of altitude before hovering in the air for a few seconds. Once they were both ready, they glided in circles looking for the airship. The stayed like that a couple of minutes, flapping occasionally to gain altitude until-
"There! Twily at you six!" Orion yelled and pointed a hoof at a mass lifting itself from the ground.
"Understood! Lilly?" Twilight asked as she redirected herself towards the target.
"Ready!" Lilly nodded.
"Orion...I apologize. Hold onto thy stomach!" Twilight yelled as she plunged down to the aircraft.
Lilly followed suit, only a bit behind but her Thestral wings were able to catch up. They flapped furiously hopping to catch it before it got to max speed.
Poor Orion was screaming like a mad man as he was being pulled by Twilight’s telekinetic grab.
Lilly and Twilight turned a bit towards the direction of the Everfree anticipating some movement.
The wind blew their manes back as the reached speeds so incredibles they would make Rainbow shed liquid pride.
Suddenly, Twilight heard a voice that sounded like Lilly’s behind her.
Twilight looked back in time to find Lilly had already turned upwards using the momentum to lift up. The glow around Twilight’s horn intensified a little when she grabbed Lilly in her telekinetic grab along with the still screaming Orion.
When she looked back in front of her, the airship was at her level maybe a little higher.
'It’s now or never!'
She flared out her wings catching a lot of wind, lifting her up. She glided at an angle that she caught up with the airship in no time. She aimed at the backside of the ship behind some boxes and flapped.
She stopped enough for her momentum to only skid when she hit the floor...But she missed. Instead on landing behind the boxes, she crashed into them. Her horn fizzled as her concentration broke. The two she had been continued they’re path without being able to stop and they too crashed into the boxes.
"Owee..." Lilly groaned.
"Ow! Ow! OOOoOoOooW! Sheesh Twi you need to AIM!" Orion shifted from his position but with every move, he winced from the pain.
"Oh shush! I did aim...just...a wind caught my right wing..." Twilight struggled to her feet and looked around, Lilly was laid above the crates and boxes but Orion had rolled at the wrong moment and ended up becoming a bowling ball, in the end he ended up upside down, his back to the wall of the cabin.
'The cabin crew! They must’ve heard the ruckus! They’ll be here any minute.'
Suddenly the sound of hooves coming answered Twilight’s suspicions. She grabbed both Lilly and Orion and teleported them to the cabin’s roof with small lavender pops. Then she very carefully flew up to join them.
She was greeted by a nauseated Lilly and a disoriented Orion.
"Stop...playing with...my stomach." Lilly grabbed her belly ready to throw up.
Twilight gestured a 'shh’ with her wing. Orion shook his head trying to shake away the daze. After that he and Twilight peeked of the ledge careful not to be seen, then were soon joined by a semi-recovered Lilly.
Down near the crates were a couple of ponies, three unicorns, two earth ponies and a Thestral all wearing black uniforms, the Thestral’s was slightly different with golden shoulder pats. All three of them looked at each other in confusion, Orion leaned in between them and whispered.
"I thought that they didn’t take kindly to Thestrals. Um...No offense Lilly."
"Nome taken" Lilly whispered back.
They looked back and this time they focused their ears to the six ponies below.
"Hey you!" The Thestral flared up her leather like wings and pointed a hoof at the unicorns. Her voice was raspy and strong, almost military-like. "Get these crates back in order! And take inventory too. I want to know if any crates are unaccounted for! Then you take them underground." Then she turned to the two earth ponies. "You! Go underground and check on the prisoners, make sure you find who’s responsible. Though I doubt those rich folk would raise a hoof against us."
"Yes ma’am!" Both groups answered at the same time and saluting before running of to fulfill their orders.
Twilight looked back at her two companions. She shared a look with Orion while Lilly stared in confusion. After a while they looked back at Lilly with a mischievous look.
Orion’s horn started to glow light blue and it surrounded his bow, levitating it off his back. He aimed his bow at the unicorns without taking an arrow from his quiver. His horn glowed brighter as a blue arrow made out of light materialized between the bow and it’s string ready to be fired.
Orion’s eyes narrowed at his targets, they too glowed light blue for a moment before turning back to their normal silver.
Twilight lifted a hoof to signal him to wait. She looked around and found a guard coming their way. With her wings she motioned at Lilly and then at the guard.
Lilly paled when she realized what they wanted. She sat on her flank and lifted her hooves up in defense before shaking her head violently in a 'no’ motion. Her ears folded back and she looked down. She wasn’t comfortable with hurting other ponies, not even if they were the enemy.
Twilight walked up to her and placed a hoof on her shoulder smiling warmly and nodding. Then her face turned harsh again as she turned towards the incoming guard.
'Earth Pony...average body type, so a very slim chance of him spotting us. Average walk meaning he’s either tired or new, either wat it benefits us and gives us an advantage.’
Her train of thought was interrupted by a slight tapping of hooves coming from Orion asking for permition to shoot.
Twilight raised her hoof again, stopping him. The guard was now nearing the rest of the unicorns. She turned back around to Orion and mouthed 'add him'. Orion’s horn glowed brighter for a moment before the enchantment was enhanced. The guard was now passing next to the unicorns. Twilight let her hoof down signaling Orion to open fire.
Orion released his hold on the arrow, and it flew through the air at incredible speeds, following his gaze. The arrow hit the deck between the ponies gaining their attention. Suddenly, the arrow split into four, all targeting individual ponies.
The first two hit the closest unicorns, making them fall unconscious with a 'thud' the other unicorn tried grabbing a crate and shielding himself with it but the arrow just suddenly changed directions hitting the unicorn where it hurts and he too fell unconscious.
The guard realized what was going and dodged to the side, the he rolled forward dodging when it came back. This continued for a few times before the enchantment ran out of power. Unluckily for the guard, Orion had already prepared a stunning arrow and had shot it. The arrow was no bigger than a blow-dart and it hit the guard right on the neck paralyzing him and making him fall.
Twilight was the first to leap off, using her wings to glide and turn her descent into an intimidating maneuver. She landed and stood at her full height above the guard. She lifted him up with her magic so they met at eye level.
Behind her landed Orion and Lilly although Orion’s was more graceful than Lilly’s since she was just trying, and failing, to copy Twilight which made Orion snicker.
"Tell us dear guard. Where doest this cargo go?" Twilight was glaring at him which made him gulp before answering.
"We’re taking it to her Majesty...Umm...Well more like to Commander Nocte Wing..."
"And why art thou transporting them in a FOREIGN, CIVILIAN, Aircraft?"
"We...ummm...captured it?..." The stallion squeaked and shrunk to the best of his abilities seeing as he was still paralyzed.
"And whom might be in charge?"
"Very well. Orion? Would thou be so kind as to do the honor?" She asked turning back to see Orion had already charged up his bow and was already aiming.
"Yes, I would love to." With that, he released the arrow and the guard fell unconscious.
Twilight pointed at Lilly and Orion then at the unicorns. "Orion and I will use their uniforms. Lilly? You’ll use the guard armor, you’ll be safer and less suspicious if a Thestral."
"Okay...But I won’t have to..." Lilly asked in a concerned tone.
"You shouldn’t have to, but you’ll never know, that’s why you’ll be 'guarding' me and Orion." Twilight nodded taking off the unicorn mare’s vest.
"Ahh...I get it now...We’re going undercover?" Lilly asked taking off the guard’s saddle.
"Yes, but we must hurry, we only have around twenty five minutes to find and save these ‘prisoners'." Twilight nodded and put on the vest and jacket, hiding her wings. "Hide the unicorns behind the cabin, that should buy us some time."
Twilight finished putting on the uniform and started levitating the sleeping stallions. Orion too levitated a couple and Lilly was struggling with a stallion on her back.
"Hey Lilly, let me help you with that one." Orion said as he levitated the sleeping stallion off Lilly’s back.
"Thanks!" Lilly gave him a warm smile. She trotted next to them never drooping her smile, always alert in case she heard somepony coming.
They put down the sleeping bodies 'gently' behind the cabin, where no pony would normally go if not on patrol. Then Twilight enforced Orion’s sleeping enchantment. Then they all fixed the crates to the ship with some conveniently placed rope.
When all that was done they walked around deck looking for the stairs down to the ship’s 'entre pont’. They found it rather quickly, next to the stairs was a sign:
1st Floor: Economy Class
2nd Floor: Business Class
3rd Floor: Noble Suites
4th Floor: Employee Rooms
5th Floor: Kitchen, Boiler Room, Armory
6th Floor: Storage
Orion turned to Lilly and Twilight. "So, where too?"
"Well..." Twilight started. "They won’t be in the Noble Suites or in the other two classes since they must at least have a basic level of comfort. They would probably be in the Storage or Armory, maybe both." She turned to look at Orion looking for confirmation and he simply nodded.
They walked down the stairs, they crossed a few guards but they just acted as if they were supposed to be there. They soon arrived at the sixth floor of the aircraft. There was a short hallway with a door that said 'storage' on top, next to it, were two Thestral guards. Twilight took the lead and spoke in a commanding tone to one of the guards.
"Clear the area."
The guards looked at each other for a moment but didn’t budge. One of them turned to them and asked. "You are not one to give us orders sun pony."
"We got DIRECT orders from Captain Rest, she wishes this area to be cleared immediately." Twilight stomped a hoof on the ground creating a slight crack on the wooden floor.
"Why would she have us leave the area unguarded?"
"Listen, If you wish to argue, take your complaints to her. Although...She’ll be furious to know you doubted her... And you don’t want that, do you?" Twilight’s low tone made the threat sound even more real.
The Thestral stallion gulped and nodded to his companion. He made a quick salute and entered the room. He stayed inside for a brief moment and then him and another fifteen guards walked out of the room. They started up the stairs and Twilight waited until the were out of earshot.
"Very well, Orion, stand guard. When the so called Captain Rest notices we need to be out so give us a signal. Lilly, come with me. We need to free as many of these prench ponies."
"Aye aye Captain!" Lilly joked and saluted, Orion said nothing but saluted none the less.
Twilight took a deep breath and signaled to Lilly to cover her ears. She blasted the door open and shouted in The Royal Canterlot Voice:
"Prench citizens! Dost not fear. We art here to set the free!"
The prench ponies looked around at each other until finally some pony decided to translate and there was a universal sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, Twilight counted all the prench citizens, there were 500 in total, 147 were pegasi, 163 were earth ponies and the rest unicorns. If the pegasi could carry twice their weight on average, they could evacuate 294 out of the 500 ponies. She turned to shout back to Orion.
"Orion! Get ready and grab as many ponies as possible, Lilly, grab Orion and fly down with him!"
She turned back to the croud.
"Pegasi! Grab pony who can’t fly and aide them to the ground. Then, if thou can, return and aide another."
By that point, Orion had stepped in. Twilight grabbed the door and placed it back were it was supposed to be, then she used her magic to melt the metal around it and to cool it enough for it to stay put. She then used her magic to blast a hole on the wall to allow ponies to get out.
Suddenly a large gush of wind erupted from the opened wall causing the airship to slow down significantly. The wind also blew various ponies back, except for the strongest unicorns, pegasi and earth-ponies. They took a while to rearrange themselves and then the pegasi began carrying the passengers out.
When most of the weakest earth ponies and unicorns were gone, Twilight once again began shooting holes in the wall, the wind slowing the airship even more so some pegasi could return.
She nodded to Lilly and Orion on her struggling back, then stopped them with a hoof before they could take off.
"Apologies Lilly, I didn’t realize you couldn’t carry so much weight. Carry only the ponies you can, to prevent any...incidents."
A slightly panting Lilly responded. "Y-yes...Your Highness!"
"Just Twilight!" Twilight said in a commanding tone.
Lilly gave a slight smirk "Of course Highness Princess Twilight."
Twilight groaned in frustration and turned to Orion. "We don’t have time for this! Hop on my back and levitate as many as possible."
"Yes Twi!" He gave a quick salute before carefully getting on her back, something that was made difficult considering he was bigger than her.
"Off! Sweet Sun, Moon and Stars! Loose some weight!" Twilight protested.
"Hey! I ain’t THAT heavy. Besiiiides it’s all muscle!" He retorted.
"You wish! I’ll show you what it means to be made out of muscle!"
Twilight suddenly unfurled her wings and stood to full height. She lit her horn and a pinkish aura surrounded most of the remaining passengers. Orion did the same and a light blue aura surrounded the passengers that Twilight had left him. Lilly also grabbed two remaining foals and prepared to take off.
With powerful flaps they took off with the passengers floating behind them. She heard some 'wee's and 'OoOoH!'s behind then and the occasional ‘I’m going to me siiiick'...mostly coming from Orion.
They glided around for a while until they found the telltale sing of unicorn magic bellow. Twilight sped up their descent aiming towards the light under the tree tops. She stopped just before hitting the branches and carefully set down the ponies. She waited until Orion had done the same before levitating him off her back and safely down until he was about a foot above the ground. Then she dropped him without warning.
"Doest anypony speak Equuish?" Twilight asked to the crowd. They fell silent and looked around, some in confusion and others looking as if they were searching for someone. Eventually, a white unicorn stallion with a fiery red and orange mane stepped forward.
“I do, your Highness." He had a deep voice and a slight prench accent. "And if I may, I would like to thank you for saving us from those un-civilized pirates." He knelt down and took one of her hooves into his own and laid a feathered kiss on it. "And for that you have our eternal gratitude."
Twilight nodded in appreciation, not noticing the death-glare Orion was giving the unicorn. She carefully lifted her hoof and placed it down on the ground. "Thank thee...mister..."
“Glimmering Light, your Highness.” He responded.
"Mister Glimmering Light. Our prench isn’t the...best so we were hoping thou would be willing to translate." She turned to the silent crowd. "We art putting Mister Radiant Light in charge of thy group. You art to follow him North until thou find the ruins of an ancient city. Nearing the city-center there is a mostly intact fountain depicting two alicorns, to it’s right is a mostly destroyed building with a hidden entrance, descend the stairs and there thou wilt find a pony settlement were thou can take refuge.
Our entourage shalt make haste as we have some business that can not and wilt not wait, so thou wilt not have us to guide thee."
After Glimmering Light finished the translation, the prench ponies erupted in cheers before getting shushed by Twilight and the others before they got caught. Twilight smiled and waved goodbye with her wing. She turned over to a smiling Lilly and opened her wings, Lilly did the same and Orion braced himself to 'fly' back.