Green magic sparked away in a dark cave, cutting at a stone, a spire of black crystal… The crystal was very powerful, and, in it is presence, no pony sorcerer, nor abyssinian mage, not even a god of chaos, could warp reality, as it anchored reality… Its origin is unclear to most, but the Queen knew some of it, the ancient dark lord Sombra was the one who created this, a binding spell given physical form… But it wasn’t perfect, no spell ever was, and long ago the Changelings knew of its flaw…
Humans… Thought the Queen… She had seen the other world, somewhere across the infinite void above, there lay another world, one that she herself had seen, and one populated by creatures of limited magical potential… They were the perfect prey, they could not defend themselves against the Changeling’s spells… But there was a problem, a big problem, these creatures had made up for their lack of magic by using machines far in advance of those used by ponykind… But these machines ran on magic, Dust they called it, magic given physical form, much like the crystal that lay before her.
So, in that dark cave, the changelings sliced at the stone, chopping it into fragments and moulding those fragments into new shapes…
The day began with Diamond forcing everyone out of bed, much to the annoyance of the other fillies… Except for Scootaloo, she was already awake, and this earned a compliment from Diamond Tiara… In truth, Scootaloo had little sleep, “I wonder if you have any clue where I am, Dash…” She muttered to herself as she stared herself in the face in the mirror right after brushing her teeth…
She loaded up her pistols and trotted off to class, she didn’t want to dwell on her friends back, who knows where, if she did, she would miss them, if she missed them…
Swords clashed, a burning streak of pink, it carried itself with precision and elegance, yet a wicked ferocity… Each slash sent burning waves of energy that rippled across Lavender’s aura, her silvery field of magic shattering apart under the arcane assault… With that, a buzzer sounded, and a Diamond Tiara, huffing a bit with exertion, sheathed her sword. “W-Wow, you’re strong and fast…” Lavender commented, “And that sword of yours decimated my aura, how does it work?”
Diamond scoffed, “You don’t need to know that…” She commented, walking off toward the locker room to get back into her school clothes, silvery armour glinting and glimmering under the lights of the auditorium
“Hmm…” Glynda commented, “We have time for another match before class is over, who wants to join?”
“Ooh! Can I go!” A voice sounded from team RWBY’s stand.
“Miss Rose, very well, who will be your partner?”
“I’ll give it a shot!” Scootaloo replied.
“Miss Allgood… Very well, ready yourselves…”
As Scootaloo got up from her seat, Apple Bloom quietly passed her a potion of fire dust and a few fire crystals… She put these on her belt as she walked into the locker rooms and put on her leather jacket. Finally, she stepped out, ready to fight. “Hiya Ruby!” Scootaloo said, waving.
“Hey, Scoots! Ready?” Ruby grinned, mounting a foot on her scythe blade.
Scootaloo grinned back, “Of course!” She replied.
“Three-” Glynda was cut off by the sound of Scootaloo dashing forward, and the sound of Cresent Rose firing.
Ruby leapt into the air, and Scootaloo replied by filling the air with fire, both pistols set to flamethrower mode… The filly rolled out of the way of the falling particles of burning fire dust, and Ruby dodged, transforming into a swirling vortex of rose petals that raced around the building. Scootaloo jumped into the air and fired her pistols, clicking them to blast mode. Each shot melted part of the stadium wall, or flickered off of the dust shields… Ruby was fast, but one shot grazed her, pulling her out of her swarm with a yelp…
Ruby growled as she fell and twirled her scythe around, firing mid-air and moving to intercept the falling Scootaloo. The pony faunus reached to her belt for the fire crystal and crushed it into dust powder with her hand, using her pegasus magic, she summoned a magical cloud and interwove the dust with the vapour, creating a swirling cloud of fire upon which she stood, much to the surprise of Glynda. Ruby was stopped by blasts of flaming cloud that shot her way, as she twirled her scythe to cut the clouds apart before they could burn her, but this threw her path off, and so she rolled to a stop on the ground.
Scootaloo then took the time to chug the dust potion. Fire erupted around her hands and eyes, and the feathers on her back caught flame like those of a phoenix… She swirled the burning clouds around her body. Ruby aimed up her scythe and Scootaloo moved out of the way before she fired, making sure not to get hit by one of those shots.
Scootaloo let loose balls of flame from her hands that exploded into cyclones of fire when they hit, but Ruby transformed into rose petals again, and, as she flew through the air, she fired again and again. Scootaloo turned just in time, and the first bullet simply grazed her, and though her aura was more than enough to stop the bullet, it hurt… Scootaloo grunted and unleashed burning rays of fire at Ruby, who moved around them with rose-like grace… Scootaloo like a burning star, and Ruby like a space-flying falcon, dodging bursts and flares.
Finally, Scootaloo got tired of trying to swat the crimson fly out of the air, and unleashed a burst of fire in all directions that consumed the last of the dust energy flowing through her veins, and Ruby fell to the ground, screaming from the little fires on her hood and cape… She rolled to the ground, and stared up… Scootaloo involuntarily let go of her pegasus magic, and the cloud holding her aloft broke apart, and she tumbled violently to the ground with a hard smack that cut off a chunk of her aura. “Owww…”
Ruby grinned and raised her sniper rifle… A BANG! BANG! BANG! Rang out, and three shells struck the stunned Scootaloo, she yelped in pain as each shot signalled the loss of a sizeable chunk of her aura… She growled, raised her pistols, and ran toward Ruby, letting loose a torrent of fire, running through the flames she was creating with her pistols, which slowly wore at her aura as burning flecks of crystal stuck to her skin.
Ruby grinned, and, right as Scootaloo ran into range, she leapt over the girl, and Scootaloo had a moment to process shock right before Crescent Rose’s blade struck her in the side. She tumbled to the ground, and the buzzer sounded, signalling Scootaloo’s defeat.
“Owwwwwww…” She muttered as she lay still on the ground. Ruby walked over to her, reaching out a hand.
“That was pretty cool…” Scootaloo took Ruby’s hand, “That cloud semblance of yours is awesome!”
“Heh…” Scootaloo chuckled, “That’s nothin’”
“Well… Wanna go play some video games later?”
Sweetie was sitting in the corner, taking a break from sparring to read her book. She flipped the page as, somehow, without making a noise, Blake walked into the room, “O-Oh, didn’t expect anyone else to be here…”
“No, it’s fine, come in…”
They were in the ballroom, it was all quiet, save for the turning of the pages. Blake nodded and moved to the other side of the room and drew a book from her bag… She flicked the pages too, and quietly, for what felt like the longest time, the two simply sat and read. Finally, Blake’s eyes flicked up from the page she was reading and stared at Sweetie, and at the book she held, “What is that?” Blake asked.
“The Man with Two Souls?” Sweetie replied.
Blake was silent for a moment, “I’m reading that too, what page are you on?”
“I’m on two-forty-one.”
Sweetie smiled, “Well, you’re going to love the next chapter then…”
“Well don’t spoil it.”
“I wasn’t going to.”
A few minutes passed, and Blake flicked her eyes, “Must be hard to be a faunus…”
“I don’t think so…”
“I’ve seen that some people are mean to us, but I don’t care, they’re just bad people, and I don’t worry about it…”
“But, what if someone tried to hurt you?”
“I’d talk to them, and if they tried, I’d defend myself... “
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“No… Should I?”
Blake didn’t know how to answer… And so they sat quietly, reading...
“Luna… What is the meaning of this?” Celestia growled, holding a newspaper… Luna cringed a bit at the sight of the headline: Gem Workers on Strike! Canterlot seizes Rainbow Production!
Luna stood up straight and stared at Celestia, “Yes, I gave the order that all facilities that produce gemstones and liquid rainbow are now government property…”
“Why... Yes, these are valuable resources, but, did you consider the effect this would have on the populace? Let alone our global reputation!”
Luna smiled, “Yes, I did consider these things dear sister…” Luna closed her eyes and summoned an illusion, showing a map of Equus. “I have sent Fleur to deal with the strike problem, she will ensure that the workers are paid thrice their current wages.”
“Where exactly will these funds come from? Our own treasury? We don’t want to raise tax-”
“Yes, they are coming out of the treasury…” Luna replied, to a baffled Celestia.
“How long do you intend to keep this policy, and why did you not discuss it with me!”
“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t have the time…” With that, the illusory map zoomed in on Diamond Dog territory, “Look… With the discovery of all this new technology, the demands of our industry will drastically change, and that means that new resources will need to be prioritized, we can cut funding to bronze and gold production, our guard certainly won’t be needing them any more…”
“The Kingdom of Equestria isn’t at war-”
“Are you sure about that?” Luna pointed a hoof to the symbol on the map, “Last time our enemies attacked, Canterlot was nearly subjugated by Hive Chrysalis…”
“She caught us by surprise!”
“Did she? Her changeling army had surrounded the city, shouldn’t a guard have seen something?”
“We had gotten the warning ahead of time…”
“That… As my Night Guards have discovered, was a distraction, a ploy to focus our defence on the castle itself, and to make us believe that it was Princess Cadenza herself who was the target, not Canterlot as a whole… The guard who gave that warning is not in the official records, and he vanished after the conflict…” Celestia was about to reply, but Luna tapped her hoof against the floor, directing the Princess’s gaze back toward the symbol on the map… The twin fangs, the flag of the Diamond Dogs.
“The Storm King-”
“The Storm King has already conquered the Aris archipelago nearly a decade and a half ago, he is an opportunist, his army may be resting for now, but I know his type, he will not rest until the world is under his dominion…” Luna and Celestia’s eyes were both drawn to the nearest neighbour of the Storm Kingdom, Abyssinia…
Celestia sighed, “Yes, I see your point, but is this kind of rapid militarization really necessary-”
“A thousand years of peace have made your military soft, undisciplined, and unorganized… I wouldn’t be surprised if a simple party or offer of cake could distract them from their duty, by the moon, the Wonderbolts spend more time putting on shows than patrolling Equestria’s airspace! I even looked at the guard’s record, you don’t even bother to put guards around the gates of Tartarus anymore! For all we know, a prisoner could have escaped!”
“Yes, yes… I know, I see your point, Luna… But you should have consulted me on this decision, how do you intend to offset this rise in wages, our treasury would eventually run dry.”
“Well, my sister… We have new technologies, new weapons… We are at the forefront of a great technological leap… No doubt these new magics and techniques will expand to many new fields than just the militaristic, and even then, we stand to make quite the profit… The Diamond Dogs are threatening Abyssinia and the monarchs of the nation are quite scared of an invasion from the Storm King, we can sell them Equestrian weaponry, I’m sure that will more than off-put any debt we would gather…”
Celestia looked deep in thought for a second, “My, that is a good plan, I didn’t know you were such a shrewd business pony…”
Luna smirked, “I get it from my sister…”