Twilight looked down at the holographic paper in front of her, reading the words but barely processing them.
We, the ponies of New Canterlot, representing the sovereign nation of Equestria, in accordance with the laws and regulations…
The words blurred together, as the legal language went on and on. Twilight had tried to keep up with it, but the law changed so often these days that she could never remember what was new and what was old. The last time she had tried to cite the law to prove a point, she had been informed that the law she was referring to hadn’t been in effect for three hundred years.
Besides, it didn’t matter. Her advisors had informed her that the document was very legal, and had gone through all the proper channels, and really, all that mattered was the line at the bottom.
...do hereby dissolve the position of Monarch of Equestria, stripping it of all rights and privileges, effective immediately.
Twilight touched her hoof to the blinking indicator. There was a hum, and a green ring flashed around her hoof, followed by words flowing onto the page.
Signed, Princess Twilight Sparkle, Monarch of Equestria.
Then, even as she watched, there was a chime, and her signature changed, her title disappearing before her eyes. She didn’t doubt that the system had already updated her signature on every document she’d ever put it on in the last hundred years—it was, after all, very efficient, and had been designed by ponies much smarter than her.
“Thank you, Miss Sparkle,” the bureaucrat in front of her said primly, taking the digital document and dismissing it.
Twilight opened her mouth to correct him, but then stopped, thought about it, and slowly began to laugh. It was strained, desperate, almost crazed. The title she’d held for thousands of years wasn’t hers anymore. It didn’t even exist. Her ponies had decided they didn’t need it. How could she do anything but laugh?
By the time she had recovered, wiping tears from her eyes, she was alone once more.
Twilight stepped out onto the roof of the palace, looking out over the city. She couldn’t see the edge of it anymore, and hadn’t been able to for centuries. New Canterlot stretched all the way around the entire mountain now, metal and chrome as far as the eye could see. Even the mountain was mostly machinery these days, after it and the original Canterlot had been largely demolished almost two thousand years ago. Twilight remembered the monster that had done it, a massive elemental spirit, but she couldn’t remember which Element bearers had helped her defeat it. Sometimes she wondered what that said about her.
She touched the device she wore on one wrist, and after a moment of scrolling, selected a name from the list it displayed. A low hum of magitech greeted her, and a teleportation circle materialized around her. She shivered as the foreign magic latched on to her, encompassing her in a teleportation matrix so complex it was unrecognizable to her. And then in a flash she was gone.
She appeared hundreds of miles away, in front of a three story mansion that was downright rustic by the standards of today’s ponies. She didn’t need to knock; the door scanned her before she even came near, letting the occupant know she was there. By the time she reached the door, it was already sliding open.
“My dear Twilight!” Celestia exclaimed, spreading her hooves and pulling Twilight into a hug. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”
Twilight leaned into the hug, and her chest suddenly felt tight. Before she knew it, she was sobbing into Celestia’s shoulder, gesturing vaguely with one hoof and failing to form any words at all.
“Oh dear,” Celestia said. She turned her head and murmured, “Go wake up Luna. We may need her.”
Slowly, carefully, she led Twilight to a couch. Once she had applied the correct amount of blankets (all of them), she touched a hoof to the coffee table and with a press of a button, conjured a steaming cup of tea. “There you are,” she murmured soothingly, passing it to Twilight. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Twilight took the tea, but didn’t drink it, instead just staring at it like she’d never seen a teacup before. Finally, she let out a soft laugh. “They fired me,” she whispered.
Celestia blinked. “I’m sorry?”
Twilight laughed again, but there was no humor in it. “They fired me. They wrote up a law, and they put it through the proper channels - things I helped set up, to make sure I could know what my ponies wanted, and what they wanted… wasn’t me.” She took a slow sip of tea. It burned her mouth, but she didn’t care. “It was all very official. I’m not a Princess anymore. They decided they didn’t need me.”
“Oh, Twilight,” Celestia murmured. “I’m so sorry.” She touched one hoof to Twilight’s shoulder. “I’m sure that must have been very hard.”
The sound of hoofsteps announced another arrival, and Luna stepped into the room. She took one look at Twilight, and a frown crossed her face. “What has happened this time?” she asked.
Celestia turned. “The bureaucrats seem to have taken the final step in making alicorns obsolete,” she said quietly. “They removed Twilight from power.”
Luna blinked, then snorted. “About time.”
“Luna!” Celestia hissed. “Twilight is very upset.”
Luna rolled her eyes, stepping forward and leaning on the back of the couch. “Tell me, Twilight, were you happy doing what you were doing? Were you making difficult decisions, weighing the lives of your ponies and everycreature else? Were you using your fantastic abilities to save the realm from your foes?”
Twilight looked up, her eyes red. Slowly, she shook her head.
“As I thought. The world has moved past us. Do not be sad because it has only now decided to tell you this.”
Twilight nodded mutely, taking another sip of her tea. It tasted of salt.
Celestia sighed. “Luna, while you may be right, now isn’t the time. Come, Twilight, say something. We are both here for you.”
Twilight put down the tea. “You’re probably right,” she said dully. “I should have seen this coming. I mean… I did see this coming. It’s not like I didn’t know about it. But I thought… I thought it was just a few ponies, ponies who were discontent, or who didn’t want to follow my rules. I thought if I just let them be, they would see that life was just fine without my intervention, just like they wanted, and everything would be fine.” She shook her head. “I never… I never expected it to pass.”
Celestia sighed. “It is a hard thing, to see your people outgrow you,” she said softly. “But it is a natural part of life. Mothers watch their children grow up, teachers have to let their students graduate…”
Luna stepped in, “And rulers must let their people decide how they wish to be ruled. You are lucky that they informed you with rules and law, rather than violent rebellion.”
“Hey!” Twilight protested. “There hasn’t been a violent rebellion in Equestria in my entire reign. My ponies were happy. I helped them be happy. And this is the thanks I get.”
“Your thanks is that they no longer need you,” Luna said. “That is a noble end for any leader to look forward to.”
“It doesn’t feel noble.”
Luna smiled softly. “Perhaps not. But it is, nonetheless.”
Celestia stepped in. “Twilight, you were a good leader. You’re wise, and kind, and honest and loyal and generous. You’ve done so much for Equestria. Your legacy will live on forever, just as ours did. Surely you have never thought less of us for stepping down when Equestria no longer needed us?”
Twilight shook her head.
“Then do not think less of yourself. You did all that you could.” She paused, then smiled slyly. “Besides, there’s plenty of perks to retirement. You’ll have time to travel the world—”
Luna rolled her eyes. “Oh, not this again.”
“You haven’t even heard—”
“I do not need to.” Luna turned away. “I am going back to bed. Twilight, if you want my advice: Run, while you still can. Otherwise, the guest room is yours.”
“Hey! We are going to get you to… come back here!”
Twilight watched the two of them run off. Finally, she giggled. A real, genuine laugh, for the first time today. Maybe she could live with this after all.