”Dear Princess Celestia,
Found the problem. Pinkie Pie is an alicorn.
Your faithful student,
Twilight’s short, succinct message fell from Celestia’s telekinetic grasp and fluttered to the ground forlornly. Celestia herself was frozen in place, mid-stride in the middle of the hallway leading to the mage council chambers, her pupils shrinking as all rational thought came to a screeching halt and she stared slackjawed at nothing at all. Her guards looked nervously at each other for a couple of moments, then one bravely abandoned decorum and tentatively waved his hoof in front of his monarch’s face.
The two guards shared another apprehensive glance and were about to raise the alarm, when Luna and her assistant Sugar Heart chose that moment to come up the corridor. The two of them were arguing over the composition of their general proclamation to be sent out to the various towns and cities of Equestria.
“…I wouldst still believe that the presence of flashing red letters on the scroll itself will cause ponies to worry unnecessarily.”
“Yes, but that’s why they say ‘DON’T PANIC’, see? To catch their attention immediately and…”
One of the guards called out, “Your royal highness! Something’s happened to your sister!”
Luna’s eyes widened in shock. “Sister?”
Discussion forgotten, Luna bolted to Celestia’s side. Fortunately these guards saw her coming and avoided being flattened like tenpins. “SISTER! What is the meaning of this?”
Celestia didn’t respond at all until Luna started shaking her shoulders, by which stage the brave guard had retrieved Twilight’s scroll from the ground and tentatively held it out at length, in case its strange power caused him to explode or make his brain melt out his ears.
“P-p-princess? She was reading this n-note when this happened!”
Celestia chose that moment to drag in a huge, wheezing breath, her eyes locking once more on the message, and her mental faculties engaged drive and shoving the pedal to the metal.
Nopony was ready for the Royal Canterlot Voice from a crazed alicorn at close quarters.
There was a blazing flash of light, and then the Princess of the day vanished. Luna shook her head to clear her ears, and then retrieved the note with her magic as the other dazed ponies in the hall pulled themselves together.
It took several readings for the message to sink in.
“Great googly moogly!”
The dastardly weapon of papyrus destruction burst into flame and disintegrated into ashes in Luna’s grip, much to the relief of the guards. Her horn remained lit as she cast her head about, like a timber wolf tasting the air.
“Princess? What are you---“
The Princess of the Night disappeared in a dark burst of shadow, leaving her erstwhile assistant in the hall with the guards and all three wondering what the buck just happened.
Pinkie Pie stood in the doorway to Twilight’s library. For all intents and purposes, she was the same Pinkie Pie: same taffy mane and tail, same dazzling smile and brilliantly piercing blue eyes that nevertheless held no clue to what was going on behind them. A pony could almost ignore the wings and horn, except for the fact that she was inexplicably covered in flour everywhere else save for her new shockingly pink appendages, and that she was considerably taller than she had been the day before. She didn’t quite have the supermodel slimness of the other three members of her new sorority, but the sheer overwhelming bubbly force of personality that was Pinkie made up for that easily.
Pinkie gave herself a vigorous shake that dislodged the remaining flour into a large cloud, which she stepped out of before bucking it out the door like a seasoned weathermare.
“Girls! I need your help! I need to learn how to fly and use magic in about, oh, 20 minutes flat so that I can put on a ‘Pinkie has wings and magic’ Party for everypony TONIGHT! But we’ll probably need to go to Canterlot first because it wouldn’t be fair to hold a wings and magic party without the Princesses, they’ve got wings and magic too after all and wouldn’t it be sad if nopony ever threw them a wings and magic party? So we need to make a road trip while you teach me!”
“Oooooooookayyyyyyy.” Twilight started hesitantly. “We’ll probably be summoned to Canterlot anyway when the Princesses see my note. But—“
“YAYYYY!” Pinkie stretched her forelegs around the entire group and roped them together in the middle of the room in a big group hug. “Lets go!”
“Now just WAIT a consarn darn minute!” Applejack interrupted. “We aint going anywhere until you tell us what is goin’ on! Like, why are you an aliwhatsit, a princess? How’d that happen anyhow?”
Pinkie shrugged her shoulders, causing her new wings to flutter. “Dunno! It just did! One minute I’m playing peekaboo with the twins and then…” she leapt up on the coffee table dramatically and reared up on her hind legs, flaring her new feathers impressively, “Blammo! Instant superhero! We should break out the Mare-do-well costume again, I bet I’d totally rock that now!”
The weight of her new wings caused Pinkie to lose her balance, frantically churning at the air with her front hooves before giving up the fight and tipping over backwards flat on her back.
“Bwahhh-hahahaha! *snort* Sure Pinkie Pie!”
Pinkie looked up from the ground with all four hooves in the air, and started giggling along with Rainbow Dash. “C’mon Dashie! Teach me to fly!”
Rainbow blew a raspberry and looped the loop just below the ceiling. “Even someone as awesome as me didn’t learn to fly in a single day, Pinkie! It’s gonna take time and hard work and—“
“Pleeeeeeeeease, Dashie! Pleeeeease!” Pinkie was back on her hooves in one fluid motion, and now hopping up and down in anticipation, her wings buzzing at her side.
“Rainbow, darling.” Rarity brought her friend’s attention from her acrobatics back down to the floor. The same floor that Pinkie was no longer touching, hovering several inches above.
Rainbow’s eyes bugged out of her head and she zipped over Pinkie’s head to study her wings up close. “How are you DOING that? You just got those things! You shouldn’t have any muscle tone or coordination or… or anything!”
Pinkie looked down, just as surprised as Rainbow, then looked up at her Pegasus friend again. “But Pound Cake was flying at only a month old! It can’t be that hard?”
Fluttershy hovered at a more leisurely pace on Pinkie’s other side, speaking in the same quiet motherly tone she’d use with an injured animal impatient to run again. “You need to remember Pinkie, newborn foals have a lot less weight to hold them down. As they get bigger they can’t fly, it’s not until they’re much older when their wings develop enough that they start learning how properly. “
Pinkie eased down to the ground with a noise like a leaky balloon. “I guess you’re right.”
“Do cheer up darling! I mean, look at you!” soothed Rarity. “You’re the same height as Princesses Luna or Cadance now! Those wings will look magnificent when you do learn to fly!”
“It’s going to be fine, Pinkie.” added Twilight reassuringly. “I’m sure the princesses are thinking up ways to help you right now!”
Luna found Celestia in the lowest basement archives deep below the royal Canterlot library, so far beyond the restricted section that not even Twilight Sparkle knew these sub-levels existed, and wouldn’t be able to access without spelunking gear even if she did. Celestia was madly opening and discarding boxes of old parchments, stirring up the dust of bygone millenia with a distinct lack of reverence or care as she shone her horn at their contents and then fretfully moved on to the next container.
Luna lit her own horn and carefully made her way around the shifting columns of boxes and paper. “Tia? What are you doing? We shouldst…. *achoo!* should be travelling to Ponyville post haste!”
“Can’t talk, busy!”
“Must find wha—aaaah-- *aaachoo*! Dammit! Celestia, What. Are. You. Looking for??”
Celestia pulled her muzzle and front hooves out of her current mouldy old crate and blinked in the additional light cast by her sister, as if really noticing her for the first time. “The emergency protocols, of course!”
“What emergency protocols?” Luna stared at her sister blankly. The sneeze she felt coming was quashed by extending a wing tip over her nose, keeping the dust onslaught at bay. “We dost not… gah! I don’t recall any emergency protocols?”
Celestia looked at her sister with a momentary flash of panic, before diving back into the box, her wings straining to counterbalance so that she didn’t tip entirely in. “I don’t know!” the muffled wail echoed from the box. “There must be emergency protocols! We don’t know everything… the ancients or mother or somepony must have left SOME kind of guide for situations like this?”
“How could mother have forseen something like an earth pony spontaneously becoming an alicorn?” Luna asked dubiously.
Celestia’s tail drooped at the question, then suddenly perked up again and the solar princess reefed herself back onto her hind legs, proudly holding an immensely old tome aloft. “Aha!” she proclaimed. Then her eyes went wild and she threw the book to one side. “Nononono!”. And dived into another box.
Luna caught the Elements of Harmony: Installation Manual and Reference Guide in her magic before it hit the floor and set it down safely.
“All right, Celestia, enough! Tell me what possesses you to act like this?”
All the energy seemed to seep out of the inverted dusty white princess and she slowly stopped scrambling about before slumping out of her box, head hung low and the sparkle fading from her mane. Eventually Celestia composed herself and lifted her head again to look at her sister.
“Do you remember when we were going through Twilight Sparkle’s friendship reports? Specifically, the one about their adventures at Froggy Bottom bog?”
The midnight blue pony’s brow furrowed behind her feathery dust inhibiter as she cast her mind back. “Yeeeess?”
“Remember how we couldn’t decide if Pinkie Pie’s apparent powers were the result of a genetic throwback to the mage pony cuirassiers of Prust? Or that she was secretly a Shugakain grand master?”
Luna smiled as she recalled a whimsical evening laughing with her sister, nodding as she went.
“Or she was bitten by a dyslexic werepony, and bestowed with fantastic abilities during the normal daytime.”
“Sent to us as a filly from a distant dying planet, growing up on Equestria with powers and abilities far beyond those of normal ponies.”
“She might be the descendant of pirates, living with a curse from vengeful seaponies.”
“Or, she could be the secret lovechild of Discord, hidden away in stone until discovered and freed by a lonely rock-farming family...”
“Twas no wonder that Twilight was thwarted in her investigation over the source of Pinkie’s peculiar eccentricities.” Luna laughed, but it died half-chuckle at the look of consternation writ large on Celestia’s face.
“Now imagine the worst of those possibilities, with Alicorn powers.”
“… pass me a box, Tia.”
It was several hours later that two identical, dust-covered princess ponies teleported themselves back to the throne room of the palace, with a decidedly dejected air about them. This was soon smothered in confusion as they realised the entire place appeared to be under siege: guards were scrambling in full combat equipment, palace staff were securing everything that wasn’t tied down, and the darkness of the night outside the throne room’s ornamental windows was tinged with the glow of Shining Armor’s massive castle-covering energy shield. Air raid sirens could be heard out over Canterlot itself. Unicorns on battlements were using their horns to cast piercing spotlights into the night air in hopes of detecting any enemy attack.
All activity in the great hall ground quickly to a stop at the appearance of the princesses. A small green pony picked her jaw up off the ground and dashed over to them. “LUNA! You’re back!” she shouted in clear relief, which was echoed by a resounding cheer from the others.
The smaller of the two dusty deities dragged her eyes away from the scene and addressed her assistant. “Sugar Heart, forgive my ancient prench, but what the sorrel hells is going on?”
“Both you and Princess Celestia vanished after yelling about emergency protocols and hadn’t been seen since so the guards got the Captain and put everypony on high alert and when the sun went down an hour late the entire city started panicking and the castle was put in lockdown and nopony knows if we’re under attack or no---“ Sugar Heart raised her eyes over the royal hoof now blocking her mouth.
“And you thought nopony would notice when we forgot to lower the sun and raise the moon.” Luna chided her elder.
Celestia stamped in frustration. “We had other things on our minds!”
“Well, now we needst deal with…” Luna waved a front hoof around the room theatrically, “with all of this! On top of everything else.” Sugar Heart took the opportunity afforded by the removal of said hoof to scrunch up her face and attempt to wipe a thick coating of dust off of her tongue.
Guard Captain Shining Armor chose that moment to gallop into the throne room, clearly having been alerted by his subordinates that his Commanders-in-Chief had returned. He dropped into an impeccable three-point bow at their hooves and rose again almost instantly, ready for orders. “Your Majesties!”
Celestia gracefully moved to stand at the foot of her throne. “You may stand down, Captain. The situation is not quite as dire as we may have… accidently, led you to believe.” She shot her sister a quick glance. “We think.”
Luna rolled her eyes.
Shining looked from one regent to the other, nodded, then turned and stared out the window, his horn glowing brightly as he dispelled the huge bubble around the castle and cancelled the air raid alert. Confused guards around the city breathed a huge sigh of relief and families cautiously poked their heads out of basements and shelters and began making their way back to their homes. Even from the castle, the princesses could sense the growing tide of murmuring and questioning.
Guardsponies started reporting back to Shining Armor as the state of alert was dropped. One aide looked up from a rather impressive checklist and brought it to his captain’s attention. “Sir, what about the elements?”
Celestia immediately stiffened. “What about the elements, Captain?”
“After the changeling incident your majesties, it’s been established protocol to secure the elements immediately in the event of a national emergency. When we didn’t hear from you, we sent out an armed escort for the element bearers. They… ahhh…” he noticed the wild looks passing between the two royal pony sisters, “… they should be arriving by pagasus-drawn chariot any minute now.”
Somehow, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the sisters looked at that moment to be less than the physical embodiments of the sun and moon, and rather more like two embarrassed fillies caught playing dressup in their mother’s underwear drawer.
“Oh, Ponyfeathers.” They mouthed in unison.