It was a beautiful summer night. The freshly risen full moon cast its glow across Equestria with a sense confidence that was absent from the past century. It was a sight to behold to all that would appreciate it, from astronomers to young lovers on their first date. But it was a lonely sight as there were no stars to accompany the lunar beacon. Luna would not stand for this injustice any longer and took flight, ready to make the night whole. With a flick of her mane, a swirl of her tail, a simple gesture, the moon princess continued her royal obligation, sending a flurry of shimmering lights from her tail and mane. The tiny light sources drifted listlessly into the atmosphere, growing larger and brighter. It always was a personal experience for Luna, as she literally gave a piece of herself away every evening for all of Equestria to enjoy. The night was more intimate to the moon alicorn than the day was to her sister. She wasn't just the princess of the night, Luna was the night.
Making final adjustments to the third star on Orion's Belt, Luna took a pause admiring her work. But something just didn't seem right. Was something missing? The midnight blue alicorn cast her gaze from East to West. Everything was in place, shimmering as wonderful as ever. But there was still something amiss. Cocking her ears, Luna heard a faint roar off in the distance and turned around. Andromeda had lost a star! Looking around frantically, she tracked the missing star as it was falling in the direction of Ponyville. The elusive sphere rapidly descended towards the quiet town, bringing with it untold amounts of destruction. Determined to prevent Ponyville's decimation at the hands of a fallen extension of herself, the moon princess swooped down in attempt to stop the wayward ball of light.
The battle was hard fought. Luna's stars were like candles once they left her mane, normally just burning out by dawn. But to extinguish one prematurely proved to be a feat that even the princess of the night lacked the capacity for. Deciding that destroying the star was out of the question, Luna attempted to move it. The princess ignited her horn, commanding to falling orb to halt, but it didn't comply. If she couldn't move it nor destroy it, she had one final option; absorb it. Casting her platinum adorned hooves on the glimmering dynamo, Luna fed off of it's energy, shrinking it until she could wrap her forelegs around it. But her efforts proved to be too little too late, the star would never be small enough stop before it crashed. Desperate times called for desperate measures. The moon princess decided to do whatever she could to save Ponyville as she pressed her back against the falling sphere and flapped her wings with the fury of a mother bird protecting their young. Ever so slowly, she was doing it, the star was slowing down, if she could continue on just a little bit more, maybe she could change its direction. Fluttering her gallant wings with renewed vigor, she could feel the star pulling up. Just a little more, Luna thought to herself. Mother, give us strength!
Just barely passing over the clock tower, Luna breathed a victorious sigh. More and more grassy fields became present. Grassy fields lined with seemingly endless rows of apple trees. Apple trees and... a farm. Luna strained with all her might, she could feel the burning in her wings, tightness in her back. She had nothing left to stop the star. Satisfied that she at least saved the town, Luna closed her eyes and accepted her fate.
"Ancestors, please forgive us..."
Just outside of Sweet Apple Acres, Big Macintosh leaned lazily against a white picket fence. Along with the draft pony were his drinking buddies, Caramel, Lucky, and Buckhauer. They spent most nights enjoying the night sky, having philosophical discussions and 'checking the quality' of a barrel of cider for the upcoming season.
"You know what the worst part about nights like this?" Lucky asked. The other three stallions looked to dark maned, grey pony in anticipation. "They have to end." He concluded before taking a swig form his mug.
Big Macintosh took a gulp of his cider. "Eeyup."
Caramel took a delicate sip of his own beverage. "Yup."
Lucky let out a closed mouth burp and nodded. "Uh-huh."
Buckhauer looked up at the stars, stroked his spiky blonde mane and double blinked his beady coal eyes. Noticing the dark orange pegasus had something on his mind, the others turned their attention to him. Out of the four stallions, Buckhauer was the voice of reason. Never afraid to share a brutally honest, almost poetic perspective to any occasion. This was one of those times.
"Yeah man, I tell ya what, dat dang ol’ nighttime, man, it's all like 'quiet, but too quiet,' got dang calm before the storm, mean you got dat big ol' full moon, man, ain't no dang timberwolves out howlin' or nothin', right peaceful, man." The other three stallions sipped their cider and leaned against the fence looking up at the stars nodding at Buckhauer's opinion.
Just as Big Macintosh finished his mug, a faint roar echoed over the horizon. The draft stallion twitched his ears and looked up, catching the trail of a fireball cutting across the moonlit sky. The remaining ponies followed the farmer pony's gaze and looked on in bewilderment as the object flew past the farmhouse and sent tremors through the ground, strong enough to knock them off balance.
"What was that?!" Caramel blurted out. He looked to Big Macintosh, but the draft stallion was already running in the direction of the farm. Lucky and Buckhauer stumbled to their hooves looking around frantically. Lucky decided to action, pointing to the other two ponies.
"Caramel, contact the hospital, somepony might be hurt. Buckhauer, see if you can gather the weather patrol. We're going to need water.... lots of it!" At his command the two stallions headed for their destinations. Lucky took a few steps towards Ponyville's main street, but stopped, taking a final second to look up at the once peaceful night sky.
"Yeah, nights like these always have to end. One way or another."
Big Macintosh ran as fast as his strong legs could carry him. Seeing the farmhouse cast in the glow of flames, worries raced through his mind. But as he got closer, it looked like whatever fell out of the sky, missed the house. When he arrived at the front walkway, he met Applejack, and a still sleepy looking Apple Bloom on the front porch.
"Big Macintosh, are ya'll okay?" Applejack asked with distress in her eyes.
"Eeyup!" The red stallion looked in the direction of Granny Smith's bedroom window and looked back to his middle sister.
"Granny's still sleep, Ah' tell ya, she could sleep through just about anything." Applejack smirked. Big Macintosh smiled back, trying to maintain his cool demeanor.
"What was that thing?" Apple Bloom finally spoke up, still wiping at her eyes.
"Ah don't know, but it looked like it was on fire." Applejack answered back. "Big Macintosh, go see what that thing was. Ah'm gonna go an' get some buckets of water." The draft stallion nodded and ran towards the apple orchard where the strange object fell.
The point of impact was a horrific sight to Big Macintosh. Most of the precious apple trees that lined the hills were charred beyond recognition. It would take months, maybe even years to re-plow the fields and restore their crops. His green eyes grazed the blackened field mortified. The further he followed the path of destruction, the warmer it got. Mane matted down with sweat, eyes stinging with the salty moisture, the work pony managed to make it to the edge of the crater. Peering over, he was almost blinded by the brilliant light cast from it. Being more cautious, Big Macintosh glanced over the crater again, seeing a pony, trapped under a strange white orb.
Being the selfless pony that he was, Big Macintosh slid down the large indentation, flashes of heat from the object almost taking his breath away. Reaching his destination, he got a better look at the wreckage. The sphere was a few sizes larger than a beach ball, but by the way it sunk into the ground, it had to be as heavy as a boulder. The pony trapped under the mass of light wasn't just any pony, it was Princess Luna. Aside from being unconcious, she looked unharmed. Big Macintosh reached out to the orb, hoping to get a grip on it so he could roll it off the princess. But just as he laid a hoof on the mass, he instinctively withdrew his hoof after feeling the stinging pain. It was hot, extremely hot. Thinking quickly, he buried his hooves in the rich earth in attempt to dig the princess out. Making sufficient progress, the work pony tugged at the alicorn's shoulders, managing to get her half way out. He continued digging harder, faster, he was almost there. But it was getting hotter.
The orb flickered, sporadically at first, but the rhythm increased as time went on. Unsure what this meant, Big Macintosh continued struggling until he finally had the princess' hind legs free. Hoisting Luna across his broad back, Big Macintosh wearily climbed up the chasm. Half way up, he noticed that the heat from the orb wasn't dying down, it was increasing. He glanced back and saw that the orb was blinking wildly... like it was building up to something. Gasping, the farmer doubled his efforts, finally making it to the top of the crater just before the ground started rumbling. He stumbled away, desperately trying to keep the alicorn on his back, but then it happened.
The sound was deafening, and for a moment, the sky was brighter than any summer day. The force from the explosion sent Big Macintosh and Luna flying across the field, luckily landing into a soft patch of dirt. The red stallion struggled to his hooves and looked in the direction of the chasm. Smouldering lava erupted out of the hole, raining down fire and slowly rolling across the once beautiful farmland. It was the epicenter of mass destruction, but for a moment, Big Macintosh didn't care. Because above all else, he saved a life.
Suddenly, the sky rumbled with thunder. Nightly clouds closed in quickly, extinguishing the flames. Big Macintosh looked up at the small army of pegasus closing in with clusters of rainclouds. It was Ponyville's weather patrol in conjunction with the fire department coordinating their efforts. The various shouting and sizzling of water all around the farmer let him know that everything was going to be alright. At least until he had to factor in the losses, damages, while hoping the farm was covered for 'all hell breaking loose.' A fluttering of wings disrupted Big Macintosh's thought pattern and Buckhaur landed next to him.
"I tell ya'll whut man, got dang ol' thing fallin' from the sky, like a sign from above man, like Armageddon man, momma said we ain't livin' right, 'the end is nigh,' like... wow man." Buckhauer mumbled before looking back at the now steaming crater.
Princess Luna's faint moaning and stirring broke the silence. The moon princess straned her eyes open, looking around dizzily. When she came back to her senses, Luna gasped, and sat up abruptly, only to be stopped by a strong hoof resting on her shoulder. The alicorn followed the large hoof, up its muscular foreleg and to it's source. Big Macintosh gave a glance over to Buckhauer, tilting his head and clearing his throat. The orange pegasus gave a knowing nod and flew away.
"Easy now, ya'll had a bit of a nasty fall." Big Macintosh drawled. Luna looked around at the apple orchard turned battlefield.
"Forgive us for our carelessness. We-"
"Ain't nothin' but a few acres of land. A pony's life's worth more, least that's how Ah see it." Big Macintosh interrupted.
Luna took another look around. Her eyes locked onto the group of pegasus ponies focusing their rain clouds on the lingering fires. Putting her thoughts together, she looked back to the large stallion.
"Didst thou save us?"
Big Macintosh stepped back and helped the princess to her hooves. "Eeyup."
Out of nowhere, Luna lunged forward and wrapped her forelegs around the farm ponies neck. "We are forever grateful!" Big Macintosh's cheeks burned bright from the princess' embrace. Off in the distance, he could see Apple Bloom and a distressed Applejack approaching. The stallion quickly slipped out of the princess' grip and gave a nod to his two sisters.
"Whut in the... Luna?... how did... our trees... what are we gonna..." Applejack stammered, dizzy with panic. Apple Bloom just looked around blankly. Being a Cutie Mark Crusader seemed to have made her jaded to mass destruction. Luna took a breath and stood in front of the three siblings.
"Fear not! Though thine lands are now razed and infertile, we vow to restore its bounty!"
Applejack raised an eyebrow. "Beg yer parden?"
"She said it was her fault and she wants to make it right, sis." Big Macintosh whispered.
"Thy farmer is correct! But, there is one other event of grave importance." Luna approached the large red stallion and pointed to him. "Mighty farmer, what is thy name."
"Big Macintosh Apple." The farmer said. Luna gave a bow before ascending to the sky. A collection of clouds swirled above the moon princess, her shimmering mane waving wildly. Lightning crackling as she spoke.
"Big Macintosh of Apple, thou hast saved our life. To honor thy bravery, ask of us anything and we shall grant it to thee!"
Startled, Apple Bloom and Applejack backed away. Big Macintosh however, stood is ground. The idea of a reward for saving the princess sounded intriguing. Ideas danced around in his head. His plow was getting a bit rusty, maybe he could ask for a new one. Wait, this is a princess, maybe a custom made plow. No, bigger than that. A custom plow made from some legendary metal like mythril. The farmer took a look around, at the farmhouse, at his sisters, and finally back at Princess Luna.
"Pray tell, hast thou decided on a reward?" The dark alicorn questioned in her royal Canterlot voice.
"What prize dost thou seek?"
Confused, by the stallion's answer, Princess Luna quickly descended to the ground. The swirling clouds above her died out when she approached the draft pony.
"W-We do not understand. Is there not a treasure that thou seeks?"
Big Macintosh smiled proudly. "Nnope."
Luna gave him a discerning look. The moon princess' eyes traced every detail of Big Macintosh's frame from his unshorn fetlocks to his dirty blonde mane. Smiling, she came to a conclusion.
"If thou doth not seek for a reward, we shall provide one.... Facade!"
"Yesss, your highnesssss?"
Out of a moonlit shadow cast by the alicorn, a strange unicorn emerged. She had the same dark grey coat and golden eyes of Luna's bodyguards, but she lacked the appearance of a soldier. She wore a purple, silver trimmed cowl and robe that draped over her underweight frame. The mare flicked her forked tongue out between her fanged smile and blinked her slitted eyes at the three apple ponies. Apple Bloom shivered and hid behind her brother.
"This is Facade, our personal assistant. She shall bare witness for thine reward."
"Now just hold on a minute, my brother said he didn't want no reward." Applejack announced, taking a step forward.
Luna gave Facade a glance, which the snake like mare responded with a nod and levitated a scroll and pen from her robe. The moon princess put a hoof to her chest and proudly gave her instruction.
"We, Princess Luna, daughter of the moon, last descendant of the night herd, champion of dream valley, shall enact the ritual of Yln Vo' Toy'Athghach!" The princess dictated. "Big Macintosh of Apple, step forward!"
Realizing this wouldn't end well, Big Macintosh slowly backed away, but was stopped by the snake like unicorn rising from his shadow. Facade hissed and waved a hoof in a scolding manner. Luna grabbed the stallion by his collar and effortlessly lifted him into the air and pressed her lips against his. Black clouds swirled around the pair and blood red lighting danced around them, adding punctuation to the ritual. Luna set the confused Big Macintosh down and bowed at his hooves.
"We owe thee our life. From this day forward our powers are yours to command!"
Big Macintosh shook his head, denying the proclamation. "Nnope!"
Luna rose and approached the stallion with little respect for personal space. "Your humbleness intrigues us. We shall learn much as your servant... Lord Macintosh, of Apple." The moon alicorn smiled. "Now tell us, what dost thou seek?"
Big Macintosh, curled his lips up thinking of a way to momentarily get rid of the Princess. "Well, Ah do gotta get early up in the mornin' an' figure out how to clean up this mess. Maybe ya'll should go an-"
"Thy word is our command!" Luna interrupted. "Facade! Join us, we shall prepare our new master's bed!" With a flash of lightning, the alicorn dispersed into a swarm of bats flying in the direction of the farmhouse. Facade gave a bow to the draft pony, and sunk into his shadow. Big Macintosh leaned over to his younger sister whispering, in case if that creepy snake pony was still around eavesdropping.
"Yeah, Big Macintosh?"
"Ah reckon' y'all better get in touch with that librarian friend o' yours."
"Funny, Ah was reckonin' the same thing... Lord Macintosh." Applejack teased. Apple Bloom joined her older sister in a laugh, but soon stopped at the serious expression on their big brother's face. Applejack looked around at the scorched land and let out a whistle.
"Yeah, Ah'll talk to Twilight first thing in the mornin, not like we'll be doing any apple bucking anytime soon."