There were few moments that the immortal Alicorn Princess Celestia of Equestria could say she took true enjoyment from. A never-ending lifespan robbed many of life’s greatest moments away from one. After all, if you didn’t do something this century, there was always the next, or the one after that and so on.
Still, the enjoyment Celestia felt was a guilty one and she knew it. She was supposed to be completing backed up royal duties right now. But could anyone blame her? Despite the fact Celestia had foolishly backed herself onto a pedestal of perfection over the years (a fact she would forever hate herself for), she was still a living, breathing creature that had needs and desires; and right now she had forgone everything to pursue something she considered both a need and desire. She didn’t even care if others may think it silly of her, she needed what was happening, she needed it with all her…
“Uh, Princess? Is everything ok?”
Celestia snapped out of thought and looked down on the little body (relatively) huddled up next to hers. Celestia couldn’t help but smile at the pony cuddling with her; the Alicorn’s giant wing sprawled over her. “Yes Twilight, I’m fine. I was just… lost in the intoxicating grip of happiness.”
“Oh…” Twilight responded. “Should I call a doctor to check on you? Do you need to lie down? Do you…?”
The much larger mare laughed cheerfully. “No, no, it was but an expression, I’m not actually intoxicated Twilight.”
“Oh…” Twilight said again, tilting her head down in embarrassment at her lack of knowledge in this. “Sorry.”
Celestia chuckled, leaning down and nuzzling her student affectionately. “No harm done. Now, shall we get back to our studies?”
Twilight’s morose mood left her instantly as her face lit up. “Of course Princess!” The unicorn turned her head down to the history book (which as large as she was) and looked to find her place. “Okay, so I’m pretty sure we were on chapter eighty-three…”
Celestia smiled yet again. “Yes I believe so Twilight, let us pick up where we were.”
To many, the act of quietly studying with one’s student would not seem like the kind of thing the Princess would truly enjoy of above all else. But with a constant schedule of completing royal duties, making appearances, and other things a princess has do for her country she longer took interest in them. It was simple things like this, a nice study session with the mare she considered like a little daughter, that truly made the Princess of the Sun happy. Nothing could ruin this beloved moment…
Irony can be pretty funny and this is something mostly everybody knows. Whether someone found it funny or not that Equestria, arguably the most peaceful and pacifist nation in the world right now, had the most advanced war operations center in the entire United Species Alliance was completely up to opinion.
Regardless of how one felt, the EWOC was abuzz with activity as reports from all over Equestria’s borders flooded in. Most were the common all clear message, with some minor discrepancies plaguing the center every so often.
One report, however, was overdue and this irked Royal Guard Captain Valor’s Shield to no end. The stallion turned to of the many system operators. “Any report yet?”
“No sir.” The young, yellow-coated mare replied. “Indigo squad’s communications operator hasn't yet check in.”
“That’s an hour too many overdue.” Valor remarked. “Call up Princess Luna, tell her it’s priority: urgent.”
Equestria’s check-in system wasn’t perfect and Valor knew that. Still it was one of the best out there and it only failed point zero zero zero one percent of the time. Essentially, it was a network of what the military called twin sibling crystals. If a certain magic pulse was sent through one crystal it would glow a certain color, and its sibling crystal would do the same no matter how far away they were. So it was a simple yet effective system: hourly check-ins with all squads who would energize the crystal and make it glow and the sister crystal in the ops center would do the same to inform Equestria High Command of a specific squads status.
Lieutenant Indigo Breeze's squad should have reported in five hours ago. The margin a squad is allowed to be late is two, so it was clear to the Guard Captain that something was amiss. Valor was thinking up possibilities when Princess Luna walked in.
“Yes Captain, what is it? I was currently in the process of mourning my lost relationship full of hot sex, but I know I had to respond to this. So what is the matter?”
Valor’s Shield saluted his Princess. “Ma’am, Lieutenant Indigo Breeze's squad, the one escorting Lady Chrysalis to her destination in the countryside, has failed to report in.”
“How long?” Luna asked, dropping all other problems and taking on the duties of a military commander, one who had just lost what could be considering an extremely important VIP.
“Five hours, three above the standard rate allowed.”
Luna thought for a moment, trying to think of reasons why the squad had not reported in. “Maybe the crystal is destroyed or damaged in some way.”
Valor shook his head. “Impossible ma’am. If the crystal had been destroyed, the one here would have as well, same with being damaged. These crystals mirror everything about their twin. The squad's crystal is perfectly fine.”
Luna’s face contorted into one of anger, this was a grave military blunder. “Inform my sister immediately, Chrysalis and her guards are missing.”
Valor nodded. “Yes ma’am!”
Celestia smiled to herself, looking down on the small body of Twilight Sparkle. The faithful student had tired herself out from studying and was now face down in a book. Even in this, Celestia found great joy as she nuzzled her little pony. The Alicorn chuckled quietly at the grunted sound Twilight made. Just like a little foal, Celestia said to herself. This brought up something however, and Celestia pondered if she and Chrysalis could have foals together or if that would be a foolish guilty dream to forever be in the back of Celestia’s mind. The Alicorn wondered this for a good five minutes before the door to her study slammed open.
The royal mare’s two unicorn door guards, Radiant Point and Loyal Spark, ran inside, startling Celestia and waking Twilight from her sleep. “Wha… What’s happening? Is something wrong?” Twilight looked around, still half asleep.
Celestia turned to her guards, more than a little peeved. “What is the meaning of this?! I asked not to be disturbed!” The mare’s displeasure was evident.
Celestia’s frown would have made the two guards piss themselves on a normal occasion, but they had the authority of Princess Luna behind them. “Sorry ma’am, but this is important. Lady Chrysalis’s escort has been attacked and…”
“WHAT?!” Celestia shouted, jolting up from her resting position and almost throwing Twilight in the process. “When di this happened? Chrysalis had royal guards at her side, how is such a thing possible?!”
Radiant Point frowned. “We’re not sure ma’am, they didn’t report in on time despite their crystal beacon being completely fine. We’re still very much in the dark.”
Celestia removed herself from the comfortable pillow she lay on and strode to her guards. “Is there a communicator at the vacation spot Cadence is at?”
Loyal Spark shook his head. “Not precisely ma’am, though there is a sizable guard outpost near there that could provide us with necessary communications.”
“Good.” Celestia stated plainly and walked past her guards. The Alicorn stopped and turned to Twilight. The mare had not been disturbed enough to fully wake her so she had returned to the pillow and was now snuggling it adamantly. “Stay here and protect Princess Sparkle.”
“Who?” Both guard asked.
Celestia stopped, having processed what she had just said. “I mean… Please protect my faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. I’m sorry for the confusion.” With that the Princess left, closing the doors behind her.
Radiant and Loyal looked at each other. “Should we, uh, follow her?” Loyal asked.
Radiant shook his head. “She gave us orders to protect Miss Sparkle, so that’s what will do.” The stallion looked at Twilight, then back to the door. “Wonder what that princess thing was about.”
Loyal chuckled. “Above our pay grade I’m sure.”
Celestia had a firm stare about her as she looked at the magically powered machine before her. A moment passed before it activated and thousands of small bluish particles condensed over a crystal pad to show a transparent, blue tinted Cadence hologram. Celestia couldn’t help but be amazed at this new invention that allowed two creatures miles away from each other to talk face to face with only seconds of lag. The royal Alicorn didn’t know who the Flim Flam brothers were, but she’d have to congratulate them on this achievement.
The Alicorn of Love smiled despite the reasons for being called, which she knew all too well. “Hello Aunt Celestia, what’s wrong? I was kinda enjoying my humble retreat out here.”
Celestia’s frown did not lessen as she looked at her niece. “Cadence, is Chrysalis with you?”
Cadence face tightened up, but she kept her composure. “Chrysalis? No she isn’t. I was actually wondering when she was going to get here, I found this little shop I think she’d really enjoy.”
Celestia cursed under her breath. “Cadence… Chrysalis is… missing.”
“WHAT?!” Cadence asked, concern plastering all over face. “How? What happened?”
“We don’t know.” Celestia admitted. “All we know is that Chrysalis and her guard escort never made it to you and haven’t reported back at all. We’re expecting the worse.”
“What should we do?” Cadence asked.
“I’ve already got ponies working on it. However, if you could help in any way…”
“I’ll take control of the forces down here.” Cadence replied. “I’ll coordinate them, we’ll find Chrysalis and rescue her Aunt Celestia. Don't worry.”
Celestia smiled at her niece’s enthusiasm. “Thank you Cadence. We should stay in touch and cooperate in order to discover what happened and find Chrysalis quickly.” Cadence nodded understandingly. “Good. Call me when you found anything significant.” With that, the machine was switched off. Cadence’s figure dispersed into thousands of particles once more, and those particles dissipated until they were nothing.
Celestia turned to Guard Captain Valor as he entered the room. “Captain, get me several squadrons of flyers to scan the southern areas as well as three Overseer units to search the towns.”
Valor nodded. “Yes ma’am.” The Captain turned to leave but saw his Princess’s look. “Don’t worry Princess, we’ll find her.”
Celestia looked to the Earth pony and smiled weakly. “Thank you Valor… I know you will.”
Cadence watched as her Aunt’s hologram exploded into thousands of points of bluish light and disappear. The mare sighed. “Great… Chrysalis is missing. How the hell did this happen?” The Alicorn turned to the guard behind her. “I want squads sent out, search the entire southern reaches. Find Chrysalis. Send me all squad positions as well as constantly updated reports of where they’ve searched.”
The guard saluted. “Yes Princess, right away.” The guard turned and left to do as he was told.
Cadence remained, looking at the communicator. Whatever she was thinking, it didn’t show on her face. She just stood there, staring with slightly furrowed eyebrows. Finally, she grunted. “This should be interesting. Well Aunt Celestia, let’s see who finds what their looking for first.”
The mare turned, leaving the small communications room. She didn’t have time to dawdle; there was much planning to be done on both sides of the conflict. Exiting the room, Cadence saw Shape Shift reading a fashion magazine (why? Magic, that's why). Cadence snorted, grabbing the Changeling's attention. "Send word to Lightning Dust, tell her she may have to worry about company crashing the party and proper steps should be taken to ensure that isn't the case."
Shape Shift nodded and saluted, placing his magazine in his pouch and buzzing off down the hall. Cadence's eyes followed the Changeling as he left. Acknowledging his departure, Cadence turned down the opposite way and prepared her way to the preparation grounds for the search parties.
The Alicorn was in charge of making up the patrols after all, and she had to make sure Lightning Dust's hideout was the last place they looked.
The yellow-coated mare from the EWOC yawned slightly, her job wasn't the most exciting after all. Still, it paid well and she needed the money. Actually, it was towards the end of her shift and she was getting ready to leave. Today had been, expect for Chrysalis missing, a pretty average day of getting all clears from the various parts of Equestria.
Getting up from her seat and gathering her things to leave for the day, the mare's ears became erect as she heard a faint beeping. Looking around, she spotted the source: it was the communication crystal for the Crystal Empire.
It was blinking a black color sporadically. Black was the code color for 'under attack by overwhelming hostile forces'.