Luna and Carapace stared wide-eyed at the spot where Cadence had been. Chrysalis had shouted and rammed the scarlet Alicorn after she had injured Rainbow Dash. The younger Alicorn sister and Changeling were wordless, but Celestia had already begun yelling out orders to her troops.
“All soldiers! Move in! Secure the town! Assess all civilians and treat all injuries!” Celestia’s meticulous eyes darted around as she watched her soldiers comply with their orders. She turned to a specific group of them; they were some of the fastest she had. “You! Go and take Rainbow Dash to the field hospital for care for her injuries! Then, find all of Ponyville’s medical personnel and bring them to the same hospital to assist!”
The pegasi in question saluted and dove down to help Rainbow Dash. Hauling the wounded mare onto the largest of them, a rigid looking brown stallion, they took off towards the area that held the Princess’s forward operations base.
Celestia turned to Luna and Carapace. “Sister, Carapace, let us go. We must ensure the other Elements are unharmed and that no mercenaries are resisting.”
Carapace nodded and buzzed to the ground to help some of the soldiers. Luna, however, remained. The Nighttime Alicorn was still staring at the spot Cadence was. Her eyes left the area only to gaze upon Celestia. “Sister, what of Chrysalis? With her current state of magical intensity, Cadence will crush her.”
Celestia looked away, pondering something. “Perhaps. But we must have faith she can defeat our niece. I for one am certain that victory will be ours in this matter.”
“That isn’t comforting Sister.” Luna shot back. “How can you be sure that Chrysalis is strong enough to defeat Cadence?”
“I just do.”
“Luna, please, it’ll be alright.”
“You’re keeping things from me again.”
Celestia looked at her younger sister and sighed. “Chrysalis and I have already talked about what will happen. I do not want you to…”
“Tia…” Luna pouted sadly.
The Solar Monarch rolled her eyes. “Very well Luna, we can go and discuss it, if it’ll make you feel any better.”
“It will.” Luna nodded happily.
Celestia looked to Carapace. “Queen Carapace, my sister and I have some battle strategy to discuss. Can you handle everything here?”
Carapace snorted in an arrogant manner. “Depends. Are your soldiers going to listen to me or just piss themselves at the sight of me?”
Celestia looked to her Commander. The white Pegasus stallion locked eyes with his Princess and unspoken orders passed between them. A quick nod and the two understood there would be no problems with Carapace. Celestia smiled at the guard and turned to her sister. “Alright Luna, let’s go and talk.”
Luna nodded. “Excellent sister. Let’s go for a walk, you and I.”
Celestia frowned. “I have the feeling I’m going to be yelled at…”
“Only if you provoke as much sister.” Luna responded.
The two Alicorn sisters began to walk down one of the many now deserted streets of Ponyville, the sounds of Carapace shouting orders and soldiers moving this way and that soon faded into a somewhat quiet serenity. But for a time, the sisters just walked. No conversation passed between them. They enjoyed what seemed like ten minutes of just walking, the two rarely got to do the simple things anymore. Finally, Luna took a deep breath.
Luna looked around at the peaceful buildings as the two sisters passed them by. The dark Alicorn tried to find something to say. “So… sucks about Cadence huh?” The Alicorn gave her sister a reassuring smile, though in her mind Luna was shouting up a storm. ‘Sucks about Cadence’?! What the hell kind of conversation starter is that?! Damn it Luna, could you get any more stupid?!
“I should have seen it.” Celestia responded without looking to her sister.
Luna relaxed from her inner self-loathing and looked at her sister. The younger mare frowned. “Don’t beat yourself up.” Luna said. “After all, you don’t have the best track record when it comes to noticing family members going psycho…” Oh sweet Maker I’m terrible at this!!!!
Once again, Celestia seemed to ignore the comment. “But it’s my fault. I’m an Alicorn! I move the goddamn Sun for Equestria’s sake! Yet I can’t see when my niece is going crazy with rage?” Celestia sighed, distraught.
“I just think you’ve been blaming yourself for what Cadence has done, despite none of it being your fault.” Luna locked eyes with her sister. “And it’s not your fault, Cadence is just being a spoiled brat.”
“Perhaps. But I am the one who brought Chrysalis to the castle. I am the catalyst of this disaster, no matter what you say. I need to stop it.”
“And yet it is Chrysalis who is fighting Cadence right now.”
Celestia stopped, lowering her head to look at the ground. “Yes… she is.”
Luna stopped and looked over to Celestia. “So why sister? Why is Chrysalis doing our dirty work? You and I can stop her no problem… Probably.”
“Chrysalis told me she wanted to face Cadence because she didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. That’s why I let her fight.”
Luna cocked an eyebrow. “What? Just cause she asks you to go straight into danger you let her? Why in the world would… you…” The Nighttime Alicorn could see Celestia biting her lip rather hard. A realization came to Luna. “Let me guess, she asked you while doing that thing to your hooves and wings that you really, really like didn’t she?”
Celestia didn’t look at her sister. She simply nodded in an ashamed manner. “Yeah…”
Luna looked down to the ground, stifling a laugh. “Oh wow… that’s… that’s terrible. That’s just cruel. Maker knows you’ll agree to almost anything if a pony is messing with your hooves and wings the way you like.” Luna smirked deviously. “It’s so terrible, you could consider it mind control honestly…”
Celestia looked at her sister with hate. “Don’t make me slap you Luna…”
The Nighttime Alicorn shrugged, her smirk still playing out on her lips. “For what reason? Just cause you got a kinky wing and hoof fetish doesn’t mean you should physically abuse your little sister.”
Celestia face-hoofed. “Why the hell do I put up with you?”
“Fanservice, obviously.” Luna replied confidently. “Cause let’s face it, when a stallion has wet dreams about his royalty they’re all dreaming of me!”
“Eww.” Celestia stuck out her tongue.” Too much information sister…”
Luna chuckled. “You’re just jealous. Anyway, we’re getting off topic. Now, I know that Chrysalis is supercharged with your love.” Luna took on a sarcastic tone. “Ha ha, funny, I get the irony of the fallen Princess of Love being defeated by a love-stealing Changeling who’s finally found true love. Great plot twist. But I still think that Cadence is too strong for Chrysalis. So what’s your ace in the hole sister?”
Celestia smiled sheepishly. “Oh you know… stuff…”
Luna cocked an eyebrow and pouted her lips. “Is that so? What kind of stuff sister?”
A bead of sweat fell down Celestia’s brow. “Umm… spells and stuff.”
“Any spell in particular?” Luna asked.
Celestia gulped. “Yeah… I gave her the…” The Solar Alicorn mumbled the next part.
“You gave her the what?” Luna asked. Celestia mumbled again. “Sister, what spell did you give Chrysalis?!”
Celestia sighed. “I gave her the soul-splitter spell…”
Everything suddenly got eerily quiet. A strong wind billowed through, moaning heavily and pulling a tumbleweed along with it. Luna stood there, eyes unblinking and face in a frozen state of no emotion as she stared at her sister. The Solar mare gulped. “Umm… Luna? Luna?” She waved a hoof in front of Luna’s face. “Sister? Are you in there?”
Celestia yelped a little a dark sphere of magic enveloped the two Alicorns. Celestia’s eyes darted around as she watched the view of Ponyville degrade into nothing but black. Instinctively, the older sister tapped on the magic. The familiar sound of tapping on large glass filled the sphere. Celestia looked to her sister again.
“This is soundproof isn’t?” Luna nodded, Celestia sighed. “And me without my earplugs, wonderful…”
Caverns Beneath Canterlot
Discord had watched with mild amusement as Cadence and Chrysalis went at with each other. But now things had gotten interesting as Chrysalis had just performed a soul-splitter spell and now had five other copies of herself attacking Cadence.
The Draconequus smiled. “A soul-splitter spell? Now I’ve seen everything. I was almost certain the white bubble-butt had outlawed that spell. Seems like I was wrong.”
The chaotic spirit giggled in delight as four of the Chrysalises rammed Cadence, forcing the mare to the ground. Before the other two could move in to finish the job, however, the scarlet Alicorn had used a chunk of magic to fire off a powerful magical shockwave.
“My, my… How interesting.” Discord mused. “Chrysalis is almost completely out of magic while Cadence seems to be just bursting with it. On the flipside, Cadence physical strength is crap while Chrysalis could win half the events in the Equestrian Games.” The mishmash creature chuckled. “This is turning out so deliciously chaotic isn’t it?”
The cavern shook as Cadence supercharged her hoof and slammed it down on the floor, causing the ground to crack and fall away. The Changelings Queens quickly opened their wings and flew off, avoiding the pitfall into complete blackness. Cadence began firing off bolts of magic at them, trying to get in a hit. The Chrysalises were able to keep a fair distance away from the attacks however.
“I wonder who’ll come out on top? I’m itching with anticipation!” Discord began to scratch himself wildly. As he did so, little black dots fell from his fur and down until they were no longer in sight. “Oh… never mind, it was just fleas.”
The cavern ceiling exploded in smoke and dust as Chrysalis punched Cadence’s head upwards as she fired off a powerful attack. The whole place shook and Discord was positive the ponies of Canterlot were soiling themselves at that moment, fearful of the shaking.
“Hmmm… Still, this is starting to get old. I sure probably do something like… I don’t know… pick a side or whatever.” Discord stroked his goatee. “But I’m not sure getting involved is the right choice. I’ll need a second opinion about this.”
Discord rummaged into his fur and poked around for a bit. Finally finding something, the Draconequus pulled it out, hoping he’d found what he was looking for. He hadn’t, and instead pulled out Shining Armor. The stallion was wet, holding a brush covered in soapsuds, and had a shower cap on.
Instantly, he screeched like a mare. “AAAAAHHH! Discord?! What in the world are you doing?!”
“What am I doing? What are you doing taking a shower in my fur?! That’s very unsanitary!”
“What are you talking about?! I was in the Crystal Palace, taking a shower when suddenly your claw came out of my shower nozzle and dragged me here!”
“Huh… So that’s where that hole goes… Interesting.” The creature pondered this new discovery as he stuffed Shining Armor, yelling because of the rough treatment, back into his fur. Feeling around once more, Discord finally found what he was looking for.
“AH! Here we go!” The Draconequus pulled out a magic eight ball. Discord held the ball close to him. “Oh magic eight ball of power… tell me: what should I do in this current situation between Chrysalis and Cadence?” Discord shook the ball had and waited. Eventually, a bluish triangle appeared in the little circular window at the bottom. It read ‘nothing’.
Discord squinted at the toy. “Your wisdom is great, magic ball… But another opinion must be acquired. One greater than your own.” Discord instantly brought out a plastic conch shell of pale pinkish, maybe purplish, color. Discord inhaled deeply. “Oh Magic Conch! What should I do about this battle between Cadence and Chrysalis?” Discord pulled the string attached to the conch and placed it close to his ear.
Discord floated there in the air for a minute, face plain and unmoving. “THE CONCH HAS SPOKEN!!!!”
The Draconequus instantly sat down on the ceiling upside down, the same blank stare plastered on his face
Ponyville, Outside Luna’s Black Sphere
Radiant Point the unicorn cocked his eyes at the half sphere in front of him. He wanted to know what it was but he didn’t want to touch it.
“So what do you think it is?” Asked his partner, some Pegasus guard he had been paired with.
“I don’t know.” The unicorn guard responded. “I think it’s Princess Luna’s.”
The Pegasus tilted his head. “Is it… Is it vibrating?”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD BE SO FOOLISH AS TO RELINQUISH THE KNOWLEDGE OF THAT SPELL! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND SISTER, THAT SPELL IS A DANGEROUS THING THAT CAN KILL A PONY! DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT IT DOES?! IT SPLITS YOUR SOUL INTO SEVERAL PIECES! THAT CAN KILL THOSE NOT STRONG ENOUGH TIA! THAT IS WHY WE LOCKED IT AWAY AND DID NOT LET ANYPONY KNOW OF IT! HOW CAN YOU BE SO FOOISH?!”
Celestia’s ears rang. Being shouted at with the Royal Canterlot Voice was one thing. Getting yelled at in an airtight, soundproofed environment was a whole new hell in itself. Luna had been shouting like this for a long time, Celestia had lost track. She’d really wished she had brought her earplugs.
“Luna, please calm down, it’s not that bad.”
The Nighttime Alicorn frowned at her sister, red in the face. “Not that bad, not that bad?! Do you remember the last time that spell was allowed to be used?! That was pure madness! I though we disposed of it after that one stupid unicorn enchanted that nearby pond with a modified version of it!”
Celestia smiled sheepishly. “Luna, please, it is alright. Chrysalis knows her limits and will not overuse the spell.”
Luna was not convinced. “I can not believe you kept that spell!”
Celestia waved a hoof at Luna. “Oh please Luna, it’s not like that’s the worst forbidden knowledge that I stored away in my private study…” The Solar Alicorn stopped herself in realization. “Oops…”
“YOU’VE DONE WHAT?!”
Celestia rolled her eyes up and started laughing. “Ahahaha! Right, well, you see Luna, I was gonna tell you but I forgot about it. See, I have a whole treasure trove of forbidden knowledge in my private study that I’ve been collecting ever since you and I took the throne. Isn’t that just hilarious? Ahaha…”
Luna’s eye twitched, her anger vanished due to unbearable amounts of befuddlement. “Why?” She asked pathetically, all her anger transformed into sheer bewilderment. “Why would you have that?”
“For research purposes of course.” Celestia rolled her eyes as if her sister’s concern was foolish. “And just in case we need some forbidden knowledge to use against our enemies. You berate me now, but when we need forbidden knowledge to save the world guess who’ll be laughing? Not you, that’s who!”
“You’re gonna be the death of us…” Luna bemoaned, face-hoofing. “I just know it.”
Celestia patted Luna on the head. “No I won’t. Most of my forbidden knowledge can’t even hurt you or I… well, except for that Alicorn-eating slime potion…”
Luna backed away. “YOU KEPT THAT MONSTROSITY OF A POTION!?”
“For research purposes Luna.” Celestia reminded, folding her front legs together and nodding her head.
“What research purposes?! That thing has only one purpose: to eat Alicorns! What could you possibly gain from that?!”
Celestia rolled her eyes. “That’s exactly why I kept it, to see what I could get out of it.”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this…”
“Let’s just agree to disagree shall we?”
“Have I ever told you I hate you sometimes?”
“Every Monday morning sister.” Celestia responded, wrapping her sister into a hug and gently stroking her mane. “Every Monday morning.”
Ponyville, FOB Medical Tent
Lightning Dust watched with no emotion whatsoever as the white Earth Pony mare gave Rainbow Dash some weird, yellowish liquid in a small cup. Rainbow Dash, lying in bed with several layers of bandages running down her chest, took the liquid and gulped it down quick. The speedster made a quick look of disgust before handing the cup back to the nurse.
“Bleh, tastes awful! Still… I think I already feel some of the pain going away. Thanks Nurse Redheart.”
The Ponyville nurse with the cutie mark of a red cross with a pink heart in each corner smiled. “Oh course Rainbow Dash, think nothing of it. It’s my job after all.” That’s when a soldier entered the tent and motioned to Redheart. “Oh… my apologies, but I have to go and help some other patients.” A quick bow later and the nurse was gone.
“So…” Rainbow Dash started. “That was quite some crazy realistic military exercise huh?”
“What are you…?” Lightning Dust caught herself. She remembered what the Changeling Queen with the orange mane had told her: tell nopony the truth about the attack or face dire consequences. The mare sighed. “Yeah… it was.”
“Geez, I never knew Cadence could pack a punch like that! Still, it wasn’t actually a fight so I’m not worried or anything. And then there’s you Lightning! I never thought I’d see you again!”
Lightning frowned and leaned in. “Look Rainbow, we are not friends, we are not buddies or anything like that. I hate you!” It felt really good to say that to Rainbow's face.
Rainbow blinked at Lightning, tilting her head slightly. “Hate me? Why?”
“You can’t be that dense! You’re the reason I was kicked out of the Wonderbolt Academy! You’re the reason my life is ruined!”
Rainbow Dash hardened her look at Lightning. “No. It’s your fault.”
That sudden statement took Lightning aback. “How dare you accuse me of…”
“No, Lightning, I’m not accusing you, I’m telling you the truth!” Rainbow Dash looked on with defiance, quickly defending herself from this mare’s accusation of her. “I don’t know how your life’s been ruined, but if it is than it’s your fault for not picking yourself back up again after you fell!”
“You think it’s just that easy to…”
“No. I get it. Not everypony can get back up again, for various reasons. But Lightning, you could have! I know you could have, you’re a great flyer! Ponies look for talent like yours! You could have easily picked yourself back up and succeeded like a champ!”
Lightning gritted her teeth. “I wouldn’t need to if you hadn’t…”
“Stopped you from being reckless and potentially hurting somepony?” Rainbow Dash shot back. “Lightning, what if you being a daredevil got somepony killed? Could you have lived with yourself after that?”
Lightning couldn’t answer that… she really couldn’t. As a mercenary, one would expect to do a lot of horrible things for coin. It was different in Equestria, with its overall peace and harmony. The most Lightning Dust and her group had ever done was beat the snot out of opposing noble families in Trottingham as contracts. She’d never actually taken a life.
Lightning Dust wanted to retort, but she couldn’t find a good way to do so. Instead she simply turned away from the mare lying in the bed before her. “Whatever… I don’t have to look at you or be your friend. Just know that… you’ll have no more trouble from me. A life for a life, plain and simple…”
“And it’s not cause of the guard standing right over there?”
Lightning’s eyes shot up to look at the brown Pegasus guard that had escorted her to the tent. He stood erect by the door, though one leg was leaning on his massive crossbow like a crutch. His hoof pawed innocently at the button that replaced the trigger to make it easier for hoofed creatures to use (crossbows being a Griffon invention).
The mercenary snorted. “Maybe… I don’t know.” With those last words, Lightning left the tent, the guard trailing behind. As she left, Lightning felt distraught. Once again, Rainbow Dash had stolen her purpose from her. The merc sighed heavily; she hoped her next driving goal wouldn’t be as fallible as the last.
Carapace shouted orders to the many assembled ponies, trying to get ahold on the situation. Ugh, it’s never this hard with my Changelings… Her leadership of the ponies would come to an end, however, as Celestia and Luna returned from their talks. Geez, took your damn time, it’s been over three hours…
Carapace nodded to the two Alicorns. “Have a nice talk you two?”
Celestia instantly headed for the Changeling. “Oh yes, it was quite nice actually, right Luna?”
The smaller Alicorn looked downtrodden, and her face was in a slightly comedic frown. “Oh yeah… it was great.”
Celestia turned to her Changeling Queen ally. “Carapace, what’s the situation?”
“We’ve rounded up all the mercs and are treating the injured. All in all, I’d say this little incident is over.”
Celestia nodded. “Good. Please escort the mercenaries back to Canterlot for questioning. Gently if you’d be so kind.”
Carapace made a ‘humph’ sound. “No fun… but if you insist.”
Celestia smiled. “Excellent. Now we just need word from Chrysalis and…”
“Princess!” A sky blue Pegasus mare flew right up to the three tall mares. Huffing slightly to catch her breath, the mare saluted. “Ma’am, some of our guards patrolling the caverns underneath Canterlot have found Lady Chrysalis and Princess Cadence!”
Luna nodded. “Good, then let’s see how this thing ends… And so I can forget my conversation with my dear sister.”