“You WILL fail…”
- Robot Unicorn Attack
Ice, ice everywhere... That was the first, and most prominent impression anypony got upon visiting the rugged city of Stalliongrad. It covered everything. Every home, every street, every bridge. Nothing that held still could escape its slow creeping grip. It glistened in the sun like crystal, sparkling in a deceptive beauty that was a constant reminder to the inhabitants of the city of one important thing.
It was cold.
Of course, it was always cold in Stalliongrad. This was the city of blizzards. A place so far north that the winter months were a time of constant twilight. Celestia’s warm sun was so low in the sky that it was almost powerless to provide warmth to the citizens of this foreign city. And only then when it managed to peak through the seemingly endless onslaught of sleet and snow dumped from some of the most frightening storms on the planet. Rumors mentioned that windegos were an ever present threat and that just going outside was considered a hazard to your health. It was enough to scare any pony in their right mind so much as to avoid the city.
Of course, in such hostile conditions, one must ask WHY any pony in their right mind would dare to brave such treacherous conditions.
Many ponies would say it was greed. Greed for the rich mineral and gemstone deposits in the mountains to the north. Otherwise would say it was because it was such a secluded place and that the ponies of Stalliongrad simply didn’t like visitors. What better way to be left alone than to live in a place so openly hostile?
But if you asked any pony that lived there, they’d all tell you the same thing.
‘Stalliongrad makes you STRONG.’
Yes, pride was the driving force behind the ponies of Stalliongrad. Pride drove the first pony that settled in this place to do so because he wanted to prove his mettle. Pride that drove others to join him because they wanted to say to the world ‘we live here because we CAN’, and it was pride that that built an entire city of ponies into what it was today because they wanted to be tough.
Of course, with a little pride, comes a little stubbornness.
The city had been destroyed by blizzards and avalanches no less than five times in the last four hundred years. And every single time, the citizens rebuilt it, learning from their mistakes and coming back stronger than ever. Their weather force was renowned the world over as some of the toughest, most tenacious ponies ever known.
In this place, in this world all their own, it was mistakenly thought by many others that the ponies of Stalliongrad were cold, uncaring machines that reflected the environment they lived in. That the cold made them bitter, barbaric, and crude.
But the truth of the matter was that the ponies of Stalliongrad were some of the friendliest, most open you could ever hope to meet. No matter what your differences, you were as welcome there as anypony else. Because every pony in Stalliongrad knows, the real enemy is the cold, and only by working together could they hold it off.
This sense of camaraderie pervaded the entire city, lurking just below the surface like strong glue. You could feel it in every store, shop and pub in the cheerful singing, and hearty laughter that was the signature hallmark of a pony that grew up there.
A blast of such mirth accompanied the warm glow of lanterns as the door to one of the largest pubs in town swung open. Three large pegasus stallions quickly made their way out into the ever present snow, shutting the door so as to not let any more heat out than they had to.
“You have a good eye as always Manestay,” the largest one chuckled. The stallion was huge by pony standards. His faded brown body covered in rippling muscles.
“I would have never have thought to look here for mares like that.” He continued. “Most fun I’ve had in ages.”
“I was not the one who got them talking,” the smallest of the trio replied. His fur was as white as the snow he was standing in. But his mane was as black as the night sky. “Mikoyan did the grunt work for us.”
“HAH!” the large pegasus laughed. “Don’t go giving Ivan all the credit.”
He reached out with his wing and swatted the currently silent third member of the party on the back.
“If we let it go to his head, we won’t get to talk with any of the ladies while he’s around,” he continued. “I’m starting to think we’ll have to call him the Mare Slayer if he keeps laying it on that thick.”
“You flatter me Ursa,” Mikoyan chuckled. “But if I hadn’t said something, you’d still be staring at them from across the room right now. Honestly, is it that hard for you to talk to the ladies?”
“Hey,” Ursa frowned. “It’s not that I have a hard time talking. I just can’t find the right thing to say. I don’t want to scare anypony. After all-”
Ursa flexed his wings, kicking up a swirl of snow about them.
“This much stallion can be a little intimidating.”
“Hah!” Manestay, the smallest looked off to the side. “Intimidating is right. How many oatmeals did you guzzle down again? I can’t believe you spend most of your pay on food.”
“It’s not easy keeping this physique,” Ursa tucked his wings away again with a frown. “If I slack off for even a day I’ll spend the next three just catching up. “
Mikoyan laughed as they turned a corner.
“Ursa,” he continued. “I think you need not worry too much about catching up. You’re so far ahead there that nopony can even compare-”
Mikoyan quit speaking when he noticed that his larger friend had come to a stop, standing stiff. Likewise, Manestay had also come to a halt.
The reason for this sudden change in attitude was probably because of the intimidating glare of the black pegasus mare in front of them. Upon realizing who it was, even Mikoyan snapped into a rigid posture.
The mare inspected them for a moment in silence, her white mane drawing a sharp contrast with her body as she did so.
“Have you three been hanging out in pubs while on duty again?” she asked after a moment.
The three stallions glanced at each other, and then back to her before they broke into a chorus of ‘Us? Naawww! Not us!’ and various other statements of denial.
The pegasus mare rolled her eyes up and to the side and blew a lock of her mane out of her face as if to say ‘yeah, sure…’
“Well,” she continued again at the protesting ponies. “While you’ve been NOT in pubs, I’ve been looking all over town for you. We’ve got a major storm blowing down out of the mountains and command’s put us on containment duty.”
“Awwww… I HATE containment duty,” Ursa blurted out.
“You hate everything,” Manestay pointed out.
“But I hate containment duty even more,” Ursa reared up and crossed his hooves. He looked absolutely colossal in that posture. “All the zip-zip-zipping around. It’s more Mikoyan’s style than mine.”
“Tupohoove I don’t want to hear it right now,” the mare glared up at the stallion without the slightest flinch. “We’ve got a storm to contain, and you and I both know the storms wait for nopony. So I want you guys on station in ten minutes. Got it?”
“Yes ma’am,” the three stallions chorused.
The dark pegasus mare nodded before quickly turning to take flight.
“TEN MINUTES!” she snapped over her shoulder one last time, and then bolted into the sky.
The three stallions waited patiently until she was out of sight before Manestay cracked a grin.
“I love it when she’s bossy,” he cooed.
Ursa frowned down at the smaller pony, suppressing a retch.
“I don’t understand what you see in her,” Tupohoove shook his head. “Captain Berkut is always so SERIOUS.”
“That’s what I like about her,” Manestay shrugged. “I like a mare who knows her stuff.”
“Eh…” Ursa dropped back down to all fours. “I liked captain Term better. He knew how to have fun.”
“You and I both know the only reason we get away with even HALF the stuff we do these days is because Berkut goes easy on us,” Manestay shot back. “Commander Term would never let us hear the end of it if he’d caught us in a pub while on duty.”
Ursa just turned his head away towards Mikoyan, grumbling.
“She’s so SERIOUS though,” he rumbled.
“She’s new,” Mikoyan shrugged back to his larger friend. “She’ll lighten up in a few more months. Give it time.”
“I still don’t see how she got the position of captain over you,” the larger stallion complained. “You have far more experience than she does. If you wanted, you could take that position easily.”
Mikoyan trotted to a halt, frowning at his larger friend.
“She’s in charge because that’s what command wanted,” the blue-gray stallion chided. “She was the highest scoring student in her class. They want her to get experience quickly so they can put her on the planning board. To do that they have to give her an experienced team. There is no other way.”
Then Mikoyan chuckled as they started walking again, snowflakes starting to fall around them.
“Besides,” he continued. “Could you imagine the look on Antonov’s face if he found out ‘Crazy Ivan’ was in charge of a team?”
All three stallions laughed at that point, picking up the pace.
Three heads snapped over as one. Stalliongrad ponies were not unaccustomed to the sound of a sneeze. Colds after all, were rather common in a subzero climate. But in that city, a sneeze was often equated more to the sound of a snapping icicle for the size and strength of its residents. Yet for some odd reason this new, strange sneeze reminded the trio of a small, exploding cotton ball.
“She’s from Equestria.” Manestay piped up with certainty before the other two had even managed to find the source of the sound.
“Somepony should probably warn her not to stay out too long,” Tupohoove advised as he finally spotted her just up a side street. It was a small, black pegasus with twin stripes of red in her mane. Her dark coat immediately reminded the larger stallion of their recent encounter with their new ‘captain’, causing his mood to sour once again.
“You can do it,” the larger stallion nodded to Mikoyan. “I’m not in the best of moods all of a sudden, and I’d rather not scare the tiny thing.”
“You are never in the best of moods,” Mikoyan frowned up at Ursa.
“Eh,” Mainstay interrupted. “You have a way with the skittish ones anyway. If she’s from home, she’ll probably all nerves from the rumors. Best if you handle it.”
“Why not you?” Mikoyan asked. Mainstay quickly leaned back, holding both hooves in a warding gesture.
“You both know I can’t approach a girl to save my life,” the white pegasus replied. “I’m surprised I don’t have permanent hoofmarks on my face.”
“Bah!” Mikoyan snorted. “You two go on ahead then. I’ll catch up.”
The two stallions nodded and continued on their way down the street. Mikoyan turned, trotting over to the small mare that had the misfortune of catching the local cold.
Upon closer examination, he found that her body was totally unsuited for the weather. Her frame was light, and she looked so lithe that a strong breeze might snap her in two. The look made it seem to the stallion, that her wings might be a few sizes too large but he was certain that just her frame throwing everything out of proportion. Her mane was pushed back, the red stripes in it surprisingly smooth, as if she’d just recently brushed it back neatly.
“Hello,” the blue-gray stallion commented, switching to the Equestrian tongue. “Is being a-“
Mikoyan was cut off by another of her exploding cotton ball sneezes before she stopped and shivered. Strange how Equestrians seemed to take colds a little harder. But then again… Stalliongrad ponies were so used to colds that Mikoyan couldn’t even tell the difference between cracking ice, and hacking coughs. On the whole she seemed… Puny didn’t seem to be the right Equestrian word for it.
“Dorry,” the small pegasus replied after recovering. “I’b a lidda lod.”
Mikoyan did his best to translate, having a hard enough time speaking Equestrian normally. A pony with a runny nose was going to make this a hundred times harder.
“Is being very cold outside,” he continued he previous thought. “You should be going inside where it is being warm. Why is Equestrian pony doing in Stalliongrad?”
The small pony shivered again, glancing around at the ice covered buildings.
“I’b jud here for a liddal bid,” the smaller pegasus replied. Mikoyan thought he managed to translate that correctly. “Do you know where ciddy ‘all id? I cad fid’id.”
Mikoyan frowned and leaned down.
“Mikoyan is having hard time understanding,” he stated as clearly as he could. “Is you being saying you is looking for city hall?”
The Equestrian pegasus nodded emphatically. The action struck Mikoyan as rather cute.
“Yed,” her enthusiasm had jumped. “I god do deliber dubdig,”
Again, the Equestrian was almost incomprehensible to the larger stallion, but her nodding made up for where words failed. Mikoyan raised his head, looking up the street.
“Is being four blocks south of here,” he nodded. “Be turning left at frozen river. Is big huge domed building with statue of pegasus on top. You can’t be missing it.”
Mikoyan frowned. That cold was going to be the death of this little filly yet. From the cherry red of her nose, he guessed she’d been at it a while.
“Here,” he turned and tugged at the large scarf wrapped around his neck. “Is being dangerous to go alone, take this.”
Mikoyan reached out, wrapping the scarf around the Equestrian’s neck noting that her shivering stopped almost immediately thanks to the warmth left in it.
“Are do dor?” she looked at him, confusion written her features. Mikoyan didn’t understand a word she said. But the tone was enough to guess.
“Is being fine,” he smiled warmly. “Mikoyan cannot be wearing scarf while working anyway. Keep it, there are being many like it in Stalliongrad. You must be staying warm.”
The small pegasus blinked silently, then closed her eyes and beamed a smile at him.
No translation required. Mikoyan felt the sudden urge to give the adorable little pony a big hug.
Adorable, that’s the word he was looking for.
“Best being going,” he nodded. “Is big huge storm coming.”
The Equestrian pegasus nodded and quickly turned, heading in the direction he’d indicated was city hall. Mikoyan watched her go, the feeling of having done something really nice for somepony giving him goose bumps.
Then he shivered. The goose bumps were actually goose bumps. Mikoyan realized just how well that scarf worked now that the cold air was nipping at his neck. But he quickly shook it off.
“Adorable,” he commented aloud in Equestrian. A little chill was worth a good deed. Besides, he’d be warm enough in just a few minutes.
Glancing around at the snow flakes, Mikoyan stretched out his wings, then took to the sky, quickly losing sight of the little filly on the ground below. In seconds, he was up to speed and cruising along towards the north. The others were probably already waiting.
It didn’t take long for him, maybe two, three minutes tops. The stallion dropped into formation effortlessly, and almost silently on Berkut’s left. Tupohoove and Manestay were on the right and bringing up the rear respectively.
“You were this close to being late,” the mare glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow.
“Heh,” Mikoyan chuckled. “Close? Close only counts in horseshoes captain.”
“Well you’re lucky you’re so fast,” she smirked back. “I’d hate to have to write the most experienced pony on this team up for being late to formation because he was hanging out in a pub.”
“Lucky me, right?” he grinned back at her. “Today we’ll show you how it’s done.”
“Alright then,” she nodded, looking forward again. “Give me an air show boys.”
“Manestay!” Mikoyan snapped. “Give me some eyes!”
“On it!” the white pegasus replied, immediately climbing away from the formation.
“First storm cloud!” his voice called down a few seconds later. “Stringer nimbostratus! Bearing three four zero at seven thousand feet! Five miles!”
“Carrot Slicer!” Berkut called out.
“Agreed!” Mikoyan replied. Immediately they broke formation. The black pegasus zipping for a section of cloud that was sticking off from a much larger cloud bank. She came in fast and low, pulled up hard, and started looping around over and under the cloud until it curled and broke away.
In the mean time, Mikoyan accelerated and dove head first into the cloud, slashing through it in seconds before ripping out the other side. As he made to come around for another shot at it, Tupohoove flew up to the sectioned off fragment of the cloud and gave it good hearty buck, scattering it.
The trio repeated the routine, with Berkut assisting Ursa in his task until it looked as if someone were chopping a giant white carrot in the sky. The whole routine took less than two minutes.
“Good time!” Berkut called to the team. “Give me eyes Manestay!”
“Cumulonimbus!” the white pegasus called. “Bearing zero three zero, four thousand to twenty thousand! Four miles!”
“Lumberjack!” Mikoyan shouted to Berkut. She paused, glancing at the storm.
“Lumberjack!” she agreed. “Then Carrot Slicer!”
The trio attacked this latest cloud, Berkut circling near the base while Mikoyan tore through the middle just above her. The towering storm cloud quickly started to resemble a tree whose base had recently taken a beating from an ax. Ursa came along at this point higher up and struck the huge cloud in the side. A moment later, the entire stack amazingly began to tip over.
After that, the team quickly repeated the Carrot Slicer on it, reducing the once menacing storm cloud to a few stray puffs.
This routine repeated itself several more times. Manestay would direct them to the next cloud and identify it. Then Mikoyan and Berkut would quickly agree on the best plan of action, and then they would tear it apart. It was a system that seemed to be working, and the team was disassembling the blizzard with frightening ease until Manestay suddenly called out a warning right in the middle of dissecting an altocumulus.
“TRAFFIC ALERT!” he shouted. “Contact, bearing two-niner-seven! Five miles!”
“What?!” Berkut came to a halt from her task. “Nopony else is supposed to be out here!”
“Contact is climbing,” Manestay reported. “Altitude, twelve thousand…. Twelve one… Twelve two… Twelve three… wow. Heading looks to be zero two zero.”
“That’s right into the middle of the storm!” Tupohoove frowned as he coasted up next to Berkut. “We have to stop them. I don’t want to be doing a rescue mission in the mountains today.”
“Agreed,” Berkut nodded. “Mikoyan, can you catch them?”
“As good as caught!” Mikoyan snapped. “Manestay! Keep up as best you can!”
Both pegasi took off in a blur, Mikoyan easily out pacing the smaller white stallion within’ seconds. However he checked his pace since Manestay was the only pony that could see the foal getting ready to go rounds with the meanest storms in nature.
“Contact at our one-O-clock, four miles,” he continued. “Altitude seventeen thousand, five hundred...”
“Seventeen-five?” Mikoyan blinked. “Are you sure?”
“Positive,” Manestay replied. “I’ve never seen a contact climb like this. Eighteen, eighteen one... eighteen two…”
“We’ll have to climb too,” Mikoyan nodded, pitching into a sharp climb and pushing everything into his wings.
The two continued like that for a distance while Manestay counted off altitude. Mikoyan squinted, trying to catch sight of the pony or creature the smaller pegasus was tracking. But his eyes were nowhere near able to pick out what his comrade could see.
“Twenty eight thousand,” Manestay reported once more. “Starting to lose the rate of climb. Go now and you should catch them in time!”
“Going now!” Mikoyan nodded, accelerating.
The stallion quickly outpaced Manestay once more, climbing rapidly up to intercept as fast as he could.
He could see it now, barely. Just a small black outline that looked like a pony with wings in the distance ahead and above. They were somewhere around thirty thousand feet now. The air was so cold Mikoyan couldn’t even tell the difference anymore. But he ignored it, doing his best to catch up to the other pegasus as it leveled off. Most of the storm was below them, with spires of tall cumulonimbus towering up to each side and ahead, thrust up by the air currents passing over the mountains. To fly through this air was to gamble with one’s life. All it would take was one wrong decision, and a pony would never be seen again.
And to Mikoyan’s horror, such a wrong decision happened right before his eyes.
The pony, which seemed to have a rather wide wingspan for a pegasus, suddenly started to drop, turning their level flight into a dive that set them on a course for a bank of clouds below.
“No!” Mikoyan blinked. “That’s a crazy move! Even for me!”
He made for an imaginary point ahead, slightly below the hopeless foal. If he could get there first, he could stop them from making what would certainly be a fatal mistake.
Eyes back on the target, Mikoyan watched as the now slightly triangular pegasus silhouette tucked its wings back, accelerating as it descended. The stallion couldn’t help but be impressed. Guts to the point of foalishness was one thing, but the speed he was already feeling as he turned to match was astounding.
Still, the churning clouds of the storm were just ahead. And flying into the freezing sleet and snow within was suicide.
“STOP!” he shouted as loud as he could. “FOAL! TURN BACK!”
The wind of his flight yanked his voice away, never to be heard again. There was no way the pony ahead would have heard it. Mikoyan’s features fell as he watched the pegasus helplessly. Its wings rose up, curling slightly at the tips in an almost majestic manner, reaching out to scoop at the air. Then they snapped so hard and so fast Mikoyan had to think for a moment if it was really a pegasus he was watching.
The sound a loud crack reached his ears a moment later, and the creature disappeared into the cloud.
Mikoyan leveled out. There was nothing to do at this point. If the pegasus wouldn’t make it, the only job left was going to be rescue. And in this weather, those chances were-
Mikoyan almost lost control when the shock-wave struck. The cloud below and ahead of him tore open like a cheap candy wrapper by the force. A moment later, he spotted something ripping up from it, dragging a trail of cloud remains and precipitation with it as it climbed.
The stallion blinked as he recognized the shape as that which had just vanished. The pegasus he’d been chasing. It continued to climb, forcing Mikoyan to crane his neck in awe as it drew a line higher and higher into the dim starlit sky.
“Sweet Mother Losha,” he gasped, his eyes the size of saucers.
The white streak continued to stretch, climbing far over the clouds of the storm, off into the distance. Beyond a certain point, it was high enough that Mikoyan could see the light of the low hanging sun reflect off it. The leading edge was pulling away so fast that it was nothing like he’d ever se-
Everything went black as something struck the stallion in the face. No sooner did that happen than something tangled up on his left wing. Instantly he knew he was in trouble, his body rolling sideways mercilessly thanks to the obstruction. The stallion struggled to get his hooves on the offending object blinding him, but only succeeded in tangling one of those up too. Things very quickly went from bad to worse as his rolling descent turned into an out of control tumble.
“I got you!” a mare’s voice suddenly snapped.
His fall abruptly halted as hooves caught a hold of him. Then he could feel the leverage as the pony twisted, swinging him up and releasing him. A moment later, a much more firm set of hooves caught him and locked him safely in place.
“You know,” the mare’s voice continued playfully. “I could have sworn you knew better than to bring scarves with you when working.”
Mikoyan fought with his assailant a moment longer, finally managing to yank it off his face to reveal he was firmly cradled in Ursa’s hooves. The object that had struck him was little more than a simple blue scarf. An item of which could end up being a bit dangerous in this line of work for exactly the reason he’d just displayed, and why he never took one with him flying.
Of course, there was no way a scarf could just appear in the sky, and he’d given his scarf to that-
Mikoyan blinked, glancing at the scarf flapping in his hoof, then up at the long trail in the sky above.
“Wow,” Manestay dropped into formation next to Berkut. “I’ve haven’t seen a pony move like that since Rainbow Dash stole the show at the Best Young Flier’s competition in Cloudsdale. I’d say that’s a rate of climb somewhere around six or seven thousand feet a minute.”
“What was that thing anyway?” Berkut nodded into the distance.
“Not thing,” Manestay corrected. “Pony… That was a pony.”
“A PONY?!” Berkut looked aghast. “Don’t pull my tail Manestay. I’m the one who has to write the report.”
“That was a pony,” Manestay affirmed once more. “That scarf came right off him too. And good thing I saw it when it did…”
The white pegasus glanced over at Mikoyan where he sat, hanging from Tupohoove’s arms.
“Well,” the oversized stallion rumbled into the conversation. “If that was a pony, who the heck was it?”
“Horseradish if I know,” Manestay replied. “Only pony I’ve seen go that fast was Rainbow Dash. And that was not Rainbow Dash. I’ve no idea who he is, but he was-“
“Pardon?” Manestay blinked as Mikoyan interrupted him. “What’d you say?”
“She?” Berkut asked. “Mikoyan do you know who that was?”
The stallion looked down at the scarf, turning it over to where he remembered having written his name on it in simple ink. Spotting his name staring back at him, he slowly looked back up at the fading streak in the sky.
“Adorable,” he breathed out the word in Equestrian.
“MIKOYAN!” Rainbow Dash shouted.
The stallion jumped.
“I agree that Fluttershy is probably the most adorable pony around here,” she continued in annoyance. “But you don’t have stand there and get all goofy looking when you say it. I mean seriously, you’re creeping me out here.”
“Oh,” Mikoyan shook his head, rubbing his hoof over his mane in embarrassment. “Mikoyan apologizes. He was being reminded of day he is being meeting Dainty Dish for first time.”
Fluttershy blinked quietly at the stallion she’d never met before, then looked over to Rainbow Dash.
“I guess you two haven’t met yet,” Dash rolled her eyes. “Mikoyan, this is Fluttershy. Fluttershy, meet Mikoyan. He’s not from around here.”
“Oh,” Fluttershy looked. “It’s nice to meet you, you must be from Stalliongrad.”
Rainbow Dash blinked, but Mikoyan spoke first.
“Oh?” he began. “The pleasure is being all mine. And how is pretty yellow pegasus such as yourself being knowing about Mikoyan?”
“Oh,” Fluttershy shrank away, blushing as her voice dropped in volume. “It’s just… I’ve heard rumors about the stallions there.”
“Rumors?” Mikoyan asked. “Tell us about these rumors...”
“Well,” Fluttershy seemed to shrink even more; her voice even more than that. “I heard the stallions are all big, and loud, and very strong… and… and….”
“And handsome?” Mikoyan leaned down, smirking as he put on his best ‘charming stallion’ gaze. Fluttershy meeped out something almost inaudible and nodded her head.
“Oiiii…” Dash slapped her face, then reached out and cranked one of Mikoyan’s wings back and started pulling him down the castle hall. “Come on lover-boy.”
“GAH!” Mikoyan gasped as his wing was bent in a direction it wasn’t designed to go. “Being careful with Mikoyan! He is fragile!”
“Bah!” Dash waved it away. “Quit being such a sissy. You got smashed by a boulder and it didn’t even faze you.”
Fluttershy blinked, her blush fading, and trotted quickly to catch up.
“Wh- What’s going on?” she asked her friend. Dash turned to her for a moment.
“Oh nothing much,” she shrugged. “I’m just heading up to grab my goggles. Then we’re going to go try and catch Dainty Dish on her next pass.”
“What?” Fluttershy asked, pausing. “I’m afraid I don’t understand…”
“Short version,” the multicolored pegasus continued. “Mikoyan here likes Dainty Dish, and he wants to meet her. But he wants to do so by catching up to her to prove himself worthy.”
“Oh!” Fluttershy stopped. “That sounds… hard. And romantic… And dangerous.”
“You bet it is,” Dash smirked. “Crazy stallion here already caught fire and crashed this morning. We’ve been training since then.”
“Could you be letting go of Mikoyan’s wing now?” the aforementioned stallion complained.
“Only if you stop flirting with every pretty mare in sight,” Dash turned to him. “I want your head in the Game.”
“Flirting?” Fluttershy asked.
“His idea of fun,” Dash frowned, then turned to Mikoyan again. “It’s kinda’ distracting though. I’ve been towing this lug all over Canterlot for the last hour trying to keep him from hitting on every mare in sight, and now he’s gone and started flirting with you…”
“Is problem?” Mikoyan asked. “Mikoyan is being telling comrade Dash that flirting was not big serious thing. Just fun.”
Dash cranked the stallion’s wing a little more, making him cringe in pain.
“Yeah,” she began. “Well Fluttershy here is MY comrade, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t flirt with my ‘comrades’ when we’ve got business to attend to.”
“It-“ Fluttershy began. “It’s okay if he wants to flirt… I don’t mind at all.”
“It’s NOT okay,” Dash frowned, dropping Mikoyan.
“If it being that much of a problem for comrade Dash,” Mikoyan shook his head and dragged himself up. “Then Mikoyan understands. He will not being flirting with cute Fluttershy anymore.”
“Good,” Dash nodded. Then she trotted over to a chamber door and pushed it open.
The suite she was sharing with her friends was enormous. Not only had Princess Celestia given them the honor of staring in the pageant the night before, but she’d ensured that their stay was as comfortable as possible. Their room had everything…
There was a fully packed cupboard with only the finest of freshly baked sweets. (‘Was’ being a keyword when dealing with the likes of Pinkie Pie…) They each had their own four-poster bed, complete with cloud pillows straight from Mile High City. (Dash was SO stuffing one into her saddlebag when they went home…) There was even a brand new issue of Wonderbolts Weekly sitting on the bed that hadn’t been there this morning.
When Celestia wanted to show appreciation to somepony, she pulled out all the stops. The only thing missing was a fancy butler with a monocle. (Twilight vetoed that one.)
“Hey Rarity,” Rainbow Dash announced as she noticed her friend relaxing on one of the beds. Then she stopped and made a sour face once she noticed it looked like her friend had dipped her head in a mud puddle. “Ech!”
“Oh, don’t be so judgmental dear,” Rarity frowned blindly from behind a pair of cucumber slices. “You really ought to try it first.”
“But you HATE mud,” the pegasus frowned as she walked past her friend. “Why would you go and WEAR it?”
“This isn’t just MUD,” Rarity replied. “This is some of the finest imported, mineral rich soil anywhere.”
“Whatever,” Dash rolled her eyes, making her way over to her bed. Her goggles were tucked under the pillow. “But why are you in here instead of out there, hobnobbing or whatever it is with all those rich types?”
“Oh I can do that any time dear,” Rarity stretched herself out a bit. “But it’s not every day a lady can get her hooves on some of the most expensive beauty products in Equestria. If the princess wants to lavish us with this kind of hospitality, I plan to take full advantage of it. In fact, I’ve got some left over, would you like to try it?”
Rainbow Dash made a sour face once more, quickly pulling her goggles out and placing them on her head.
“Nah I’m good,” she declined. “Not really interested in that kind of thing.”
“Suit yourself,” the unicorn replied dejectedly.
Rainbow Dash trotted back to the door, stopping to glance back at her friend once, then at Mikoyan, who’d stood there silently the entire time.
Then an idea popped into her head, a wonderfully awful idea.
Grinning mischievously, Dash motioned for the stallion to lean down, and quietly whispered something in his ear.
“What was that?” Rarity turned one of her ears towards them.
“Nothing important,” Dash voiced nonchalantly. As she did so, Mikoyan took silently to the air and floated over to the bed. About that moment, Fluttershy poked her head into the chamber, and started to squeak in surprise before her best friend quickly corked her mouth with a hoof, indicating a ‘shush’ motion with the other.
Once she had done so, Dash quickly floated into the air over next to Mikoyan, who was now hovering directly above the white Unicorn.
“Actually on second thought,” Dash continued, glancing around for a moment. “Maybe it IS a little important.”
“Oh?” Rarity asked.
“Well,” Dash continued with a smirk. “I think I might need a bit of a makeover after dealing with that storm this morning. It’s kinda’ messed my mane up.”
“That normally doesn’t bother you that much,” Rarity quipped. “Or was it just that bad out there?”
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Dash suppressed a giggle.
“Really?” Rarity replied in curiosity. “Do tell. You didn’t get frost bite did you? Oh! Dealing with missing patches would be SUCH a pain.”
At the door, Fluttershy’s eyes shot wide as she started to understand what was going on, and quickly covered her mouth with both hooves.
“You… might have to see this one for yourself,” Rainbow Dash smirked. “It’s pretty horrible.”
“Oh, must I right this second?” Rarity asked.
“You wouldn’t want me going back out there looking like a train wreck now would you?” Dash asked.
Rarity sighed for a moment, then sat up.
“Fair enough,” she began, lifting a cucumber slice off one eye. “Let’s see what’s so terrib-“
Dash’s fur color had faded, her mane was dark blue, she had a square jaw, and it was covered in a stubble of gray-black fur.
“Hello, pretty pony,” Mikoyan managed in the huskiest tone he could muster.
Somehow, the other cucumber slice popped right off her face, bouncing and rolling on the ground until it settled like a penny.
Rarity bolted backwards, using magic to throw the blanket up at Mikoyan.
“WHO LET A STALLION IN HERE?!” She yelped. “I can’t let a stallion see me like this! I’m not presentable! DASH! Did you let him in? Why’d you let him in? GET OUT!”
The unicorn backpedaled a bit too far and ran into one of the posts that held the canopy over the bed. It immediately crashed down on Mikoyan, who was already fighting with the blanket thrown over him. Together the whole mess came crashing down on Rarity, burying her in tumbling bedsheets.
Rainbow Dash just began to laugh from a hiding spot she’d shot over to a moment before.
“It’s not funny!” Rarity’s voice came muffled from other the sheets. “Now get this, this… RUFFIAN off me!”
“Oh but it’s hilarious!” Dash laughed back. “Right Fluttershy?”
“Oh- uh… Me?” the yellow pegasus glanced between the rolling bedsheets and her grinning friend. “Well-”
“That ya’ll’s voice I hear up here ArrDee?”
Fluttershy was saved from having to answer by the sound of Applejack coming up the hall. “Have you seen Twilight lately? I saw her a whiles ago and she looked a might bit…”
The orange earth pony trotted into the room.
“Unhinged.” She finished. “You knowin’ what’s been eatin’ her today?”
Then she took notice of the tumbling blankets and sheets that had once been Rarity’s bed as said unicorn levitated the whole mess up and tossed it aside.
“Sweet sarsaparilla!” AJ snapped in surprise. “Rarity! I dinna’ know ye’ had it in ya’! Sneakin’ a stallion up here all for y’self…”
“WHAT?” Rarity froze in place. Her mud mask now smeared everywhere and making her an awful mess. The sudden silence was so awkward one could even hear Fluttershy blushing.
Rainbow Dash observed the looks on everypony’s faces. Fluttershy was pink as her mane, Rarity looked like she could die at any moment, and AJ…? Well, AJ’s look was ‘scandalous’ as Rarity would probably describe it.
That did it.
Rainbow Dash fell right out of the air, laughing so hard she had to fight to suck in a breath between dizzy spells.
“Er… Did I miss something?” Applejack asked. One glance at the group told her she’d misread the whole situation.
“UGH!” Rarity snapped as she recovered her dignity, wiping the smeared mud with a hoof. “Rainbow Dash, that was NOT funny! Scaring me with a stallion like that was in horrible taste!”
“Oh lighten up,” Dash wiped a tear from her eye. “He never even touched you.”
“Just the same,” Rarity hovered a towel off the floor and began dejectedly cleaning herself up. “That wasn’t funny. Now you’ve gone and made me waste a most terribly expensive mud mask.”
“Weren’t you just going on about how the princess gave it to us for free?” Rainbow smirked.
“That’s not the point!” Rarity snapped, lowering her towel. “That mask was a gift from the princess. To waste it like that shows the utmost disrespect for her generosity.”
“It’s just mud,” Dash sighed. “Honestly…”
“It’s NOT-“ Rarity began, then stopped herself and took a deep breath. “Never mind. We obviously won’t see eye to eye on this, and what’s done is done.”
With practiced ease, Rarity turned to her tossed sheets, using her levitation to quickly and efficiently fold them up and deposit them in the dirty laundry basket by the door.
“So,” she continued with somewhat forced control. “Who’s this new friend of yours?”
“Eh, just Mikoyan,” the rainbow pegasus shrugged. “He’s from Stalliongrad.”
“Meek-oy-ahn?” Applejack interrupted, brow furrowing in confusion. “Come now, why is it every foreign pony has to have the most confusin’ soundin’ names I ever heard?”
“Would you prefer to be calling Mikoyan ‘Miki’ instead?” the stallion smirked.
“Tarnation?” AJ cocked her head to the side. “Cain’t you just pick a normal, pony-like name? Something sensible, like snow-fox, or something. Your cutie mark looks like a fox made of snow after all.”
Mikoyan blinked in shock.
“What is being unpony-like about Mikoyan’s name?” he asked, trotting forward. “Mikoyan Ivanovich Gustaav is being thirty-one generations old! Is proud, STRONG name. Like he is being…”
“The part where I have to try and pronounce that mess,” Applejack snapped in irritation. “I’d like to TALK to you, not practice tongue twisters every time we meet. Is it too much to ask?”
Mikoyan looked genuinely offended at that.
“Dear,” Rarity broke in. “Let’s not go overboard. Rainbow Dash already tried to cause an incident once. Let’s not offend him needlessly. He IS from Stalliongrad, and that’s just how their names are over there.”
AJ closed her eyes and heaved a sigh.
“I know, I know… I’m sorry.” she exhaled. “I dun’ mean to… It just gets my heckles in a raise when somepony starts talkin’ in words I cain’t even pronounce.”
“Heheh,” Mikoyan’s expression had recovered as he chuckled. “Mikoyan is being understanding what pony means. So perhaps feeling is being mutual.”
Then he paused, glancing AJ up and down for a moment before asking a question.
“What is being your name?”
AJ closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.
“I guess it’s only fair,” she sighed, then looked up. “Name’s Applejack, sugarcube.”
“Hmmm…” Mikoyan nodded. “Applejack Sugarcube.”
“No,” she quickly cut in. “It’s just Applejack.”
“Just Applejack,” Mikoyan blinked back.
“No it’s still not right…”
“Still Not Right?” Mikoyan asked. “But you is being saying it is Just Applejack.”
“NO!” AJ snapped. “That ain’t it neither. It’s Applejack only!”
“Applejack Only?” Mikoyan tapped his head with his hoof. “Mikoyan is getting terrible confused.”
“NO! NO! NO!” AJ snapped, her irritation growing.
“Oh boy,” Rainbow Dash sighed as she let her head drop. Then she turned to glance at Rarity. The white unicorn glanced at the quickly escalating confusion and simply shrugged in response.
“You just ain’t getting’ it are you?” Applejack’s voice had climbed in volume considerably. “What part of this here sentence don’t you understand? My name is APPLEJACK. Jus’ that one word! No other parts!”
Mikoyan sat and thought about it for several seconds before continuing.
“So name is being Applejack?” he asked.
“Yes,” AJ replied.
“Nothing else?” Mikoyan continued.
“Nothing, else,” AJ nodded slowly, unsure for a moment.
“Mikoyan understands,” the stallion stood up straight and nodded. “Your name is Applejack.”
Applejack physically relaxed.
“Phew,” she sighed. “I think ya’ finally done got it.”
“Perhaps,” Mikoyan replied. “But I is still having one question…”
“And what would that be?” the farm pony went from relaxed right to slumped.
Mikoyan trotted up to her, towering over the smaller pony before leaning down and letting a sly grin cross is features. The stallion then leaned down to almost whisper in the farm pony’s ear.
“Is it being true Applejack really tasting like apple?”
The room went deathly quiet. For a few seconds, AJ just stared, thunderstruck. The only thing indicating she hadn’t shut down completely came from one of her ears as it twitched.
Fluttershy dove under the nearest blanket she could find.
A second later, Mikoyan’s body took one of the doors to the suite right off its hinges.
“WHAT THE THUNDERATION’S THE MATTER WITH YA?!” Applejack advanced on the senseless stallion with a tone that could have made even Celestia hesitate. “YER LUCKY IT’S HEARTH’S WARMING DAY, OR I’D BE TEMPTED TO GIVE YOU A RIGHT GOOD WHIPPIN RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT! DON’T YOU NEVER TALK LIKE THAT TO ME EVER AGAIN! OR NEXT TIME I’LL BUCK YER SORRY FLANK CLEAR INTER’ NEXT YEAR! IT’S NO WONDER TWILIGHT’S IN SUCH A STATE! I’M THINKIN’ SHE MUSTA’ MET YOU AND YOUR NASTY MOUTH AT SOME POINT!”
“Whoa!” Dash gaped as her friend verbally tore into Mikoyan. “What just-?”
“-IF MAH GRANNY SMITH HEARD WHAT YOU JUST SAID, SHE’D-“
“I think we’ve effectively found a social button labeled DO NOT PRESS,” Rarity gawked. “I’ve never seen her go off like that before… Usually she’s so… So…”
“Tolerant?” Rainbow Dash provided.
“I was going to say casual,” Rarity scrunched her brow. “But that works too.”
“OKAY!” Rainbow Dash swept forward and landed between AJ and Mikoyan. “Chill out Applejack! He didn’t mean anything.”
“Did ya’ not hear what that varmint said ta me?!” Applejack spat. “I may not be the most formal pony in Equestria, but there are some things ya’ jus’ don’t go sayin’ to a girl no matter how rough and tumble she may be!”
“Relax,” Dash flared her wings to try and block Applejack’s vision as the farm pony did her best to continue her verbal assault around her friend. “He didn’t mean it like that! He was just trying to flirt! That’s all!”
“Flirtin?!” AJ finally tore her glare away from Mikoyan. “Ya’ call that kinda’ trash talk FLIRTIN?”
“Yes- I mean NO! I mean-“ Dash stopped and frowned as her friend continued to glare daggers.
“Look,” the pegasus continued after taking a moment to think. “Relax, he’s not like that. He just likes to have fun with it.”
“Fun huh?” AJ growled.
“Okay poor choice of words,” Rainbow Dash reached up and rubbed the back of her head. “Look, my bad. I should have warned you that he’s a bit of a shameless flirt. It’s just kinda’ his thing really.”
“Really?” Applejack deadpanned.
“Really,” Dash nodded. “You should have seen him and Princess Celestia team up on Princess Luna. They were taking shots at each other until her face matched Fluttershy’s mane.”
Applejack paused, her eyes growing slightly larger.
“He was flirtin’ with the princess?” she asked incredulously.
“And she was flirtin’ right back?” AJ continued.
“Shamelessly,” Dash confirmed. “I’ve never SEEN Celestia act like that. I mean, he called her the Prank Master.”
Dash frowned for a moment.
“I thought ‘I’ was the Prank Master…”
Applejack’s face scrunched up as she glanced at the stallion half-buried by the door. He hadn’t moved since he’d landed and honestly it looked like he was out cold. AJ turned back to Rainbow Dash, a worried frown marking her features.
“Ya’ don’t think I overdid it then, do you?” she asked.
Rainbow Dash just looked over her shoulder for about half a second.
“Nah,” she waved it off. “He’s fine.”
Absently, Dash reached out with her back leg and nudged the stallion in the side.
“Get up thirty-one. You’re not hurt.”
One of Mikoyan’s eyes snapped open, betraying his level of alertness with the way it glanced around the room and focused on the two mares.
“Is no fooling Comrade Dash,” he began curiously. “Is there?”
“Not after what I just put you through,” Dash rolled her eyes. “Like one of Applejack’s bucks even comes close to Princess Luna hurling a rock at you at the speed of sound.”
Mikoyan stood up, the large door tossed aside as if it were made of paper.
“This is being true,” he nodded in agreement. “Puny kick is not being match for bighuge power behind giant rock.”
“Puny?” AJ twitched again.
“YEEEEEAH,” Dash increased her volume before that last exchange could go anywhere. “You get used to that too. His Equestrian’s not exactly hot stuff.”
Rainbow Dash then jabbed the stallion in the side as he walked up.
“Like what Twilight told you about ‘puny’ ponies, right?”
“Oh!” Mikoyan realized. “Of course. Mikoyan is forgetting about de-rog-ah-tree word. Is very sorry to Applejack for using it.”
“Eh,” AJ still looked a bit unsure. “I guess it’s alright. If ya’ really didn’t mean nothin’ by it. No harm no foul.”
“What is bird having to do with conversation?” Mikoyan asked curiously. Applejack raised an eyebrow, then turned to Dash.
“I think I understand,” she nodded. Rainbow Dash just rolled her eyes.
“Ah forgive ya’ THIS time,” AJ continued at Mikoyan. “But lemme warn ya’ right now. Don’t go flirtin’ like that with me. “Wise I might just start gettin’ crazy ideas ‘bout takin you home with me an’ puttin’ ya to work buckin’ apples. Big Macintosh would probably like havin’ another stallion to chat with.”
“Heh,” Mikoyan scoffed, then quickly covered his mouth. Applejack narrowed her eyes.
“What,” she glared. “Is so funny?”
“Is nothing,” Mikoyan lied.
“Bull-hockey it’s nothin’,” the farm pony glared. “Out with it! Tell me what you think is so gosh darned funny about buckin’ apples for the resta’ yer life.”
“Is nothing big,” Mikoyan again tried to suppress a laugh. “Is just that Mikoyan would probably be enjoying easy work on farm.”
“Easy?” Applejack twitched again.
“Hoboy…” Rainbow Dash slapped her face.
“Easy?” Applejack advanced, a deadly glint in her eye. “Now lemme get this straight. You think farm work is easy? Are you callin’ me lazy? Are you sayin’ I don’t work hard?”
Mikoyan took a step back, shifting his gaze to Dash uncertainly.
“Mikoyan is confused-” he began.
“We both know darn well you ain’t confused,” AJ snapped, getting in his face. “So don’t try it. Now answer the question truthful like. Do you think I don’t work hard?”
“No!” Mikoyan snapped. For once, Dash noted, he was starting to look genuinely nervous.
“But you just called mah’ work EASY,” Applejack glared. “If ya’ think my work is easy, then you must think I’m not workin’ hard.”
“No!” Mikoyan took another step back. The farm pony just followed him, refusing to allow the stallion retreat.
“But you just said-“
“Applejack,” Rarity’s voice firmly grabbed everyone’s attention. “Dear? Stop.”
“But ya’ heard how he insulted mah’ work,” Applejack glared. “I do NOT appreciate that kinda’ disrespect.”
“Well you ASKED for it if I recall,” Rarity pointed out as she carefully walked between her friend and the nearly cornered stallion. “Besides… He’s from Stalliongrad.”
“Well what’s that gotta do with-?” AJ was interrupted before she could get very far.
“IF,” Rarity raised her tone to indicate she wasn’t quite finished. “What I’ve heard about the place is true, the conditions there are simply DREADFUL. Compared to the mess he probably has to deal with… Why, Sweet Apple Acres would be a vacation!”
“Is true,” Mikoyan stated solemnly. “Bighuge winter storms are being no laughing matter. There is always being risk of getting lost and being dying of cold. Compared to that, farm work is foals play.”
“There,” Rarity raised her head deceisively. “See? I doubt you have to worry about dying on a daily basis bucking apples. So let’s not go around taking offense to everything he says. Now, I understand how you feel. After all, he’s a bit crude… But honestly, you don’t have to go getting angry at him just to hide the fact that you obviously have the hots for him.”
Applejack closed her eyes, sighing.
“Yeah,” she began. “I guess you’re-“
Then the farm pony snapped them open wide.
“What?” she turned a terrified look at Rarity. “Did you- I do NOT have the HOTS, as you put it, for him! Have you even been listening…”
Applejack halted at the absolutely smug grin on Rarity’s face. After a few bewildered seconds, in which Rainbow Dash managed to choke back a laugh, the farm pony’s face slowly began to melt into a sly look of understanding
“Oh,” Applejack deadpanned. “Oh ah see where yer’ goin with this. Yer’ gonna play dirty… Aren’tcha?”
“One shouldn’t start what they are ill prepared to finish,” Rarity stated haughtily. “And turnabout IS fair play after all.”
“Ah’ll be sure ta’ remember that next time Applejack replied warningly.
“You do that then,” Rarity brushed the conversation aside. “Now…”
The unicorn turned to Mikoyan and Rainbow Dash.
“Putting aside needing to plot my revenge for earlier,” she addressed her friend. “Perhaps you can tell us WHY you’re dragging this stallion up here in the first place.”
Rainbow Dash blanked for a moment before stomping a hoof.
“Oh yeah!” she snapped. “I was just up here to grab my goggles. Then we’re going to meet Princess Luna.”
“Princess Luna?” Applejack blinked. “What? Why?”
“Long story,” Dash sighed. “But short version is lover boy here-“
Dash jabbed Mikoyan again.
“-has his sights set on a certain pegasus you might remember named Dainty Dish.”
“Dainty Dish?” Applejack glanced rapidly between Mikoyan, who was actually blushing a little bit all of a sudden, and Rainbow Dash. “Little fragile Dainty Dish, and this huge lummox? Yer’ kiddin!”
“Fraid not,” Rainbow Dash shrugged. “He tried to catch up with her this morning… That didn’t go very well.”
“Dear,” Rarity began. “Define ‘didn’t go very well’ for me if you would.”
“He caught fire, plummeted eighty thousand feet, and smashed into a snow bank on the side of the mountain.” Dash stated in a near flat monotone.
“He done WHAT?” AJ blinked in shock. “An’ he’s still ALIVE?!”
“Yeah I thought he was done for too,” Dash laughed.
“What’s he doin’ chasing her like that?” Applejack continued. “That kinda’ suicide stunt’s not something I would expect from anypony looking to earn the affections of a mare.”
“Is challenge,” Mikoyan explained. “Mikoyan must prove his worth to beautiful pony. If pony is fast, Mikoyan must be fast too. Is being best way to express how he feels.”
There was a brief, pregnant pause. Applejack seemed to mull on what she’d just been told for several seconds as she shifted her gaze between Dash and the larger pegasus stallion next to her. Finally, she found a voice for her thoughts.
“I reckon yer’ plum nuts,” she stated frankly.
Then she turned to Dash.
“Both of you,” she continued. “And I don’t have any idea why Dainty would give a maniac like him-“
AJ pointed at Mikoyan.
“-the time’a day. ‘Specially when he does nothin’ but hit on every pretty mare in sight. Were that me, I’d not give ‘im even second thought. In fact, I’d likely buck him through a few wall jus’ on principle alone.”
“Applejack,” Rarity frowned. “Isn’t that a bit harsh?”
“I’m sorry,” AJ, turned. “But tha’s the honest truth. I just don’t approve. He smells like trouble to me, an’ little Dainty’s too fragile to be strung along by some overly-macho blowhard who’s prob’ly gonna’ get his flank killed.”
Mikoyan took a step back as if an arrow had slammed into his chest. Applejack just leveled a neutral glare at him before she began to trot from the room.
“Now,” she stated over her shoulder. “I done said my piece. Beyond that, ‘tain’t no business a’ mine to be meddlin’ his affairs. Not today of all days anyhow.”
And she was gone.
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes after Applejack’s retreating form, unable to find the right words to fire back at her friend’s cold attitude.
“Well I for one think it’s cute,” Rarity pouted into the silence as she turned to Mikoyan. “I know I’d practically kill for a stallion that showed as much chivalry towards the mare of his dreams as your story suggests.”
“So who has the hots for whom now?” Dash let a smirk touch the corners of her mouth.
If the barb had fazed her, Rarity didn’t show it.
“I’m just keeping my options open,” the Fashion designer commented idly. “After what happened at last year’s Gala, I’ve found that chivalry is a bit harder to find in the nobility than I first thought.”
Then she smiled and fluttered her eyes at the larger pegasus.
“If nobility doesn’t work,” she continued. “There’s always exotic…”
Rainbow Dash glanced between Rarity and Mikoyan, finding the sudden change in her friend’s attitude just the slightest bit annoying.
“Yeah,” she commented. “Sure… But isn’t he a bit ‘crude’, as you put it?”
“Oh that can be worked on easily darling,” Rarity turned to Dash with a lecturing tone in her voice. “Manners and culture can be taught. Nobility on the other hand is part blood, part connections. And while he’s not nobility by blood, he DOES have the princess’ favor if she’s going have an open flirt war with him like you said.”
“Why is Mikoyan getting feeling he is being compared to trophy all of sudden?” the stallion asked.
“You don’t want to know,” Dash rolled her eyes. Rarity to just shot her friend a scathing look.
All three of them jumped in place. The sound was like a crack of thunder that echoed through the chamber, causing everypony to cringe. Fluttershy, who was only just starting to emerge from the blankets she’d been hiding under, immediately retreated again.
“WHERE ART THOU?!”
“Oh blast!” Dash turned as Rarity winced under the sonic assault. “We’re late!”
“HEED OUR VOICE!” the thundering sound continued. “SHOW THYSELF!”
Some of the windows in the room visibly rattled, and the chandelier above them started to swing threateningly.
“I better flag her down before she breaks half the windows in Canterlot,” RD worriedly began. Then with a quick burst from her wings, she jetted over to the balcony doors and threw them open.
The cold air burst into the room, causing Rarity to shiver slightly while her friend started frantically shouting and waving into the sky.
After a moment, Rainbow Dash stopped, then quickly backed away from the balcony as the strangest sounding whistle reverberated through the room.
A moment later, the sound was punctuated by a heavy ‘thud’ that shook the castle right to its foundations when Princess Luna slammed into the balcony with the force of a large boulder.
“Whoa!” Rarity jumped back a step, then quickly composed herself when Mikoyan gave her a sly look.
“That was fun!” a younger voice crowed. It belonged to the motley colored coat of the colt currently perched precariously on her back.
“Thou taketh to the skies quite well for an earth pony,” the princess commended the young one. “Our landing would have shaken Discord himself, yet thou hath proven unshakable even with a ride such as thus.”
“But of course!” the young colt snapped in a chirpy tone. “It takes more than a few bumps to shake me off!”
Rainbow Dash smirked at the exchange as the young motley-toned colt hopped off Luna’s back. He looked vaguely familiar with the eye patch and the red bandanna hat. However she was having a bit of a time placing a name with the face.
“Who’s the shrimp?” she asked.
Luna remained cryptically silent, letting her eyes drift down for a moment as the colt took a moment to catch up with the conversation, then he quickly reached around and yanked a small wooden sword out with his teeth, brandishing it in the air for dramatic effect.
“I am known as Captain Pips!” he managed to orate clearly around the wooden handle. “Dread Pirate of the Equestrian skies! Scourge of Cloudsdale! And Hero of Canterlot!”
Dash snorted and failed to hide her laugh.
“How’s a pirate manage to be a hero?” she asked through her mirth. “Aren’t they bad guys by default?”
“No,” Pipsqueak frowned, lowering his sword. “Only MEAN pirates are bad guys… I’m a GOOD pirate!”
“Oh really?” Rarity trotted up. “So you’re saying that you’re actually the dashing swashbuckler type, not of those nasty, black-hearted, scurvy diamond dogs of the seven seas?”
“That’s right!” Pip announced. “But it’s the skies, not the seas.”
Rarity gave both the princess and Pipsqueak a blank look.
“Air-Pirates,” Rainbow Dash shrugged next to her. “Probably got it from Daring Do and the Wrath of Captain Karnage. It’s more a pegasus thing otherwise.”
“Yep!” the little splotched earth pony continued. “And this is my first mate, Midnight Wing-Luna! She was once known as the evil, dread pirate princess ‘Nightmare Moon’, but I defeated her in an epic snowball duel and she became part of my crew after I spared her a frosty fate.”
At that spiel, even Rainbow Dash paused to give Princess Luna a confused look.
“Dread pirate princess?” she asked.
Princess Luna kept her gaze cool and even despite the almost blissful smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
“Now that she’s a good guy,” Pip continued oblivious to the sly look Dash was giving the princess. “We fly the seven skies in search of treasure, fighting evil pirates, and saying ‘YAR!’ a lot!”
“YAR!” Luna snapped with a growl at the end punctuated by her vocal powers. The entire chamber rattled in response. “Tis all true. We were once known as the dread Nightmare Moon, but the dashing pirate Captain Pips saved us from ourselves. We owe him everything for showing us mercy, and will follow him to the ends of Equestria.”
Dash hooded her eyes for a moment, then leaned down to Pipsqueak.
“So,” she began. “What about the Elements of Harmony, huh? Wasn’t it their awesome magical powers that weakened her enough for you to fight?”
For just a moment, Luna’s smile faltered as she allowed herself the time to roll her eyes.
“Well,” Pip drew out while he sat there thinking about it. “The Elements DID weaken her… But only a truly dashing hero has what it takes to reform somepony of pure evil...”
“Bah!” Dash stood up. “Just like a pirate to steal all the credit.”
“We can do that?” the colt's eyes got large.
“Of course you can dear,” Rarity interrupted. “After all, you wouldn’t be a pirate if you didn’t steal something. If you’re going to steal anything, might as well be that.”
“Hmmm…” the earth pony furrowed his brow in thought. As a consequence, the eye patch folded slightly, revealing just how flimsy the costume really was.
“Now,” Rarity continued. “I believe there’s a treasure chest in here somewhere. If you can find it, you should be able to add a few precious gems to your collection.”
Pipsqueak froze, his eyes somehow managing to grow wider than the already impossible size they had become.
“AVAST!” he shouted. “Thar be treasure in this here…”
He paused to look around, eventually drifting to Luna for ideas.
“Cave?” the princess suggested, noting the ‘cavernous’ shape of the room.
“CAVE!” the foal shouted, then raised his wooden sword up. “And where there’s treasure, there’s Captain Pips! Drop the anchor Midnight Wing! We go a treasure huntin'!”
“PERHAPS!” Rarity was rather loud, and quick on the draw. “Perhaps it would be wise to have your first mate guard the entrance?”
Pipsqueak stopped, casting a curious glance at the four assembled adults.
“Just in case an evil pirate attacks,” Dash caught on rather quick. “Like Karnage...”
The young colt’s eyes brightened.
“Of course!” he nodded. “Stay here and guard the entrance Midnight Wing!”
At that, he leapt into the room.
“I’ll find the treasure!”
While Pipsqueak began systematically scouring the room for a ‘treasure chest’, the others turned their gaze back to princess Luna, who was tracking the colt with her eyes, a barely contained smile of pure happiness on her face.
“Right,” Dash noted at something unsaid. “You’re having WAY too much fun right now.”
Luna’s soft expression solidified as she brought her eyes down to the group in front of her.
“Apologies on my distraction,” she nodded towards the colt all but ransacking the room. “But like I said this morning, I did promise him, and I’ve been waiting for this day for weeks.”
“Eh,” Dash waved it aside. “Foals will be foals, no big deal.”
“Indeed,” Luna smiled pleasantly once more. Then her gaze snapped to Rarity with an almost calculating look.
“And may I ask whom this newcomer is?” she continued.
“Oh this is Rarity,” Dash nodded to the fashion designer. “You know her.”
“Ah yes,” Luna nodded. “The Element of Generosity if I remember correctly.”
Luna then raised her hoof as if to offer a shake.
“Charmed,” she stated in a friendly tone. “It is nice to meet you in the flesh, and on less hostile terms than last time.”
“A pleasure of course,” Rarity performed a slight bow, and then to everypony else’s surprise, gently took the offered hoof and kissed the top of Luna’s sparkling blue slipper. Luna's eyes widened for a second before a soft chuckle escaped her.
“And here I thought everypony forgot how that worked,” she shook her head.
“Well,” Rarity released the princess’ hoof and raised her head. “I may not be as well read as Twilight, but I’ve learned a thing or two about classical etiquette. It’s a shame we’ve lost some of the more elegant traditions over the years.”
“Indeed,” Luna nodded. “It seems the Traditional Royal Canterlot dialect and voice were some of those casualties. 'Tis a really hard habit to break.”
“So I see,” the white unicorn nodded. “That explains the whole ‘we’ thing a minute ago. I think Twilight said something about that being dropped, what? Four hundred years ago?”
“Seven hundred,” Luna corrected. “Sister never really liked the idea of lording herself over other ponies. But then again, getting attention was never hard for her.”
“So I’ve heard,” Rarity nodded solemnly. “I bet that whole mess was just dreadful.”
“Very much so,” Luna affirmed, her voice growing just a touch curt. “But we’re past that now, thanks to you and your friends.”
“You slipped,” Rarity teased.
“Hard habit to break,” Luna shrugged with a smile.
The two shared a momentary laugh before Rarity continued.
“I just have one quick question,” she began. “About ‘Last Time’, if you don’t find it too imposing.”
“Ask away,” Luna shrugged again.
“Well when we…” Rarity began, trying to find words that held the right kind of tact. “When we ‘cleansed’ you, I seem to recall you not being so…”
Rarity looked at the princess, or rather, looked UP at the princess, biting her lip to try and find the most subtle way to finish her question without accidentally insulting her. Luna furrowed her brow for a moment, but then her smile returned when it clicked.
“Oh,” she smirked. “If you’re referring to my form…”
Luna gestured to herself.
“There’s a lengthy explanation for that,” she continued. “However, it would bore to death any pony who is not Twilight Sparkle. So I’ll just mention that after being ‘cleansed’ as you put it, my magic had been all but depleted for some time. Since my body and my abilities are so strongly linked, my body took a form accustom to the low amount of power I had at the time.”
“I understand,” Rarity nodded.
“Now I must impose,” Luna continued. “I made a visit to Ponyville back on Nightmare Night. I met just about everypony, but I don’t recall seeing you at the festivities.”
“Oh me?” Rarity laughed. “I got so wrapped up in a costume design that I never managed to get out of the Boutique.”
“Sweetie Belle!” Rarity snarled from inside the box she was stuck in. “When I agreed to dress up as a great pharaoh queen… I DIDN’T MEAN A MUMMY! LET ME OUT THIS INSTANT!”
Rarity reached up with a hoof and flicked it through her mane.
“Which was probably a good thing. All those tacky costumes would have probably caused me to throw a fit. I heard the mayor had THE most atrocious wig.”
Luna smirked for a moment as she recalled her first attempt to greet the citizens of the town, and the less than satisfactory introduction to the town’s mayor.
“It was an Afro clown wig,” she mused. Rarity mimed a gag motion. “If I hadn’t been so frustrated just trying to get everypony to relax, I would have laughed.”
“You had it that bad huh?” Rarity asked.
“It was rough early on” the princess admitted. “But Twilight was willing to give me the push needed to stick to it, and it turned out to be an enjoyable celebration in the end. Even if it DOES make fun of my… Episode.”
“If you can’t laugh at your own mistakes,” Rarity recited. “You can never learn to let them go and move on to greater things.”
“Starswirl, the Bearded,” Luna jumped in. “Actually, he said that to my sister when we were young… After a particularly embarrassing blunder handling the sun in front of a large crowd.”
“Is that who said that?” Rarity blinked. “I would have never guessed.”
“Yes,” Luna nodded. “If you want get her back for anything, you need merely mention the second summer sun celebration one thousand, three hundred and fifty seven years ago. As far as I can tell, it still bothers her.”
Rarity nodded mischievously.
“Just remember to DUCK afterwords,” Luna added. Rarity instantly frowned.
“Ugh… YAWN,” Rainbow Dash suddenly cut in. “Hate to sound bored out of my mind, but if we could wrap up this trip to dulls-ville any time soon, I’ve got a stallion here who needs to catch a flight.”
“Rainbow Dash,” Rarity turned to her friend flabbergasted. “This is PRINCESS LUNA you’re talking about. Show some respect!”
“It’s okay,” Luna smirked almost mischievously. “I’ve already become accustom to Rainbow Dash’s rather... enthusiastic behavior.”
“Yeah, and I still owe you for the lightning bolt on Nightmare Night,” Dash absentmindedly rubbed her flank with a wing. “That was a good one, but I usually stay hooves-off with that sorta’ thing.”
“Whenever you feel you have it in you,” Luna began cryptically. “Come at me whenever, and however you like. And don’t be afraid to go above what you would try on other ponies. Just be prepared to reap what you sew.”
“Oh don’t worry princess,” Dash advised. “I’ll think of something…”
Luna just continued to smirk, causing Rarity a certain level of unease.
All heads turned to ‘Captain Pips’ as he struggled to haul a case out from under Rarity’s bed. The case itself had a small sheet of paper on it; the words ‘Treasure Chest’ hastily scrawled on it and taped in place. Rainbow Dash had to admit, ever since Rarity had that big fight with Sweetie Belle (AJ told her all about it), she’d gotten a lot faster on little improv. stunts. Dash wasn’t even sure when she’d actually taken the time to set that up.
“This must be some,” the colt grunted around a handle much larger than the wooden sword he had. “Sewious tweasa!”
Mikoyan, watching the young foal struggle, trotted over, giving Pip a helping hoof.
“Hey, thanks mister!” Pipsqueak chimed.
“If noffink,” Mikoyan mouthed around the handle, hauling it out into the open. It was surprisingly heavy for such a small case. Not that it compared to Tom in any way, shape, or form.
“I wonder what kind of treasure we’ve got!” Pipsqueak chirped excitedly. Rarity smirked to herself and quickly trotted over.
“Why don’t you open it and find out darling?” she asked. “It IS a ‘Treasure Chest’ after all.”
“Alright,” Pipsqueak turned to the small case. “Stand back! I’m opening it.”
Despite no real ‘danger’ posed by one of Rarity’s belongings, the others played along anyway, taking a small step back.
“Da-da-da-da-da-da-da…” Pipsqueak began to hum the most curious tune to himself as he popped the latches. Then, placing both hooves on the corner, he yanked the case wide.
“DA DA DA DAAAAAAAA!!!!” he crowed, then his eyes again went wide as saucers.
Rarity stifled a laugh at the colt’s reaction to the pile of sparkling gems that stared back at them.
“That really IS treasure!” he announced in awe.
“Yes indeed,” Rarity reached out with her magic and levitated a bright yellow topaz from the case. The colt followed the stone with sparkling eyes before they were yanked back down by a lime-green emerald and a blue sapphire. “Now, take a close look. I’ll let you pick ONE that you’ll get to keep all for yourself.”
“Do you mean it?!” the colt whirled on the fashion designer in awe. “I get to keep one?”
“Pick wisely now,” Rarity smiled.
Pipsqueak rounded on the small case, eyes dancing over the various colored gemstones as he tried to decide which one he liked the most. So many choices!
A tap on Rarity’s back alerted the unicorn to Rainbow Dash’s presence as the pegasus sidled up alongside her.
“Uh, Rarity?” Dash began quietly. “Why exactly do you have all that?”
Rarity hooded her eyes slightly but quickly responded.
“Well,” she muttered. “I figured that if I was going to be in Canterlot for a few days, I’d try and design something holiday-themed if I found the time. So I brought along a few extra work supplies, just in case.”
“We’re on holiday Rarity,” RD deadpanned. “We’re supposed to be having fun.”
“My work IS fun,” Rarity pouted quietly. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it, now would I?”
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, glancing at Princess Luna.
“She hath a point,” the princess muttered.
“I think I like this one,” Pipsqueak’s strongly accented voice interrupted any further discussion. All eyes turned to the emerald the colt had set in front of himself.
“A fine choice,” Rarity commented as she levitated the gem up to eye-level. “I must say, it seems to suit the brown in your coat quite nicely.”
Then the unicorn floated the sparkling stone back down where pipsqueak grasped it in his mouth with a smile.
“Happy Hearth’s Warming Day,” Rarity smiled. “Be sure you don’t lose it.”
“Yeth m’m!” the colt mouthed around the stone.
With that, Rarity turned to the ‘treasure chest’ to close it up and put it away, only to find that the glittering gems had stolen the attention of another onlooker.
Mikoyan was staring at them forlornly, his mind seeming to be a million miles away, oblivious to the others around him.
He practically jumped through the ceiling when Rarity tapped him.
“Dear?” she began curiously as he slowly settled back to the ground. “Something bothering you?”
Mikoyan glanced at the open case of gems before quickly looking away from the group.
“Is nothing,” he began. “Mikoyan was just thinking about what Comrade Dash told him about getting a gift. He is reminded it is bighuge holiday, and perhaps he should be thinking about bringing pretty Dainty Dish nice thing when he is being catching up to her. But Mikoyan is being told that Dainty Dish is being allergic to great many things. He is being not knowing what to do…”
Rarity puzzled over the response for a second, her eyes drifting down to the case of gems.
“Ah,” she nodded in understanding. “I see.”
Then she glanced back at Dash, who just shrugged. Luna was busy ‘talking pirate’ with Pipsqueak about their new 'precious booty.'
“I guess a gem would be one of the better choices,” she continued after a moment. “Can’t really make a girl who’s allergic to everything sneeze with a shiny stone…”
Rarity paused and turned back to Rainbow Dash again.
“She’s not somehow allergic to gems is she?”
“I don’t think it’s quite THAT silly,” the pegasus shrugged. “Dust, certainly. But solid gemstones? Yeah… Not seeing it.”
“Good,” Rarity returned her gaze to Mikoyan. The stallion was looking at her curiously.
“Let’s take a look shall we?” she began, lifting a few stones up to inspect.
“You is not being suggesting Mikoyan-“ the stallion began. “He couldn’t want to be imposing.”
“Think nothing of it,” Rarity waved a hoof to dismiss the stallion’s worries. “I can find these by the cart load. Trust me on that. Now…”
Rarity levitated several different stones up.
“If you’re going to get her a gift like a gem,” she lectured. “You should consider how she’ll look wearing it. Dainty Dish is absolutely adorable-”
“Is exactly what Mikoyan was thinking!” the stallion interrupted. Rarity just shot him an annoyed glare and he immediately went silent.
“BUT,” Rarity continued her train of thought. “As I’ve come to realize, she’s got THE most difficult color scheme to work with out of any pony I’ve ever met. Black and gray with red stripes just doesn’t give one a whole lot of choices. I would suggest something yellow to replicate the look of a nice yellow flower in her mane, but then she’ll probably end up looking like a coral snake. And I doubt we want to send ‘deadly poison’ as the message here…”
Mikoyan just blinked silently, frowning at 'deadly poison'.
“So that pretty much eliminates yellow topaz,” Rarity continued after a moment. At the same time, she levitated several yellow gems out of the pile and dumped them over on her bed.
“Now,” she continued. “Most sapphires are right out as well. Blue may be the color of her eyes, but that’s not going to work here.”
Several blue gems joined the topaz on the bed.
“Furthermore,” Rarity continued. “I’ve also found that attempting to mix green with its complement red, while normally a good option, only ends in utter disaster with Dainty's colors. So we can get rid of emerald.”
Said stones left the case.
“And that pretty much leaves us with amethyst, ruby, kunzite, and jasper,” Rarity concluded with a certain air of finality. “Like I said, Dainty’s color patterns leave it hard to get any variety that works beyond the red hues.”
Mikoyan nodded slowly, his expression vacant.
“But, if I were to choose,” Rarity continued as one of her eyebrows went up. “I’d go with the kunzite. It’ll stand out nicely as an accessory without clashing with her normal colors.”
Rarity levitated a sparkling pink stone out of the pile and held it up where the light could catch it.
“This is probably the best choice we can come up with here. Any other color selection would clash horribly. Complementary colors in this case are-“
Rarity stopped in mid sentence. The expression on Mikoyan’s face had remained rather blank the entire time and hadn't improved much beyond frowning or smiling at what she was showing him.
“You have no idea what I’m talking about do you?” she asked.
Mikoyan shook his head.
“I am being hearing words,” he stated. “But Mikoyan is understanding nothing. All he knows is that this... kunzite, as you call it, is best gem for best pony. All other gems just look wrong.”
Rarity rolled her eyes, and let out a puff of air that blew at one of her locks. Her mane however, remained obediently in place.
“Well,” she nodded more to herself. “You have the eyes for it, if not the knowledge. I suppose you’ll go with my suggestion then?”
“Is you being sure?” Mikoyan asked. “Is very important thing to give away for pony you don’t know.”
“Dear,” Rarity’s voice took on an air of mirth. “You’re a bit rough around the edges, but I can tell a sweetie when I see one. Take it. It’s Hearth’s Warming Day, and it would be PETTY of me to refuse somepony in need after I just finished giving a gem to a CHILD.”
Luna glanced up from Pipsqueak. However, finding nothing of interest, quickly returned to their own scurvy conversation.
Mikoyan looked at the pink gem being levitated in front of him, then back to Rarity behind it, then back at the gem. After a few more uncertain intervals, he finally reached out tentatively and took the kunzite in his mouth.
“There,” Rarity began. “One step closer to- OOMPH!“
The next thing the unicorn knew, she was hauled up in Mikoyan’s forelegs; the stallion spinning in mid air as he practically squished her in a massive hug.
“Mikoyan cannot be thanking you enough,” he managed around the gemstone lodged in his teeth. “You is making him very happy at moment!”
“Yeee-“ Rarity stifled a squeak that didn't sound entirely upset. “Stallion! Strong!”
“Hey, hey, HEY!” Rainbow Dash hovered up to the pair spinning about in the room. “I thought your flirting rule was look, but no touch! What happened to that?!”
Mikoyan spun to a halt, Rarity's eyes swirling around slightly for a moment.
“What is comrade being talking about?” Mikoyan asked with a frown. “Mikoyan is not being flirting, he is giving pretty fancy pony bighuge hug of joy.”
Rainbow Dash cocked one eye.
“What?” she asked.
“Does you not being giving hugs when ponies give you gifts?” Mikoyan asked. “Is common practice in homeland. Is Mikoyan too, how is word? Touchy?”
“Hmph...” Dash snorted. “Just a little.”
“I'm not minding,” Rarity grinned silly from her spot. “Maybe a bit too tight on the lungs but...”
“Just put her down,” Rainbow Dash interrupted her friend before she could elaborate. Mikoyan obediently fluttered down and set Rarity back on all fours without argument.
“Killjoy,” the unicorn pouted silently and immediately checked her mane to save face.
“Yeah, whatever.” Rainbow shook her head. “I'm trying to keep this stallion focused, and running into every mare in Canterlot is NOT helping, yourself included. And in case Mikoyan's forgotten, we're on a schedule. And if he misses Dainty's next pass, all that training, and the pretty rock will be for nothing.”
Rainbow Dash then turned to Mikoyan, giving the stallion a very stern glare.
“Straighten out!” she ordered. “It's time to get your game face on!”
Mikoyan stiffened and quickly brought himself to attention much like a guard would.
“Good!” Dash snapped. “Princess Luna, do you have the time?”
Luna paused from distracting herself with Pipsqueak and looked over her shoulder into the sky. After a very brief moment, she snapped her head back to the group, her voice becoming stern.
“We have five minutes,” she announced. Immediately, Rainbow Dash's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
“We've got to move NOW!” she snapped urgently. “It's going to take that long just to get to altitude!”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Luna asked, unfurling her wings in an impressive display of majesty. “Come Captain Pips! It's time we hoisted anchor!”
“Shiver me timbers!” Pipsqueak scrambled up a wing that was offered to him and took his spot just above Luna's shoulders. “Hoist the sails! Mizt the mizzin mast! Swab the poop deck-!”
“Pipsqueak,” Luna dropped all pretence of character and looked over her shoulder. “I know I certainly didn't teach you that.”
“Sorry Princess Luna,” the colt dropped his head for a moment.
“Apology accepted,” Luna replied regally. “Now hold on...”
“W-w-wait!” Rarity chirped in. “What about me? I want to come see what you're doing.”
“Can you fly?” Rainbow Dash asked with a little more than just a hint of irritation.
“Wel- n- well, there was that competition in Cloudsda-”
“CAN YOU FLY?!” Dash put a lot of force behind her voice. For just a moment, Luna was impressed.
Rarity sighed and hung her head.
“No,” she all but pouted.
“Sucks to be you then,” the pegasus snapped. “LET'S RIDE!”
With that, Rainbow Dash snapped her wings, producing the now familiar crack and took off like a multi-hued lightning bolt. Mikoyan was hot on her afterimage a moment later.
“Apologies,” Luna commented regally as she checked her passenger one last time. “Perhaps another time when we aren't in a hurry. Today I am responsible for Pipsqueak, so I cannot help. Maybe we can talk later this evening after I raise the moon.”
The princess then turned, and with a powerful flap of her own wings, took off with enough force to leave Rarity's ears ringing from the sound it made.
After a few seconds, the entire group vanished into the sky.
Rarity took a deep breath, snorting before turning away towards the entrance.
“Don't think I'm just going to sit here and miss the entertainment,” she muttered. “Oh no... Not this unicorn. I'm going to find Twilight, and we're going to watch this.”
Rarity broke into a gallop, bounding over the tumbled door and down the hall.
After a few minutes of silence, there was a sudden motion coming from one of the beds. Suddenly, Fluttershy's head popped out from the covers she was hiding under, the timid pegasus glancing around the room warily.
“Hello?” she asked into the room. However, the room didn't feel like talking.
After a few more minutes of silence, Fluttershy slowly slid out of the bed and onto the floor. Now convinced that 'Nightmare Moon' had once more spared her, she calmly began padding her way to the entrance. Whatever she had come up here for, she'd long since forgotten in the commotion. But it was likely she'd remember it in time. For now however-
Fluttershy screamed and made an attempt to dive under a dresser. After a few moments to determine she wasn't in any kind of danger, she poked her head out from her rather inadequate hiding spot. Above her, a unicorn stallion in full armor stood, his scowl matched only by the serious looking shield cutie mark on his flanks.
“Do you think you can explain to me,” he waved a hoof around. “WHAT exactly happened to the guest suite?”
Fluttershy glanced around, noting almost immediately the fallen door. Then she also noticed the ruined bed, a chandelier barely hanging on to the ceiling, several cracked window panes, and a single long crack winding its way from one side of the room to the other parallel with the balcony.
“Well?” the guardspony asked, his tone very stern. Fluttershy shrank away in response, managing only a terrified smile and a small, almost silly squeak of fear.