by canonkiller

2 - Insight

"So you're telling me that I rule over a million ponies who can barely ever actually contact me and live in space and you just forgot to tell me?!"

"I think that sounds about right," Celestia replied calmly, taking a sip of her tea. "At the time, it just seemed like needless stress for you. I mean, new Princess, public image, a breakdown wouldn't have been good publicity."

"And they were still under my rule until very recently," Luna pointed out, chugging from a pot of coffee. "The whole Princess of the Stars thing was kind of included with the other nighttime celestial objects."

"Technically the stars are still there during the day-"

"Celestia didn't want the responsibilities." Luna interjected.

Celestia nodded gracefully. "I'm quite lazy."

"Anyway," Twilight shook her head, "what am I supposed to know about these... starponies?"

"Many of them don't have genders." Luna began, wiping a dark smear of coffee from her muzzle. "Since stars are born through massive gaseous explosions, they don't have to do the dirty and so they don't have the parts. They're all pegasi, and they only have the colors that stars come in. Which are...?"

"Red, orange, yellow, white and blue!" Twilight replied happily.

Luna smiled. "Exactly. They live in groups depending on which area of the sky they live in; I mapped them as a foal into constellations that I named myself, with some help from Celestia."

"You mean... Antares is a part of the constellation Scorpius?"

"One of the main stars," she replied. "I'm sure if you look up at it tonight, you'll be able to see that Scorpius looks a little incomplete."

"That can't happen!" Twilight protested. "You mean to tell me that all of the stars could literally land on my doorstep and the night sky would be empty?!"


"Okay. Okay." Twilight took a deep breath, pressing her hoof into her forehead. "So how do we get Antares back up there?"

Luna hesitated, thinking. "She'd have to be healed up, first. Usually when they land, starponies pick wide open spaces like plains or oceans and use that wide space to slow their landing. One dropping straight out of the sky is quite unlikely."

"Well, one did," Twilight replied bluntly, looking across the room. Antares was sitting in front of the stained glass windows, her pale yellow coat spattered with the colors of Celestia and Luna turning Discord to stone.

"There might be a problem in the Balance." Luna said, her voice lilting strangely. "Celestia, could you make sure I don't fall over? I'm going to project. Twilight, make sure you're not holding anything breakable."

"What do you meeeeeeeeeeeeean!" Twilight's voice stretched into a scream as Luna's eyes flashed pure white and the two of them suddenly teleported.

Twilight felt the air around her as thick as honey, fluid but dense, and looked over to Luna in surprise. The entirety of the mare's body glowed like the moon on its' brightest night, every pinprick of light in her mane its' own supernova. She turned to face Twilight, her eyes pale globes as pure and wild as the moon itself.

"I was wondering how the projection would change you," she said, her voice echoing in the darkness.

Twilight looked down at herself, balking as she realized her coat was sparkling like starlight. She caught a glimpse of her tail as she turned, and realized it looked like thousands of trails of shooting stars. Her cutie mark blazed gold against her paled coat.

"What is this place?" Twilight asked, her voice feeling quiet in her own ears.

"I haven't come here since I was banished," Luna answered. "This is the Astral Plain, which is the method I usually use for contacting the starponies. It's quick, and you don't have to worry about all of that no-oxygen-in-space thing. I mean, we don't need to breathe as alicorns, but it's really quite alarming."

"How did you bring me here?"

"Oh, you'll be able to reach it on your own with practice. This is a form of meditation called astral projection. Few non-alicorns have ever been able to reach the Plain; your favoured wizard Star Swirl was among them. Oh, but we don't have time for an old mare's memories." She turned away, lifting a hoof. "Scorpius!"

She slammed her hoof down, and the darkness seemed to ripple. Forms began to take shape; a large room, a long table set with many chairs, a high ceiling with red glass chandeliers. The entire room reeked of red; not a cheery red, but a dark red like spilled blood and rich velvet. Directly ahead of them, a large tapestry woven with gemstones replicated the constellation Luna had named, a copper scorpion embroidered around the stars. Twilight noticed with a shiver that the Antares stone had gone dark.

"Lambda Scorpii!" Luna yelled. "Female," she added quietly to Twilight.

One of the gemstones in the tapestry flashed, and a pony walked through it. The gemstone did not get bigger, and the pony did not get smaller; the pony simply fit.

She spread wide blue wings, the feathers glittering like ice. She flew down to the carpet and landed gracefully, bowing in front of the princesses.

"Princess Luna of the Moon, Princess Twilight of the Stars, what brings you to the Scorpius hall?" She looked up at them through a fringe of sparkling mane, her eyes blue and shallow.

"One of your ponies has fallen to Equus," Luna stated. "Antares."

"The Brightest," Lambda replied smoothly. "Yes, she fell not long ago. Has she been injured?"

"She will not be able to return for a while. She has damaged her wing, and the mortality aura that affects your people on Equus will not allow her to fix it herself."

"If she does not return within the turn of the moon, I will have to take her place as Brightest." Lambda said, standing up to look the two ponies in the eye. "As the Word of Stella declares."

"Word of Stella?" Twilight questioned.

Luna glared at her. "I am aware of the Word of Stella, Lambda. Do not shift your position before the Word allows."

The mare looked back steadily, blue eyes emotionless. "I can be patient."

Twilight jolted as she was suddenly back in Celestia's hall, feeling the golden warmth of the Sun Princess's magic slowly allow her to stand on her own. Luna shook herself awake as well, a shower of small sparkles falling from her coat as she did so.

"Twilight," she said quickly. "It is of greatest importance that Antares takes back Brightest before Lambda takes her place. Any further shift in the Balance may upset the Celestial Rings, and-"

"I don't even know what you're talking about!" Twilight protested. "I didn't even know these ponies existed yesterday!"

"There is much she has to learn, Luna." Celestia added gently. "Perhaps you could train her while Antares's lightest wounds heal."

"Yes," Luna sighed. "Training will be necessary. Twilight, care to be a princess's student once again?"