Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star
Part 3: Equestria at War
Chapter 22: Aftermath
“Something's happening!” Wind said excitedly as Midnight's cutie mark began to glow. Brighter and brighter it shone until everypony present was forced to shield their eyes or look away. Then the light faded again. Wind looked to see what had happened and froze. The star was no longer shifting and changing, but it wasn't all silver, nor was it black; but instead it was black on the outside edges of the star with silver in the center.
“What does it mean?” Wind gasped looking up at Twilight.
She just shook her head at a loss for an answer. But then their attention was drawn back to Midnight as she began to stir.
Midnight slowly regained consciousness. The first thing she became aware of was that she was on her side, then she became aware that she was being held in somepony's hooves. Slowly she opened her eyes and twisted around to look up at who it was.
Wind looked back into her eyes, concern hope and fear filling his own, as if he wasn't sure she was still the same pony. Tears were running down his cheeks.
She reached up and gently wiped one away. “What's this?” She asked softly, smiling up at him. “It's not like you to cry, Wind.”
He broke into the biggest grin she'd ever seen as new tears of relief came to his eyes. Then he did something Midnight was not expecting. He pulled her to him, locked his lips with hers and kissed her in a way she'd never been kissed before.
Her eyes went wide at first, but then she relaxed, held in his hooves and returned the kiss with equal passion. By the time the kiss ended her heart was racing.
Wow, he really likes us, doesn't he. I never thought I'd enjoy being kissed like that, but now I'm thinking we should try a few other things with him that I didn't think I'd enjoy...
Midnight blushed as she looked up at Wind, glad that only she could hear the commentary from her other side.
He grinned back down at her, not caring about the tears pouring from his eyes. “Welcome back Midnight.”
She smiled. It was then that she realized they weren't alone and her eyes widened as she realized who else was present. “Mom!” She exclaimed seeing Twilight sitting only a couple of feet away, watching them and smiling. Midnight glanced up at Wind then back to her mom and slowly grinned, thoroughly embarrassed.
Twilight just smiled. “It's alright, Midnight. I've expected this for some time...”
Midnight looked up at Wind again and blushed, realizing what her mom was implying; but even as she did, she knew that Twilight was right. Then she rolled out of Wind's hooves, she felt weak, but pushed herself up anyway. Leaning close, Twilight pulled her into an embrace.
“I was worried,” she said softly as she held Midnight tightly in her hooves.
“Sorry... I'm alright now,” Midnight said just as softly, embracing her mother for a few moments more. Finally Twilight gave her one last nuzzle, then released her smiling.
Suddenly she glanced over her shoulder as if she'd just remembered something. “Oh! here, you must be thirsty!” She said getting up and going to the desk where Midnight saw a pitcher and glass set out on a tray. Twilight was just trying to pick up the tray awkwardly with her hooves when Midnight smiled and levitated the pitcher herself.
“I've got it, mom. Thanks.” She said as she filled the glass then levitated it over so she could drink. She had been quite thirsty.
Twilight sighed. “You have no idea how frustrating it's been for me this last week without my magic,” she said smiling ruefully.
Midnight smiled as well then, finished with her drink, turned to her other friends, Copper and Sky. Without hesitation she embraced them both, one fore-hoof and wing around each of them. “Thanks for helping call me back.” She whispered softly. “I'm glad you're both alright.”
Copper grinned, unable to return the embrace; he needed his good fore-hoof to support him and the other was now in a full cast. “Well, mostly... And I was supposed to be the safest one,” he said with irony then frowned as he was reminded what had happened. He quickly recovered though and was smiling again as Midnight ended the embrace.
“It's good to see you're alright, Midnight.”
She looked over toward the voice and saw Rainbow smiling at her with one of her wings around her husband. “Thanks, Rainbow.”
“But what the hay is with your cutie mark?” Rainbow asked bluntly.
Midnight blinked. “What about my cutie mark?”
“It changed.” She said then smirked. “And without Twilight doing any crazy experiments.”
“It changed?” Midnight repeated, twisting around to look. “Wow... look at that.”
Heh, it's half mine, half yours.
“Do you know what it means?” Twilight asked curiously and with a hint of concern.
Midnight smiled then realizing how right her other side was. “I've accepted my past,” she told them smiling. “Before I was trying to push it away, separate myself from it... I shouldn't have. After all, my past is part of who I am.”
Twilight smiled. “I suppose you're right. We're all a product of our experiences after all.”
Midnight nodded in agreement then noticed a dark figure in one corner of the tent. “Chrysalis, what are you doing way over there?” Midnight asked with a grin.
She rolled her eyes. “Most the rest of your friends aren't exactly comfortable with my presence here.”
“Well, I don't know about that.” Sky shrugged. “Most of us never met a changeling before the last few days. I mean, commander Sallis was the first changeling I ever spoke to and she seems decent enough. I'd be willing to give you a chance; Midnight seems to trust you anyway.”
“As much as I'd like to believe you, I know very well that even if you've never met any changelings you have heard stories about us from Canterlot.” She shook her head. “I can sense emotions; I can tell when somepony is uncomfortable.”
Midnight gave her a wry grin. “Nopony can get use to you if you don't give them a chance.”
Finally she smiled. “Perhaps you are right,” she said then inclined her head toward Midnight. “It's good to see you're alright, Midnight Star.”
“Thanks,” she said then looked toward the last two ponies in the tent and her smile withered. Setting her jaw, Midnight climbed to her hooves and went to face the royal sisters. Luna was the first to speak.
“Midnight, please forgive us. We should never have asked you to fight the battle for us.” She said sincerely, her head down in shame. Midnight let the silence hang for a few moments, glaring at Celestia especially.
“No you shouldn't have, and I didn't do it for you!” She told them angrily.
Luna nodded understanding while Celestia flinched slightly then nodded as well.
“Midnight, we'll do whatever we can to help you,” Celestia told her. “I promise.”
Midnight knew what she meant. She had her friends support after all and while that had been enough to bring her back to herself; she wasn't so naïve as to believe that the rest of those that had witnessed her battle would be comfortable around her for some time. There would be speculation about her she knew. Ponies would want to know more about her. Perhaps it was time to tell them. If they're going to fear me anyway, then they might as well know everything! She was so tired of hiding who she was.
“I want to address our forces; I want to tell them the truth about everything. Who I am, where I'm from, how I got here, everything. And when we get back I want to make the announcement in Canterlot as well for everypony to hear.”
Celestia and Luna both looked surprised and exchanged glances. They weren't the only one's either.
“Midnight!? Are you sure about this?” Twilight said rushing to her side.
She nodded resolutely. “I'm not going to hide who I am anymore.”
Celestia reluctantly nodded. “I see. Very well then, I will arrange it. Is there anything else you'd like? Or anything you want to say?”
“Yes,” Midnight said with a determined look in her eyes. “I resign as general and I am never taking orders from either of you again! And if that means I have to renounce my citizenship in Equestria, then so be it.”
“Midnight!” Twilight exclaimed in shock while Celestia and Luna both looked up in surprise. But then Luna held up a hoof seeming to understand.
“That won't be necessary, Midnight. Celestia and I have no right to ever ask anything of you again anyway. You don't have to renounce your citizenship.”
Celestia looked at her sister a moment looking slightly surprised, but seemed to realize she was right. “Yes, you may keep your citizenship.”
She nodded. Truthfully she was relieved, she didn't really want to make herself an outlaw. “Alright, but I'm still resigning as general.”
“Very well,” Celestia agreed, then slowly looked up into Midnight's eyes. “I am glad that you are alright, Midnight.”
Midnight sighed. “Thanks.”
A silence fell over the tent then that lasted for several long moments before Celestia finally spoke again. “Well, it is late, and we should let you get some rest. I'll make arrangements for you to address our ponies tomorrow morning.”
“Yeah, we should probably let you rest. Not that you weren't just lying there all day or anything.” Sky said sarcastically.
Midnight smiled. “It wasn't exactly restful...”
“Alright, you heard her, Everypony out!” Sky said helping Copper up and making shooing gestures with one wing.
The princesses each gave Midnight one last respectful nod before leaving, followed by Chrysalis who did the same before calling out to the princesses. “Princess Celestia, there is a matter I wish to discuss before my changelings and I depart...”
Midnight looked after them a little worried about just Chrysalis speaking with the princesses alone but decided that she'd just have to trust them to be civil. She was already feeling dead on her hooves; she needed some real sleep.
“Night, Midnight, Twilight.” Rainbow said as she and Valor turned to leave as well. “I'm glad you're alright, kid, we really were worried about you.”
Midnight smiled and nodded in thanks.
“Good Night, Midnight,” Valor said respectfully. “Good night, princess Twilight. I'll gather your guard together in the morning. For now, Midnight's guard can stay in place.”
Twilight nodded. “That will be fine, Valor.”
“Well we'll be going too.” Sky said and Copper nodded.
“Night, Midnight. We'll see you in the morning,” Copper said smiling, then limping and leaning heavily on Sky, they made their way to the door.
“Come on, Wind. You can't spend the night,” Sky called over her shoulder.
Midnight turned to Wind then, and smiled up at him as he stepped close. Then he reached down for a kiss. Midnight eagerly kissed him in return. It wasn't as passionate as the kiss they'd shared when she'd first woken up, but it was still enough to get her heart racing again despite her fatigue that was rapidly overcoming her. Then he nuzzled her neck briefly. “Rest well, Midnight. I love you.”
Midnight nuzzled his neck in turn. “I love you too, Wind,” she said feeling her heart flutter. Then, giving her one last smile, he left after the others.
Midnight just stood for a few moments staring after him, the memory of the feel of his lips against hers fresh in her mind.
“So, when's the wedding?”
Midnight blushed realizing she wasn't quite alone and turned to her mother. “Mom! He hasn't even proposed!”
Twilight just smiled and wrapped her hooves around her in a loving embrace. “I'm happy for you, Midnight. And I'm glad you came back to us.”
“Thanks, mom, for calling me back,” Midnight said softly, holding to her a few moments more, then stepped back again. “So I guess you're staying here tonight?”
Twilight shrugged with a smile. “Well it looks like I'll have to.”
Midnight yawned feeling exhaustion starting to overcome her. “Alright then. You can have the bed.”
“Oh no, You're not giving me your bed, Midnight! You need your rest more than I do!” Twilight objected.
“I'm fine, mom. Don't worry,” Midnight said as she piled up all the cushions in the tent into a makeshift bed.
“I'm not taking your bed, Midnight. I'll be fine on the floor.” Twilight insisted, moving toward the makeshift bed herself. The next instant she found herself enveloped in magic as she was lifted in the air and placed firmly on the bed. Then the bed spread wrapped around her tightly holding her down. “Midnight!”
“Mom, I'm fine, really,” Midnight said as she laid down on the pile of cushions then grinned up at her. “Besides, it's not like that bed is all that comfortable anyway.”
Twilight let out a small laugh. “I guess that's true,” she said as Midnight used her magic to put out the lamps around the tent, plunging them into darkness. Giving up on the argument she laid her head down, realizing just how tired she was. “Good night, Midnight,” she said, already starting to doze.
“Sleep well, Sparkles.”
As tired as Twilight was, she never realized the significance of what she'd heard.
“So, what is it you wish to discuss?” Celestia asked. They had moved to the nearby command tent and left their guard outside, casting a sound barrier so that she and Luna could speak with Chrysalis in private.
“I know that you have kept three of my changelings imprisoned since the invasion of Canterlot,” Chrysalis said simply.
Celestia was taken back, but nodded. They had captured three badly injured changelings shortly after the attempted invasion; two female and one male. “I assure you we have treated them well,” she said quickly.
Chrysalis made a dismissive gesture. “Captain Variss informed you of the telepathic link I have with all my changelings, didn't he? I know they have been treated well. I do thank you for that. But they are still your prisoners. In the interest of peace, I ask that they be released.”
Celestia nodded. “Of course. We will have them released as soon as we return to Canterlot. I'll even arrange for them to be given an escort home.”
“As to that, for now I intend on keeping the location of our hive a secret. My changelings can make their own way home once you release them,” Chrysalis told them.
Luna's eyes narrowed slightly. “Do you not trust us?”
“Whether or not I trust you is irrelevant. I do not trust the ponies of Equestria, not with the lives of my changelings, not yet,” Chrysalis told them.
“Queen Chrysalis, at some point you will need to trust us if negotiations for peace are to go forward. At the very least somepony will have to know where you are should we need to contact you,” Celestia said with a slightly admonishing tone.
“That will be Midnight Star. She has already agreed to act as an advocate for my changelings in Equestria, I will entrust her with my hive's location and allow her to inspect our hive, since I know you still have concerns about us imprisoning your ponies. What's more, if you will guarantee their safety, I will send an ambassador for communication purposes.”
Celestia sighed and reluctantly nodded. “That will do for now, but I hope you will come to trust us more in time.”
“Understand, Celestia; for longer than you've lived, our survival has depended on our secrecy. The location of our home being the greatest secret of all,” She explained. “I do trust you both, just not enough to give you that secret just yet. I also ask that you don't try to find us.”
“Very well. We will respect your wishes for the time being so long as you do give Midnight access to your entire hive.”
“I will,” she agreed with a nod.
“Then the changelings in our custody will be released upon our return to Canterlot,” Celestia assured her. “Now, if that is all you wished to discuss, it has been a long day and I'm sure we could all use some rest.”
Luna sighed. “Time to go to work...”
Chrysalis surprised them then by giving Luna a sympathetic smile. “I suspect soothing the dreams of your ponies will be a difficult task for some time,” she said then paused looking between them. “Celestia, Luna; Thank you. For giving me and my hive a second chance.”
Again her sincerity caught them off-guard.
“Just don't make us regret it,” Celestia said with more compassion than threat in her voice.
“I don't intend to.”
As Celestia had promised, Midnight stood before the gathered forces of Equestria the next morning. She then explained to them everything; who she was, where she was from, and what she'd once been. She explained how she'd come to their Equestria and how she'd been given a second chance. She also explained what had happened during the battle, how she had lost control for a time. When she was done, Celestia spoke briefly on her behalf as well as Twilight.
It was hard to tell what most thought about all she told them. It was clear that many, especially those few from Ponyville, were stunned by the revelation. Midnight just hoped that they wouldn't hold her past against her; that they'd believed her when she'd told them she wasn't that pony anymore.
It wasn't long after that that Celestia and Luna were to address the remainder of the Frozen Empire's army. Essentially being prisoners of war, they presented a problem. They could let them go, let them return to their home in the frozen empire, but there was no guarantee that they wouldn't attack Equestria again in the future. At the same time however they couldn't just imprison all of them. Besides the fact that neither Celestia, nor Luna would be so heartless; there weren't enough prisons in all of Equestria to hold them all.
In the end Luna had suggested that they set up a settlement where they would be allowed to live in relative freedom. They'd be confined to the settlement and under guard, but a far cry from being imprisoned. And in time, if they proved cooperative, they would offer them the chance to become citizens of Equestria.
This plan would only work, however, if they agreed to it and cooperated.
Celestia stepped up onto a ridge overlooking the Frozen Empire forces that had surrendered to them, Luna, Cadence, and Twilight by her side. “May I have your attention?” She called and nearly two thousand ice unicorns turned toward her. The windigos had all run during the chaos and had not returned.
“I am princess Celestia, of Equestria. I'm sure many of you are wondering what is going to happen to you now. What it is we will do with you as prisoners of war. The answer to that is, at least in part, up to you.”
She went on to outline the plan for them, what freedoms they would be aloud and what consequences they would face for betrayal as well as what the other options were; imprisonment in the overcrowded cells of prison camps. Possibly even the removal of their horns.
“So it is your choice. Cooperate peacefully, and we will allow you to begin anew here in Equestria. In time you may earn your freedom, and if you wish, even become citizens of this land. Or you can choose not to cooperate and your stay in this land will be far less pleasant. You will have three days to make your choice.”
Celestia stepped down leaving the ice unicorns murmuring softly to each other. Midnight, watching from further back wondered if the ice unicorns could let go of their hate. In truth she hoped they would. She hoped they'd find a better future here. Free of the frozen wasteland that had been their home, free of the windigos that had leached off of them for so long, and free of hate they had lived their lives by.
Let me talk to them...
Midnight blinked. 'Are you sure?'
'Alright,' she told her other, then went to the princesses. “Is it alright if I say a few words to them?”
Celestia looked slightly surprised but nodded. “That would be fine, Midnight.”
“Thank you,” she said then stepped forward, up onto the ridge. 'We haven't done this yet... do you know how to take control?' Midnight asked as many of the ice unicorns looked up at her.
Yes, I've had practice... Just don't resist.
'I'll try not to.' She relaxed and the next instant she felt the other Midnight take control. It was a strange experience, she of course had the memories of being inside Twilight's head, but they were the other Midnight's memories, not her own. She found she still had access to all her senses, she could still see, hear, touch, and smell everything; but she no longer had control over her body as her other side was controlling it now.
“I know that many of you know my name by now, for those who don't, I am Midnight Star; alicorn of Equestria and adopted daughter of Princess Twilight Sparkle. By now many of you may have reason to fear or hate me, and likely the last thing you want is my advice. But, I urge you to take the princess' offer.
“Please, Let go of your hatred and your anger before it's too late! Don't let it consume you!” She lowered her head in shame. “I've been down that path; there is nothing but misery at its end.
“I know it's hard to let go, hard to believe you could be happy. I had forgotten what happiness was, and so when it was offered to me, I turned it away believing that I didn't want it.” She shook her head. “Please, don't make the same mistake I did! Take this chance! Let yourselves be happy!”
Midnight stood on the ridge a moment more looking out over the ice unicorns to see if her words had had any affect, but it was difficult to tell. Finally she turned and started back down the ridge to where the princess's were and as she did, she switched back control to her other side.
Midnight smiled. 'It really hurts you to see others being consumed by their hatred doesn't it...' She thought to her other side.
I was a fool to turn down Sparkle's offer the first time, I just don't want to see anypony else make the same mistake. They may not be so lucky as we were.
Twilight smiled as Midnight reached them and put a wing around her. “That was well spoken, Midnight.”
She smiled. “Thanks, mom.”
Sure, go right ahead and take credit for my words!