Princess Celestia told us we had one last loose end to tie up. When I heard what, I knew my Sonic Rainboom could wait a little while longer.
Chrysalis' chief-minions told Cadence that just in case it was discovered that it was a shape shifting brainwashing tribe of bug ponies threatening Canterlot, Chrysalis had wanted a back-up plan, a patsy who'd get the dirty work done if her minions couldn't. And apparently...it was a dirty rotten traitor who knew about the Changelings and bucking helped them! Well. Yeah. So we had one last little 'clean up' adventure before the wedding.
Twilight asked Princess Celestia why the royal guards weren't just called in to deal with the jerk. But she told us that "it was important" that the Elements of Harmony were the ones to bring him in and the guy had already taken a major beating from the Changelings, Rarity, and his own psychoness. Pst, I'd take 'em apart no matter shape he was in. Shining's squad had apparently met him and agreed with the Princess after a talk with her, but told us to be careful.
Naturally, the guard was on standby if things went south and just a call away, but they'd already scanned the place and there weren't any weapons detected. They were apparently worried about the nut offing himself before we could catch him (took a lot less to kill himself than to kill somepony else). Apparently they saw us as being sent in as hostage negotiators, which were basically the Princesses' orders (though we were supposed to take him down if we had to.)
"You talked a dragon into leaving Equestria," said AJ's cousin. "I think you have a better chance of talking sense into him than anypony available. Besides, you can kick flank, so if things get rough taking him down shouldn't be much problem."
Not sure if that was the Princess' main reason, but the guard apparently saw some logic in it.
Also, some STARS were our back up if things went too far south. So we basically we had the big guns if we needed it.
Twilight had wanted Trixie with us, two Elements of Magic are better than one, we could definitely use that trickster brain of hers, and after all, was she one of us or not? But Trixie had been preparing for her magic show to end all magic shows . . . She'd have been with us anyway, this was Official Elements Business after all (that sounded so cool), but she had missed out on the Elements free 'Generosity Healing' when we zapped the witch. Plus she was still recovering from fighting a centuries old changeling general with superpowers and then taking part in the battle with the entire changeling swarm and the cats and the Guard, and taking over Twilight's job of keeping that shield up to keep the changelings away from the witch while still fighting changelings. So yeah, she had to sit this one out. Too bad. I Pinkie Pie Swore I'd tell her all the details. You girls can give her a copy of this right?
There isn't much to it. The guard had all his exits covered. The guy didn't make that big a secret of where he was. He had holed himself up in his old office looking to go out in a blaze of glory or something.
Thunderchild recommended we keep our barding Rarity made us on, just in case. We listened (hey, it looked awesome). He seemed especially worried about 'Shy...and I swear she blushed and so did he. That was weird.
Speaking of 'Shy, I think she chafed in the barding. Out of us all, she's most the healer, not a hurter.
What made ALL of us chaf was that we had to carry concealed weapons JUST in case. While we had nonlethal stuff...the dagger hidden in my armor made a chill go down my spine. I think of all of us Fluttershy hated it the most. Though Fluttercruel thought it was cool.
Rarity freaked at seeing 'em, saying he was the Guard she had stopped from killing another Royal Guard. "I assumed he was the changeling...it seems I was wrong."
So yeah, the General (I think his name might have actually been 'The General' from how it kept getting thrown around, given pony names, it wouldn't surprise me), when he saw us he spent, well, a lot longer than ten seconds flat talking about how we were 'delusional' or some junk because...well, it kinda began going over my head really. When he began talking about prison budgets...I kinda lost interest. He seemed like a throwback to the Pegasi in the Three Tribes era I studied for Hearth's Warming and that bored me to tears.
"Darling, everypony is entitled to their opinion but-" Rarity tried to play diplomat.
"It's not an 'opinion!' It's cold hard reality!" he growled. "Don't you get it? Today is what happens when you're not cruel right back to the cruel world! More pain! More suffering!"
Okay. I think this guy just broke the Arrogant Meter. And considering we know Trixie and me, that's saying a lot.
I really wanted to wrap this up but Twilight insisted on hearing him out, I kinda just tuned it out. I think he might have called the Changelings a lot of nasty stuff (some of which I admit they didn't exactly prove wrong), but I was thinking more on Scootaloo flying and having earned her cutie mark. Where could we go to celebrate?
Twilight on the otherhoof seemed to be taking him serious.
Don't worry, I was still paying attention if he tried to pull something. I can take in details if I want, it's just his limited edition Wonderbolts poster was way more interesting than his white noise. The guy was loud, but not what I'd call energetic.
"By having the Changelings start a war our Guard would inevitably win, it would wake this country up to how important the Guard is, how important being able to defend ourselves is. And having a dangerous foe that NEEDED wiped out would prove that we need to eliminate our enemies instead of letting them go to hurt us again later, pulling punches only gets your own friends killed, and that we have to embrace strengthening our army until dragons tremble, instead of relying on ridiculous fairytale heroes and miracles."
It's one thing to make a statement (I like making statements), but it was freaking scary to hear a guy talk about starting a war to do just that. No wonder Shining's squad mates acted like the dude was a nutjob, they're right.
Twilight said, keeping her voice level and calm. "I'm not saying it's a bad idea for Equestria to defend itself, it isn't, at all, but I don't think Equestria is under that much of a thre-"
"War is always an inevitability! Why take the risk? Then maybe once we've finally built up enough, we can take precautionary action on some other threats so this can't happen again! And we can build up to fight the dragons if those brute on a whim decide to enslave Equestria!"
"We made friends with the dragons," Twilight explained calmly. "That's not needed."
"Made friends?" the guy scoffed with a crazy grin. "Don't you get it? This world isn't about love! Equestria doesn't need babysitters with magic charms to spank monsters when they're bad! They need surgeons to cut out the cancers that fester in us and make sure they never come back! We need to turn villains into memories! And that can't happen if everypony thinks the Guards are weaklings! They needed this war to prove themselves! And prove to everycreature they need to stop pulling their punches and start cutting out the tumors! They should be thanking me!"
I thought of those Guards Chrysalis forced Twilight's brother to boot out of Canterlot with his forcefield. "Yeah, I bet they're so grateful they're setting up the ticker tape parade right now."
"What did Discord do to ya to make ya so twisted?" AJ asked.
"It's funny you should mention Discord. On the day of chaos he took one look at me, scratched his chin, and said 'No, you're good,' and vanished. I planned to shoot that psycho in the head with the biggest gun I could find when this was over."
Our jaws dropped. I think Twilight seemed more scared by what he said than anypony.
What he wanted to do...all he'd have done is make himself Discord's new vessal...how could I NOT be afraid of that?
"Okay, gotcha, you're not evil, you're just crazy," I said.
"You're the ones who are crazy! You're all delusional madmares who embrace nonsense and madness! Reality should have crushed you into paste long ago!"
"Uh, I hate to break this to you," Pinkie Pie said all sad, "But you're in the wrong story."
Pinkie Pie shook her head looking sad. "This isn't a super gritty war story. It's not a story where all the other species are the bad guys or the only way to stop 'em is to end them. It never was. Even the Griffins aren't bad guys like they...er...used to be. This is a fairy tale. This just isn't the right story for you. There are plenty of OTHER stories out there that you'd love, and that you'd do a lot of good in and help lots of ponies. That's the sad thing...there are a lot of stories where you coulda been the hero...I'm sorry you ended up in this one."
"Of all you crutches, I hate you the most you pink lunatic! You should be in a mental asylum or beaten until you get a clue! Take something bucking seriously for once in your life! "
"HEY! Don't you talk about Pinkie Pie like that!" I was past caring about this jerk's reasons, I just wanted this over so we could get back to the wedding we came to Canterot to begin with!
Pinkie didn't look my way. "You're right. I USED to be a lunatic," Pinkie...Pinkie said, frowning. "But I got better. That's the kind of world we live in, one where the crazy ponies can get better, like Golden Tiara did...like Luna did...And I know you can too...But first you need to accept you're sick. Unless you do that, you can't ever get better..."
"Don't you dare compare yourself to me! You're a filly in a mare's body, treating everything as a game. You're everything I hate! Heroes need to be serious! They need to be ruthless! They need to be cruel to bring piece to a crazy world!"
"Ya only see that about her," said Applejack. "Because we're the 'bad guys' in yer story...ya can't stand the idea there could be any good in us period. Look...Ah honestly know how that feels, to see somethin' in the world yah can't stand to see...but the fact is, if ya look closer there's good and bad in everythin'."
"You're a fool to think that! There is real evil in this world, cancers that need cut out! You just don't have the courage to be the doctor! That's why you need ponies like me to prove you wrong!"
"Look," Twilight took a deep breath. "You're not the only one the world's been unfair to? You think you're the only one who doesn't like the way the world turned out? The only pony who thinks they're the only sane one in a ship of fools?...You aren't. I know that feeling, but it's never right..."
"Ponies need to remember that its the Royal GUARDS job to GUARD Equestria! They don't see any of the hard work we do! And neither do you! They just see YOU fighting the overpowered monsters that have kept showing up these last two years! They think we're superfluous! It's our responsibility to protect Equestria, and yet we have to keep relying on stupid civies to get it done! You don't have any idea how that feels!"
"You think that doesn't hurt us too?" Rarity barked back. "You think I'm BLIND?! You think I don't notice how much it kills Mayor Mare inside that she couldn't do anything to help her town when three separate mad gods came crashing down on top of it?! Or do you think your friends are the only ones who are angry and hurt that they couldn't help when it was their responsibility to look after others?! We've spent these past days struggling to save our friends and experienced that feeling of helplessness again and again, so I know how you feel!"
"And in case ya didn't notice, my cousin and Twilight's brother are guards! And we're buckin' proud of 'em!" Applejack defended. "And Rarity, not tah steal yer thunder, but the Guard still does a great job of dealin' with crime and things that don't need the Elements."
I nodded. "That's the point of super heroes. They don't replace the guards and police, they take care of the baddies they can't so they can focus on the ones they can."
"In fact," Pinkie said, pulling out another script. "They recently helped Princess Celestia and Luna defeat an ancient evil thingie that escaped from Tartarus and the cult that summoned it. Did a really good job. Princess Celestia knows and you can't get more important than that!"
"See? And our whole family knows my cousin and his crew took out a Fear Monster while on that world tour of theirs. Ponies DO know you guys are important. It's just that they can't handle everythin'. Ah know Ah can't. We don't steal work from 'em, we handle the things they can't so they don't have to."
"Dear, I was trying to establish a kinship with him over us both have situations where we feel we should have been able to help but was simply beyond our power to."
"Ah figured he might care that ponies do know the Guard help plenty."
"And I'm not blaming you Applejack, but one of the first steps to reaching out to somepony I believe is establishing they aren't alone in their feelings. Otherwise they won't open up. Then you help them through the cause of their problems. It works with Sweetie Belle."
I gotta admit, when I'm not the one arguing with either of 'em, watching AJ and Rarity clash can almost be fun, hey, we're all friends, we hug and make up!
"HEY! Don't ignore me!" General Bag-Of-Nuts said.
"Oh, sorry, we're not ignoring you dear, we're just trying to get you to see that we understand your feelings I wasn't able to protect Spike from being brainwashed, nor my baby sister! And I wasn't able to rescue either of them even though they were right in front of me during the wedding. I wasn't able to take part in Spike's rescue at all even though I do care dearly for his friendship. I might have been able to free my sister from the witch's lies, but I wouldn't have been able to do that unless somepony else had rescued her."
Eh? I noticed Rarity's front hoof shaking, I don't know if she was upset at herself or just sorry she turned down her chance to deck the nag.
It was weird...when she mentioned losing Spike and Sweetie...General Crazy...looked sad...hurt...like he was going to cry for a moment...but it didn't seem to be for her.
"It hurt doesn't it? Not always being able to help? Sometimes being forced to let others protect those who should be your responsibility to protect? Makes you feel that ponies will just forget about you, move on, and treat you like an outdated accessory. That all your hard efforts to help are going to be just ignored, and not even looked at. But Mayor Mare is willing to work herself to the bone if it helps her ponies even if she isn't an Alicorn or a warrior. And I . . . I was happy that Spike was saved, and I'm proud that I was able to help where and when I was able to, and I wasn't any less happy that they were rescued. And to be perfectly honest? I'm upset there were ponies in my own home town who didn't even know my name or the help I'd given Equestria after we stopped Nightmare Moon! Ponies know you help Equestria a lot more than you think they do. So yes, I do know your point of view. So why don't you just please come with us so you can get help instead of letting this devolve into violence?"
"Please?" Fluttershy begged. Girls I don't think diplomacy is gonna work on this guy. I think Nightmare Fluttershy did a good job of proving that insane people don't like listening to reason! Why doesn't Fluttershy just use the Stare on 'em! Oh, The Stare doesn't work on crazies? Ugh. Should've seen that one coming!
"Violence is what's needed! Don't you get it! If I'd had my way! Boom! Headshot! Queen Chrysalis is laying dead on the ground! Your bucking sister and that dragon would never have even BEEN taken from you!"
The guy suddenly became pretty dang scary...not because he was mad, but...because for a split second it sounded like he actually sympathized with how Rarity felt…
"...Yes...that's true…" Rarity said slowly, I think maybe a part of her agreed with him. THAT scared me. "But the Changelings would have retaliated, in mass. And a lot of ponies would have died that didn't need to...Equestria would have ended this in a long war and not a three day one ending in true peace. A quick solution isn't worth that bloodshed. Can't you see that?"
"This is my last chance to show everypony the Guard are needed, to see to it the world would be dragged kicking and screaming to a better day! You shouldn't be here! It was supposed to be the Guards here! Not civies in armor!"
"I'm an envoy of Princess Celestia herself, she's given me expressed permission and authority to arrest you if NEED BE, and we're wearing this armor on expressed orders by the guard itself, not as any sort of mockery. We are following those orders and nothing more. Now please, just listen to reason an-"
"Your 'reason' is that of a naive foal! If I'm on the cancer, let the professionals do it!"
"Why should it matter who saves the day?" Twilight asked. "Your job is to see that civilians are protected, not make sure the ONLY the guard protects them. Remember?"
"Funny you should say that, I had to teach Scootaloo that her not caring who saved her friends, but cared more that her friends were saved, made her a good pony," I added in.
That was when the stallion got really mad. Seriously, I think he was going to pop a blood vessel.
He flipped his desk and the carpet under it out of the way and pulled out a...I dunno...it was made out of this stuff I had never seen before, it was long and big, nearly the size of him, and lots of tubes and he pointing it right at us. What was that thing?
"Dang it..." Pinkie muttered. "Shoulda known the pony talking about how big and important war is would have a big weapon…"
The Guard told us later they didn't know he had it either, or how the buck the psycho even got it inside! They guessed piece by piece like a model set. Who wouldn't notice something this big? It had a sword going through a dragon's head painted on the side.
As for how he got it past scanning spells, the hidden safe he put it in was apparently designed to conceal it. Guess a guard would know how to hide stuff FROM the guard.
"Your dreams are over! Viva reality!" And he pulled the trigger with his wing...or tried to...I noticed Rarity's horn was glowing ever so slightly. Rarity can use her telekinesis without her aura showing? "What? Come come on!" He pulled on the trigger so hard I think he was gonna break a wing bone. "I don't believe this horseapples!"
"You should be happy! We're in a closed space and I have forcefield magic! You'd only blown yourself up!" Twilight said.
"That looks dangerous, you really should put it down," Fluttershy said as herself.
He threw down the thingie and began to STOMP on the trigger, but it wouldn't budge! I don't think he even NOTICED Rarity's magic.
"But... but how?" The stallion's lip quivered.
I think at that point the others realized he wouldn't listen to reason. Twilight didn't go all high and mighty. Her tone reminded me more of Cheerilee. "Pinkie Pie's right. This isn't a story about armies, generals, wars, and kingdoms. This is a fairy tale." Two years ago, I'd never think I'd hear those words come out of Twilight's mouth. The look on her face for a tic said she hadn't thought so easier. "This is a story about friends and the magic that comes into being between them! This is a story about ponies who every time their hearts break, as long as there are those who love them, they can come back stronger than before! This is the story that says no pony is alone or meaningless! A tale about a group of friends who in spite of their flaws," she looked at each of us with a smile, "who cover and support one another, somehow always manage to save the day!"
Pinkie Pie hugged her. "You've begun to believe!"
"Don't push it Pinkie Pie." Twilight smiled and hugged her back.
"Oki doki loki!" She smiled and nodded.
Pinkie then looked at the general looking like how Fluttershy says yours truly looked when I stood up to Fluttershy's bullies. "I'm friends with Garnet Chambers and she's a Guard pony and I've heard her story! Even when our stories do focus on Guard ponies, the stories weren't about how tough or big they were or nopony noticing them. Her stories were about them being a band of friends and seeing the big wide world and making PEACE in it!
"Not about who has the bigger non-party cannon! And even when . . . when somepony did go away for real...it wasn't in some big battle. It was an accident. And they weren't forgotten! They were remembered by everypony!"
Applejack nodded. "My cousin might like his explosives, but do yah think he cares how big a cannon he's gonna have to shoot or get shot with? Or heck, even wants a world where he needs to care about that? If he had his way all he'd ever blow up is condemned buildings with no pony in 'em!...or at least buildin's nopony cared or got hurt when he blew 'em up. They managed to kick the flanks of three Changelin' big wigs without killin' anypony! And in case ya missed it, the Night Guard didn't need to kill either! We saved Equestria and no pony had to die! Ponies don't need to die for peace to happen!"
Twilight nodded. "THAT is the story I've been living! That is the story I've been fighting for! And THAT is the story I believe in!"
"What can you know about how the real world works?! You're not soldiers! You're just a bunch of untrained civies! What right do sheltered ponies like you have to say what kind of story this is?"
AJ gave a glare. Applejack's nearly lost her farm a few times, so I think she'd have had some words for the jerk…
"...The world is a cruel place...we need to be cruel back…"
I...don't know what those freaky eyes of hers told her, but AJ blinked all confused.
Then our favorite egghead spoke. "You want your story about big wars? Ponies all becoming warriors? A story where we need to worry about wars around the next corner? You're going to have to find it somewhere else! Because it's NOT going to be here! I'm not going to let it! And neither are my friends, or their friends, or their friend's friends! That includes our friends who are Guards!"
"Traitors and idiots! Your cousin's squad..." the general snarled, glaring at Applejack. "That traitor Thunderchild called me a failure as a guard!"
"And he's right! Ya ain't a guard, yer a buckin' terrorist! Ya wanna know what my cousin and the rest of the guard thinks the guard's real role in Equestria is?" asked Applejack. "Protect the innocent, be there when they need 'em, and keep the peace. The fairy tale knights in shinin' armor yah say have no place in this world of ours? That's what every last good guard Ah know tries their hardest to be!"
And Twilight added, "So I suggest you back down peacefully, because even if you take us down, you are STILL not going to win! Because love is everywhere in Equestria! And that is our real strength!"
"And we are going to show you why!" I declared for all of us!
That was when he drew a hidden wing blade and zoomed at Twilight fast enough to make Fleetfoot jealous. "DIE YOU WORTHLESS FREAK!! TIME TO CUT YOU OUT LIKE THE CANCER YOU ARE!"
He was fast. Really fast. I think we'd all let our guard down a little from how crazy he was acting and when his new toy didn't work out. Even Twilight freaked out at the sight of the sight of him coming at her with intent to kill that didn't belong on a pony's face. I didn't know if she was just gonna teleport or blow up half the room in self defense.
I was so focused on him I didn't even notice Rarity, she moved so fast too, so gracefully, with or without wings she was a lot faster than she looked. For first time in my life, ordinary Rarity got ahead of me.
I didn't see when she pulled her hidden dagger out.
Wait! Rarity, no! Don't!
Rarity slits his throat open in a flash, then knocked him backwards from Twilight. As his blood sprayed, he saw her look was of somepony who already knew the decision to kill. Tell me this is a bad dream!
ALL OF US look at Rarity in horror as she threw the weapon away. She'd blocked any of the blood from getting on us. The general looked at her in shock.
"This is what you want, right? Us to be killers like you are? Thinking killing is the best solution for an enemy?" She asked coldly. "This is your definition of a hero?"
I think the General was now the one scared. Tartarus so was I! Rariy! What the Pony-Hell?!
Rarity's telekinesis grabbed the general's neck and applied pressure to keep the bleeding long enough for medical attention to be given. "Luckily, I'm not you, and I never will be."
"You want to play by hardcore rules? Go right ahead Sir. But no pony said we had to," Fluttershy said as she, Rarity, and AJ all got to work on the spot to save his life. Fluttershy calmly slipped her armor off so she could work freely. Rarity using one of her cloths to stem the bleeding and began to sew it shut, that would hold until the medical unicorns (who were on their way as soon as Twilight could call them) could use healing magic on his throat. Pinkie Pie gave him a pillow to sit on.
It's creepy to think about how once upon a time, the only thing that could be done for an injury like my smashed wing would be to...get rid of it. Now a few days in the hospital and it was good as new. He'd be making loud speeches again in no time. Where are my earmuffs?
He now owed us his life after he he called us crutches. Works for me.
"I apologize sir," Rarity bowed her head to him. "But I know you'll make a complete recovery."
"Crazy... you're all crazy..." He'd say through a slit throat as Fluttershy bandaged his neck right after Rarity cut it open in defense of Twilight. "I'm your enemy, kill me!"
"NO!" Rarity snapped back. "That is the not the hero I am, and it's not the hero I want to be!" She looked at us, looking relieved. "And I have friends who will make sure I won't." She gave me a meaningful smile. Got yer back and you've got mine Rares, got it.
"That's a relief," Pinkie Pie said smiling bright as the sun and looking ready to gush tears of happiness. She looked like she'd been scared something bad was about to start but didn't. Well so am I.
"Equestria's strength has NEVER been weapons or killer instinct, and it'll be a dark day if it is. Its strength in our hearts, our friendship, our love, no matter how blindly naive that sounds to YOU, that is how THIS world works. In this world? Those things are magic! OW!" Heh, Twilight's tower of soap boxes finally hit the ceiling.
"You know darling," Rarity said as she tied up the general as she and the others healed him up at the same time. I think we were all too deep in shock over what she just did. "Blades are not my special talent, but I know enough about fencing, detail, and precision to avoid cutting a major artery, or your vocal cords. It still feels and would be fatal of course, but there's still a decent window of time to save that pony, and it's relatively simple to keep them stable until professional help arrives."
His eyes widened.
So did all of ours.
"But now you know how it feels to be somepony who doesn't need to die but feels like they're going to."
"You, you never intended to kill him." Fluttercruel finally got her voice out.
"Of course I didn't darling . . . now let's see if I can clean the blood off his armor before the paramedics get here."
We all gave her a quick hug. Showing that none of us were scared of her now. Rarity shed a few tears of joy. Yeah, we trusted her, that was friends did. We have enough burdens.
"I think you better clean the blood off yourself too."
"Of course I am darling, I just felt it proper to take care of him first. I'm sorry if I got any on-"
"I, sort of meant, that you should clean it off so Sweetie Belle doesn't see it."
"Ah . . . yes . . . good point."
Oh right, I guess I might wanna leave a few detail out when I recap this one to Scootaloo.
What did my Captive Audience think of the General when his teammates told him? He was the kind of pony my Master self would have used and backstabbed without a second thought. Hehe...Audience was disgusted by the pony. I remember, it killed me inside when I learned what Audience had been trained to do, that any pony could approve of, teacher, and take in, the training to make the decision he does. I was surprised when I learned the General wasn't Black Thistle.
Audience might be willing to kill if needed...but he doesn't think it should ever be the first solution. Or the second. Or the third. Or anything but the last resort. And even then it had to be in combat. Truth be told, he'd sooner cut off his own horn than murder somepony in coldblood. The General had tried to murder a battered Changeling who couldn't defend himself and an innocent mare who hadn't done anything but try to talk sense into him.
Nopony even thought of pressing charges against what Rarity did.
"...There's a difference between what Rarity did and what the General wanted to do," Audience explained. "He went into battle planning to kill...wanting to kill. I never do, and I don't think any good soldier ever should...the choice Rarity made, and the choice I'm trained to be able to make...that's meant to be in the middle of battle when there's no other choice. It's never a premeditated act. It never should be...And I hope I never have to make it for real. That's the difference "
"...Would you have if you'd been in Canterlot?"
"The others proved killing wasn't necessary, so no, I know I wouldn't have. In fact since they were using tranq rounds, I might have been a big help in nonlethal situation: I can aim through gaps they can't. If there was any chance of a peaceful solution, Minny, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Being willing to kill isn't a luxury, it's a responsibility...one I will never take lightly. Ever. And you know what? Thinking about how our world is...I don't think a time will ever come where I need to make the choice. I like it best that way."
And I believed him. After all. In our world, he had never had to kill.
And I had to ask Audience if he could figure out why what none of us had guessed. "...How did we not know he was…"
"Considering how sometimes ponies react to who my dad is, I think maybe they just keep their lives separate. That way each could stand on their own...not sure we'll ever know now..."
We turned him over to the guards after that darling. After the doctors examined him, he was committed instead of facing trial. I think he was given Golden Tiara's old room.
Why did I do it darling?...It was a moment. I just reacted.
Maybe I was so sick and tired of this, we had beaten the real enemy, the changelings had all stood down and were now the loyal subjects of Queen Cadence and had surrendered without a fight, from the ones in Canterlot to all across Equestria and released their prisoners and gave up, it was what their Queen commanded them to do after all. Their consequences wouldn't be gory executions or a genocide, it would be true justice being delivered and hopefully teaching them a lesson.
This "Guard" wanted the violence to just continue all because it didn't go the way he wanted, and things didn't work out the way he thought they should work out.
Maybe I wanted to give him an object lesson, he was so caught up in the 'blood or glory' mentality that I think he forgot how ugly violence was.
I may not know much about comicbooks, but the crusaders read enough that I picked-up a thing or two. There was a comic were Superstallion seems to go berserk on a team of murderous heroes, seemingly slaughtering them all...it was all an act to teach them a lesson of what he'd be like if he became the person they wanted him to be. Maybe that was what I wanted to do.
The changelings hadn't killed anypony, and no changeling ponies had been killed. Most ponies barely had an idea of how weapons works or that Equestria even had weapons, pies were considered basic weapons for a reasons. Equestria didn't believe in lethal weapons and the Guard reflect that. It wasn't our nature. Or it shouldn't have been our nature. Myself and Rainbow Dash may be willing to kill, but it still isn't in our nature to actually do it.
Shining's squad never took one life, and took out three Changeling higher ups. They only used lethal force on the two enemies they encountered that proved too tough for anything else to work, and still found a way not to kill anypony. Not because lethal weapons weren't available from the first moment of their counterstrike, they could easily have used the crossbow bolts available to them. They chose to use nonlethal weapons in every case they could possibly had done so because they were ponies and didn't want to kill. And they never needed take a life.
When the Night Guard had arrived, they'd come with non-lethal tactics and an army of Pinkie Pies, not a big airship fleet firing broadside cannons at the swarm. And they didn't need it.
Most of the Guard praised their actions and ours. Soldiers didn't have to be killers...they could be ponies. No, they should always be ponies...er...or whatever species they are.
And the General forgot how horrid and ugly violence is! All he saw was 'pacifists equal helpless.'
Maybe it was the sheer wrongness of seeing that killing look in the eyes of a pony, or that I remembered what Princess Celestia had told myself and Rainbow Dash, and I reacted accordingly. Rainbow and I had both been marked by the decision to kill during our quest to save Fluttershy from herself. And it was part of our responsibility to make sure our friends didn't suffer the same.
If it wasn't for Princess Celestia's words, I'd suggest to Rainbow Dash that she and myself submit ourselves for therapy just for that. At least I knew that that killing look didn't have a true home in our eyes like it did his...I know the doctors can cure him.
Because deep down, somewhere in there, he was still doing what he did because he loved Equestria.
""M-My Princess! Please! All of this! I've done it for you! For Equestria! For her ponies! For the guard! Please! These creatures! They were supposed to be crushed by the might of the Guard! Your Guard! THEY ALL CHEATED! It wasn't supposed to be this way! I was trying to SAVE Equestria from a dark age! I was trying to save you! This wasn't supposed to happen!"
The Princess looked sadly at him. There wasn't a drop of anger in her eyes. If anything, she sounded hurt. "I'm so sorry my little pony...I'm so sorry, if your plan had worked, you'd have brought about your own dark age. An Equestria drenched in blood is one I couldn't be proud of..."
He broke down crying after that.
The pegasus guard looked at Digger Wasp who was now sitting next him, both of them shackled and under guard as they were moved. "Remember, I could have stopped you, I found out about you, and you WOULD have lost if-"
Digger Wasp gave an annoyed sigh. "'Found out?' We led you right to us."
"We purposely PICKED YOU. Her Majesty knew she might need a normal pony who wasn't geassed. On top of that, a member of the brass was a good thing to have as a chess-piece. We combed over the profile of every high ranking Guard before settling on you. Her Majesty WAS an actress playing the part of a Princess after all, and she knew how to string together a narrative for you to follow. Then again, you wanted to believe it. You were dancing to her strings before you even met her. You were angry, scared, seeing yourself as the only sane pony in Canterlot? You were perfect. Did you really think it was because you were so smart and you were the only high ranking guard in Canterlot to ever notice us?"
"Then...everything I did for you-"
"Could have been done by anypony in the brass. You were just a signature on paperwork when we wanted it, something I could easily have done. Don't you get it? Your little scheme needed us to work much more than ours needed you to work. You had our infilitrators, me, and Chrysalis herself 'working with you.' Without us, your little attempted uprising wouldn't have gotten off the ground period. You're not in charge of the entire military, you needed what we provided and we got your signature whenever we needed it, the intel you had. Your attempts to trap us merely served us because we fed you false information. We knew you'd turn on us from the beginning. Without you, we'd have found somepony else. You think you were the lion, but all you were was a puppet on strings the Queen could have replaced."
I fully admit, I didn't like that smug traitor. Changelings dislike having our deeds lessened. We view each of our accomplishments as something we scraped and clawed our way to achieve. Or at least, ones like us do it seems.
Taking credit for something that you didn't do isn't well liked by the Changelings. Even among our own traitors, we still give them credit where credit is due.
Former-Queen Chrysalis didn't hate traitors. She hated traitors who did it poorly after all. Lone Ranger was brilliant at betraying Equestria, and being a Guard, and being a general, but at out manipulating Her Former-Majesty or The Sun Queen, he was a few hundred years too inexperienced. He didn't even have the authority to do most of what we helped him do if he'd never met us.
Besides, his genocide would have included Jewel-Wasp, nothing else needs to be said.
Afterwards, Ah had a talk with the General...or what his real name was...General Lone Ranger. We didn't bother with formalities. But he did have one question.
"So I'm a terrorist for thinking we needed to not be stagnate?" He didn't even look up at me.
"No! Heck no! Ya were a terrorist fer taking things to an extreme. Keepin' the guard able to protect us? Ah got no problem with that. Less danger ponies need to be in the better. My problem is with the buckin' ponies IN more danger than yer plan woulda protected 'em from. The truth of the world is anythin' can be evil if taken tah an extreme. And ya sure did! And Ah dreamed of a world where Ah did the exact same thing. And that's why Ah gotta asked. Why did ya do it?"
Ah'd done my research on the guy. The scary part was realizen he'd been hidin' this sickness of his for awhile. The guards working with him thought he was a workaholic, but never thought he'd snapped like this. He'd looked just like anypony else. Mah guess? Havin' that world he made up come crashin' down around his ears ripped his mask right off him.
Guess that makes sense. If he'd been a screamin' lunatic the whole time, then he'd never have been able to pull of anythin'.
"I told you why."
"No, ya told us what ya wanted...not why ya wanted it."
"There was no other reason."
"That a fact now?"
Ah looked close into his eyes as Ah made 'em look into mine.
My colt's out there in the big bad world...I hope he'll be okay.
I hope Princess Cadence keeps that I'm his dad hush. If he rides my coat-tails then he can't stand on his own four hooves...I won't be having my son babied for me being in the brass.
Ugh...so much paper work. That's one thing those military radio dramas like to gloss over. Reorganizing the guard after Princess Luna's return is a killer. I feel like somepony is trying to make my life harder.
The rank and file ponies have no idea how much effort this job takes. Every day it seems like I have another responsibility on my plate.
Sometimes I wish life was like in the radio dramas. At least there life is straightforward. It's so much simpler. Kind of like it was back in the time of the three tribes. Minus the racism. Back then all that mattered was being a warrior...being a warrior meant you were safe. There wasn't mounds of paperwork, troop reassignments, mistakes, and complaints to sift through.
How many disasters can that little town near the Everfree have in a year? Is it infested by black cats or something?
And then there's that incident with that cult in Columbia.
The world seems to be a more dangerous place every day…
My boy said one of Cadence's hoofmaidens nearly got lynched or something because of a misunderstanding...I hope he'll be okay out there…
Does anypony care about the danger we put ourselves in everyday? Or am I the only one that sees the danger anymore?
Back in the time of the three tribes, they just shot all the monsters and bad guys...hehe, what dark times those were...simpler, but darker...
Ugh...I'm getting too old to deal with this stuff...I feel like the world's on my shoulders and I'm the only thing that keeps it from tumbling...
I feel like I need to drink more coffee than I used to just to keep moving...I don't think I've been sleeping very well lately...I don't have time to worry about that.
I've been putting in so many requests for so many things, I can't remember which were approved or rejected. What reforms happened and didn't.
Princess Celestia says she appreciates me trying to help think everything is under control. She appreciates me working hard...
I feel like if I stop working, the world will end. Like...like if I fail my duty, even for a second, everything will fall to pieces.
I can't stop.
I have to keep trudging on.
(General's Notes: I... I didn't think that. I just, I just couldn't think of anypony to stand in for me!)
(Farmer's Notes: Maybe that's the reason ya told yourself, this is what yer heart and mind were really thinkin'. Take it from a mare who almost worked herself to death.)
I watched the chimera-demon drive the world mad. Drive the country I loved mad. Turn the people I've sworn to protect into mad ponies. So much suffering. So much pain.
I tried so hard to protect this country...I've given it everything I could possibly give...Did I not try hard enough?
Was all I did just not good enough? What else could I have done differently?...Done differently with what I had?
Nightmare Moon...she'd been defeated, sure...the Bearers...could they do it again? I have to believe that they can.
That's when I looked out the window and saw them all leaving the hedge maze...all but the Princess' student, twisted mockeries of what they were. He'd beaten them...
...Equestria's heroes had failed! They couldn't defend us when we needed it the most! They'd lost! We were doomed for relying on a bunch of civilians!
Our Princesses can't be everywhere at once, we Guards should be able to protect Equestria's ponies, not have standing orders to retreat in the face of mad gods, not rely on a random group of civilians staying friends with each other.
The pegasi of old...they wouldn't stand for this. They knew what they were doing...that's what the world needs...Yes! That's what it needs! Instead of relying on fairytales and magic.
If we'd been like we were back then, this would never have happened! That's what Equestria needs now! Warriors! Warriors that would have shot that devil dead as he emerged from his tomb!
In the real world, there's no such thing as superheroes. If we want to save the world, we need to be able to do it ourselves.
...That's what more I can do! Yes...that's it...For Equestria...
The devil finally appeared before me, and looks me in the eyes. He scratched his chin looking me over. "No, you're good." And then he vanished.
The mask...I wear a mask every day...I hide the realization I've come to. No pony will know until the time comes to wake this world up…
No one will know until it's too late.
My son...he and his fiance...they shouldn't be dead...If we'd been stronger, that never would have happened. These stupid mana distortions would have been stopped with their creators before they could start if we were!
That's it. No more doubts...it's time to tell that stupid bug I'm all in.
Ah staggered back and gasped. "...So that's why..."
Lone Ranger was shakin' a bit, he was looking at his own hooves like he didn't recognize 'em. Or maybe he was seein' the blood he had planned to have on 'em. And maybe he got a glimps that some of the blood he was gonna spill was as an innocent as a little filly's.
He didn't even bother to ask what Ah did. After all, Ah was an Element of Harmony, who knew what mumbo jumbo Ah could do. And he was already not in the best of states to care.
Ah'll admit, Ah feel mighty ashamed of makin' him remember that, the truth hurts. Makes me feel way too much like Nightmare Mirror after what Her Madjesty made me do to RD. But Ah already made my bed and Ah'm gonna sleep in it. And he had to see why he had REALLY done what he did, and what he planned to do. Sorry. Ah'm a silly pony who couldn't think of a better way. Ah'm so sorry.
"Ah'm sorry...But Yer wrong about one thing, Mister...we're already strong, ya just couldn't see it."
Ah took some papers out of my saddlebags and hoofed them to 'im.
"Fancy-smacy statistics on Equestria's crime rates compared to the rest of the world, list of world/Equestria threatenin' things the Guard has stopped, and a list of every conflict Equestria's stopped peacefully...includin' this one," Ah explained, keeping my eyes on him. Truth be told, Ah ain't good with stats and statistics, managin' one farm is one thing, but this makes my head hurt just looin' at 'em. But Ah knew this was the language this guy spoke. Ah had Twilight and Shinin' get them for me and told me what to say and how to say it. Dash thought Ah was weird for goin' to this much trouble for the jerk, till Ah told 'er why Ah was doin' it.
"Equestria has one of the lowest crime rates on the planet and has ended more conflicts peacefully than any other land. And because of that...accordin' to Twilight's brother, a lot of equines are alive who'd be dead if otherwise. As for the threats the Guard and the Princesses have saved Equestria from? Most of 'em. We weren't lyin' when we said we just take care of the threats the Guard can't. That's exactly what we do.
"...The mega storm yer son died stoppin' is listed too, along with the honors he was given...he died a hero, General, do ya want to taint that by doin' stuff like what ya did in his memory?"
Ah admit, Ah didn't know Ranger dyin' was part of what sent 'em over the edge when Ah got that stuff. That was just a nice little twist of fate...no, a nice twist woulda been him and his sweetheart risin' from the dead. Ah knew 'bout Ranger because he was one of Ellis' friends and Ellis had been torn up when he died...and when an Apple is hurt, we tend to turn to the family to lean on.
He didn't lash out, he didn't turn on a dime and admit he was wrong neither, he just sat there, everythin' Ah said slowly sinkin' in.
Ah turn away from the hoofcuffed general and left him thinkin' in his room. Ah know Ah shook 'em up real good. Ah left him with a lot tah think about. Hopefully enough to show 'em he needs a lotta help. Here's hopin' he comes back to himself, Ah know it's what his son wouldda wanted. And Ah know it's what Princess Celestia would want.
"I think I get now why The Princess had you come for me."
"Yeah, Ah think Ah get it now too."
Now let's talk about some of the happy times after the fightin' now please?