Rites of Ascension

by CvBrony

(Un)Expected Retribution

“I regret, Grand Mage Sparkle, that we have uncovered precious little else during the night. You are already up to date on what we have, but our investigations are still ongoing.”

Twilight slumped back in the seat in front of what used to be her brother’s desk. “I was afraid of that.”

Grand General Blueblood flipped a few pages back in his stack of papers. “Personally, however, I am quite concerned about these ‘bandits’ you described that assailed that village. Were you able to determine the culprit behind them?”

Twilight sighed and shook her head. “No. I gave what little evidence I had to Lieutenant Intelligentsia. She promised to get the right ponies on the job. Their teams could comb for a lead faster than I could personally. If they turn something up, I’ll jump on it. I want whoever did this to face justice, sooner rather than later.”

“It is… disappointing you could not uncover more information.”

Twilight’s eye twitched. Who does he think he is? I almost died!

Blueblood pulled out a piece of stationery and began to write. “Hopefully, however, we will be able to discourage any more violence on that town. I am going to order General Blaze to shift her forces west so they’re close by. We will be able to station an elite patrol there that way. Anypony else daring to be so brazen as to burn an entire town will have to answer to the Yellowjackets.”

“Yellowjackets? Are they another elite stunt flying group like the Wonderbolts?” Twilight scratched her chin with her pen.

Blueblood lifted his eyebrow. “You do not know much about our special military units, do you, Grand Mage?”

She tried to summon the will to glare at him but just stared blankly. “Up until a few months ago I was a librarian, General. I know about military history and structure, but if you’re asking about the specific reputation of individual units, no. Not unless they have a storied history I could read about.”

He reached into Shining Armor’s old desk and pulled out a three-ring binder, laying it on the desk and flipping the pages. It was stuffed full of magazine clips, ripped from their parent publications. Each page had some article or picture of different military units.

“Your brother did leave me a small mess here in some respects—”

Twilight huffed and then froze. She didn’t think about doing it—it just came out.

Blueblood continued anyway. “—but one of the things I think he did wisely was to catalogue how Princess Celestia and the military were portrayed and perceived in the media. Look at this.”

Twilight lifted out one of the pages and read the headline. “‘Yellowjackets save kidnapped mare, burn down warehouse in process.’”

“It was actually three warehouses. They are not a pleasant group. Brutal, but effective, and they are most certainly not a ‘stunt’ group. They will get the job done. That being said, I would recommend steering clear of the General herself. She did not much care for your brother. While that is not a surprise, and you do have the right parts, some of that loathing may carry over to you.”

The page she was holding in her magic went limp, folding backwards while Twilight scrutinized him as hard as she had the page. “Right parts?”

“I am afraid that General Blaze does not care much for stallions. Hates them, in fact. Including me. And your brother. And anypony and anything else with a ‘Y’ chromosome. Do not think that makes you alright in her book, though. She hates most mares, too.”

“Cheery.” Twilight put the page back. “How did somepony like that become a General of Equestria?”

“By out-fighting and out-strategizing everypony above her that did not already have four stars on their shoulders. Do not underestimate her simply because you can use magic. Everything about her is ferocious. Rest assured, I will make sure that is made obvious to those carrying out these attacks.”

“As long as they don’t burn the place down in the process. They’ve seen enough fire lately.” Twilight paused for a moment, looking at the large troop movements map behind him. “Wait, if you move Blaze there, the Gryphons have a huge opening since Towers’ troops are on lockdown. I mean, I kind of doubt they’ll try anything—it’s not in their nature—but still. Isn’t that against current doctrine?”

Blueblood turned around to look at the map. “Ah, so you have not heard yet. Remember how I said your brother left me a bit of a mess?”

“Yes,” Twilight said while grinding her teeth.

“Well, I am having a devil of a time determining his successor. He clung to Intelligentsia as an assistant rather than taking and training a proper sub-captain, and I am afraid our resident conspiracy theorist is in no way, shape, or form able to take up leading the Royal Guard. Nor are most of the lieutenant generals really up for the task—except for one: Silver Tempest. Unfortunately for me, she has chosen to take Towers’ old spot instead. Her new troops are being activated as soon as they clear their inspections. Given her experience on the oceans, there is even talk of giving her command of the Bellerophon and changing her title to ‘Admiral.’”

“I take it from your tone that you do not approve,” Twilight noted. “Not that I should be concerned for you, but why?”

Blueblood turned back around. “Well, for one thing, it makes my job more difficult. For another, though, I feel she is too brash. If she is not careful, it will be her undoing. I do not think we should be handing over our brand-new, over-budget warship to her. But that is neither here nor there. Your concern should be this.” He pulled out a scroll from his desk and lifted it over with his magic.

Twilight grabbed and unfurled it with her own telekinesis. “New orders from Celestia?”

“Correct. I shall see you later, Grand Mage, as I have things to do. Please lock the door as you leave.”

She didn’t even pay attention to him as she pored over the words.


By the time you read this, most of the new fort in Ponyville should be completed. You should take the time to go back and visit your friends and family, but more importantly, I want you to tour the fort. In particular, you should review its residence to see if it needs anything more to serve as a secure home for you.

While I have no doubt Luna would prefer you to stay in the chambers she has designed, neither of us are under the illusion that you do not miss Ponyville. You may stay in either place as much as you like while not on missions for us. As such, I want you to be comfortable in both. If you need anything, let the Major in command know. He will get you whatever you want, within reason.

After you return, I will have a rather large task for you. Gather what you will need for an extended mission. Although I am uncertain exactly when I will need you to leave, it will be at least a few days, quite likely longer.


“Hmmm…” A pen twirled in Twilight’s magic. “Not looking forward to seeing Mom again. More importantly though, she mentioned an extended mission. But, an extended mission to where?”

She started going through her brother’s old desk again. “Still rightfully Shiny’s desk, as far as I’m concerned. I should be able to steal some of his paper. Aha!” She pulled out a blank piece and got to writing.


Twilight shuddered. It still feels weird writing that. Casual words, Twilight. Casual words.


I’m on my way.

Is there any way you could give me a hint as to where I’m going on this? Warm, cold, high elevation, deep valley, etc.? Also, is it an extended combat mission or something else? It would help in my preparations.


She rolled it up in her magic and quickly applied her own signature seal. It’s been a while since I needed to use a seal spell on my own letter. I suppose I should get used to it. When she was done, a bunch of glowing lines wrapped around the scroll, sealing it with an elaborate version of her cutie mark in the center.

Turning around, she trotted out the door to the office. Briefly, very briefly, she considered leaving it open, but national security matters came before grudges, and she closed and locked it before heading up the elevator. On her way out through the top floor, she stopped at “her” alcove where two familiar earth ponies were going over a map.

“Hey, Double Blind?” she asked.

Both of the earth stallions looked up and said “Yes, ma’am?”

She raised an eyebrow at them.

“Sorry,” one of them said.

She tossed the scroll at him. “See that this gets sent to Celestia, would you? Quickly, this time. And without damage.”

“Heh. The Lieutenant heard about what happened to the last one. She was right pissed,” Feint chuckled.

Twilight smirked a little. “Well, at least she didn’t try to hide it. It’s good to know there are a few higher ranks here that aren’t politicians. So, any new threats to my wellbeing today?”

Double tapped on the map. “At the moment, nothin’. Most everypony is still trying to figure out what to do after the coup. Word about savin’ Wintervale is slowly startin’ tae spread. We expect most of the nation will know within a couple o’ days.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’ll do wonders for my reputation. ‘She banished a dragon to Tartarus!’ At this rate, mares will weep in the streets and flee in terror when I pass by.”

Feint smiled at her. “Well, the official word is just ‘banished.’ We left out the ‘other dimension’ thing. Some will hear about it, though. That whole town knows, so there’s no keeping it bottled up. But I doubt any of them know what kind of other dimension it is. For all they know, he landed in one filled with nothing but piles of stuffed animals and spiders.”

Double Blind and Twilight cringed, shuddering as they brushed off their coats.

“Why in blazes would you go and say something like that?”

“Gah!” Twilight grabbed her head with her hooves. “I can feel them on my skin, and they aren’t there!”

Feint fell on the ground, holding his stomach in laughter. “You two should see the looks on your faces!”

“Oh, that’s it!” Double finished brushing himself off. “I don’t know how, but I’m going to get you back for that one!”

Twilight shuddered, the skin-crawling feeling fading, and her legs leading her away. “I’m getting out of here before you two put any more autosuggestions in my head.”

“Hey! I didn’t do anything this time!” Double called after her.

“This time?” Feint questioned with a giant grin on his face. “So, what prank are you planning next?”

“Ach, you’re terrible,” Double groaned.

Their words started to obscure from the spells, and Twilight was glad to be out of there. She didn’t even slow down when she said, “at ease,” to the guard at the portal, whisking herself through without stopping. Even the little bit of wooziness from its after-affects wasn’t about to slow her down.

“Hey, Twilight!” Rainbow flew down, landing to walk next to her. “We get new orders yet? Spike’s at the exit, waiting for us.”

“We did, actually!” Twilight changed her stride to match her friend’s. “And this one should pretty easy.”

Rainbow slammed Twilight into the wall, knocking the wind out of her and covering her mouth with a cyan hoof. “Twilight! What the hell’s gotten into you!”

Twilight knocked away the hoof and coughed. “Ugh! What’s gotten in to me?” She stopped for a second, wheezing. “What’s gotten in to you?”

“You never, ever say a mission is going to be easy. Ever! It’s like, daring your ancestors to haunt and curse you! Your wings could get clipped, or, or your horn will get dipped in Poison Joke! Remember the Poison Joke, Twilight? Remember!?”

Twilight gently pushed her away and kept moving towards the exit. “Rainbow, all the Princess wants me to do is go to Ponyville and see if I need anything for the royal residence in the new fort there. What’s so difficult about that?”

Rainbow looked around like someone was about to shoot her with a crossbow bolt. “I’m just warning you, never say a mission is easy. Ever. Something always happens.”

Twilight sighed and spotted Spike waiting in a doorway. “Rainbow, trust me. We’ll be fine. Come on. I’ll treat you to a smoothie at Bon Bon’s.”

“Hey, Twi! What’cha talking about?” Spike waved, starting to walk on the other side of Twilight.

Twilight shook her head. “Nothing huge. Celestia wants us to head back to Ponyville and see how the fort’s coming along. Should be almost done. Ready to go?”

“Ponyville? Heck yeah! Been way too long since I had a Sugarcube Corner cupcake! When do we leave? How do we leave?”

“Now. I figured we’d take the train,” Twilight smiled. “I don’t want to tie up a royal chariot for a simple visit home when Canterlot is still on high alert.”

As they got to the huge main castle doors, Spike opened them ahead of the two mares, and Twilight couldn’t help but smirk. To Twilight's magic, the weight was nothing, but Spike still liked to run ahead of her and hold open the doors if she didn't beat him to it—especially if there were other ponies in their group. Then, she would always say, “Thank you, Spike,” and step through.

They walked down the main path outside the castle and through the immaculately kept garden, finally coming to the extra-wide castle gates guarded by twelve soldiers instead of the standard two. They walked past the gates and down the city streets among all the ponies going about their day, heading towards the train station.

“Not many ponies staring at us this time,” Twilight noted after a while. “Guess we’ve just become another group of soldiers here.”

“Eh, I’ve gotten used to the staring.” Spike shrugged. “Dragon, remember?”

“True enough,” Twilight agreed, stopping for a moment at the center of a large intersection. “Still, it’s nice to be able to walk the city again. I’m beginning to understand why Luna likes to sneak out of the castle in disguise and do her own thing from time to time.”

“Hey, Twilight?” Rainbow poked her in the shoulder. “Take a look over there. Is that who I think it is?”

Twilight and Spike both looked over where she was pointing.

“Whoa.” Spike scratched his head. “And she’s heading this way. Do you really think that’s…”

“Hard to mistake the hat and cape,”  Twilight nodded.

The mare trotted right up to the three of them with both remorse and determination on her face. She didn’t change direction or look away after seeing them. Instead, she stared at Twilight the entire way, and when she was within a couple meters, she stopped and bowed.

“Grand Mage Twilight Sparkle,” she said. “The Great And Powerful Trixie… surrenders.”