After loading up into the gunships, Princess Cadance sat while medics attended to Shining Armor. The gunship bumped as it flew through the sky, passing through a couple of clouds. A couple of troops were bragging to each other about destroying the creatures, which they referred to as Diamond-Drones.
“Hey, thanks again for saving me and my husband” Princess Cadance thanked Commander Shrike, who was cleaning his helmet.
Commander Shrike was actually quite handsome, having a regal blue mane and silky white fur. However, he did look a bit scruffy, as he had probably been in many battles before this. This reminded Princess Cadance of Shining Armor a little bit, except less scruffy.
“No problem, your majesty” Commander Shrike responded as he politely bowed.
“But, how did you know we were royalty?” Princess Cadance asked him.
“Our master told us everything about you, even Celestia’s sister, Luna” Commander Shrike explained, leaving Princess Cadance with more questions than answers.
Your husband is awake now, you can see him” A medic informed Princess Cadance, who ran to her husband and hugged him.
“Shining! I’m so glad that you’re okay” Princess Cadance happily as Shining Armor hugged her more.
“Thank you, but where are we?” Shining Armor asked his wife in confusion, taking in the sights of the gunship. Having been in the military, he’d seen many strange things. But not in his life had he seen anything like this.
“It’s a very long story, but we know that King Sombra is back” Princess Cadance sighed as looked around the gunship. The bumpiness of flying with the ship was still something that Shining Armor needed to get used to, as his face turned green.
“Don’t puke on my ship, we’re practically here!” A pilot told the ponies as the gunship landed on a pad in the middle of a lake. Looking over the sights as she exited, Princess Cadance saw various landmarks that didn’t look like any place in Equestria.
“Welcome to Cloning Facility 253-29391, where clones are made” Commander Shrike informed Princess Cadance and Princess Celestia.
Cloning Facility 253-29291 seemed to look like a high-quality factory. However, the signs of a typical factory were still present. Smoke still escaped and noises louder than fireworks could be heard from other parts of the factory.
“Can you take us to your master?” Princess Celestia asked Commander Shrike.
“No, but you can meet him here” A voice chuckled as a strange being walked onto the landing pad.
He seemed rather alien, not even looking like a pony. The being seemed to walk on two legs, but they were hidden by long, crimson robes. He also wore white robes on his shoulders that seemed to reach the ground. His arms were covered with light armor, it almost looked like a part of his body. In his hand he carried a staff with a strange symbol in the middle of it, with gems on both ends. He also had a face-concealing helmet, with a chainmail-like material covering the front. It also had two horns made from a black ore, and a red sensor in the center of the face.
“Thank you for saving me and my friends at Fillydelphia” Princess Celestia thanked the mysterious being, “But, who are you?”
“I have many names, as I am many years old” The being answered as he took a polite bow to Princess Celestia, “But my clones call me Clonemaster”
“Clonemaster, I don’t mean to be rude in my next statements, but why did you come to save us?” Princess Cadance politely asked Clonemaster.
“That's actually why I wished for you three to see me, because I have an offer that could save Equestria” Clonemaster responded as he opened the door to his facility, leading the three inside.
Inside of the facilities were strange, grey creatures with bulbous heads and red eyes working on various panels. When one would press a panel, various robotics began to create a white pony with black hair.
“What are those things that are making the clones?” Princess Cadance inquired Clonemaster.
“Those are my Clone Makers, and they’re being paid if you want to know” Clonemaster responded as he continued to lead the tour.
“Let’s not dance around this, why are you having us tour your facility?” Princess Celestia asked the question that was on everyone’s mind.
“I wish for you to have access and use my clone army in the war, and in exchange I want some political power in your government” Clonemaster answered as he showed them a group of clones standing at attention. At the front of each line of clones was a pony with either yellow, blue, red, or green mane. These were most likely commanders, similar to Commander Shrike.
“Is there anything else to offer?” Shining Armor raised an eyebrow in suspicion.
“Why yes, I can give locations of Sombra’s troops and future locations of his Diamond Drones for no extra price” Clonemaster added as he let out a nice chuckle. Princess Celestia turned to face Princess Cadance and Shining Armor, who looked at her in return.
“We need some time to think on this and get the approval of the representatives of Equestria” Princess Celestia answered as Clonemaster stroked his chin.
“Fine, but do come back at another time soon” Clonemaster sighed, “But at least keep in contact with me”
“Alright then, now have a good rest of your day” Princess Celestia smiled as a pair of clones lead Princess Celestia, Princess Cadance, and Shining Armor out of the facility, leading them to the gunship. Clonemaster checked for their departure, and stealthily opened up a communication link.
“How long until my Diamond-Drones are complete?” King Sombra inquired Clonemaster.
“They’ll be ready in about two or three days, and they’ll be ready to face and destroy Celestia’s grand army” Clonemaster responded.
“Excellent! Now Celestia’s ponies will be crushed under my foot!” King Sombra declared as Clonemaster ended communications with him.
During the next morning, delegates from all around Equestria had begun to gather inside of the Canterlot Castle. Fifty representatives had made their way here, ranging from gryphons to giraffes to zebras to dragons.
“Good morning, my fellow rulers” Princess Celestia greeted the others from her large stand, “As you may or may not know, King Sombra has begun to invade Equestria with an army of Diamond-Drones”
“And how do we intend to protect ourselves?” The Dragon Representative questioned Princess Celestia, her tone sincere.
“You have no right to talk, dragon! If anyone needs protection, it’s us!” The Breezie Representative sneered, “You are big and we are frail and small!”
“Our race has been hunted for many years now, Breezies lack organs that can make fake medicines and our scales for rich collectors!” The Dragon Representative snapped back.
“We have received a generous offer from the Clonemaster to use a cloned army to fight for Equestria” Princess Celestia answered as she showed a hologram of the Clonemaster.
“Yes, I can insure you that my clones will annihilate King Sombra’s army, I swear it n my life” Clonemaster addressed the room, causing the entire hall to erupt into chaotic debate.
“Are we no longer strong enough to protect ourselves anymore?! Should we even trust this Clonemaster that she speaks of?!” The Zebra Representative demanded as more insults and yells were hurled at Princess Celestia.
“I can insure you all that-”
“I move for a group of small nations to join King Sombra’s new empire!” The Breezie Representative declared as twenty-two other representatives cheered. Princess Cadance gasped as she was sitting next to Princess Celestia at the time.
“I second that!” The Diamond Dog Representative agreed as the entire room was now consumed by name-calling and finger-pointing.
“We’re leaving! And don’t try to get us back!” The Breezie Representative exclaimed as he and a few others up and left the hall.
“Have I failed to keep us united in these times?” Princess Celestia sighed in defeat as she left the room with her head hanging low. Princess Cadance followed after her, seeing her looking upon Canterlot.
“I’m so sorry that this happened” Princess Cadance comforted Princess Celestia, whom she hugged. Princess Celestia smiled at Princess Cadance, wiping away a teardrop.
“It’s not your fault, it’s just that some folks don’t feel safe anymore” Princess Celestia sighed as the two kept hugging.
Meanwhile, down in Canterlot itself, Shining Armor was walking through the streets, trying to forget about his experience. The nice smells and sights weren’t enough, and the memories began to roll back. He blood and the ambush, those were things that one couldn’t forget about easily.
“Hey, did you notice that Filthy Rich’s business has left?” A mare asked her friend, “No one else sells Zap-Apple Jam, he owned the monopoly on it”
“Yeah, so did four other rich stallions” The second mare responded, “Rumor has it they’ve left Equestria”
“Excuse me, but could you tell me more about this rumor?” Shining Armor politely asked the mares.
“Yes, I can” The second mare responded, “The rumor states that Filthy Rich and four other rich stallions, two with monopolies in weapons and the other two in food have left Canterlot to join some up and coming force”
“Yeah, they might be associated with King Sombra” The mare added as Shining Armor began to realize something.
Not only were representatives of nations leaving, but various owners of big business had left too. Not only did they have the support of well-respected nations, but now the rumors of big business joining them. This wasn’t a normal political situation, this was the beginning of a war.