This is wonderful! Aether has a family of his own now, and he's already improving his relations with all the world powers!
Uh oh. Celestia looks upset.
And so does Luna.
And the Elements...
Well, might as well see what they're upset about.
"You can't be serious!" Twilight complained. Her friends stood behind her in relative unease as Twilight argued with her mentor.
Celestia was suprised that Twilight would go against her wishes so strongly, but it probably had to do with the work that she had gone through with Aze.
"Twilight, you know the threat that Aether and his daughters represent. We cannot allow them to cause terror."
Twilight pointed a hoof at the carnival, where changelings of seperate hives were hoof wrestling. "What threat?!"
"You may not see it now, but what would happen if Aether's daughters began to lay eggs? If their brood swept across Equestria, or even worse, allied with Chrysalis?"
"Queen Aze wouldn't let that happen! Why would they even ally with Chrysalis? She's the one that forced Aze to reveal her hive and beg for mercy!"
"I do not trust that Aze is as helpless as you think, Twilight. She secured an alliance with Equestria, Minos and the Griffon Empire within a month, and became a celebrity overnight. She could cause immense economic chaos with a whim, and she distances herself from directly assisting Equestria."
"Princess Celestia?" Applejack interjected. "Why don't we just ask Queen Aze if she'd ally with Chrysalis?"
"Why would you expect her to tell the truth?"
"Pinkie Promise." The 6 replied with degrees of enthusiasm.
Celestia barely held back a scoff. "You truely think she would hold herself to that?"
"Hello, everypony!" Queen Aze said suddenly, causing some to jolt with surprise.
"Why all the serious expressions?" I asked.
"Uh, nothin'." Applejack replied, hiding whatever expression she was making with her Stetson.
"Yep! Just talking." Twilight nervously added.
I probably would've left it at that, but their emotions nearly made me fall over from toxicity.
"You're sure about that? I can sense your emotions, you know."
Color Fast facehoofed in response.
"We're having an argument about your son, Queen Aze." Rarity explained.
"Oh? What's wrong?"
Celestia glared for a moment at Rarity before answering. "I am concerned that Aether and his daughters will cause great harm to Equestria if left to their own devices."
"Have you spoken with them?" I asked.
"Er... No." Celestia admitted.
"Seems fairly harsh and judgemental, Celestia. Not very harmonious of you." I needled.
Nopony, not even Celestia, was going to insinnuate that my Son and his daughters were a danger to anybeing just based from looks. If it came down to it, I know that Chrysalis bested Celestia in a fight, so I should be able to as well.
Just, not directly. I'm not built for that.
"Um, Queen Aze?" Fluttershy asked. "Could we ask you a question?"
"Of course, Fluttershy."
"If you were an evil Queen with plans of world domination and enslavement, you would tell us, right?" She asked meekly, looking at my chest instead of making eye contact. Poor thing.
"You know that I cannot lie to the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, or the Diarchs of Equestria, Fluttershy. If you six, or Celestia or Luna asked me a question, I could only tell the truth."
Yes, Pinkie Promises are a serious thing. No, you have no idea how much you just don't understand the severity of the situation.
"So, um... Are you?" Fluttershy asked, hiding behind Twilight.
"Am I what?"
"Planning to take over the world and be evil?"
"Um, no? Why would I do that? I live off of friendship, harmony and generosity, remember? I'm practically allergic to being evil."
She visibly relaxed, and Twilight seemed to have a question.
"What about Aether, Song and Viscera?"
"Well, we haven't spoken with them today. Why don't we ask them?"
Celestia seemed annoyed at how things were developing, but gave Twilight the leadership role by remaining silent.
"That sounds like a plan!" Twilight agreed. "I'll just grab my notes, and we can go find them."
Pinkie Pie then chose this moment to announce, "Everypony, they have a BALL PIT!"
She then immediately jumped towards said attraction, and pretended to be a shark.
Celestia was left behind to wage an internal war of confliction.
It was the same pattern every time.
Doesn't look friendly? Probably evil.
Penchant for dramatic flair? Probably evil.
Suddenly created out of nowhere? Probably evil.
Causing change and upheveal on a grand scale? Probably evil!
So... What was the issue? Aether and his daughters fit all these critera, just as Chrysalis, Sombra, Discord and countless others had.
But Twilight was standing up to her for their benefit. Species were unifying that would normally be at each others throats, for the sake of party games and chocolate fountains!
If Twilight and her friends wouldn't use the Elements of Harmony, then who would?
Did they need to be used at all?
... If there's no crisis or impending doom, what... What do I do?
Celestia looked to a Minotaur with two changelings on each shoulder, the group laughing and playing a game called 'Test your Mettle'.
That gave Celestia an idea.
"Grandma!" Song cheered upon seeing Queen Aze and her great-aunties.
"Hello, Queen Song! My friends and I were eager to meet you after your wonderful entrance." Aze smiled.
"We'd also like to get to know you, too!" Rarity added.
"Oooh, wait, hold that thought one moment!" Song said as an idea came to mind, and she flew off with haste.
"Uh, that went well?" Rainbow shrugged.
"Think she's comin' back?" Applejack asked, looking around and seeing only party-goers.
"I'm baaaack!" Song announced, Aether and Viscera in tow.
"Oh! This is wonderful. Thank you for bringing your family here to meet us, Queen Song!" Twilight replied.
Song landed in front of Aze, Aether landed next to Applejack, and Viscera lightly touched down next to Fluttershy.
Who suprisingly didn't hide behind something upon seeing the bladed queen.
Fluttershy instead reached out a hoof, before realising it would be rude to touch somepony without asking, and saw that Viscera was looking at her. Halfway through neekly withdrawing her hoof, Viscera nodded with a pleasant (as could be managed) smile.
Gleeful comprehension dawning on the butterscotch mare's face, she happily pet Viscera.
Much to the bewilderment of everybeing else gathered, Viscera seemed to enjoy the attention.
"So..." Twilight began, in an effort to let the two have their moment. "That was quite the suprise!"
"We've been planning it for weeks!" Song agreed.
"At least two of them." Aether added.
"All this, in two weeks?" Rarity asked, the scale of the operation, let alone the time that would've been spent just organising and properly setting everything up, causing her newfound respect for the 'evil three'.
"Mhm!" Viscera added, now laying on her side and pawing at Fluttershy; the entire scene beginning to weird everybeing else out.
"That must've been pretty expensive." Applejack commented, taking into account the amount of workers required to run the attraction, in addition to the cost of the attractions itself.
"Oh, that's not an issue Applejack. Aether and now his daughters have access to my bank accounts. I'm even thinking of transferring ten million to each of them for their own accounts!" Queen Aze brightly added.
"Hey grandma, why don't you let your friends have some bits too?" Song realised.
"Oh! The thought completely escaped me. I was so caught up in managing the Hive that I never even considered." Aze looked to the Elements of Harmony. "Would all of you like any bits?"
All of them faced a sudden moral dillemma.
Rainbow Dash could use the money to pay her bills so she wouldn't have to work with the weather team, and thus could spend more time training for the wonderbolts. At the same time, however, she would be leaving Ponyville high and dry of their best weatherpony (not even bragging, it was just fact.)
Fluttershy could care for all the animals she'd ever want to, but it would leave little time for her friends and leave her unable to care personally for all the animals. Certainly she could remain with the animals she had currently, but with everything taken care of, what would there be left to do? Socialise? The thought made her shiver.
Rarity could open as many boutiques as she wanted, but that might also drive her competitors out of business by flooding the market with everything Rarity. Sure, she had wanted to be famous and one of the social elite, but she also enjoyed seeing the unique style of other artists. She also wanted to rise to the top of her own accord, although the offer was wonderful to have been presented in the first place.
Applejack could use that money. No doubt about it. Things on the farm were constantly breaking down, and it was a major source of stress to get the bits to repair everything and keep the farm running. She still enjoyed working the farm herself, and was a source of personal pride to see the orchard bearing fruit. She might not industrialize her orchard and have it taken care of by farmhooves, but she could also pay for Granny's hip and Applebloom's advanced schooling (if she wanted it.)
Pinkie Pie was already rich. Seriously, do you even understand how many bits are involved when baked goods and ponies are combined? On top of that, she was a pirate captain of an airship with complete crew! She already had more bits than she knew what to do with, so at best she would use the funding to throw parties for random ponies in Equestria that seemed sad. Although, if she did that, she would have no time for anything else. All things considered, she didn't need the money.
Twilight, on the other hoof, needed supplies. Paper, ink, quills, ingredients for both spells and now her alchemy hobby, Spike's... something. Twilight was pretty sure Spike needed bits for something. She was happy that she had remembered something about Spike, but that quickly vanished as she realised that she had left him behind in her haste. Maybe she could bring him back gifts and give him a vacation as an apology.
As all the ponies thought on their answer, their reply became a jumbled mess of, " No thanks/ Thank you, but I just can't/ I couldn't possibly ask you for such a thing/ That'd be a mighty big help, Queen Aze/ Thank you!"
Then all the ponies looked to their friends, wondering at their answer and why they wouldn't leap at the opportunity for free bits. Were they crazy?
Queen Aze in the meantime, had picked out each of their replies easily. She was used to thousands of voices speaking at once, after all.
"Very well, Miss Applejack, Miss Twilight. I will open accounts in your name for a total of one million bits each. I would give more, but Celestia scolded me the last time I gave too much money to charity. She said the organiser for the event nearly had a heart attack when the check cleared."
The ponies that had thought to decline the offer immediately reconsidered their position. After all, everypony needs a million bit backup plan, right?
The group spent a while discussing finances, before they returned to the reason for their gathering in the first place.
"So, this is awkward, but..." Twilight began, trailing off to find the nerve to continue her thought.
"Princess Celestia thinks you're evil." Aze finished with a perfectly executed eye-roll. Yes, changelings can roll their eyes. They have that glowing circle underneath the lens, remember?
Aether raised an eyebrow to that. Song snickered, and Viscera rolled over to let the other side of her be rubbed.
"Yep. Evil masterminds. You caught us, we surrender!" Song mocked, raising her forehooves in surrender.
The group had spent several hours catching up, discussing hobbies and generally getting to know each other.
Luna had enjoyed the venue known as 'The Rave' and found that her choice in attire went perfectly.
Celestia had spent her time organising a grand scheme that would set everything how it should be, in her eyes.
Goose had left his perch on Aze's horn, and attacked a cabbage merchant, because who sells cabbages in the desert?
Iron Will was using a stage to give a self-motivation seminar in front of a colossal roller coaster, allowing those with anxiety the force of will to enjoy themselves.
Ambassador Julius was enjoying the war games that were available, one called 'Ice Hockey'. He particularly enjoyed the part where a melee would occur when frustration ran high.
Prince Sta'abel and Zecora were discussing trade agreements, as their peoples had somehow never made contact before today. It turns out that Zecora was very well connected.
With everything going pleasantly, Celestia decided to enact her plan, and sent three letters off to find their mark.
Dear King Aether/Queen Song/Queen Vicera,
I face a serious problem.
By now, something should have happened that would give need to use the Elements of Harmony, but hasn't.
I know this will appear strange to you, but I require your combined unique abilities.
Despite my initial suspicions, I believe all of you to be pure of heart and intent, however, Equestria needs a villain.
I would like to enlist the three of you to be those villains.
To ensure my sincerety, and to honor the quirks of your Grandmother/Mother, I Pinkie Promise to not seal you in stone, or by extension, banish you in any way, so long as no permanent injury or death befalls my subjects. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.
I hope I did that correctly Why am I thinking aloud on paper?
Awaiting your reply,
Solar Diarch of Equestria
P.S. Do not tell Twilight or her friends, or anybeing else.
P.P.S. Seriously, don't.
Aether was fairly surprised when he received his letter. Celestia herself was asking his daughters and himself to play the role of villain to Equestria. He didn't see the reason that Equestria would even need a villain, but perhaps being immortal was boring? He imagined centuries of nothing but meetings, board rooms and courts, listening to complaints day in and out.
Aether then decided that Celestia was completely justified in her need for entertainment, as the requirements of 'enlistment' deemed not to kill or cripple her subjects, thus turning the entire situation into a game.
Now... knowing his Equestrian History, theres one thing that always messes with the villain and causes their defeat.
The Elements of Harmony.
Queen Song took the offer as an opportunity to give her eventual hive a thematic direction. She was thinking of implementing her unique shell into her brood, abd having an army of excellent vocalists.
Queen Viscera thought of the situation and decided it was a form of protection, if completely roundabout and filled with circular logic.
If badguy, then fight badguy. Badguy lose? Wait for new badguy. Badguy win/escape? Fight again.
She also knew that Song and Aether would be extremely proud of her if she contributed, so she agreed to the terms Celestia had presented.
"Alright! I declare this as the First Meeting of the 'Evil' Overlords!"
One of Aze's changelings, Hastur, was there for transcription. He didn't talk much.
First Meeting of the 'Evil' Overlords
A = King Aether
S= Queen Song
V= Queen Viscera
A: Now, on to business. We've all agreed to the terms set by our 'sponsor', yes?
A: V, this is an important meeting. Could you at least speak?
A: Moving on! As I am the most informed on Equestrian history, I will point out the unifying factor of defeat for all villains up to this point. The Elements of Harmony.
S: You mean our great Aunties?
A: No, they're enchanted gemstones that annihilate impure souls and corruption. They are wielded by your great aunties, however. Each of them has a connection to one of the elements. Normally, we would steal these Elements and lock them away is a super secure location with dragons or giant snake monsters to guard them. However, all of that has been tried, and it failed miserably. Instead, we're going to put an advertisement in the paper looking for our 'Lost Family Heirlooms'. When some idiot eventually brings us these items, or more likely, we simply disguise ourselves and personally steal them, I will put two of each in our safety deposit boxes in the bank. I will craft look-alikes, and store them in the previously mentioned evil volcano or large tower with generic beasty.
S: Our safety deposit boxes?
A: Yes. They would have to break the law in order to access those, and they're way too morally conflicted with such an action as to actually become villains to stop us.
V: Greater good?
A: No, they would still feel horrible about breaking into a bank and stealing them, if they ever found out where we hid them.
S: So, what do we do when the Elements are ours?
A: I figured we could mess around with Ponyville, Aze never really liked the name of the place anyway.
V: Home base?
A: Oh! Right. I will have a large fortress embedded into a mountainside with harsh winds to deter any air travel, and have an extremely well guarded single path to said fortress. I will post lookouts with good visibility to message the rest of our armies of intruders.
A: I'm going to accelerate your growth a bit, in order for you both to start laying eggs. In the meantime, I will recruit Minotaur and Griffon mercenaries. Opposable thumbs are rediculously useful.
V: What about the beasty?
A: What do you mean?
V: Get a big snake, and give it protective goggles.
V: Eyes are squishy.
A: Oh, I suppose that makes sense. Actually, we should've thought of that. I'm going to abduct some random orphan foal from Ponyville and add them as an advisor.
S: Should I even ask why?
A: Because they might spot something we've overlooked, of course.
V: We got really evil, really fast.
A: What makes us evil? We're indirectly giving everypony in Ponyville a new home, safeguarding the Elements against actual threats, and adopting an orphan by force.
S: That... Okay, yeah. Let's go with that.
A: All in agreement of our plan?
A: Meeting adjourned!
Transcription by Neutral Third Party.
Dear Princess Celestia,
We accept your request.
We would also like to know the location of the Elements of Harmony, and any other magical artifacts that may intentionally or accidentally harm us.
In the event of a real threat to Equestria, we will return these items immediately. Cross all our hearts and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in our eyes.
Thank you for your assistance in advance,
The Evil Overlords
P.S. We would like formal adoption papers for an orphan in Ponyville. Young but able to speak is preferred.
That... went far better than Celestia had expected. The request for adoption was odd, but as far as requests went, at least taking the Elements would convince Twilight and her friends of their 'evilness'.
Now for another letter.
Dear Twilight Sparkle,
I will be sending both you and your friends your respective elements for safe-keeping. I trust your knowledge of both alchemy and magic to ensure their safety more than my own, which Discord easily bypassed.
There! Now for the other letter.
Dear Evil Overlords,
I will be sending the Elements to Ponyville. Each element will be in the care of its owner.
Twilight may attempt enchantment and alchemical protections, so you must intercept their delivery or retrieval will become difficult.
Celestia then floated the letters one by one, to be consumed by a lit dragon scale.
Dragonfire Instant Messaging is the best.
Queen Chrysalis, in the meantime, was having problems of a different sort. Ponies would trot up to her, browse through a pamphlet, looking between the paper and herself, and then promptly give her a hug.
This was confusing in a great many ways. First of most, is that it fed her hunger. She should've only gained nourishment from love, but their feelings of affection sated her hunger. This lead the Queen to reconsider her plans, as she was thinking of abducting party-goers to steal the love from their memories.
Her train of thought was thoroughly derailed when two ponies trotted up; one holding a business card with their magic.
"Why hello there, Queen Chrysalis!"
"Can we interest you in a fine business venture?"
"Sure... Why not. This day can't get any more rediculous."
"Ah! We were hoping you'd be open to having a few words."
"Words like: Changeling Dating and Cuddling Service!"
"... What?" Chrysalis deadpanned.
"Think of it! Ponies in need of their perfect match, and shapeshifters able to be anypony, for the right price!"
"And, you and your changelings are well fed in the process!"
That seemed like it could actually work, but... "Why?"
"Why do we offer, you ask?"
"We'll tell you why!"
"We're the world famous Flim-Flam brothers; Salesponies on the cutting edge of the market!"
"What nopony else will touch, we make a fortune out of!"
"And as a unique business opportunity, we're offering you the chance to be our partners!"
"And what is stopping me from taking your idea and using it on my own?" Chrysalis grinned.
"I have one. Thank you for the idea, Flim. Flam." Chrysalis nodded to each pony, before chuckling to herself and walking away from the two salesponies.
Some ponies are just too easy.
"Hello, everybeing!" I announced as I walked into a tent with Aether, Song and Viscera all present, and radiating suprise and shock for some reason. "You dissapeared on me!"
"M-mother! Hey! How are you?" Aether awkwardly bumbled.
"It's hot outside, but it's even hotter in here! What are all of you doing in here, anyway? The fun is out there!" I pointed with a hoof towards a noisy building named 'The Rave'.
"Nothing evil or dastardly, I assure you." Aether replied.
I would trust him if they weren't all on edge. "Alright, what's wrong? Is something stuck in my fangs?" I licked my fangs for show, as I don't eat.
"Grandma, nothing is in your fangs." Song finally spoke.
"Alright, then what is it? What's the big secret?"
"Mercenaries for Celestia. Pretty fun." Viscera stated with some excitement.
Song and Aether glared at Viscera in response.
"That sounds like it would be interesting. What does she have you do?"
"Test the viability of her structures, procure new housing for ponies and run an orphanage." Viscera explained.
"Wait, you were all scared I woukd find out you were a public servant?"
"Uh... Yeah! Eheh... That." Aether said uncertainly, scratching his face with a wing.
"Well, you three be good! I'm joining Luna at the Rave!" I declared, using my magic to hook glowsticks between the holes in my hooves and around the leg itself.
Honestly, it's like we were designed with glow sticks in mind!