"Great Grandma Aze?"
"Please, Aze is fine, Scootaloo."
"Okay... um, do you get old?"
That was an odd question. Then I remembered that ponies sometimes get old. Celestia and Luna don't get old, yet everypony else gets old. Seems unfair to me.
<Anyling, I have a question.>
<Yes, my Queen?>
<Do we age as ponies do?>
<Do you mean grow old and eventually die?>
<Yes. I'm being asked by a filly if we 'get old'.>
<No. We do not have the organs required to age, nor are our bodies limited as theirs.>
<For starters, their fuel source. They eat many different kinds of foods, all with different impurities. Those impurities are managed by other organs specifically for that purpose. Over time, these organs wear out. The same can be said for the organs they use to breathe. For some reason, their body processes corrosive gas in order to keep them alive, yet they have no protections against that gas.>
<That sounds stupid. Why don't they fix that?>
<I doubt they have anypony other than Twilight Sparkle who knows alchemy, and they dont posess the magic required to use it.>
<So what specifically causes them to age?>
<The air they breathe corrodes their body over a period of decades, making it more and more difficult for their bodies to remain intact as it never catches a break to fully repair. It would be similar to if our hearts could not repair themselves with our magic. When an organ is gone, little can be done for it.>
<Well that sounds horrible. Imagine, only a set amount of decades to live. No wonder ponies are so dense!>
<My Queen, you've been alive for barely three years.>
<And what of it? I've lead this hive spectacularly, given that the filly asking the question is six years my senior!>
<No offense was intended, my Queen! We simply thought you hypocrytical.>
<Oh. Well, that's fine. I don't want to turn into Chrysalis by my 'twenties' because I was self obsessed with an ego the size of Equestria.>
<Of course, our Queen.>
Blinking, I returned to find myself wrapped up in several blankets with a crying Scootaloo next to me.
"Scootaloo? Why am I wrapped in blankets?"
She lifted her teary face to look at me in surprise and shock, turning into joy.
"Why are you crying?"
"You went away! Your eyes went dark and you didn't say anything, and I thought you were sick so I got blankets for you, but you were still blank and then I thought you D-d-died!" She explained in a sobbing mess.
Oh. I probably should have told her about how all of that works before contacting the hive mind.
Oh no. This'll be good.
"Yes, Flash Sentry?"
"A report from the Zebrecan border; urgent." He was breathing heavily, as if running.
Celestia took the report in her magic, wondering why nopony had simply messaged it to her, before further realising that not everypony had a dragon scale to use for mailing.
Zebrecan Border Watch
Second of Starsin, Second Year, RL
Movement of organised military forces spotted, at least five hundred strong. Unknown uniform, unknown armor and weaponry.
No direct contact established due to unsafe risk.
Second Lieutenant Ink Blot
Oh this was just great.
"Thank you for delivering this, Flash Sentry."
"Yes, Princess." He then quickly bowed, and left.
I hope that's Aether on the move, and not some other fool trying to take over. The reaction from Luna alone would be priceless.
Celestia then produced a quill, and replied.
"Am I going to die someday?"
Oh, that made her upset almost instantly. Was she not expecting that? Actually, it must seem cruel to her that I don't age, and she will.
"I can probably figure something out about that, though." I offered.
"What do you mean? I'm a pony. Ponies get old and then they die." She was upset all right, to say the least.
"What brought up all of these thoughts?"
"Well... I was thinking about my friends and if I'd ever see them again. Maybe I would live my whole life here and never see them again, or something would happen to them."
"Scootaloo, I have an offer."
She sniffled, looking to me. "What kind of offer?"
"Aether and I have been talking. He was a changeling before I used alchemy (quite recklessly) and transformed him. I could work with Twilight to figure out some way to transform you into a changeling, but there are consequences."
"Why would I want to be a changeling? I mean, you're great and all, but thats cause you're you. I'm a pegasus, so it would be weird if I was a changeling."
"You want to avoid death, right?"
"Um... I don't know. Wouldn't I outlive all my friends, since you and your family don't age?"
"We could always make them changelings as well."
Scootaloo thought on this a good while before replying.
"Only if Sweetie Belle and Applebloom want to as well. I don't want to live long enough to visit my friends at their grave..."
"You're very thoughtful for your age."
"You're not even three, Aze."
"And I'm a Queen!"
Scootaloo blankly stared at me, her eye twitching and radiating irritation my way.
Garotte had no idea why she of all ponies had been chosen as a diplomat. An 'Evil' diplomat.
Maybe she was supposed to hug her foes into submission?
Shaking her head to focus, she trot ahead of 'her forces' towards Ponyville, just outside of a large apple orchard. Her task was pretty simple.
1. See Mayor Mare.
3. Something about a distraction?
Garotte wasn't sure what all that meant, but she assumed her role was to keep the mayor busy while everypony else did their own jobs.
She was wearing a specially tailored full suit, complete with a hole for her tail. It was dominantly black with silver trim and a deep red accent, with a chest badge that stated:
Diplomat of 'Evil'
It looked very fancy, with swirly letters and was made of obsidian with silver engraving. She was caught by suprise when an orange mare called out to her.
"Excuse me, Ma'am!" She drawled, cantering over to lean against a wooden fence and raising her hat to see. "Pardon my askin', but what're yall doin' out here?"
Uh oh! If we get found out now, then we won't have time to raid the village!
"We're um... A new division of the Royal Guard! Out on a practice drill, you know... Military... Things."
The country mare squinted at Garotte,
"So why does your badge say 'Evil' on it, then?"
"Oh! That silly thing, hehe. Well, our division is named that way because we're here specifically to fight evil! Yep. Evil division for fighting evil!"
"That doesn't sound right."
"Why not? Freedom fighters fight for freedom, despite their name implying that they fight freedom itself. Why not make a division that fights evil, and name it evil to confuse our opponents?" Garotte hastily explained, making everything up as she went and flying by the stitching of her uniform.
The mare considered this, before relenting. "Alright, ah guess that makes sense." She then looked to the gathered crowd of heavily armored and armed ponies, all their equipment with pink glowing runes etched into them. "Y'all hungry? I got apples for sale."
Oh, I guess a slight detour couldn't hurt that badly.
"Certainly!" Garotte chirped before adressing the gathered force. "Everybeing take a fifteen minute break! Our friend here is selling apple based refreshments!"
The force cheered, and Applejack could envision the bits flying in. Not that she really needed them, after Queen Aze's donation of a million bits. Still, It was the effort she took pride in, and that even these clearly evil ponies, minotaur and griffons still liked apples. Maybe the Reign of the Overlords wouldn't change much after all.
"Well, I suppose we could always visit your friends in Ponyville."
"Why not right now?" Scootaloo eagerly asked.
"I don't see why not. We could have a chariot take us there. Probably take all of a few hours to get there."
Ponyville. Guh. Why would you ever name anyplace something so dull? 'Hello, my name is Celestia and I control the sun! What's that? You want me to name your town? I'm tired, so we'll call it Ponyville.
Ponyvile is a better name for that place, but it's allegedy 'alright' for a town constantly in peril from everything to orange sized insects eating everything to giant bears made out of stars.
Scootaloo had taken a short moment to gather her things, and we soon set off for Ponyville, with Scootaloo gushing about everything the whole way there.
"So, what brings y'all out to Ponyville for trainin'?" Asked Applejack. Garotte had since learned the country mares name after their apple cider was discovered to be laced with alchohol. They had stayed at Sweet Apple Acres until the effects wore down to a buzz.
Garotte however, never drank in her life until that point, and could only be described as a 'joyful, frisky drunk.'
"We do all kindsa thingys out here'inna Ponyvilles. You know the best place for a Ponyville is nex' tooa Pony?" Garotte babbled, her muffled voice going into the table that she rested her face on. Her nearby collegues had debated simply leaving her behind, but that was quickly shot down due to the percieved reaction from the Overlords.
Then they wondered if that's what the Overlords intended in the first place.
"I think you might'a had too much to drink there, Sugarcube." Applejack sighed. The mare hadn't gone through half a mug before her drinking partner was smashed.
"Youuu can't tell me whadda do! I'm an amba... Diplomat!" She corrected.
A minotaur stomped over. Not on purpose, but the wooden floor combined with eight feet of muscle and armor didn't care.
"Ms. Garotte, we have a schedule." He grumbled.
"Oh!" Garotte replied, hiccuping and looking at her hoof watch, holding her mug with the other hoof. "I almost forgot!" She quickly hopped off of the stool she had been sitting on, and slowly stumbled to the floor. Pushing her upper half from said floor, she looked to the Minotaur with sad eyes.
"Can you carry me? My legs won't work right." Her pouting redoubled their efforts.
"Grr... Fine." He grumbled, picking up the relatively tiny unicorn and placing her like a towel on his shoulders.
"Wheee!" Garotte lazily cheered, her head bobbing.
When they had all gone, Applejack was left behind.
"Well. If they're evil, I ain't too concerned." She thought aloud.
Fluttershy had been waiting outside of Twilight's library, deciding if it was worth it to bother her. A bunch of strangers had marched past her home and scared her, but Fluttershy couldn't decide if it was legitimate concern, or her anxiety acting up.
The choice was spared to her, when the door flung open and Twilight ran into her with a stack of books. With joined yelps of suprise and minor injury, the two apologised for running into the other. Fluttershy then took the opportunity to ask.
"Twilight, is it okay to be worried about a few hundred beings of different species all marching in unison with matching outfits?"
Twilight had been running through some mental gymnastics as Fluttershy began speaking, but she nearly lost her books and notes when she registered what her friend said.
Fluttershy decided the best course of action was to hide at that point, her friend's sudden outburst startling her.
"Where did you see them last?" Twilight asked, her previous shock morphing into protectiveness for her friends and the town.
And maybe Spike.
Fluttershy replied by pointing a hoof in the vague direction of the approaching Division of Evil.
"Oh," Twilight deadpanned. "Thanks for the warning."
Zecora had gone into Ponyville for food and other supplies she couldn't find, when she happened upon the army of Evil.
"What the Fel? Why has nopony rung the bell?" She wondered aloud. They should really have some kind of warning system installed. Seriously.
"I come for groceries, and what do I see? Why, the armies of Evil before me!" Zecora was having none of this. "You there, Pony with a loom!" She pointed at an unsuspecting earth pony stallion of the 'Evil' army; a Loom for his cutie mark. "Come! Meet your doom!" Zecora then stood on her hind legs, dropping her groceries and wielding a staff with metal braces on each end. She spun it around in a dazzling display of skill before couching it behind her and beckoning Loom with her free hoof.
Loom, the pony in question, decided that it would be silly to fight a Hero on their own. He then loudly whistled in a short burst pattern and was joined by several well armored Griffon. Loom then did his best evil grin, and Zecora was dogpiled by sheer mass.
Being Evil means fighting dirty. Duh.
For the main six heroes of Ponyville, events unfolded thusly:
Rainbow Dash was literally caught napping. Several Pegasus and Griffon jumped her as she slept, and she was unable to fight back. Her wings were bound by shackles as well as her hooves. Said hooves were then tied together, and then the shackles of her wings and hooves were tied together, before wrapping her in duct tape. A henchpony then put a gold sticker on her forehead for effort.
Rarity was outside of town with Spike, collecting gems. They were both ambushed by Diamond Dogs and Minotaur. Rarity tried whining them all away, but they had basic ear protection. The fashionista then attempted to out-punch a Minotaur, and was simply picked up from the ground by her mane and tied quickly by the Diamond Dogs. A magic nullifier ring was placed on her horn, and then she was muffled and blindfolded. Spike was cucooned in a thermal blanket meant to survive forest fires, wrapped in duct tape, chained, roped and had a dragonscale muzzle placed on his face.
Burn through that!
Applejack was at Sweet Apple Acres and minding her own business when she was ambushed by Unicorns. Try to buck somepony when you can't stay on the ground, smartie. She was held upside down, wrapped in bindings and carried like a barrel of Cider on a Minotaur's shoulder. Her stetson stubbornly refused to leave her head.
Fluttershy was intercepted on her way back to her cottage by two Pegasus. They told her to come with them or her animals would be hurt, and she quickly agreed. She was too terrified to move, as the uniforms were very scary.
Then again, everything scares Fluttershy.
She was given the same bindings as Rainbow Dash, and plopped next to her friend.
Twilight Sparkle was attempting to hold off or route the 'attacking' army of evil, but her spells weren't doing much. Aether had spent a fortune outfitting his soldiers, and her spells were either absorbed or dissapated by their armor. A spell would do little more than stagger them, and even her Want-It Need-It spell hadn't worked. It had caused a small riot when other townsponies had attempted to grab the coveted and holy cheese wheel, but its eventual destruction caused everypony involved to feel quite silly before they were captured. Twilight had attempted to teleport away, but she over exerted herself in her confused frenzy of magic. While she was on the ground and hiding behind an overturned cart, she was nabbed by a Griffon and quickly tied similar to Rarity with three magical supression rings.
Can't be too careful with the Main Hero.
Pinkie Pie, The Pink One and Countess of Confectionary treats, was suprisingly the easiest to capture. When she saw close to five hundred beings marching into town, she nearly had a stroke from the inagined planning all of their 'Welcome to Ponyville' parties would take. She was then tied like Applejack, with party streamers and confetti laced into her bindings. A note was left in front of her face for when she awoke. It read thusly:
We are playing a game. You Pinkie Promised to remain in your bindings until the appropriate signal has been given. You were going to throw us all a party and got so excited you passed out. We hope you remember your promise, or it will ruin our big suprise!
Thank you for being our best friend,
The Forces of Evil.
Garotte, meanwhile, had been talking with the bound and gathered ponies of the town. Three of them had passed out, shouting 'The horror, The horror!' Everytime they were awoken. Everybeing decided to just leave them alone.
Garotte had been informing the townsfolk of their plan for the world, and was actively attempting to recruit. Some ponies immediately joined, others were more hesitant, and a few stubbornly refused. They were mainly the rich ponies that didn't want to lose their status. The poorer ponies jumped at the opportunity, and the underappreciated also joined. One pony couldn't or wouldn't speak, but she had nodded in agreement to the right questions. When asked her name, she wrote Vinyl Scratch.
She applied to be the new 'DJ' for the Citadel of Evil.
The main heroes however were shouting all sorts of guilt trips, and were soon gagged. Peer Pressure is no way to make a descision that will affect your life. Especially national hero peer pressure.
With the town secured, and roughly ninety six percent of the populace recruited, their homes were raided for valuables and then piled onto the main square. After the houses were completely empty, torches lit by unicorn and changeling fire were passed out, and the town was lit on fire.
Especially the Tree-brary.
"WE'RE UNDER ATTAAAAAAACK!" Flash Sentry screamed in panic as he burst into Celestia's room.
"Here! Report!" He belted out, hurling the scroll to the Princess.
Date is RIGHT NOW
Ponyville has been raided!
Elements of Harmony are captured!
Royal Guard unable to fight back, heavy injuries!
The rest of the scroll is torn, with the sender's name trailing off as if grabbed before they could finish
Aether is coming...
"Assemble the Royal and Lunar guard, and wake Luna!"
Queen Aze squinted to see into the distance.
"Does your town usually have large pillars of smoke rising from it?"
"Very funny, Aze."
"No, I'm serious."
This startled Scootaloo, who looked over the edge of their chariot to see Ponyville burning down.
"Princess Luna!" Somepony shouted outside her door, banging their hoof.
"Whaaaaat? We are sleeping!" She drowsily replied, covering her head with a pillow.
"Ponyville is under attack!"
Luna's eyes shot open, her sleepyness forgotten as her pillow flew from her head.
"When? By whom?!"
"Right now! We don't know!"
With a flash of magic, Luna's regalia turned into runed armor of her own. It was similar to Nightmare Moon's, however it covered her body excepting her face.
"Assemble the Lunar Guard!"
"Already done, Princess Luna!"
She then burst open the door, ready for battle and startling the guard.
"We must prepare for battle, Join us!" She declared, galloping past.
Princess Luna, Lunar Diarch of Equestria, Princess of the Moon and Stars, Warden of Dreams, Protector of the Land, High General of Equestria's Army and Champion of a Thousand Battles, was going to kick some serious flank.
Aether, Viscera and Song were all on their way to the bank in the meantime. They had used to distraction and disguised thenselves as regular soldiers in their army, and stolen the Elements of Harmony in all the confusion with none the wiser. They stood on the outskirts of Canterlot, one joint teleport away from the bank they were going to use for their safety deposit boxes.
"Alright, first step is complete. Now we just disguise ourselves as 'Better than thou' unicorns, open a bank account under a false name, and we're set!" Aether explained.
"This was pretty-"
"No! Don't you finish that sentence!" Viscera and Aether blurted.
"You'll jinx us! Make no comment on our situation, or you will bring a curse on us!"
"Really. A jinx?"
"In a land with magic, alchemy, forgotten spells and ancient evils, a Jinx is where you say 'Nope! That's too silly!'. Seriously?"
"Oh... Well yeah. Put it like that and it makes sense."
"Good, now let us finish our task and prepare for their counter attack."
To Luna's inexpressible grief, the Solar Guard were a complete mess. All of the problems in the past millenia were either solved by citizen heroes, Princess Celestia or the Elements of Harmony. As such, they had become extremely lax, ill equipped and horrendously trained. All they knew was drill and ceremony.
On second thought, that explains fairly well how quickly Canterlot fell to changelings during the wedding.
The Lunar Guard, however, were more than ready to fight. Their culture alone set them apart from their peace loving Pony cousins. Be it the frozen north, inhospitable caverns or the darkest of nights, a Thestral could thrive. Their armor coming with hoof blades as standard (if seldom used) kit. Their screeches were enough to deafen a Hydra's heads, and their strength nearly that of an Earth Pony.
The main problem lay with their relatively few numbers.
"You are all that remains of our Lunar Guard?"
Hammer and Anvil. The two Thestrals of Luna's guard prior to her banishment, and sealed in stone to await her return. It was they that pulled Luna's chariot to a Nightmare Night celebration not long ago.
"Yes, Princess Luna."
"At your command."
"Cease your deference at once. Our two oldest friends need not grovel in our presence. We have subjects to rescue, after all!"
"For Equestria!" They shouted.