• Published 6th Jun 2013
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The Witching Hour - Chaotic Ink



A new pony comes to Ponyville, but she's not all that she seems. Will the town accept Midnight Storm, or will Ponyville run her out like all the rest?

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Ch.20 - Best Night Never

Midnight, Sapphire, Windrunner, and Derpy glided over Ponyville as they headed for Carousel Boutique. “I can’t wait to see you in your dress mom!” Squeaks said from her place on Midnight’s back.

“I bet you all look really pretty in them!” Dinky said from Derpy’s back, squinting a bit from the force of the wind. Both fillies had insisted that they come along with them to the boutique so they could see them all in their dresses before they left.

“I still can’t believe we’re going to the Grand Galloping Gala!” Derpy said for about the fourth time. “I’ll get to meet the Wonderbolts and all kinds of big, important ponies! What are you two going to do?”

Sapphire shrugged. “I don’t really know. I know all the others have goals for the night, as well as you, but I’m just hoping for a good time. How about you Midnight?”

The kirin looked like she was going to be fed food that may or may not be spoiled. “Survive, pretty much. I don’t want to be a buzz-kill for you Derpy, but those stick-up-their-plots upper crust ponies would as soon spit as look at you.” Looking over at her friends, Midnight saw that Derpy had slumped and fallen slightly behind while Sapphire gave her a disapproving look. “But, uh, there’s a good chance some decent nobles will be there, so there’s that to look forward to.”

Derpy picked up some at that and Sapphire seemed to ease up.

“And even if it doesn’t turn out well, at least you’ll be able to look back on it and laugh, right?” Windrunner asked.

“That’s true, I guess.” Midnight said, a small smile finally making its way onto her face.

-----------------------------

When they landed outside of Carousel Boutique, they were immediately accosted by Rarity, who was pushing them and the rest of the bearers inside. “In, in, in! The carriage situation is taken care of, so it’s time for the dresses!”

Midnight was about to ask what happened with the carriage, but was instead shoved unceremoniously into the boutique, which appeared to have changed from a dress shop into a salon. Several hair driers, vanities, and sinks now adorned the inside of the shop in place of manikins and outfits, although all of their attires for the evening were hung around the room so that each of them would have enough room to change.

“Now, I’ll help you with the braid, but first I need you to wash your mane and tail and then get in the driers-”

“But we already showered and combed them!” Midnight said indigently.

“Be that as it may, I’m asking that you do it again so that I know it was done properly.” Rarity said as she trotted off.

Midnight snorted, but complied and followed Sapphire and Derpy to the sinks while Windrunner and the girls looked at the dresses hanging around the walls.

As they washed, Midnight focused on her dress hanging on the wall to her right. If you excluded the fact that the other bearers had stuck their noses into Rarity’s work the first time, Midnight’s had taken the longest to come up with. Her size had meant that more fabric than usual was needed, and Rarity had actually gone through several designs to incorporate her wings with the dress, but what had taken Rarity the longest to come up with was what to do with Midnight’s tail. When she had started, the unicorn had asked if Midnight would be comfortable with a gown similar to the girls. The kirin had told her that she would actually prefer it if her tail was allowed to simply stick straight out. While she had successfully hid it under the cloak she had worn for years, keeping her tail bent constantly was actually painful and Midnight wasn’t in the mood to go through it again, even if it was only for a night.

The first design the fashionista had tried was to simply make a hole in the back of the dress to allow her tail to stick out but still keep the dress’s original shape. The unicorn had voted against it almost as soon as Midnight had gotten the thing on. Her tail just sticking out the back end of the dress was just too distracting and lazy looking that one wouldn’t be able to appreciate the rest of the dress. Her second attempt had been to allow the dress to drape over Midnight’s tail as it stuck out, but this too was soon rejected. With this design Midnight looked like she was a walking tent and the unicorn had said it gave stallions a rather easy way to look up her dress. Rarity had gone through at least ten more designs, each one worse looking than the last.

“It’s not that it just sticks out like that,” Rarity said as she unwound the bed sheets she was using from the kirin’s tail, “it’s also that tail-blade of yours. At least the rest of it has that second mane to work with, but this,” she held the blade gently in her hooves, “if I could just cover this up…” The unicorn wrapped the blade in the sheets and stared at them for a moment. “Yes… yes, covering the blade up definitely improves the look, but how to do it…” As she thought, her eyes followed the sheets from the wrapped-up blade to the floor, then to where they ended by Midnight’s hind legs. Then her eye followed up to her cutie mark, where she suddenly stiffened up, then followed the path back to the blade and back, each time going quicker and mumbling even louder until finally she had yelled/sung out “IDEAAAAA! Midnight, hold these ends up here!” The kirin had complied and held the ends of the sheets up over her flanks as the unicorn adjusted them. “Yes, yes, yes! This is a perfect!” After a few measurements Rarity had told Midnight to come by later to see what should be the finished dress. The kirin had to admit that what the fashionista had come up with was actually rather brilliant.

She was pulled back to the present when Sapphire started to shake her. “Midnight, I think you’ve washed your mane enough.”

Giving them all an embarrassed smile, she followed them over to the driers. As she got herself set up, Spike walked into the room.

“Hey guys! You all excited about tonight?”

SPIKE!” Rarity shrieked. “We are still getting dressed!”

“Uh, Rarity, we don’t normally wear clothes. He sees us bare every day.” AJ pointed out.

The alabaster unicorn glared at the farm pony, but relented and went back to her station. “I’m sorry Spike, but some of us do have standards.”

AJ glared back at her, but held her tongue.

“Tonight’s gonna be so awesome! Especially since we’ll be spending it together!”

All the mares looked at each other. “I’m not so sure Spike.” Twilight said hesitantly.

“We’re all kinda busy with stuff pard’ner.” AJ told him.

The little dragon slumped slightly. “Oh… okay…”

“You can hang with me and Sapphire if you want.” Midnight offered. As soon as she said it the drier she was under *dinged*.

“Before you hang out anywhere with anypony, you need to get your mane and tail braided.” Rarity said, dragging the kirin over to a mirror.

Midnight grumbled but sat still as the unicorn first brushed, then began weaving her mane. Sapphire took a seat next to her and allowed Twilight to do the same. Both were getting their manes and tails braided; Midnight a Prench braid while Sapphire a Four Strand Plait Hair style. After a bit the pulling and twisting of her mane actually started feeling… nice. Almost like a rough scalp massage. By the time Rarity moved down to her tail to fix four simple, alternating side braids, Midnight had a contented look on her face and seemed a lot more relaxed, which stayed with her as they moved to get into their dresses.

Derpy’s was a tan and brown stripped dress with a muffin-shaped clip at her chest. There were two stripes running down each side. A few bubbles running down the tan stripes while a few muffins ran down the brown stripes. Her slippers were brown with a gold lining on the tops. Her mane, which was done up in a bun, had two clips with bubble patterns in it.

Sapphire’s dress was a bright orange with two blue pegasi wings acting as the clip on her chest for the dress. Blue lines that looked like air currents flowed from her shoulders to the bottom of the dress then met and flowed up the back of it. Her slippers, which were also orange, were topped with what looked like nines that were made up of thick blue lines on both the inside and outsides of her legs. Finally, a tiara of sliver olive branches adorned her head.

Midnight’s dress was silver and her chest-clip was a storm cloud with two lightning bolts coming out the lower left and right of the cloud. As the dress went over her wings, a large section stretched out over them, with loops going over the joint where her wing-talons were, as well as the tip on the wings. Not making loops for the “fingers” of the wings allowed the material to billow slightly whenever she moved them. After her wings, the dress curved sharply and followed her back legs down to only an inch or so off the floor while her tail stuck straight out the back. As the dress reached the floor it did another sharp turn and went parallel with her tail until it was almost even with the base of her tail blade, where it once again sharply turned upwards. The dress ended with a pocket of sorts that she slid her tail-blade into and closed it off with two tassels. Her blue slippers were more like AJ’s boots; they had a deep V-shape in the front that started farther up then normal, then went diagonally up the leg until they curved around the back of her legs. Finally, her head piece was a pair of clip on sapphire earrings in the shape of what could either be a claw or fang. They had been the only real thing she had argued about with Rarity, as the unicorn wanted them to be real earrings while Midnight refused to get her ears pierced for a dress she would hardly ever wear again. The fashionista had finally relented, though not without a great deal of complaining.

Midnight had paid for each of the dresses, including Derpy’s, with the royal checks she still had. She had made sure to use them sparingly since getting them in case a real emergency came up, but this time she felt that she could justify using them for pleasure. Sapphire and Derpy sure seemed to appreciate it.

“I know I said it when you finished it, but these dresses are amazing Rarity.” Sapphire said, examining herself in a mirror.

Midnight had to agree; the pegasus looked good in her dress. Really good, in fact. Before the kirin could figure out why she suddenly felt warm in the face she heard a loud squeak from her side.

“You look so pretty mom!” Squeaks said as she stared up at the kirin. “I bet even the rich ponies will like it!”

“I… certainly hope so,” Midnight said with a nervous smile as she bent down to nuzzle her foal.

“Of course they will; Rarity makes the best dresses in Equestria!” Dinky said, breaking away from the hug Derpy was giving her.

“Thank you very much for the compliment Dinky dear.” Rarity said as she put on the last parts of her own ensemble. She daintily tapped her glass-slipper-clad hoof on the floor to get everypony’s attention when she was finished. “Alright ladies; we’re cleaned up and dressed up, so who’s ready for their best night EVER!?

All the bearers, Spike, Derpy, and Sapphire cheered as they rushed out the door to their carriages. Midnight followed them out at a much more dignified clip and a decidedly unenthusiastic “woo-hoo”. Before boarding the second carriage with Sapphire and Derpy, she turned to Windrunner and hoofed her a bag of bits. “It’s not very fair that we get to go out and you three don’t. Go have dinner out tonight.”

The twin cries of “YES!!” from the two fillies were loud enough to cause the talking in the carriages to stop momentarily. After they both hugged and thanked her (profusely), they both gave a final farewell hug and kiss to the their moms and sprinted off to whatever restaurant they wanted, Windrunner close behind. ‘Well, at least those three will have a good night.

-----------------------------

The ride up to the castle was pretty uneventful, although the apple carriages were a nice surprise. Midnight even considered taking a nibble of the inside to see if it was really still made of apple. All the way to the castle Sapphire and Derpy talked about how the night was going to go while Midnight just stayed quiet in her seat opposite them. It didn’t matter how happy the other two were, the kirin refused to let any of it rub off on her. She knew what was going to happen and refused to get her hopes up.

If there was one thing Midnight had to admit to, it was that the whole event sure looked like it was going to be amazing. It seemed like the entire city was decked-out for the event, with ribbons done up in bows adorning every street lamp, as well as on every building they passed by. Fireworks exploded high over their heads in a rainbow of colors, while thunderstorm-like contrails, almost certainly the Wonderbolts, streaked the sky between them. Their carriages were only two in a vast parade, each decorated to the nines in what were most likely attempts by the nobles to one-up each other before even getting to the gala.

Despite the long train of carriages, they got to the castle gates fairly quickly. Stepping out of the carriage, they all gazed at the open entrance hall to the castle. It wasn’t really decorated for the event, but it was still the entrance to both the castle and the gala, two things most ponies didn’t get to see on a normal basis. Tearing her gaze away from it, Twilight looked at all of them and stuck out a hoof. “Best night ever?”

BEST NIGHT EVER!” The rest of them yelled, sticking their hooves in. Midnight joined in with calm “Oorah”, then watched as they split off into different directions in their excitement, only Sapphire and Spike staying with her.

“Oh, come on you guys! We’ve just got here and you’re not even going to try staying together!?” Spike called out after them angrily.

“Don’t worry about them Spike; you still have us.” Midnight told him as she watched Derpy trail after Rainbow. The wall-eyed pegasus might not have been as big a fan as Rainbow, but celebrities are celebrities.

“That’s true,” the dragon said, disappointment still evident in his voice. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to spend time with the kirin and pegasus; he wanted to spend time with all of them and show them around his and Twilight’s home town. Especially Rarity. “So, what do you want to do first?”

Midnight raised her nose and visibly sniffed. “Eat. If I’m going to be spending a night surrounded by pompous plot-kissers,” this earned a suppressed laugh from Sapphire, a loud laugh from Spike, and shocked expressions from those within ear-shot, “then I’m doing so on a full stomach.” With that Midnight led the way inside, Sapphire and Spike following close.

-----------------------------

“I’m bored.” Spike said as he stuffed a gemstone in his mouth.

“Me too.” Midnight said as she ate two crackers smeared with a seafood spread.

“Then maybe we should do something besides eating?” Sapphire suggested with a raised eyebrow. It had been a half hour since they arrived, and all Midnight had done was fill up a plate and eat in the corner. The pegasus guessed that Spike had joined her in the silent protest only because he was still sore about the others leaving them. And that he could eat as much as he wanted without Twilight curbing him.

To her relief, Spike actually brightened up at the idea. “Yeah, that’s a great idea! So what if the others aren’t here; I’ll give you guys such a great tour the others will be sorry they missed it!”

Sapphire frowned at his motives, but if it got Midnight to do something other than eat and shoot looks into the crowd, then so be it. Although, she had seen several ponies shooting glances at them down their noses.

Midnight shrugged at the suggestion. “I guess it couldn’t hurt. Any ideas about where to go first?”

Spike stuffed the last of his food in his mouth. “Well, the crown jewels aren’t too far from here, so we can go check that out first or the hall of historic window panes, or maybe…”

As they followed Spike through the crowd, Midnight started to feel uneasy. When they had first entered the hall they had received some looks from nobles, but as the buffet table was close to where they had come in there hadn’t been too many. Now, as they moved through the crowd, the kirin was getting uncomfortable. Every pony they passed turned to look at them, but she could feel their eyes stay on her as they passed. What made it worse was the feeling of not being able to get away, of being stuck there and stared at by eyes that silently, and unfairly, judged her. Being taller than everypony else only made her easier to see by even more ponies, and thus added to her worry. Her wings tried to flex as a show of anxiety but couldn’t due to all the ponies around them, which only made her more nervous.

“Midnight, are you alright?” Sapphire asked, turning to see the kirin with a panicked look on her face.
“Y-Yeah, why w-wouldn’t I be?” Midnight tried to smile at her, but even to the kirin it felt false.

Without a word, Sapphire slowed down slightly to allow Midnight’s withers to be even with her flank. The closer proximity to her friend seemed to calm her down a bit, and the two continued to follow Spike across the hall.

Relief began to flood Midnight as they got close to the other end of the room. There had been plenty of staring and she thought she had overheard a few comments, but nopony had screamed, yelled, or launched themselves at her. On top of that the crowd was thinning and she could once again extend her wings, allowing a sense of freedom and chance of escape to help ease her. Then something poked her.

“Excuse me.”

Midnight twisted around so fast she nearly sent Sapphire and a couple of other ponies to the floor, much to the laters’ annoyances. Withdrawing a hoof from her wither was a purple unicorn stallion clad in a brown suit with a white undershirt and a tie. He had a somewhat tidy white mane and tail, and his cutie mark looked like two strips, one yellow and red, the other green and purple, twisting around each other. A look of worry was in his blue eyes, but it was quickly replaced by a smile.

“Please, forgive me; I didn’t mean to startle you. But I simply have to know; are you Midnight Storm?”

Midnight stared at him for a minute. How in the name of all things good and decent in Equestria did he know her name? Finally, she was able to get back to her senses. “And who are you?” she asked, immediately becoming defensive.

“Oh, please, forgive my rudeness.” He bowed slightly to her. “Dr. Puzzle Mixer at your service, Miss Storm.”

“Aren’t you one of the professors at the princess’s school?” Sapphire asked as she began to recognize the unicorn.

“Why yes I am. Professor of genetics and vice-head of the science department.” He said, seeming to take great pride in the titles.

“More like doctor wackjob.” Midnight turned her head and saw a mare in a red and white dress turn quickly away. She snorted before turning back to the doctor.

“Um, what are genetics?” Spike asked.

“Ah, Mister Spike, I’m sorry I’ve never had the pleasure before; my class is one of the few Miss Sparkle never took.”

“Wait, there’s a class Twilight Sparkle has never taken?” Midnight asked, hardly believing such a thing was possible.

Puzzle Mixer nodded his head solemnly. “Alas, Miss Sparkle moved to Ponyville over the summer break for a special assignment from the princess herself. She was actually going to be in my class that fall semester.”

“So… what are genetics again?” Spike asked.
Puzzle Mixer regained his jovial look at the question. “To put it simply, Mister Spike, genetics are what determine what we are, whether it be colt, filly, unicorn, pegasus, or even, dare I say, kirin.” He gave Midnight a meaningful look, which was returned in the form of a scowl.

“And how exactly do you know who and what I am?” she asked, not bothering to cover up how unhappy she was.

“A rather interesting story in fact,” Mixer said with a smile. “I was here at the castle one weekend to discuss the science wing’s budget with the princess, Princess Celestia I mean, when I actually caught sight of you walking down one of the hallways. As I was in a hurry to see the princess I couldn’t very well stop and speak with you then, but I did get into a conversation with the guards outside the throne room and they told me about you.”

Really?” Midnight said through a false smile. Even if it wasn’t directly his fault, or against any rules that the guard couldn’t talk about her, she was still going to take a chunk out of Shining Armor’s horn next time she saw him. “How much did they say?”

“Only that you were part dragon, or at least that’s what I really paid attention to.” A few of the nobles around them gave the kirin another once over.

Midnight and Sapphire let out sighs of relief. Her secret rank was still intact, but Celestia would definitely be hearing about this slip-up. “And what’s so exciting about me being part dragon?”

She may as well have asked what the difference between a unicorn and a pegasus was by the look of amazed shock Mixer was giving her. “What is… Miss Storm, a pony that’s part dragon is a once in a multiple life times occurrence! The very chances of such an anomaly happening are beyond astronomical! You are nothing short of a miracle!”

In all honesty, Midnight had no way to respond to that. Beyond her parents, being called a ‘miracle’ by anypony was a miracle in of itself.

“So, Professor Puzzle Mixer,” Sapphire asked as Midnight continued to just stare at him, “is there anything specific you wanted to talk about with Midnight?”

“Actually, I was hoping she could indulge me in running a few tests on some future date; I think tonight would be a bit too short notice and a little rude to be taking Miss Storm away from the festivities.”

“Such a thing would actually be a relief.” They turned to see the mare in the red and white dress quickly look in another direction.

Midnight snorted again, but still turned back to Mixer. “And what kinds of tests would those be?”

“Well, as you can imagine, the offspring of a pony and a dragon would have extraordinary implications in the genetics community, and so I’d like to take a few samples, such as blood and hair, as well as…”
As Puzzle Mixer began going into all the tests he wanted to perform, Sapphire realized there was now a fifth member in their group standing right next to her. It was a blue unicorn mare, wearing a simple midnight-blue dress and had her light blue mane in a simple pony-tail. The mare winked at her, then said “my sister took the form of a pegasus last time, if I’m correct.”

Sapphire stared for a few seconds longer, then what she said clicked and a knowing smile formed on her face. The mare shared the smile, then turned back to the still rambling professor.

“Excuse me, Dr. Mixer?”

Mixer stopped mid-stream about how he hoped Midnight would be able to reproduce, despite her being a hybrid, and looked at the mare.

“Um, yes, how can I help you?”

“Forgive me, but I believe the countess of Hoofington had a few questions about some of her family members? She wanted to ask you but was stuck with some other obligations and can’t spare the time to fetch you herself.”

The confused look on Mixer’s face slowly turned into another smile. “Oh, yes, she does have some pegasi and earth ponies in the family, doesn’t she? Yes, I think I can enlighten her on how traits can skip multiple generations.” He bowed to Midnight. “Forgive me Miss Storm, but this is one of those itches one such as myself just HAS to scratch.” With that Puzzle Mixer turned and disappeared off into the crowd.

“I suggest we depart before the professor realizes the countess does NOT want that fact brought up in public.” The mare motioned for them to follow, and, with encouragement from Sapphire, they let the mare lead them out of the hall and into the gardens.
They continued along the castle wall for a minute before stopping amidst several rose bushes. The night air outside was nice and cool with a gentle breeze, and the night sky looked as beautiful to Midnight as ever. The best thing, though, was that there were very few ponies in the same part of the gardens.

“So, what are we doing out here?” Spike asked.

“I simply thought Midnight Storm would enjoy being outside with my night than inside with the nobles.” The mare said with a smile.

Your night? Uh, sorry to disappoint you, but Princess Luna rules the night.” Spike said, crossing his arms with a frown.

The mare, unfazed, looked at Midnight expectantly. “After the trick my sister pulled, are you telling me you wouldn’t expect me to do the same?”

“Your sis-?” Midnight stared at the pony some more. She was sitting next to Sapphire, who had that same knowing look as the day she first showed up with Celest- she almost face-hoofed that time. “I guess being one of the only pegasi in the crowd would have stood you out too much; right, princess?

Spike was about to ask what Midnight was talking about when the mare was suddenly enveloped in white light. When the light dimed, Spike felt his jaw drop. “P-Princess Luna!”

The dark blue alicorn nodded at him. “Just a little something to help move around unnoticed. I do not wish to be mobbed by advantage-seeking nobles, nor ‘accidently’ overhear a scathing remark as I make my way past.” She transformed back into a unicorn again. “It further helps to be one of their own, even if I would like nothing better than to kick them all out.” They all shared a laugh at the upper-crust’s expense.

“So, how can we help you, your highness?” Sapphire asked.

“I was seeking honest company to spend the night with, this being my first real social gathering since my return, and I happened to stumble across you being engaged with Professor Mixer. I’ve dealt with him before and I know how ‘long-winded’ he can be, so I found a way to ‘take out two birds with one stone’ as I believe the modern saying goes. I owe the countess of Hoofington after I heard her say the night court was ‘nothing but a pity project’ for my sister.” It was obvious that Luna had about the same respect for the nobility that Midnight did.

“Well, we’re out and away from them; what would you like to do princess?”

“I am perfectly willing to follow along with whatever you all are doing.” Luna told Sapphire.

“Well, if Spike doesn’t mind, I'd actually like to hear what happened with the thestral colony that you and your guard went to deal with,” Midnight said, throwing Spike an apologetic smile.

But the young dragon looked far from disappointed. “Whoa, a story about the princess and bat ponies? I bet it’s awesome!”

Luna’s face softened a bit at his words. “Yes, I believe it is right you should hear the tale, seeing as how yourself adopting Squeaky Wings was the catalyst to all that has transpired.” She motioned them to follow her down a path into the gardens, and when she was sure they were moving with her, she started.

“It was not long after your visit that alerted me to the issue of the colony that we made our way to it. It was a two night flight, and we spent the second day doing some reconnaissance before entering the colony…”

--------p------------p-------

Captain Night Skimmer stifled a yawn as he, Lieutenant Star Chaser, and Princess Luna edged through the forest at the foot of the colony’s mountain along the far eastern ridge of the Macintosh Hills. Two nights of flying almost non-stop and then staying up to perform recon with the princess was taking a toll on him. Add the nervousness he was feeling about being so close to home again, and all he wanted to do was be back in the castle’s barracks, curled up in his bunk. A part of him wanted to blame Midnight Storm for the possibly life-threatening situation he and the others found themselves in now, but most of him knew that this was long overdue. There was also the fact that the princess was on their side that seemed to keep morale up.

With Princess Luna on our side, justice IS within reach!’ he thought. ‘And then we’ll return triumphantly back to Canterlot, and Midnight will be so impressed she’ll come to see us. Of course, as captains, we’ll have our own private debriefing. She’ll be so impressed with how brave I was, she’ll just… just…

“I know you’re tired captain, but that isn’t going to help matters.”

A sharp poke to his side brought him back to reality. He realized he was rather close to the Lieutenant. A little too close, especially where his lips were concerned. He back peddled a few steps. Star Chaser continued to stare at him with a bemused indifference, while Princess Luna raised an eyebrow at him.

“I was only thinking of how to enter the colony when my mind must have slipped and -!”

“We can tell when ponies are dreaming, normal or day, captain. And while we may not know what thou were daydreaming about,” Skimmer felt his face go completely red at this, “we know that it does not matter. We must concentrate on the matter at hoof and devise a plan before nightfall.” Luna said sounding slightly displeased.

“O-Of course, your highness.” Skimmer shook himself and followed after her, cursing himself. ‘Justice now, Midnight later.’

They pushed closer to the bottom of the mountain, keeping weary eyes out for any scouts that might see them. As they reached it, they both swiveled their heads to their left and perked their ears up. There was a noise some ways off in the brush, which sounded like… “Crying?” Skimmer said.

“The cry of an infant.” Luna said, spreading her wings. “It would seem that we have arrived in time to stop another murder!” She took off into the trees with Skimmer and Star Chaser close on her tail. After about a minute in flight with not only the infant’s cries but the sounds of wild beasts as well growing louder in their ears, they burst into a clearing. There was indeed an infant, abandoned and wailing on the ground, but around it were three large timberwolves, crouched and ready to snap up the defenseless child.

The two thestrals got into a combat stance and were ready to launch themselves at the wolves, when Luna simply waved her horn and the beasts erupted into muffled explosions of wood, leaves and sap. The same flick put up a small barrier around the child, shielding it from the flying remains of its would-be killers. After sweeping and scattering the remains of the wolves, she and the thestrals approached the child.

She was indeed a thestral (Luna had confirmed the gender), and as expected she was several shades too light for the colony’s taste. Her fur was a bright pink and her mane and tail were neon blue, while her wings were just a few shades darker blue and her eyes bright orange. “She is barely a day old,” Luna said with anger in her voice as she used her magic to transfigure a clump of leaves into a blanket to wrap the infant in. The baby’s cries calmed somewhat now that she was out of the cold, but she still cried.

“She needs to be fed as well, your highness.” Star Chaser said.

Luna gave her a look. “Agreed lieutenant, but we are not producing at the moment, nor are any of the other mares in our guard as far as we know.”

“The colony grows a plant for just such an occasion,” Star Chaser explained. “There are times when, after giving birth, a mare is too exhausted to properly feed her child. There is a plant we cultivate which we call ‘milk-suckle’ to aid with the foal’s first feeding. With you permission I can locate them and bring some fruit back. It may not be milk, but it may help.”

Luna looked down at the wailing infant, then nodded. “Thine colony has had to do without the convenience of modern medicine; it only makes sense thou would find thine own method. Retrieve some of this plant for the foal, but do not be spotted doing so.”

Star Chaser nodded and took off into the brush, leaving Night Skimmer to guard the princess and the infant.

While she waited, Luna continued to examine the child, even as she continued to holler. ‘It does not look like she was mistreated; simply left here.’ She nuzzled the infant. ‘Left to die simply for what you were born looking like. Far too many have been unjustly judged for such a thing they have no control over. It may be too late for those that came before you, little one, but for you and those that come after, this wrong shall be righted.’ She realized vaguely that she could be talking about others she knew well, but that would have to wait for a later time.

Star Chaser returned almost as quickly as she left, several of what looked like plant bulbs cradled in her forelegs. “I hope this is enough, your highness.”

“It will do lieutenant.” With her magic, Luna took the plants and levitated the first one to the infant’s mouth. The foal hesitated a second, tasted the tip of the bulb, then eagerly took hold of it and began to feed.

“Your majesty, with your permission, I have an idea about what to do with the child.” Skimmer said.

“We are all ears captain.”

“Before I left to come here with the others, my sister was three months pregnant with her first child. She and her husband are sympathetic to our cause, and I believe she would have no qualms about taking her in as one of her own.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Did thou not tell us thine sister was abandoned as such when she was born?”

“My first sister was, yes. My parents had another foal after that, one which met our standards.” He growled out the last word.

The princess nodded. “Tis a noble idea, however we must still get inside the colony first, and we doubt they will allow the child back in to their midst.”

“From what we have seen, I believe the patrols have been severely stunted by our leaving to join you, your highness. We’ve only observed one patrol the entire morning when there should be many more and they hardly seemed as disciplined. May I assume that you know at least one invisibility spell, your highness?” Luna nodded. “Then I think we’ll be able to sneak into the colony before nightfall. Both my sister and her husband were early risers before-hoof; I think they’ll be even more so now with the baby.”

“Then we will meet back up with the others and rest for now.” Luna said standing up and removing the now empty shriveled bulb from the foal’s grip. She yawned and curled up into her blanket. “When the time is right, you two will lead us and the infant into the colony so we may meet with your sister. Your family may give us valuable insight on the current state of the colony before we officially enter it.”

Skimmer bowed. “By your will, my princess.”

-----------------------------

When her sister’s sun was about three-quarters of the way down to the horizon, Luna, Night Skimmer, Star Chaser, and the baby made their way up the mountain towards the colony. As it turned out, the foal had been both a morale booster and rallying point for the thestrals. She reminded them why they were there and served as a secret first blow to those they were ready to fight against. There had of course been protests against Luna going into the heart of enemy territory with only two guards, even if it was the captain and a lieutenant, but she had impressed upon them the need for stealth, and it was easier for three ponies to move around unseen than fifteen plus.

Getting in had been far more easy than any of them had thought. “Pathetic.” Skimmer said as they passed by the only patrol at the colony’s entrance. The entire patrol was out cold, weapons and even armor strewn about around them.

What fascinated Luna was their age. “Why are they all so young?”

“The teenagers are put on patrol duty as a start to their guard training. Even in these early hours they should still be awake and vigilant; if a true guard were on duty and found them like this they’d all be in serious trouble. It seems that discipline was the first to go when we left.” Skimmer told her.

The colony itself was located in a high valley between two peaks. On the floor of the valley were fire pits flanked by what appeared to be shops on either side, including what appeared to be a butcher shop and black-smiths. A set of buildings which Skimmer identified as the barracks was on the far side of the valley. Above them, the walls were pot-marked with doors which were entrances to homes. Some doors appeared more well-kept and dignified than others.

“That’s the governor-general’s home up there.” Skimmer pointed out a rather beautifully carved door near the top that also had lamps on either side of it.

“Do you suspect him of being involved in such crimes?”

“He effectively runs the colony, your majesty. If he didn’t approve of it he wouldn’t be.”

Luna nodded and followed him up to a home about a quarter the way up the opposite wall. Skimmer hesitated a moment, then knocked. It took nearly a minute for the door to be answered, and Skimmer even had his hoof out to knock again when the door creaked open slightly.

“Who’s… who’s there?” a mare asked though a yawn, not fully opening the door.

“Sis, it’s me!” Skimmer said in a raised whisper.

The mare looked into the space where her brother supposedly was, but all she could see was empty air. “Yeah, and I’m the princess. We all know he’s in Canterlot.”

“Night Sky, I’m serious.”

“Prove it.”

Skimmer sighed. “When you were five you walked into my room one evening to wake me up and saw me… snuggling with my pillow which I was calling… Moonbeam.”

There was a pause, then the door opened to reveal a confused and suspicious thestral mare. “Alright, I’ll believe it’s you, for now,” Skimmer grunted, “in which case you’d better get your flank in here now.”

“Just hold the door open ‘til I say; there’s more than just me here.” Night Sky narrowed her eyes, but stepped back and allowed her invisible guests in. “Alright, we’re all in.”

“Sky, who’s at the door?” A thestral stallion, Sky’s husband, came into the entrance way just as she was closing and locking the door.

As if to answer him Luna dropped the invisibility spell, revealing herself and her two guards.

There was a heartbeat of silence, then both Sky and her husband dropped to the floor, prostrating themselves before the princess. “P-P-P-Princess Luna! You do us great honor by coming into our humble home! We are not worthy!”

Luna motioned for the two of them to rise, which they nervously did. “If what thine brother has said is true, then thou are more than worthy and the honor is ours.” Sky and her husband looked over at Skimmer.

“You… aren’t here for the traitors?” Sky’s husband, Night Saber, asked.

“Do thou mean the five that have sought refuge here?”

They both nodded. “They were arrested as soon as they arrived and were branded traitors when they explained they had left your service.”

“Did they explain why they had left?” Luna asked.

“Only the governor-general interviewed them. When he was done he told us those five were traitors to you and that they were to be kept under the barracks until a suitable punishment was found,” Sky told her.

“They are indeed traitors, but not in the way your governor-general would have you believe.” Luna proceeded to tell all that had led up to that point. The kirin Midnight’s discovery and adoption of Squeaky Wings. Of Dark Blade’s admittance and the purge of the night guard and the five escapees. “We and our remaining guards are here to finish the purge we began back in Canterlot.” Luna finished.

Sky and Night Saber exchanged glances, then bowed to Luna. “How can we help, your highness?”

Luna nodded in satisfaction, then lifted a bundle into view. “We and our guard do not have the luxury of being able to watch out for this one. Thine brother said thou might aid us in this way.” She lowered the bundle into Sky’s forelegs.

“So, it’s true then.” Sky lifted part of the blanket up to reveal the foal Luna and her guards had found earlier. “We knew Night Dancer went into labor last night, but when there was no celebrating we knew it was either because it was still-born or light-born, what we call foals born with light coat colors.”

“Will you look out for the child?” Luna asked.

“Of course your highness. I’ll place her in the crib with Night Wind. Would Uncle Skimmer want to see his nephew?” Sky teased.

“Perhaps sometime later.” Star Catcher said, observing a nearby clock. “Your majesty, if we do not leave soon the rest of the colony will be awake and it will be hard to slip out and fetch the rest of the guard.”

Luna nodded. “Time is of the essence. We will return tonight publicly and we expect the governor-general to spin tales for us. Inform those thou trust of our true intentions; we wish as many first-hoof, unbiased accounts to be brought to our attention.”

Sky and Night Saber bowed again. “Consider it done, your highness.”

With a flick of her horn Luna, Star Chaser, and Night Skimmer disappeared again, the opening and closing of the front door the only indication they had left.

------------f----------------

“As expected the governor-general welcomed my guards and me with open wings, as did the rest of the colony. A feast was even organized to honor our arrival.”

The other three stood hanging on every word the princess was saying.

Midnight was the first to speak up. “Before you go further, is that filly, the one you found abandoned, is she okay right now?

Luna smiled and nodded. “Night Sky and her husband are wonderful parents and have already named her Pastel Dawn. She is in very good hoof, I assure you.” Midnight sighed in relief. “As is the other foal and his family we came across there, but I’ll get to that soon.”

“But,” Spike spoke up, “why didn’t you just blast your way in there? I mean, you pretty much already knew who was guilty and who wasn’t, so why not just go in and arrest the bad guys?”

“Ah, but you see Spike, I did not know who the ‘bad guys’ were at the time, not for certain, and making a mistake like that could have cost us our efforts. The best thing to do at the time was to let them think I was on their side. It’s easier to capture flies with honey than it is vinegar, as the modern saying goes.”

Midnight and Sapphire chuckled. “So, you were welcomed in and now could move around the colony freely, so what did you do then?” Sapphire asked.

“Well, I- what is that?”

They all stopped and listened. At first they heard nothing, then what sounded like frantic muttering met their ears. Following the sounds they came to a clearing, and on the other side…

“Fluttershy?” They all said. Indeed, Fluttershy was on the opposite side of the clearing from them, but she sure didn’t look like her normally timid self. Her dress and mane were askew, and there was something manic in her actions. There was also the fact that she was setting up a net.

“Yes, as soon as one of you birds, or squirrels, or deer touches this net, you’ll be mine, ALL MINE! MUHAHAHAHAwhoa-!” In the deranged pegasi’ eagerness to capture one of the garden’s animals, she had forgotten to take a few steps back from her trap, and coincidently set it off, capturing herself.

Luna, Midnight, Sapphire, and Spike watched her swing there for a second, her manic behavior seemingly curbed for the moment. “Should we assist her?” Luna asked.

“I’d actually bet if she broke down, then the animals would come to her.” Midnight said. “But, why are they avoiding her in the first place?”

“The garden’s animals are trained to avoid ponies. Celestia says it ends up being one less headache when she doesn’t hear that one of the birds took their leave on one of the noble’s dresses and such.” Luna explained.

Midnight and Spike stifled their chuckling as they moved away.

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to leave her like that?” Sapphire asked with a nervous look back.

“She’ll be fine. The animals will get sorry for her eventually. It’s not like she can do anything else right now.” Midnight said.

Back in the net, Fluttershy had begun to gnaw at the ropes with a renewed passion.

“Anyway, princess, you were saying?”

“Thank you. We spent several nights there searching out the guilty ones. Our newfound allies in the colony were few, but their service proved invaluable, especially since my guards and I were rather… occupied, as it were, most of the time.”

--------p------------p-------

“… and so you see, your highness, if we could get a hold of some land here,” governor-general Moon Stalker pointed to the opposite side of Canterlot mountain, “we could begin construction of your own castle-city, out from under your sister’s hooves.”

Luna noted how he had strained at the very mention of Celestia. Three nights of almost unending praise and ideas on how to start bettering Equestria, with the colony’s help of course, and the alicorn was starting to see why her sister disliked her court. ‘And you’ve had to endure this alone for a thousand years. You have far more resolve than I, Tia, if you could stomach those sickening sweet false smiles they give you.’

As much as she wanted to end the charade, she knew she couldn’t. Her informants could tell her which families got rid of foals, but not the truly responsible party. A mother could have willing given up a foal to the horrible fate awaiting it, or the poor thing could have only watched as her foal was ripped from her hooves. The father could have been a willing participant or pushed to the side as guards took the child from its home. And as it was it was taboo to talk of light-borns publicly or even among family, getting a solid answer out of a pony was like trying to milk a bull. She needed a way to get the truth out of the thestrals and soon, otherwise simply bringing down the hammer and trusting her gut would be her only option; an ultimately unfair one, she felt.

“Princess, are you alright? Should I call for a doctor?”

Luna whipped her head up to see the governor-general looking at her with concern. “N-Nay, governor-general, we are fine. Deep in thought is all.” Luna said using the Royal Canterlot Voice. While inside Canterlot Castle, Celestia had imposed on her younger sister that The Voice was no longer used, the alabaster alicorn had failed to make sure that rule followed Luna outside the castle. Up to that point the princess of the night had held off on it due to the need for stealth, but now that she was out in the open she belted it out without a second thought. Her slip back into ‘ye ol’ timey speak’ also was a product of spending time solely with her guard, who never seemed to mind it; almost like one slipping back into a native accent when around family. It turned out to be a happy accident, as the volume kept the thestrals off balance and gave Luna the aura of unquestioning authority.

“If I may be so bold, your highness, may I ask what you were thinking about?” Stalker asked timidly.

“Our thoughts dwell on what punishments we will impose on the traitors when we return home. The colony’s hospitality has been so great as to let our mind drift from the matter.” She levitated a teacup to take a sip. The Voice had a bad habit of drying ones throat out, which is why if one were to travel back in time to when it was used regularly they would see a tea set was always present near them.

“Oh, well, I’m sure we can think of a proper punishment to be hoofed out here-”

“We do not require our subject’s input on how and when we will deal with those who have so grievously offended us.” Luna said, narrowing her eyes at him.

“O-O-Of course, your highness! I meant no disrespect!” Moon Stalker bowed low.

“Do not let it happen again. Coincidently, as I am missing five spaces in my guard, do you have any recommendations to make from your present guard?” It had been decided that they should go along with the idea that the five ex-guards currently in custody were indeed deserters and that the rest were back in Canterlot to ‘hold down the fort’. Night Skimmer’s promotion to captain had been a temporary one for the journey.

“There are some in our home guard that have exemplary performance, so possibly-” The governor-general was once again interrupted, but this time by one of the colony’s guard.

“Governor-General, Princess Luna, please, forgive the intrusion, but there is an issue.” The teenage guard bowed so low his muzzle was just touching the floor.

“What could be so important that you would bother the princess herself with it!?” Stalker yelled.

The guard looked from Stalker to Luna then back again, then walked over to him and whispered something. The look on his face went from fury to piss-pants scared so fast it was actually amazing to watch. “A-Are you sure?”

The guard nodded. “We have them out by the barracks as we speak, sir.”

“Is something wrong, governor-general?”

“Oh, no, no, no; nothing you need concern yourself with, your highness. Just some unfortunate internal matter.” He tried to smile and wave her concerns away, but it fell when she got up anyway.

“Even if a matter is internal, our presence may sooth our subjects and let rational heads prevail. We will join you.”

“T-There really is no need to inconvenience yourself, your-”

Luna looked him right in the face. “We insist.”

-----------------------------

A large crowd had gathered outside the barracks by the time Luna, her guards, Stalker, and the colonial guard landed. Luna looked around quickly to make note of the crowd as they walked forward. Some were yelling loudly, with words like ‘traitors’ and ‘abomination’ filtering out of the crowd. Others had faces showing concern, while still others looked impassive or simply disappointed.

As they reached the center, Luna could see a mare and a stallion with a bundle wrapped in the mare’s forelegs. Luna had a briefly odd moment of feeling anger and fear, as it was clear what was going on, and relief that it wasn’t Night Sky and Dark Saber who had gotten caught. On the second night they were sure somepony had saw Pastel Dawn while flying past the door. Still, her heart went out to the couple; they were only guilty of the crime of loving their child.

Moon Stalker marched over to them, rage clearly evident on his face. “Our great princess finally returns to us, and you two have the audacity to have that thing here in front of her!?”

The mare looked past him to Luna, her eyes pleading. “Please, don’t let them take my little boy!”

“SILENCE! HOW DARE YOU TRY TO SPEAK TO THE PRINCESS DIRECTLY!” Stalker brought his hoof up as if to smack her.

“Governor-General.”

Stalker stopped with his hoof in the air, then turned to face her. “My princess, these two are of no consequence to you. Please let me deal with them personally so that they may shame you no more.”

Luna took a deep breath, calming herself from flying at him and back-hoofing him herself. “Be that as it may, the mare is looking to us, and even if she has broken the law, she has done so as a mother, and we will hear what she will say regardless. The others below forfeited that honor when they lied to hide their crimes.” Luna walked forward until she was directly in front of the couple. She could see the fear in their eyes as they bowed.

“Your highness, please, forgive us, but our son was born this way.” The mare removed some of the cloth to reveal a foal with bright yellow coat and white mane. Some in the crowd yelled out, but were silenced by Stalker. “We know that this is an offence to you, but please, take it out on us! He cannot help the way he looks, so it must be our fault he’s this way! We’ll gladly take whatever punishment you’ll bestow, but please do not take it out on our son! He is only a baby! Please consider banishing him to another colony instead of condemning him to death, we implore you!” Shouts rang out from the crowd again, but this time Luna flared her wings for silence and as she did so gave the terrified couple a wink and a small smile.

“Governor-General; when we spoke tonight before this occurrence, we told you we had not yet thought of a way to deal with the traitorous guards. Seeing this couple defend their offensive child has given us an idea for them all that we like.” There were sounds of approval from the crowd. “However, it will take time to prepare. Tomorrow night we will pass judgment on those who have betrayed us. Send this family down beneath the barracks and place them in a cell away from the ex-guards; we do not want them to have any ideas of getting back into our good graces by disposing of the child themselves. Furthermore, the guards we brought with us will take over the watch of the prisoners, so that nopony will mistake their fates.”

Stalker bowed low, a triumphant smirk on his face. “As you command, your majesty! Passing judgment on the traitorous scum will be an honor to witness!” Agreeing shouts came from the crowd.

Luna turned and began walking towards Stalker’s home, her residence while in the colony. “Governor-General, our remaining guards and us will need privacy while we decide how best to execute our plan. It may take the rest of this night; is there any place else thou can lodge?”

“Of course, my princess. Use my home however you wish.” Stalker said with another bow.

Luna motioned for Night Skimmer and Star Chaser to follow her back to the house. Once there she let out a sigh she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

“You have a plan, princess?” Star Chaser asked.

“Nay, lieutenant; twas merely a ploy for more time. We have no more idea what to do now than we did before, though now time is against us.” It looked like the hammer was going to have to be swung by her own gut after all. “Be sure to have our guards bring food and amenities to that family while they are confined.”

Star Chaser nodded and called one of the other guards over to the door.

“Princess, if I may, perhaps we should just get this over with tonight and catch them unawares?” Skimmer suggested.

“The princess wants to make sure the innocent and guilty don’t get mixed up. How would you feel if your sister and her family got caught up in that?” Star Chaser pointed out, returning to them.

As the two fell to arguing, Luna closed her eyes in concentration. ‘I cannot do this alone. Sister, though I’ve always hated to admit it, you were always the better one at handling disputes. I need your guidance.’ With barely a notable shift, her consciousness left the waking world for the one of dreams.

-----------------------------

Luna opened her eyes and found herself in a large field somewhere in Equestria. Looking around, she found a single large tree off to the side with a familiar figure sitting under it. The blue alicorn made her way over to the tree. When she got close she could see a picnic was arranged by its base, with several places set out. The figure she had seen from before had her back to her, shifting her attention from a book to out over the fields. “Celestia.”

The alabaster alicorn looked up at her and smiled. “Luna; tired out already? What will Firestorm and the others say?”

The blue alicorn shook her head. “I’m not part of this dream, sister.”

Celestia frowned at her a second, then the world seemed to halt and ripple. “Oh, I see… dreaming.” She looked away from her younger sister and Luna followed her gaze. Farther out was a group frozen in mid-play; not a single one of them were ponies.

“I am sorry for invading your dream like this, but I am in dire need of your help.”

Celestia saw the seriousness on her little sister’s face and pulled herself up. “Of course; how can I help?” The elder alicorn listened to her sister’s predicament, and she shared her worry.

“I cannot see a way to properly help them. I… I don’t trust my own judgment anymore, not after…” the younger alicorn confessed, looking over at the frozen figures.

Celestia reached out a white wing to comfort her. “There were times I did not trust my own judgment either, but I had nopony else to fall back on. We must learn to accept that we will not always know what to do. These are your charges, and you must make decisions here on your own.” Luna sighed and made to leave. “But, it is comforting to know there is help if you only ask.” Celestia bent her head down and allowed her horn to pierce the ground. When she removed it, a plant unlike any other Luna had seen before sprouted. It looked like it was made out of water or glass and was as transparent, but swayed in the breeze like any other plant.

“This is Veritum; a very rare plant that grows in such remote places that it wasn’t discovered until two hundred years ago. If you were to grind it up, leaves, flower, stem and all; you could make one of the most powerful truth serums I have ever seen. Not only will the drinker only be able to speak the truth, but will feel compelled to answer.”

Luna saw a problem in Celestia’s plan. “I only have until tomorrow night. I cannot go racing around Equestria looking for this rare plant, let alone try and figure out how to make the serum just right.”

Celestia gave her that familiar knowing smile of hers. “It’s a good thing then that one of the places it grows is in the castle greenhouses. I will wake the royal potion makers immediately and have them working on what you need immediately. How much do you need?”

Luna shuffled nervously. “Enough for almost one hundred.”

“A tall order, but they will only need a swallow each. You have the dragon fire?” Luna nodded. “Then I will send them to you as soon as the order is ready.” They nuzzled. “Have faith in yourself Luna. Even these zealots follow you for a reason.”

The world faded to black as her sister woke up, and Luna found herself back in her body.

------------f----------------

“Whoa, Princess Celestia has a plant that can make anypony tell the truth if they’re asked?” Spike said with an amazed stare. “Note to self: never eat Princess Celestia’s cake.” They all got a laugh out of that.

“That must have been a tough wait for the serum, and what about the family? Did you think they were in danger from the normal guards? Is that why you had your own guards patrol the prison?” Sapphire asked.

“I wanted them to be able to have food and drink for themselves and the foal; I knew only my guards could get it to them safely.” As soon as she finished her stomach gave off a loud growl. “It would appear I require some food at the moment as well.”

Chuckling, they began making their way back towards the hall. As they stepped out of the gardens, lo and behold there was Applejack with her cart. She wasn’t alone. In front of the cart were Rarity and a unicorn stallion Midnight hadn’t seen before.

“Oh dear, I hope the Element of Generosity knows what she’s getting into, courting our nephew.” Luna said, to which Sapphire nodded.

Spike simply snorted. “So that’s Prince Blueblood? Doesn’t look so special to me.”

As if to validate his claim there came a retching sound from near the cart. “Ugh! My royal lips have tasted mere carnival fair! I’m going to the buffet for some hors d’oeuvres.” With an angry huff Rarity followed after him.

“She is not having a good night.” Midnight observed as they walked up to the cart.

“Can’t say she would be, what with that fancy guy and his too-good-for-mah-apples taste buds.” AJ said with a scowl. “Then again, can’t say I’m havin’ a great night either. Ah’ve only sold one pie and just spotted Rarity two fritters. I really thought I’d be swimin’ in bits by now.”

“Well, there is a free buffet with all their fancy foods, so that could be a problem.” Spike said.

“Indeed, but experience had taught me that home-cooked foods taste the best.” Luna said, lifting up a bag of bits. “Now, what does everypony want? ‘It’s my treat’, as they say.”

It didn’t take long for them all to be scarfing down fritters, fries, and candy apples. AJ wasn’t exactly swimming in bits like she hoped, but she had a fare more now than she did before. “So Flutters is hogtied up in a tree? Guess hardly any of us are havin’ a great night.”

“I still say the animals will help her down when she starts crying.” Midnight said as she finished off her third fritter.

“Well, Ah’ve got one more idea on how to turn this here night around. I’ll see ya’ll later and thanks for the business!” With that AJ pushed her cart away and out of sight.

“I wonder what she’s got in mind.” Spike said as he ate the last of his apple fries.

“Well, I say we hear what’s left of Luna’s story; I’m a bit eager to hear how she saves the day.” Midnight said.

Luna blushed slightly. ‘After being Nightmare Moon, to hear that…’ “Well, as you can imagine, the wait for the serum was indeed a nerve-wracking one, but it finally arrived en mass just as I raised the moon that night.”

--------p------------p-------

Luna took several deep breaths to help calm herself. The serum had arrived, her guards knew the plan, and she had been in meditation to help prepare herself. If all went well; no, when all went well, the foal-killers would be in chains and the innocent would be free of them forever. Still, the nervousness remained. There was still that nagging in the back of her mind that if she failed, if even one innocent got mixed up with the guilty, she didn’t think she could live with herself for it. Then again, she and Celestia had lived with far worse burdens, real and imagined.

A knock at the door caused her to turn, and lieutenant Star Chaser stuck her head in. “Princess, all the thestrals are gathered. It’s time.”

Luna nodded, then followed her guard out into the night.

They were all gathered around the largest fire pit in a semi circle, set directly in the center of the valley. On the side Luna landed on were her guards, governor-general Moon Stalker, the five ex-guards, and the family with the light-born colt.

“Princess Luna, all the prisoners are accounted for and are awaiting your judgment.” Stalker said, a predatory grin on his face.

“We are pleased, governor-general, and pleased that you all came out tonight. This night, we purge ourselves of those who dare call themselves one of our own, yet shame us with their very presence.” A loud cheer went up from the crowd. “But, before we begin, as a token of my gratitude, I wish to share something will all of you.” She nodded to Skimmer, who produced a bag filled with what could have been covered shot glasses filled with a clear liquid. “In a rare display of honoring the moon, the ponies of Equestria have made a new drink while we were all away. Let us toast to our return with the drink known as Moonshine.” Another round of cheers went up as thestrals eagerly took the glasses. When the guards were done passing them out, Luna was about to make the toast when one of the ex-guards began yelling.

“Don’t let her trick you! She’s fallen under the sway of her sister! She’s trying to ruin us all! Fight ba-!” He was silenced when Stalker punched him across the face.

“Filthy cur. Please proceed, your highness.”

Luna nodded. “To the moon, to the night, to justice!” She drank her swallow to cheers from the crowd who followed suit when she was done. Luna nodded to Skimmer, and as one the guards moved forward a step. With a flick of her horn the family sitting near in front of her was pulled behind her and with another flick she produced a barrier, one similar to what Celestia had used to stop Midnight. This one, however, boxed the remaining thestrals in with Luna and her guard.

Before Stalker could even ask what was going on he was pulled in front of Luna by her magic.

“I have only one question for you, governor-general: how many foals have you personally left out to die?”

“Two.”

The air was still as her question and his answer hung in it. He started, trying to ask why she wanted to know, but she only threw him to her guards who pounced on him. When the struggling was done Stalker laid in the dirt, his hooves and wings bound.

“Let it be known that we are not here tonight to punish this family for the foal they bore. The five before us fled because we were purging our guard of those who dared do unimaginable atrocities in our name. We have come to find out that this colony has been sentencing its foals to death simply because they were born with coats you deemed as praise to our sister’s sun. WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW DISGUSTED WE ARE BY THIS DEPRAVITY! THESE FOALS, WHO, AS THIS MOTHER HAS CLEARLY SAID, HAVE BEEN MURDERED FOR SOMETHING THEY HAD NO CHOICE IN!” Here she took a breath to calm herself. The look of fear on the faces of the crowd gave her some satisfaction. ‘They should be afraid’.

“Tonight, you will also have no choice. What my guards gave you to drink was not a beverage, but a powerful truth serum. We are going to ask each and every one of you about what has happened here, and we will know the truth. By the end of this night, you will either be in our good graces, or face our punishment.” She levitated another thestral out from the crowd, many of whom were now flying up and hitting themselves against the walls in a vain attempt to get out. “How many foals have you personally left out to die?”

“N-N-None.”

“And what of aiding those that have?”

“Y-Y-Yes.” And another thestral bound in chains.

-----------------------------

The night continued in the same manner. Interrogate, judge, place, repeat. With every thestral that went into the ‘guilty’ pile, Luna’s heart ached more. ‘So many tainted. Makers, please, do not make us do this again. So many gone in our name…’

Finally, after what felt like hours, the last thestral was sorted. A look around showed just how rotten the colony had become. Almost three quarters of them were found guilty, while only about twenty five adult and teenage thestrals were found innocent. Only three whole families were found to be innocent, including Sky and Saber and the family brought to trial. The rest, and this made it worse for the alicorn, had the majority of their families in chains. Wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, even parents and children.

Then there was the matter of the infants and young children whom Luna had not interrogated. As far as she was concerned they were all innocent or at least young enough that they could go to other families and have normal lives ahead of them. Many had to be forcibly removed from their mothers.

The trial was done; now for the punishment. Luna steadied herself for what she was going to do next by first breathing deeply, then drinking from a flask Celestia had sent with the serum after Luna told her what the punishment would be for the guilty. She felt a jolt go through her body followed by the magic around her horn strengthening.

“Now that we have discovered which ones are the true traitors, not only to us but to their own kind, we are ready to pass judgment. This has all come to pass due to the fact that thou all take great pride in being thestrals, a gift we gave to thine great-grandsires over a millennia ago. It was a gift that we could both give… and take.” Her words were not lost on anypony. “Thou are all no longer worthy of our gift, and so we revoke it.”

She blinked, and in an instant her eyes began to glow white with an arcane power. Winds kicked up as she lifted herself into the air, her horn glowing blue while the magic aura around it grew larger and larger. When she could feel her magic hit its peak she aimed it down at the shackled thestrals below her and let loose the arcane energies. The magic slammed into them like a tsunami, and immediately began its work. Grey coats began to change into every color of the rainbow while bat wings sprouted feathers. Fangs retreated into the mouth and were reshaped while irises widened and became circler and ear tuffs disappeared.

When it was done Skimmer and Star Chaser flew up to catch her. Once she was sure she was steady she looked down on her work. Below her could have been any crowd of pegasi in Equestria. She had done it.

“This is not all,” she called out. “While thou have been stripped of your gift, we do not trust thou enough to simply let thee out into the world. With thine backgrounds thou are a danger to ponies everywhere, and so will serve out your sentences in the dungeons. There may yet be leniency for the youngest of thine flock, but know for the rest of thou none will be given.” She turned to Skimmer. “Captain, send a message that we will need the prisoner transports, as many as they can send.”

Skimmer nodded. “Consider it done, your highness.”

------------f----------------

Midnight, Sapphire, and Spike just stared at her. It was making Luna a bit uncomfortable. “Do you wish to say something?”

Spike recovered first. “You changed them into pegasi!?

“Make no mistake Spike, doing so is something only a being of supreme magical skill and quantity has such an ability, and to do so to so many at once meant I needed a temporary magical surge. Even then I was extremely tired afterwards.” She bowed her head. “I performed the same spell back when I was starting to become corrupted by my darker half. The few ponies who followed me and not my sister I blessed by turning them into thestrals so they could be by my side when I made night last forever. It was a mistake that was long overdue for correcting.”

“And… what happened then?” Midnight asked.

“Those I found guilty were brought to the castle and are locked away in its dungeons where they will serve out the rest of their lives. Some of the teenagers are being looked at for early release, but that is about it. Those that were left chose to follow me back to Canterlot. They said their home was more a prison than anything else, and so when they had removed the last of their things, I destroyed the valley. Consider it a symbolic as well as physical end to it all.”

They all nodded. “Are any of them here tonight?” Sapphire asked.

“No, they aren’t used to the city yet; neither am I if I’m honest. But, they do want to thank you personally, Midnight Storm. They want to meet the mare who helped start the end of the killings.”

Midnight bowed her head. “I’ll be honored to meet them.”

Luna smiled. “Now that the story has been told, why don’t we head back inside and at least try to make merry? I think we could all use it about now.” There was a chorus of agreements and the group made their way back inside.

-----------------------------

They almost immediately wished they hadn’t.

“Miss Storm!” Midnight cringed as she looked around and saw Professor Mixer coming towards them. “There you are. After my little misunderstanding with the countess of Hoofington,” his impressive shiner spoke volumes about how little the misunderstanding was, “I searched for you all night!”

“Have you? I’m sorry, I just stepped out for a bit of air.” Midnight said with a forced smile.

“Oh, not this again!” Apparently the mare in the red and white dress was once again unfortunate enough to be near them; unfortunate for both parties. “The freaks that are getting in nowadays are simply-!”

“Come on every pony! Let’s PAR-TAY!” Out from the front of the stage shot Pinkie Pie, doing her absolute best to dance with anypony she could get her hooves on.

“This won’t end well.” Midnight, Sapphire, and Spike said together while Luna and Mixer simply looked on.

Then from one of the side doors came out Applejack pushing an impressively big cake. “Alright, here’s something that’s worthy of your hoity-toity taste buds, straight from Sweet Apple Acres; and it’s free too!”

“STAGE DIVE!” They looked away from the hole AJ was digging for herself to see Pinkie shoot up into the air like a rocket. Recalling that particular part of the night, Midnight would remember it as the point of no return where everything went to Tartarus in the funniest, face-hoofing-ist way possible. In fact she would say the only thing that could have made it more epic is if doves had flown by at that exact moment.

Pinkie came down to earth and impacted with the side of AJ’s cart, shooting the cake up into air in her place. As fate would have it, Rarity and Prince Blueblood were coming out of the opposite side door. One look up and Blueblood arguably did the funniest and stupidest thing possible in Midnight’s opinion. He used Rarity as a shield. The dress her friends had made for her, the one she had practically flipped out about keeping clean until that night, became completely covered in apple cake. Flipped out was putting her reaction mildly, and even Sapphire was chuckling at this point. Midnight and Spike were already on the floor, the young dragon praying Rarity wouldn’t see him.

They didn’t stay there long as, in his attempt to get away from the deranged mare, Blueblood slammed into the alicorn statue that was the centerpiece of the hall, which proceeded to start tilting over. Midnight was up like a shot, but Rainbow beat her to it, catching it before it hit the ground.

“Well, that’s amazing!” Mixer called out. Rainbow proceeded to lose her balance and knocked over a column, which then hit another, and another, until all the columns that were around the statue had crashed to the floor, quickly followed by the statue itself after breaking apart.

And as the cherry on the disaster sundae Princess Celestia and Twilight chose that moment to walk in and observe the aftermath.

“Yeah, could you please grab those oil-covered cheese balls for me professor?” Midnight asked. “I’d like something before this hits the fan anymore.”

“Oh, yes… um, these, right?” He levitated about ten of them off the nearby platter.

“Yes, perfect.”

And hit the fan it did.

Not a second later the doors to the gardens burst open to a stampede of animals tailed by none other than Fluttershy. In uber-god-pms-mode. “You’re... going to LOVE ME!!!

“And I’m really sorry about this.”

“Sorry about-?” Deciding to throw fire on this train wreck, literally, Midnight lit the oil-covered cheese on fire, then smacked Mixer’s horn. The sudden jolt caused his magic to fire the flaming cheese all over the place, with one landing perfectly on the back of the mare with the red and white dress.

A certain statue in the gardens felt the wave of chaos emanating from the now ruined gala, and would later admit that the chaos caused that night cut his sentence short by two months.

Sapphire turned on the kirin. “REALLY!?

Midnight shrugged. “She called me a freak. I draw the line there.”

“Hey guys, I think we need to follow Twilight!” Spike yelled to them. The unicorn was waving for them all to follow her.

“Go, Midnight Storm. The professor and I will cover you.” Luna said with a wink.

Midnight smiled and bowed. “By your leave, princess.” Both mares, with Spike on Midnight’s back, took off after the bearers.

“Are you alright, professor?” Luna asked, helping him steady himself.

“A simple ‘no’ to the tests would have sufficed,” he said slightly dazed.

-----------------------------

When the royal sisters found them again (Luna still disguised), they were all at Donut Joe’s nursing coffee and (what else?) donuts while telling each other about their night.

“The night may not have gone as you all had planned but I think we can all agree that we’ll all look back on this night with a smile.” Celestia said taking a bite of her red velvet donut.

“Yeah, I guess it wasn’t that bad.” Midnight said as she finished off her coffee.

“So miss doom-and-gloom admits she was wrong?” Sapphire teased.

“Only a little. But, you know, I keep thinking we’re forgetting something.” They stared at each other for a minute, then went back to their food.

DERPY!” They both shouted, spraying the others with bits of donut.

-----------------------------
“You know, you’d think after the gala was basically ruined they’d be begging for us to take them home,” one of the chauffeurs said.

“I know! I mean practically everypony else is gone already and we’re still waiting here!” The other one agreed.

“At least some fancy muffins made it!” Derpy said, happily biting into one.

Author's Note:

And so ends season 1. :yay:
For those of you who saw that the story is now in complete status DON'T PANIC! The story is FAR from over; I just feel it would be better to split it into parts.

Now I think I sort of fell into the "trying to please everyone" trap with this chapter, but to be honest I didn't have enough material to really make a multi-chapter story out of the Luna/thestrals plot and I didn't have much in terms of the gala, so putting them together just felt the right way to go. And the reason why I didn't involve the nobles more was because they weren't really a big presence in the episode except for maybe the parts with Pinkie.

Of course, Dr. Puzzle Mixer (name thanks to Botaglove!) is the unicorn you all helped make! Thanks to Dream Volt for the cutie mark (I altered it a bit but it's still based off your idea), mane and tail colors thanks to Blood_rose_doll and Silver Octave, coat color thanks to Jcn840, and eye color thanks to Dream Volt and Blood_rose_doll.

So I hoped you all liked it, and I'll see you all in season 2!

Comments ( 375 )

So both Derpy and Midnight actually had a good time. And before anyone argues any night you can intentionally set someone on fire and get away with it is a good one. :rainbowwild:

In the words of Snips, Snails, and Spike... SWWWEEEEEEETTTTTTT!!!:moustache::moustache:

Is that a pic of M'Storm? She is so pretty,...

I liked it, for sure.
Justice was served, both to the thestrals and snooty nobles in red, probablly horrid dresses.
Your S1 arc was great, and i'm looking forward to what you decide to give us next.

check my email before going to bed @ 5.07 am and what do u know it updated 5:06 :D

Loved the thestral story:D Cannot wait for season 2 you starting with discord?

media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lt31fnINGx1qdtou3.gif
If this were a book...

...there wouldn't be any on the shelves...

...because it's so good...

...everyone took them already...

will you be posting a new chapter alerting us to the new story?

Nice chapter! I see forward to the next.

Here's to hitting the milestone and having the guts to keep it going, you rock Chaotic Ink.

“DERPY!” They both shouted, spaying the others with bits of donut.

Pretty sure you meant 'spraying'

Btw, very nice chapter.:moustache:

4820071
I suppose you could say that justice was served, but remember that those thestrals that were guilty were either directly responsible for or complicit in the systematic murder of any unfortunate souls (mostly infants I might add) who were born albino in their colony. Quite frankly this may even constitute an act of genocide on account of the fact that they were murdering only individuals with a specific genetic trait within their own race. While a life sentence is a severe punishment in and of itself, I find it difficult not to suggest the death penalty for the sheer magnitude of their actions.

getting a solid answer out of a pony was like trying to milk a bull.

yeah, you only get that sticky, white, nasty stuff

4820517
I hear you.
But is death really punishment enough?
Just letting it their life end, isn't spending the rest of their lives contemplating the wrongs they did more a punishment, robbing them of their life without taking it entirely?
I think sentencing someone to life is a outright horrible punsihment.
Because you take their life, while having them stay conscious and aware of what they did.

4820540 *Starts to grin*

Not again...:facehoof:

4820583 did you get that reference to a serpent's embrace? if no, you should check it out

For those of you who saw that the story is now in complete status DON'T PANIC!

But... it's not marked complete. I double checked and its status is definitely incomplete.
...
Oh and at one point you called Star Chaser "Star Catcher".

“Perhaps sometime later.” Star Catcher said, observing a nearby clock.

finally, answers. you don't know how much it means to me to finally have some answers. it's like a annoying itch that you can 't scratch ( takes in large quantity of air). all the bad bat ponies have been jailed. The professor looks like a normal pony (besides him looking like a Mardi Gras prop). it's totally obvious that night skimmer has a crush on midnight. And finally midnight had a decent time at the grand galloping Gala. The tears won't stop coming.:raritycry:

Really good, in fact. Before the kirin could figure out why she suddenly felt warm in the face...

Oh God, please, not another lesbian shipping! :raritydespair:
Night Skimmer is a nice guy. If you want ad romance to this story, he's already smitten, so please use him.

As for the sentence, for the moment there, I thought you let them go with the "slap on the wrist", but life in dungeons? I approve! :rainbowdetermined2:

4820084
Would be a crime against nature not to :raritywink:

4820253
there'll be a journal with this one tagged.

4820455
damnit!
and thank you!

4820517
the death penalty was outlawed several centuries ago by Tia. keeping them on the brink of starving, however, is not out of the question.

4820614
eff!! on both counts!
( I updated it at work, so only had time to hit the publish button)

4820715
So, you're saying a story that happens to have two female lovers can't be done well? So what if I have two females in my story like each other, if that does indeed happen? That's not this story's main focus, and if it happens, then one or two chapters to cover relationship, and done.

Now, I completely understand why you wouldn't like it, since this site has more sew stories between mares than there are probably bronies in existence that are horribly written, but that's like saying every alicorn OC is a Mary Sue *COUGHNYXCOUGH*.

In other words: don't start going on about stuff that hasn't happened yet, and give it a chance IF it does.

4820951 It's just that outside of LyraBon, I don't like lesbian shipping, and I usually try to avoid them when I spot them. I don't mind if some background character is at it once in a while, but when I read story, and in the middle of it the main character without any previous signs turns dark, I just feel a bit betrayed.
I'll trust you for now.

Can't wait for season 2 :pinkiehappy:
This is a wonderful idea and using hope season 2 comes out soon! Till then, you have earned::moustache: and::yay:

Oh dear, the gengineer who was made by comittee, has a name that means made by comittee, and whose work is made by chemical comittee :facehoof:

Futher triage on those that assisted wuldve been useful, dependingon how long that truth serum lasted. Doing something beccause you beleive your family is threetened is a knife edge problem. :pinkiesad2:

Are there no more Thestral towns?


I always imagine Hollow Shades as a good place..Perhaps for a hidden section of ponies that outright disagreed with the practice over the years..?

4821085
yes, and this was only one of them, that happened to be populated by zealots, who are not representative of the entire thestral population.

Imagining midnight dress is impossible HARD! :raritydespair:
I hope that it is going to be an art work for it.

4821181
it should hopefully be coming down the pipe soon.

“We and our reaming guards are here to finish the purge we began back in Canterlot.” Luna finished.

...Dear god, I did not need that mental image. :ajbemused:

Other than that though, I can't wait for the continuation.

A certain statue in the gardens felt the wave of chaos emanating from the now ruined gala, and would later admit that the chaos caused that night cut his sentence short by two months.

When you really think about it, the gala might have actually been what caused Discord to be released in the show.

So few things. Well done on a 10k word chapter and I love how you wrapped everyone into the whole gala so well.
On another not, I do have some questions and concerns about the threstrals. First off, governor general? Is the whole race a deeply military based kind or is this just the one track minded colony? Yes they are Luna's guards but is this just these types of threstrals very diligent or are they just a special bunch? Second, with three quarters of the population put into custody, how large of an impact are we going to see here? I mean they deserve to be punished but won't so many of them being put into jail have a negative light on Luna and may even push away the rest of threstrals? This could have a negative effect and make the remaining colonies just a bit leery of whether or not they should approach the night princess.
All together, nicely done and now I need you to write the second season as fast as possible.

4821615
ONE colony out of MANY! ONE!!!

4821734
Okay, got ya.
So, what do you have installed for the next story?

Why am I not surprised that Derpy is the only one to fully enjoy herself?
I mean even Midnight had that uncomfortable moment when she was trying to get away with Spike

4820540
Hey, Basilisks have a hard time telling goat genders apart!

i love the cheese fireballs:rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh::rainbowlaugh:

4822222 They art hilarious, no?
Tried to put a pic stupid site said *no* :fluttershysad: closest one to a pouty face:fluttershysad:

Bravo sir. Great ending to the part of season 1. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the part of season 2. :twilightsmile:
Seriously, where are the Luna emotes?

4821770
season 2 in all its glory

4823045 I'm sure it will be interesting. Will the season 2 opener be a 2 part or one part chapter?

Comment posted by dracone deleted Aug 9th, 2014

I don't know why, but I was almost hoping Midnight would run into Soft Glow at the party, for that extra level of discomfort. Of course with that I was also hoping that Soft Glow would also be apologetic to Midnight and offer to catchup for all the opportunities lost, and maybe even try and rekindle the friendship both thought lost. Oh well, maybe it will happen in season 2.

4823355
probably 2 chapters.

4824211 and her mother too

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