• Published 22nd Sep 2013
  • 3,168 Views, 643 Comments

Brother Against Sister - CartsBeforeHorses

Teenage Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake are fighting on opposite sides of a civil war in Equestria. Now completed.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
Chapter 11: Guillotine of Rock

The voices of a thousand angry ponies boomed and echoed through the night sky. The light from torches illuminated the marble walls of the Equestrian Air Force headquarters as ponies angrily shouted slurs and curses.

“You child-killers!”


Lightning Dust flew above the crowd, a megaphone in her hooves.

“Citizens of Cloudsdale!” she yelled.

They all glanced up at her.

“My name is Lightning Dust. I am a resident of Cloudsdale, and a stuntpony by trade. I used to be a candidate for the Wonderbolts, but thank Celestia that I never got in. They’d have asked me to kill a bunch of innocent children!”

The crowd booed.

“We’re all upset right now, and rightfully so. The Equestrian military has let Cloudsdale down. For the last year, we’ve been living under constant terror of the moon crashing down onto our heads and destroying everything we’ve worked for our entire lives. How many of you have woken up from night terrors in the last year?”

Dozens of ponies in the crowd raised their hooves.

“And for what? Can anypony tell me why we haven’t been able to work out a peace with the Second Kingdom? We did it before, why can’t we do it again? Instead though, we’re stuck in this truce limbo. The moon hangs above, looming over lives.

“We’ve been told for the last year that it was all for the sake of peace. That we’d stop the moon, stop Blueblood, and reunite Equestria. That it would all be the same as it ever was. But we know now that this can never be. We’ve seen the wretched, rotten leadership of our military and government of Equestria. How is having them in charge any better than submitting to the Second Kingdom? It's not!”

The crowd cheered.

“For years, we’ve made sacrifices as a city. When Discord’s army of wendigoes attacked, we all defended our own walls and rebuilt largely on our own. The ivory tower tax helped slightly, but Canterlot seceded before we collected as much money as we needed. When the Second Kingdom invaded, our city sent its brave young mares and stallions into harm’s way to defend Ponyville. Many valiant soldiers lost their lives that day. When the war resumes, we will undoubtedly lose thousands more.

“Now that there is a truce, and the moon hangs over our heads, our city itself will be sacrificed to kill these children and save the cities on the ground from being trampled under the hooves of the Second Kingdom. We have sacrificed our lives and property for the rest of Equestria. We’ve bled for them. Have they ever done the same for us? Where were the troops from Ponyville when the Wendigoes attacked?”

“Nowhere!” the crowd said in unison.

“Exactly. We’ve sacrificed ourselves for the greater good of Equestria for many years for little if anything in return. But now, with this latest revelation, we’ve learned that they want us to make one last sacrifice: our morals.

“It’s not enough that our citizens’ lives have been taken. It’s not enough that we’ll soon have to sacrifice our city. No, they want us to sacrifice what makes us the honest, true, and good ponies we are. They want us to kill a barn full of children on the hope that we can win this war. They don’t want us to kill for Cloudsdale, since the moon will demolish it. No, once again we are asked to sacrifice for the rest of Equestria with nothing in return but our own doom.”

The crowd booed.

“And as soon as we do this, our city itself will cease to be. For when we sacrifice our morality and sacrifice these children, our punishment will be death by guillotine of rock.”

Lightning Dust motioned up towards the moon.

“Now, there’s only one way that we can avoid this. We can save our morality, save our city, and save these young unicorns from dying. We can do this by refusing to sacrifice for Equestria any longer.”

The crowd cheered.

“We shall declare independence, and Cloudsdale will be its own nation! We’ll make our own decisions, and we’ll make a separate peace with the Second Kingdom!”

Some of the ponies in the crowd cheered, but some of them murmured confusedly. A few even booed.

“Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Secession? That’s what the Second Kingdom did, and it’s led to this civil war! To you, I say that we will found this new nation in peace rather than war. We won’t attack this military building behind me; we won't kill any soldiers. We won’t found our nation on the idea that we’re above the other races. No, in fact, we are doing this to be treated as equals to them: no more, no less.

“To gain our independence, we will refuse to make any more sacrifices for Equestria until they allow us to make our own decisions as a free nation. Only then can our city and our people truly be equal with the rest of Equestria.

“I’m calling for a general strike. Nopony will work at the weather factory and produce rainbows, clouds, or rain. No pegasi will clear any clouds from any cities in Equestria. No wonderbolts or any ponies in the Equestrian Air Force will report for duty. We will not produce weather until Equestria grants us our independence. Then, when we are independent, we’ll make peace with the Second Kingdom.”

The crowd cheered.

“I will also extend this same offer to the other cloud cities, such as Los Pegasus. For though they have not been harmed in the same way that Cloudsdale has, and have not sacrificed as much, they've still made sacrifices for the ground-dwellers. And I can guarantee that as soon as Cloudsdale is no longer part of Equestria, one of those cities will be under this same guillotine of rock, forced to violate basic pony decency in exchange for death. No more! We shall form the Cloud Confederacy!”

The crowd went wild: screaming, hollering, and throwing hats into the air.

The next day at the Equestrian Air Force base was eerily quiet. The campus was almost entirely empty, save for a few pegasi here and there who hadn’t heard about the general strike, agreed with the decision to bomb the barn, or simply refused to abandoned their posts.

Princess Luna, Princess Twilight, General Spitfire, and General Soarin, along with a few other commanding officers, sat inside of the meeting room.

“It’s like a ghost town out there,” said Twilight. “Nopony’s at the weather factory. Almost nopony is here at the base. All because of our decision.”

“It was still the right call,” said Soarin. “These ponies on this strike are just college kids and undisciplined rebels. They don’t understand the difficulties of making these decisions. And they’re all fired up right now, sure, but it’s the heat of the moment. Once they quit getting their paychecks, once they can no longer pay the bills, they’ll start coming back to work.”

“Are you so sure about that?” asked Princess Luna. “The strike might last longer than you think. Even Lieutenant Thunderlane is taking part in this strike. He’s a high-ranking officer, and hardly a college reactionary.”

“He’s a traitor,” Soarin scoffed. “He probably leaked the plan to Blueblood to begin with. He had no business being here at all.”

“Except that he was a brilliant lieutenant,” said Spitfire. “I doubt he betrayed us to Blueblood. He wasn’t a yes-pony by any means, but how bad is having a voice of dissent?”

Soarin motioned towards the window with his hoof, pointing to the empty campus. “This is what dissent in the military brings: hardly a military at all. Dissent brings a breakdown in order. A true military pony never questions orders; he follows them.”

“What if he believes the orders are wrong?” asked Spitfire.

“Ponies who aren’t willing to unconditionally follow orders shouldn’t be in the military,” said Soarin, narrowing his eyebrows.

“Can we get back to the issue at hoof, here?” asked Princess Luna. “We have a group of ponies who wants to secede. Many of the military ponies are on strike, and we’ll lose a large amount of our air superiority. We can’t make the weather for Equestria. Our economy will weaken from this. If Blueblood wanted to break the truce, now would be the perfect time to attack.”

“I say we let it run its course,” said Soarin. “They can’t stay home forever.”

“Maybe they can be reasoned with,” said Twilight Sparkle. “If we explained our justification, they might reconsider. One thing that Princess Celestia taught me was that friendship can solve any problem between ponies. We should try to make amends.”

“We shouldn’t explain our justification. This was and still remains a top-secret operation. There is no proof that we actually were going to do it,” said Soarin.

“Except for the picture, the testimony of a high-ranking lieutenant, and who knows what other sources the Cloudsdale Courier has,” Spitfire said.

“I read the article. It’s still not definitive,” said Soarin, shrugging.

“So, should we just release a statement denying it?” asked Twilight.

“That seems like a good idea to me,” said Princess Luna. “Best to play damage control and defuse the situation.”

Soarin nodded. “In the meantime, I’ll be preparing to court martial every last one of the soldiers who’ve abandoned their posts. I won’t have disorder running rampant through this military!”

Princess Luna glanced out the window onto the empty campus, chuckling. “You’ll need to find a lot more judges, General Soarin.”

Twilight Sparkle stood backstage at the Manehattan Conference Center as she heard the chattering of the dozens of newsponies who had gathered.

A single bead of sweat dripped down her face as her heart beat in her chest. She glanced over at the wall clock. Only one minute left to go.

You can do this, Twilight. It’s only a speech. Just a three minute speech.

Her brow furrowed.

A speech which tells a lie to all of Equestria! How can I lie to my subjects… No. I have to. I can’t doubt myself now. The integrity of Equestria depends on it… but it’s so wrong! Well, so was the decision to kill those fillies and colts… it’s for the greater good.

Yes, the greater good. The same way which she had justified the act itself. Better to only sacrifice a hundred fillies and colts than have millions of them perish over years of prolonged war. Better to lie about the act itself than to tell the truth and further divide Equestria.

She stood up tall as she walked onstage and over to the podium. She squinted as dozens and dozens of camera flashes blinded her. She took the microphone in her magic and spoke.

“Fillies and gentlecolts of the Equestrian media. I have called this press conference to respond to some of the recent allegations which the Cloudsdale Courier printed yesterday.

“A former lieutenant in the Wonderbolts has accused the Equestrian Air Force of plotting to destroy a barn full of dozens of unicorn fillies and colts in order to bring this war to a speedy close. These supposedly were unicorns who were born to earth ponies and able to grow crops, and are allegedly held by the Second Kingdom forces at a barn near occupied Ponyville.

“I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth. This barn does not exist, and there are no unicorn fillies and colts inside. Even if these unicorn fillies and colts did exist, and even if they held the key to ending the war, we would not simply summarily execute them. We'd make every attempt to save them, and if they could not be saved, we'd let them live.

“We are a nation which sticks together. We never sacrifice each other for the purposes of our own gain. Equestria is founded on the principles of unity and friendship, and we would rather die and lose the war before sacrificing who we are.

”Based on the principle of unity, I would kindly ask for those of you who are participating in this strike to return to work. Though we are in a truce, the war with the Second Kingdom could resume at any moment, and we need everypony at their posts in order to be prepared for that day. Cloudsdale is a key part of Equestria, and without it, our nation wouldn’t survive. We do not seek to use and abuse Cloudsdale for our own means; we respect the contributions of its citizens. Thank you.

“Now, in the interest of transparency, I will answer a few questions from the media.”

At this, the ponies gathered in the room began shouting out dozens of questions. Neither Twilight nor Luna had given a press conference since the war began over a year ago, and there was pent-up demand for answers.

Twilight pointed to a pony who had raised his hoof near the front of the auditorium.

“Yes, you over there.”

“Breaking News with the Hollow Shades Sentinel. Why hasn’t Equestria attempted to broker a peace deal with the Second Kingdom?”

Twilght answered, “Well, Mister News, we actually have been attempting to broker a peace deal, but King Blueblood insists that we give up yet more of our land and resources for peace. We've already negotiated with him once, when he formed his kingdom years ago. He broke the promises he made then, and we will not reward this behavior and risk him doing it again. Yes, ma’am?”

She pointed towards a mare at the rear of the room.

“Front Paige with the Dodge Junction Journal. How can you say that you care for Cloudsdale when it will be destroyed as soon as the truce ends? Why not give Blueblood the land that he wants to save a city of millions from being destroyed?”

“Because, Miss Paige, ponies like Blueblood are never satisfied. If we give him Ponyville today, he’ll want your hometown of Dodge Junction tomorrow. And then, I guarantee that you’ll wish that we’d drawn a line a lot sooner. We are drawing the line with him right now."

She paused for a moment to let the full weight of her statement sink in.

“Yes, you sir, over there?”

“Stoppen Presses with the Cloudsdale Courier. As the newspaper which originally broke this story, we carefully vetted our sources before sending it to print. We pride ourselves in journalistic integrity, and would never willfully publish a lie. We are no tabloid; we ensure that we only publish stories which are corroborated by multiple sources.”

Twilight nodded.

Presses continued, “Given that, I have only a few questions for you. How can you say that this barn doesn’t exist, when we've spoken to the Apple family who once lived there? How can you say that these unicorn children don’t exist, when we’ve spoken to many of their parents? How can you say that you didn’t plan to bomb the barn, when I interviewed a top level lieutenant as well as a general who both have confirmed this plan? They gave the minutes of the meeting in which you made this decision, and they gave drafts of the airstrike plan.”

Twilight Sparkle remained silent. Beads of sweat gathered on her forehead.

How will I answer this question? Will I call them all liars? Will I admit to lying? What will I do?

“Princess Sparkle?” Presses asked.

Finally, she spoke. “No comment.”

The reporters angrily demanded that she answer the question, and they hit her with a barrage of new questions, but Twilight simply walked backstage once more.

Lightning Dust and a crowd of thousands of ponies flew through the air, down the streets of Manehattan, as they held picket signs and chanted slogans.

“Free Cloudsdale! Free Cloudsdale! Free Cloudsdale!” they yelled.

The sheer number of pegasi blocked out the sun, casting a shadow over the city. Residents of the city below stopped for a moment and glanced up from their walking to see the ponies above, but mostly went about their business as normal.

The procession finally reached the capitol building, stopping just before reaching it. A group of police ponies on the ground stood firm against the oncoming protesters, blocking them from going any further. Ponies pushed up against the barricade, and a few of them flew over it, but most of the ponies stayed behind the police line.

Inside of her throne room, Princess Twilight spoke to Princess Luna as they both gazed out the window to the crowd outside.

“Looks like this isn’t just limited to Cloudsdale anymore,” Twilight observed. Luna nodded.

“We can’t let them break off from Equestria. We need the pegasi forces to help us hold back Blueblood when the war resumes. Without Cloudsdale’s military, we’ll lose a lot of ground to him,” said Luna.

“I agree,” said Twilight Sparkle.

“I suppose that there’s nothing left to do besides wait,” said Luna.

Twilight sighed. “I guess. I tried to address their concerns in that press conference. That didn’t seem to help matters. Maybe it will all just blow over.”

Luna nodded.

The protests continued for days, drawing crowds of thousands. Traffic in Manehattan came to a crawl as ponies had difficulty navigating around the pegasi, police officers, and other ponies who packed the city streets and the air around the city.

Besides the extra traffic, life in Manehattan was normal. The daily trading bells chimed as hundreds of businessponies wearing suits and hats filed into the trading floor at the Manehattan Stock Exchange building. They, unlike many others, were used to navigating anxious, noisy crowds; it was in their job descriptions as day-traders.

The traders navigated through the throngs of ponies on the trading floor. Ponies held up bundles of cash, bonds, and stock certificates. Despite all of the seeming chaos on the trading floor, ponies still managed to buy and sell stocks. Ticker tape spilled out onto the floor as dozens of traders shouted buy and sell offers for any number of various stocks.

Then, one thursday morning, a loud boom echoed through the hall of the Manehattan Stock Exchange. A giant orange fireball enveloped everything in its path, blowing out windows and throwing ponies against the wall.

That moment dashed the princess’ hopes that everything would just blow over.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!