• Published 22nd Sep 2013
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Brother Against Sister - CartsBeforeHorses

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

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Chapter 4: Project Orbit

“Mommy!” said Pound. He flew back around and up to his mother, “I saw you were in trouble.”

“No, I just had to talk to the guard, that was all. Why didn’t you do as I told you and go back to the bakery after you gave the signal?”

“I just wanted to help…”

They heard voices off in the distance.

“The sniper’s been neutralized. Just another dirt pony civilian who wanted to play soldier…”

Pound flew up into the rafters, hiding just as a guard entered the barn.

“What’s going ON?” he exclaimed.

“Nothing, just a little firing accident,” Mrs. Cake answered.

“Wait a minute…” The guard ran over to his unconscious comrade. He glared menacingly at Mrs. Cake.

“You!” He levitated his rifle up and took a shot at her.

“AAH!” she screamed, this time hit in the stomach.

“No!” yelled Pound, flying down and bucking the guard before he could react.

The guard fell to the floor, knocked out cold.

“Go to… go to Cloudsdale, out of danger...… take your sister… it’s safe there…” Mrs. Cake spoke, coughing up blood. Her eyes closed.

“Nooooo!” Pound yelled once more. He flew over to the barrel and opened it to find Pumpkin Cake still hiding inside.

“Pumpkin, come on! We’ve got to go to Cloudsdale!”

“No, Pound! Not without mom and dad. Who will take care of us?”

“Look, I don’t know, but mom and dad can’t come. Come on, get out of that barrel and let’s go! Quit bein’ a scaredy-cat!”

“No, it’s too dangerous!”

Pound tipped over the barrel and tried to wrench her sister out, but she wouldn’t budge.

“In here! I heard gunfire!”

Hearing the soldiers, Pound gave up trying to get his sister, but instead said, “Look, I’ll come back for you. It’s okay.”

Pound flew off, out the door of the barn. The unicorns fired shots at him, but missed, and he ascended higher and higher into the heavens.

He reached a cloud and sat down on it, his head spinning. He lay down on the soft cloud as the hard reality hit him.

Both of his parents were dead. His mother was shot. If she wasn’t dead, she was surely dying, he figured. His father had been “neutralized,” so in all likelihood dead as well. He sobbed. His parents, both dead. His sister, a prisoner who wouldn’t come with him.

And it’s all my fault, he thought.

Inside the Wonderbolt command center, Twilight Sparkle sat at a table. In front of her stood a map of the Equestrian continent which contained both Equestria and the Second Kingdom. The map had various colored pony figures on it to represent the two armies.

“General Spitfire, situation report?” asked Twilight.

“We’ve been planning our next move ever since we got the news yesterday that Ponyville had been invaded,” said Spitfire. “This afternoon, we’ll launch our air force at their positions in Ponyville and in Canterlot here and here.”

She moved the pieces on the map to show the strategy.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had to divert some of our resources to the western coast of Equestria near Vanhoover and Tall Tale to combat the recent Zebra Empire invasion, as indicated by the striped pieces over here.”

King Blueblood had forged an alliance between the Zebra Empire and the Second Kingdom, and the Zebra Empire had agreed to offer forces for Blueblood’s invasion if Blueblood would supply them with war planes in their ongoing wars against the griffons.

“In spite of this, I believe that we can still deal a crushing blow to Blueblood,” said Spitfire. “We have air superiority over him. He may be able to match our forces on the ground with unicorn magic, but from the air, he’s virtually powerless. He has a few hundred bi-planes, but they’re slower and harder to maneuver than pegasi, and we have thousands of pegasi, not even counting reserves.”

She pointed to the forces on the map.

“The Zebras, on the other hoof, have no air force to speak of, other than the few planes that the Second Kingdom gave them. And their magic is limited to potion-making, so they can’t even cast protective force fields or teleport like the unicorns can. That’ll make their ground forces much easier to defeat. Though they do have a formidable navy, they’re practically sitting ducks. Don’t know why Blueblood got himself such a weak ally.”

She knocked over the striped zebra figures near Vanhoover.

“I predict this war will be over in a hurry. Blueblood will surrender, and we’ll get back Ponyville. We may even be able to ask him for more, like the Flatlands up north that they got from the independence treaty. So much for the unicorn master race!” She knocked over all of the unicorn figures and chuckled.

“Hmm,“ Twilight said, scratching her chin with her hoof. “This victory almost seems too easy. Why do you think he attacked us if his forces were so outnumbered, and he didn’t have an air strategy?”

“Cockiness, probably,” General Spitfire answered. “I mean, look at me. Even though I have pride and confidence in my forces, I know when I don’t stand a chance. Folks like Blueblood, though? They’re egomaniacal and think that they’re hot stuff when they clearly aren’t. Hell, Blueblood doesn't even have enough food to feed his people now that there's a war. The Second Kingdom was trading with us for all of their food. Now that there's a war and they can't trade with us, the Second Kingdom will be starving within a year. Blueblood is clearly short-sighted, and this war will be over very soon.”

“Yeah, I guess…” Twilight began, shrugging. “But I think that this war might not turn out as easy as you think. Blueblood may be egomaniacal or narcissistic, but he’s an academic, former dean of Celestia’s School For Gifted unicorns, successful political writer, and anything but an idiot. He wouldn’t attack if he didn’t think there wasn’t a conceivable way for him to win. Even if he wanted to commit such suicide, his council of ministers would surely put up a fight.”

“Well, if you see any way for him to win, believe me, I’m all ears,” said Spitfire, “but look at this map. We surround the Second Kingdom from all sides except the north, which is a frozen wasteland anyway. Even the zebras aren’t that much of a match. How much can tribal potion makers be capable of, anyway? Blueblood’s air force is a joke. Yeah, his ground troops are well trained in magic, but our ground forces way outnumber his. Even if we didn’t have an air force at all, he’d still have a battle on his hooves, most likely a draw.

“The only thing he has going for him is Canterlot, which is a mountain city and easily defensible. So, no, maybe we can’t easily take Canterlot back from him. But all this open space? He can’t hold it forever. I think he just made a stupid decision, and now he’ll pay the price for it, and hopefully he never thinks of attacking Equestria again when we’re through with him.”

“I hope you’re right,” said Twilight, gazing down at the map.

On his cloud far above Ponyville and the Second Kingdom forces, Pound sat, gazing forlornly down at the town below. His eyes clouded with tears, and his screams pierced the air, audible to nopony but him.

After some time, his bawling turned to sobs, which turned to occasional tears, which turned to a simple sense of sadness. The initial shock of his parents’ death had worn off, replaced by a sense of fatigue. His eyelids drooped heavy over his eyes. He slept for about an hour before he woke up, restless.

Finally, he stood up and said to himself, “Gotta be strong.” He took off from the cloud and flew towards the direction of Cloudsdale, where his mother had told him to go.

On his way, however, he saw hundreds upon hundreds of pegasi troops flying towards Ponyville. He figured that these were the reinforcements from Equestria which were going off to fight the Second Kingdom forces.

After another hour of flying, Pound Cake reached the city of Cloudsdale. He landed on a cloud near the edge of town, and he could hear the air raid sirens blaring. He glanced around and saw ponies flying all around, blanketing the sky and casting shadows down onto the clouds.

A pegasus mare flew up to Pound Cake. “Hey, colt! You should get inside! Where’s your mother?”

“She’s gone,” said Pound, sniffling a bit.

“And your father?”

Pound shook his head.

The mare blinked. “Oh… well, gosh, I’m sorry. But hey, it’s not safe for you out here. Where do you live?”


“So you’re a refugee?”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“You fled the war?” she clarified.


“Good. Alright, come on. You can follow me. I work at the military base. You can go wait in the bunker until this whole mess is over.”

The mare led him through the town, and over to a giant building. It had a marble column edifice, and a fountain on its front lawn. Several bronze statues of pegasi military heroes stood in the courtyard.

They walked in through the double doors, and down the hallway. Blue-uniformed pegasi zipped through the halls, responding to the air raid sirens. Finally, Pound reached a set of steel blast doors, over which the word “BUNKER” was written.

The mare unlocked the door, and Pound entered the room. Its walls were grey concrete, and a lone steel bench stood against the wall. The room measured no more than a few meters square. He was alone in the room, save for a few barrels on the back wall.

“Wait here until the sirens stop,” said the mare, running off.

Spitfire hovered high above Ponyville as several hundred pegasi blanketed the air above the town. From her viewpoint, she could see what all of her troops were doing.

In the initial strike, the pegasi dropped bombs on the tents and positions of the unicorns, blowing dozens of them to pieces. Pegasi strafed the remaining unicorns with machine guns, hitting several.

However, many of the unicorns simply vanished in flashes of light as soon as they realized that they were under attack. Soon, there were no unicorns left out in the open, all of them having teleported away.

With many of her troops flying around with no targets, Spitfire convened the officers.

“Alright, these unicorns are tricky with their teleporting. But they couldn’t have just disappeared. They may have retreated, or they may be hiding in buildings in the town. Order your battalions to go door-to-door, starting on the south side of town and working our way north.”

Her officers saluted, but Spitfire saw that, off in the distance, over twenty bi-planes were approaching from the Second Kingdom. They weren’t quite as fast as pegasi, but they would be there in several minutes.

“Send a battalion to engage the unicorn planes! The rest of the battalions, proceed with clearing the town!”

Dozens of pegasi flew off towards the bi-planes, swiftly maneuvering in between them and up and under them, taking shots at the pilots.

A plane’s engine was hit and it exploded, the pilot ejecting to safety while flaming debris rained down on the town of Ponyville. On Spitfire’s further order, the pegasus fighters lured the unicorn planes away from the populated areas.

The dogfight raged for an hour. A few of the pegasi were hit by the large-caliber wing-guns on the planes, but the pegasi losses were minimal compared to the unicorns, who lost ten planes.

“General Spitfire, sitrep!” A pegasus stallion flew up to Spitfire’s position in the air above the town, saluting.

“Yes, sergeant. How goes the battle?” asked Spitfire.

“We’ve cleared out most of the southern farms and suburbs of Ponyville. Our losses have been moderate, though theirs have been severe. We’ve run into a trouble spot in the southwest, though.”

“What is it?”

“One of our scouts has reported that there is a barn on the outskirts of town with dozens of civilian children inside, and it’s heavily guarded by Second Kingdom forces.”

Spitfire’s jaw dropped. “Are they taking civilian hostages? Don’t they know that’s a war crime?”

The sergeant shrugged. “I’m not sure if they’re hostages; we just noticed it on a recon mission. In order to remove the unicorn troops from that barn, we might put the children’s lives in danger.”

Spitfire nodded. “Hold off on it for now.”

“Other than that though, we are making slow but steady progress, sir. If our current progress holds, we should have this town cleared out in a few weeks.”

Spitfire’s eyebrow raised. “Weeks? Why not sooner?”

“We had the element of surprise, but now they’re ready for us. Also, they’re sending more reinforcements from the north.”

“I see,” said Spitfire. “Keep at it, then. Good work, sergeant.”

A slight breeze blew in the frigid air of the mountainside city of Canterlot as the sun hung high in the midday sky. It peeked through a gap in the perpetual clouds, giving the residents a rare glimpse before it would inevitably fall back behind its near-constant cover.

Over the past three weeks since the invasion had begun, the city had geared into full wartime production. Coal miners went to work overtime shifts in the mine shafts near the foot of the mountain, shivering in the frigid tunnels. Factory workers slaved away in the hot factories, busily assembling planes, tanks, and weapons.

In the newly constructed capitol building, King Blueblood sat at a conference room around a table with his closest advisors.

“We’ve been running extra wartime propaganda, putting up posters and radio advertisements to encourage the city residents to work their hardest,” said Fancy Pants, an old stallion wearing a monocle and suit jacket. He served as the Second Kingdom’s chief propaganda minister.

“Very good,” said Blueblood. “We need every able-bodied pony to contribute to the wartime effort.”

“We’ve reported an increase in factory orders, and nearly full employment,” said economic minister Flam. He pointed towards a chart as his brother Flim, economic co-minister, nodded along with him.

“Nopony seems to remember that we were in a recession nearly a month ago,” Flim added.

“That’s nice to hear,” said King Blueblood, smiling. “I was prepared to nationalize more industries, but I now see that it won’t be necessary quite yet. As for our two absent ministers…”

“Magical Research Minister Trixie has reported that she’s progressing well with re-educating young unicorns from Ponyville,” said Fancy Pants. “They’ll soon be shipped up to the Northern Flatlands to begin farming.”

“Good,” said Blueblood. “Our racial self-reliance is a top priority, and if anypony can help ensure it, Trixie can.”

“Hopefully that ends the famines,” said Flam.

“And as for our position on the ground in Ponyville--” Blueblood started, but he was interrupted by a grey-coated unicorn running into the room .

“King Blueblood, your majesty!”

General Top Brass, a dark grey coated stallion who served as the Second Kingdom’s wartime minister, approached Blueblood at the table, bowing.

“Yes, Top Brass? How goes the Ponyville campaign?” Blueblood asked. “Are you still maintaining our hold on that town?”

“We’re fighting for it once again. The pegasi from Cloudsdale have been called in. They’ve proven themselves to be far more of a challenge than Ponyville’s town guard was. We’ve tried our best to hold it for the past two weeks, but are rapidly losing ground, and may soon lose the entire town and other land that we’ve captured.”

“What about our bi-planes? We were supposed to be able to take out the pegasi with those.”

The general shook his head. “Our planes aren’t appearing to be a match for the pegasi. We’ve lost over fifty of them, and only managed to kill a few of the pegasi. They just keep outmaneuvering us and taking out the pilots. Our planes can only fly so fast and can only turn so sharply. The pegasi can zip around, hover, and dodge.”

Blueblood paused for a moment, deep in thought.

The general continued, “At this rate, your majesty, we will lose our hold on Ponyville by tomorrow and will have to make a tactical retreat.”

Blueblood’s brow furrowed.

“Your majesty?”

Finally, Blueblood answered, “General… begin Project Orbit.”

Fancy Pants recoiled, blinking. “Project Orbit was just theoretical! We can’t do it; it would cause too many civilian casualties!”

Blueblood narrowed his eyes. “You seem to forget that this is war, Minister Fancy Pants. You also seem to forget that the civilians affected would merely be pegasi, a trade I’m willing to make.”

He turned back to Top Brass. “You have your orders, general.”

Later that evening, the air raid sirens cut off as the fighting simmered down for the night. Pound Cake got up out of the bunker and wandered through the halls of the military base, looking for someone he could speak to.

“Pound Cake!”

He turned around as he saw Rainbow Dash flying towards him.

“Rainbow Dash?” he asked.

Rainbow Dash picked up Pound Cake and gave him a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re okay! What happened? What are you doing up here?”

“My sister was captured by the unicorns,” he started. “We tried to rescue her, but my parents…”

He paused for a few moments, but Rainbow Dash got the message.

“Yeah. Before she died, my mom told me to head to Cloudsdale where it was safe.”

Rainbow nodded. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Pound. I guess that means that you need new ponies to take care of you. I have some old friends in Cloudsdale, so I’ll see what I can do to find you a new home. But right now, I’m a bit busy. Me and my friends have to deal with something.”

Rainbow Dash and Pound Cake walked outside. Rainbow Dash motioned with her hoof up into the air. Pound Cake looked up and saw what she was pointing at. The moon was enormous. Normally, it would appear to be the size of an Equestrian bit held at hoof’s length. Now, however, it was the size of a melon, and growing.

Military ponies dressed in uniform all gazed up at the sky. Rainbow Dash flew off to join her other five friends, who stood on the courtyard of the base, along with several military ponies in uniform. Pound simply stared up at the moon.

“Twilight, what’s happening?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Twilight shrugged. “I don’t know. Princess Luna says she isn’t the one who’s doing it. She and I have tried using our magic to get the moon back to its correct height, but it won’t work. Our magic can only slow it down, not stop it. It just keeps coming down, like there’s a greater force on it than our magic.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Rarity, “because the only other ponies who can move the moon besides the princesses…”

“Were the ancient unicorns of the first kingdom of Unicornia, yes,” said Twilight. “That was before Princesses Celestia and Luna came along.”

“But what about the Second Kingdom?” asked Fluttershy.

“Think they figured out how to raise the sun and moon?” asked Applejack.

“Quite possibly,” said Twilight Sparkle. “I think I’ll go on a diplomatic mission to Canterlot to discuss this with Blueblood or someone from the Second Kingdom and find out what they want.”

“Silly Twilight, you don’t need to go to Canterlot to talk to them!” Pinkie exclaimed.

“Why not?” Twilight raised an eyebrow.

Pinkie Pie pointed past Twilight’s head. “Because Trixie is right behind you!”

Twilight and her friends glanced behind to see Trixie Lulamoon floating in a hot air balloon near the edge of the clouds. She was no more than ten meters away. She moved the balloon closer to the clouds, and then stepped out. Like Twilight and her friends, she had cast a spell on herself to be able to temporarily walk on clouds.

“Trixie!” Twilight exclaimed. The other military ponies who were gathered turned their gaze towards her, leering at her.

“Ah, yes, Twilight Sparkle and her little friends,” said Trixie, grinning. “I haven’t seen you in ages. Seven years, I believe, back when I still had the alicorn amulet. Meanwhile I’ve got a new position with Blueblood’s government. I see that you’ve advanced in rank as well, Princess Twilight. Tell me, other lesser ponies, how does it feel to be passed up for a royal promotion so that your OCD little unicorn friend could get the job instead? I’ll bet it just tears you up inside.”

“Twilight’s a great princess!” Rainbow stomped her hoof.

“Yes, she deserved it,” said Fluttershy.

“And you five didn’t deserve such an honor as well? You wouldn’t make good princesses, too?” Trixie asked.

“No, we didn’t deserve it! We’d make terrible princesses!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. Everypony looked at her quizzically, unsure of whether or not she was joking.

Trixie continued, “Sounds to me like Princess Celestia was playing favorites because Twilight here has a horn and can use magic almost as well as I can. Whereas the rest of you are earth ponies or pegasi.”

“Ahem!” Rarity said, pointing to her horn.

Trixie waved a hoof in the air. “Or race traitors. Same difference.”

“Just tell us why you’re here, Trixie,” said Twilight.

“Ah, yes. Well, I’m sure many of you have noticed the moon. You see, our unicorn council has decided that it shouldn’t just be the alicorns who control the moon. Much like how our people elected Blueblood, raising the moon should be done democratically. And since there are far more of us unicorns than there are of just you and Luna, we get to move the moon. And right now, we’ve moved it to a very special place.”

“You ain’t gonna crash the moon into Equestria, are ya? You’d kill everyone on the planet, yourselves included!” Applejack exclaimed.

“She’s right,” said Twilight. “The force of the impact could tear the globe apart at worst. At best, it would release massive clouds of dust into the atmosphere, causing an ice age.”

“No, of course we won’t crash the moon into Equestria. We’re not suicidal,” said Trixie, laughing.

Everypony in the crowd breathed a sigh of relief.

“No, we’re just going to crash it into Cloudsdale.”

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