• 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 8: Noncontradiction

December 2021

Lightning Dust soared through the air over Cloudsdale. The perpetual dimness of the day cloaked in the moon’s shadow covered the land, and hung in her mind like a fog. She had always felt free and alive while flying a year ago. But this past year, with the moon hanging over Cloudsdale, flying had only partially eased her life’s harsh realities.

It was inevitable. The moon would crash into Cloudsdale, destroying her home, destroying the only city that she had ever known. It was just a matter of when.

She stopped in mid-air, hovering as she gazed up at the rocky, cratered surface of the moon. There really was no way to stop it. The pegasi couldn’t fly up there and catch it; the atmosphere was too thin. There weren’t enough unicorns in Equestria to counteract the unicorns in the Second Kingdom.

Then, her gaze was drawn towards the mountainside city of Canterlot. Those Second Kingdom unicorns: this was their fault. They abandoned Equestria in its darkest hour, and then came back years later, when Equestria was just about to heal, and threatened to smash it once more.

How could her fellow ponies be so destructive? Why were they so adamant? Did they not know that they had been putting her and millions of other Equestrians through terror for the last year? Or did they know, but their leaders were too stubborn to want peace?

They have to be stopped. Before the war resumes. It’s the only way.

King Blueblood sat on his throne, reading a letter. He was flanked by two bodyguards who stared straight ahead with stony gazes, levitating rifles in front of them.

“Crown Royal,” Blueblood said, motioning towards one of his servants who stood by the door.

“Yes, your Majesty?” the pony answered.

“Please fetch me a pen and paper.”

“Right away, your Majesty,” the pony said, bowing. He turned around to exit.

Suddenly, a window in Blueblood’s chamber smashed open as glass shattered everywhere. Blueblood’s bodyguards turned to face it, but a gold and aquamarine blur knocked them both to the ground before they could draw their weapons.

Lightning Dust snatched one of the guard’s weapons, grabbed it in her hooves, and pointed it at Prince Blueblood.

“You!” she screamed at him. He threw his hooves up into the air, shrinking back on his throne. The other guard drew his weapon and pointed it at Lightning Dust. Two additional guards rushed through the door to Blueblood’s chamber, pointing their rifles at Lightning Dust.

“Drop the weapons or your king gets it!” she yelled at them.

“Do as she says,” said Blueblood. The guards obliged, lowering their weapons.

“You’ve held Cloudsdale under your hoof for long enough! If you value your life, you’ll raise the moon back into the sky and leave us alone!”

Blueblood blinked several times, raising an eyebrow. He waited several seconds before finally realizing that he was not dreaming, gathered his thoughts, and spoke.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t do that. There’s a war going on. If I move the moon, I lose my advantage, and the Equestrians will break the truce. Surely you know this.”

Lightning Dust shouted, “Forget the war! There are ponies who’ve suffered for the last year in sheer terror, worrying every day whether or not you’d destroy their homes and their lives with the moon. They’ve been wondering whether or not they’d wake up dead, and it’s gone on for long enough! It’s time for peace, or I’ll kill you!”

Blueblood narrowed his eyes, leering at Lightning Dust. He opened his mouth, but didn’t say anything. Then, he looked off in the distance, as if pondering something.

Blueblood finally spoke, “You… you’re that Lightning Dust pony, aren’t you?”

Lightning Dust paused for a moment, and then answered, “I am. How did you know?”

Blueblood chuckled. “I knew I recognized that voice of yours. You were the one who introduced the idea of the ivory tower tax on Canterlot, back when the Second Kingdom was still part of Equestria.”

A year after Twilight Sparkle’s coronation, Discord went on a rampage throughout Equestria, causing famines in Ponyville and other cities, creating wildfires, and driving a herd of wendigoes to nearly destroy Cloudsdale. Canterlot remained mostly unscathed during this, and Lightning Dust and other ponies felt that the rich elite in Canterlot were not paying their fair share to help their fellow citizens rebuild.

So, she led an angry mob to march on Princess Celestia’s palace, demanding that the princess pass a so-called ‘ivory tower tax’ on Canterlot, and that the revenue be used to rebuild Cloudsdale, Ponyville, and other Discord-ravaged areas of Equestria. The tax passed, and was highly unpopular in Canterlot, particularly with unicorns, who felt that it was discriminatory towards their race.

“Yes, the tax was my idea,” said Lightning Dust. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

Blueblood smiled. “Well, Miss Dust, I never properly thanked you. Were it not for your advocacy for a tax on unicorns and our city of Canterlot, I might never have been able to form the Second Kingdom.”

Lightning Dust’s jaw dropped. Blueblood grinned.

“Oh, yes. You didn’t know? I seized on the popular unicorn sentiment against that ivory tower tax of yours and used it to sweep into power. Granted, there were many other issues at play, but without such an unpopular tax for me to rally against, it would’ve been a lot harder for me to win an election. So, even though that tax was a crime against the unicorn race, I still thank you.”

Blueblood stood up out of his throne and gave Lightning Dust a bow, smiling devilishly.

Lightning Dust stammered, “B-but t-that tax was supposed to help Cloudsdale rebuild from Discord’s devastation—”

“Oh, and yes, that’s how you sold it to ponies. For the common good. After all, who would support a tax sold under a racist banner of disproportionately attacking unicorns? Nopony—besides the princesses, perhaps—even though that was exactly what it did. But when you disguised it as a tax to help rebuild, who could’ve opposed it? It was quite the clever political move, I’ll admit.

“It was just like how Celestia sold all of her magical laws and restrictions on unicorns under the guise of public safety. We couldn’t have our own cities like the pegasi have Cloudsdale, we couldn’t raise the sun and moon as we used to centuries ago, we couldn’t legally learn or use certain spells, all for ‘public safety.’ But in reality, it was all part of a systematic effort to enslave our race to inferior ponies. For a superior being to be enslaved to an inferior one is a crime against nature and science. It’s a contradiction. So, we rightfully took our independence.”

“So, if it weren’t for me…” started Lightning Dust, her hooves trembling as she held the rifle to Blueblood.

“Yes. Without you, it’s quite possible that I might not be in this throne room right now.”

Lightning Dust pulled back the safety and aimed down the barrel. “Well, it’s time to fix my mistake!”

Blueblood chuckled. “You honestly think that taking me out will have any sort of effect? This movement is bigger than me now. It’s an entire nation. If you kill me, there will be others who will rise to take my place.”

“Yeah, but it’d sure make me feel better,” Lightning Dust scoffed.

“You know what would make you feel even better than that, though?”

Lightning Dust remained silent, holding her rifle steady.

“If you could prevent the moon from destroying Cloudsdale. And I know how you can.”

Lightning Dust glanced up, looking Blueblood in the eyes.


“Simple. If Cloudsdale were its own independent nation, it could forge a separate peace with the Second Kingdom. Our war is with Equestria, and our designs are on the land earth ponies occupy, and the unicorns they have stolen from us. But as a ground-dwelling race, the unicorns have no use for the pegasi cities.”

Lightning Dust said, “There’s no way Cloudsdale could secede from Equestria like the Second Kingdom did.”

Blueblood smiled. “Oh yes, there is. In fact, I can tell you exactly how you can personally lead a successful secession of the skyward city. But first, you must put down the gun so that we can have an actual discussion like civilized ponies.”

“Why would I do that?” asked Lightning Dust.

“Well, it will make me feel better, because my life won’t be hanging on your itchy trigger hoof. It will make you feel better because you’ll know that I’m sincere and not just saying these things so you won’t kill me. Also, as I have already established, there are many more unicorns who would eagerly take my place. I am but one head of your dreaded hydra.”

Lightning Dust lowered her weapon slightly, but still kept it trained on Blueblood.

Blueblood asked, “So, do we have a deal?”

Lightning Dust paused for a moment, and then set the gun down on the ground. Blueblood’s guards rushed towards Lightning Dust to restrain her, but Blueblood held up his hoof.

“Now, now, gentlecolts. Miss Dust and I had a deal. Please leave the two of us alone. You are to take her rifle, but leave her here with me.”

“But, your highness, she might attack you.”

Blueblood furrowed his brow. “Did I stutter? And are you questioning my magical ability to defend myself from some pegasus ruffian?”

“...No, your majesty.”

“I thought so. You’re dismissed.”

The unicorn guard bowed quickly, took the rifle in his magic, and left the room along with the others.

“Now, where were we?” asked Blueblood. “Ah, yes. The only way that Cloudsdale will be saved is if it secedes from Equestria and forges a separate peace with the Second Kingdom. Now, as a politically aware and active mare, you could help to facilitate that. And I, as a politically experienced leader, can give you the tools that you need.”

“For Cloudsdale to declare independence? But they’re joined to Equestria, and—”

“Wrong,” said Blueblood. “Let me explain. But let’s go to a room more conducive for discussion.”

Blueblood and Lightning Dust sat inside of Blueblood’s conference room. A guard stood outside the doorway, but other than him, the two were alone.

“Can I smoke in here?” asked Lightning Dust, removing a pack of cigarettes from behind her wing.

Blueblood rolled his eyes. “Though I discourage unicorns from taking up the habit, if the pegasi wish to kill themselves, that’s your business. By all means.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Lightning Dust chuckled as she lit the cigarette. Blueblood’s horn flashed as an ashtray appeared on the table.

“Now, do you know why Canterlot and the Second Kingdom declared independence from Equestria, as a unicorn-only kingdom?” Blueblood asked.

“Because you didn’t want to pay the ivory tower tax that I lobbied for,” said Lightning Dust.

“That’s part of it,” Blueblood answered. “But it was that and a combination of other things. As I mentioned, Princess Celestia had instituted many magical laws and decrees which the unicorns felt put them at a disadvantage and disenfranchised them. For instance, she locked up many magic spells in the Canterlot Archives. She took away our sun-raising privileges soon after she came to power. She also prohibited the unicorns from having their own cities like the pegasi have Cloudsdale.

“Add that to a revelation by Discord. He played an audio recording of her saying that she never really trusted the unicorn race to begin with. Then there was the ivory tower tax, and all these things led to an entire unicorn-majority city feeling disenfranchised. I seized upon these sentiments and rose to power through them. Do you understand?”

Lightning Dust remained silent for a few moments as she pondered what the king had said. She took another drag of her cigarette. Finally, she responded, “Yes, that sounds unfair from the unicorns’ point of view.”

“Now you begin to see!” exclaimed Blueblood, his eyes lighting up. “Any group that feels disenfranchised or misrepresented for long enough can be led by a strong leader to seek a better deal. In the case of Cloudsdale, I believe that you can rise to the occasion and be that leader for them.”

“But how would I do that?” asked Lightning Dust.

Blueblood smiled. “The same way that you so passionately argued for the ivory tower tax, but with more foresight, more planning, and more finesse. You are a great speaker and a passionate young mare, Lightning Dust. Even though I vehemently disagreed with your fiscal policy, I admired your public speaking ability and debate skills. However, you lack the wisdom to advocate for your positions beyond an angry mob caught up in the heat of the moment. You need the wisdom to turn that mob into a legitimate political movement. I can help you gain the wisdom. I can present to you a compelling argument to use.”

“I’m listening,” said Lightning Dust, exhaling smoke.

“Very well,” said Blueblood, leaning back in his chair.

He gestured with his hoof. “Let me paint you a picture. As a resident of Cloudsdale, you surely can empathize with these words. The moon has hung over your heads like an ominous thundercloud for this past year as a consequence of the war and subsequent truce. Cloudsdale has sacrificed the lives of hundreds of pegasi troops, who have an air advantage over the unicorns.”

“Right,” said Lightning Dust.

“So, my question to you, Miss Dust, is this: what does Cloudsdale get in return? Why must your city sacrifice its young pegasi to die in battles fought with ground-dwelling unicorns, for cities on the ground? Remember, the Second Kingdom has no use for your cloud cities.”

Without delay, Lightning Dust answered, “It’s because we’re all Equestrians, of course. We have to all look out for each other as fellow ponies. That’s why I wanted the ivory tower tax. So that ponies in Canterlot—which Discord didn’t ravage—could pay to reconstruct the other areas he did ravage.”

Blueblood chuckled. “That would be a compelling argument if your give-and-take philosophy ever had a ‘give.’ But the pegasi in Cloudsdale are being exploited by the rest of Equestria with nothing given in return, just as Equestria exploited Canterlot through the ivory tower tax before we seceded.

“Let’s say Cloudsdale’s position were reversed, and they were the ones in dire straits, as they were several years ago. You say that Equestrians all have to look out for each other as fellow ponies, yes? So then, where were the earth ponies fighting off the Windigoes when Discord led them on their invasion of Cloudsdale?”

“They weren’t there,” said Lightning Dust. “But earth ponies can’t fly. The only way earth ponies would be called into battle to defend Cloudsdale is if Equestria had airplanes like your kingdom does.”

“But you don’t,” said Blueblood.

“Right, because we have the pegasi,” said Lightning Dust.

“So,” said Blueblood, chuckling, “when it comes to Equestrians all looking out for one another, this arrangement seems to never benefit the pegasi in Cloudsdale, but always benefits the earth ponies on the ground who need air support.”

“I guess so,” said Lightning Dust.

Blueblood responded, “The pegasi are expected to die for their country no matter where the conflict occurs. The earth ponies, on the other hoof, are only expected to die for their country when the battles just so happen to take place on the ground. This is a blatant contradiction, and it leads to the exploitation of Cloudsdale.”

Lightning Dust remained silent for several moments. Finally, she responded, “Yes, I guess I never thought of it that way. But what are you getting at, though? I can’t just go back to Cloudsdale and preach the same racist speeches that you give, but with the word ‘unicorn’ swapped out for ‘pegasi.’ I’ll be called a traitor. Besides, I don’t even dislike earth ponies like you do.”

“But I’m not asking you to do that, Miss Dust,” said Blueblood. “Back when you argued for it, you never cast the ivory tower tax on Canterlot in a racial light, even though it disproportionately affected unicorns. The princesses never cast the magic restrictions in a racial light, even though they only affected unicorns.”

“True,” Lightning Dust acknowledged as she stubbed out her cigarette.

“What you ought to do is paint the picture of injustice and unfairness, because you are quite good at that. Argue for non-contradiction: equality of the earth and sky. Think about it. Not only has Cloudsdale sacrificed air troops for nothing in return, but as soon as the the truce is inevitably broken, Cloudsdale itself will cease to exist. And for what? So that the ponies on the ground can keep their small hamlet of Ponyville? A town on the ground of a few thousand, in exchange for a city in the sky of hundreds of thousands? Rather than barging into my throne room threatening to kill me, you should have done the same to your own princess!”

“Well, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t, or else we wouldn’t even be having this conversation,” Lightning Dust chuckled.

“Fair point, Miss Dust.”

Lightning Dust asked, “Okay, so I tell ponies that there’s a contradiction. But then what? What if they still feel loyalty to Equestria? What if even their fear of losing their homes isn’t enough to make them want to secede? And how do I deal with the generals and the top brass of the Wonderbolts, like Spitfire or Soarin? They’d never abandon Equestria; they’d fight to the death to keep Cloudsdale as part of Equestria. Fear won’t sway them.”

“Well, you don’t need all of the top brass,” said Blueblood. “You just need a few generals loyal to your position, like I had when the Second Kingdom seceded. But you’re right that generals and military ponies are tougher nuts to crack. They’re trained to deal with fear. But they’re not trained to deal with dishonor, and orders to attack their own citizens. And for that, I have a juicy piece of intelligence to share with you.”

Lightning Dust leaned forward.

Blueblood said, “As part of the Second Kingdom’s racial independence initiative, we have captured a group of a hundred or so young unicorns. These unicorns are to supply the Second Kingdom with food so that we will no longer have to rely on Equestria.”

Lightning Dust raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know that unicorns could farm.”

“Yes, but only if they have earth pony parents,” said Blueblood. “But those unicorns are usually only found in small farming towns with a history of racial intermingling. That’s why we invaded Ponyville, among other reasons.”

“Oh,” said Lightning Dust.

“Anyway,” Blueblood continued, “we’re currently holding the unicorn children at a barn called Sweet Apple Acres in Ponyville. Now, the Equestrians have caught onto this, and they’ve threatened us. If we move these children at all, or as soon as the war resumes, whichever comes first: they will drop a bomb on the barn and kill everypony inside. By doing this, they hope to cripple our food supply and starve us into submission.”

Lightning Dust’s jaw hung open as she blinked several times.

“Yes, Equestria will kill a hundred of its own children simply to try to cripple the Second Kingdom. Not that this strategy would ever work, anyway; we have backup plans.”

Blueblood used his magic to open a briefcase. He pulled out a photograph, and floated it over to Lightning Dust. The photograph depicted the 120 unicorns inside the barn.

Finally, Lightning Dust spoke.

“I can hardly believe it. I thought that the princesses would never stand for killing children.”

“They have no moral code besides one rule: do anything to stay in power,” said Blueblood. “Other than that, nothing is important to them. I established the Second Kingdom to allow the superior unicorn race to flourish in independence from the princess’ whims and designs of eternal power. Perhaps you will give Cloudsdale the same opportunity.”

“Let’s hope,” said Lightning Dust.

Blueblood stood up. “I’ve planted the seeds of sedition well enough. Good luck on your quest, Miss Dust.”

“Thanks,” said Lightning Dust. She took the photograph, walked out the doorway, and flew off into the air back towards Cloudsdale.

Blueblood waved goodbye to her as he grinned from ear to ear.

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