• Published 2nd Mar 2012
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A Dream - totallynotabrony



A not so standard human-in-Equestria story including but not limited to: democracy, tequila, and robots.

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The Times They Are a Changeling

The group had gathered in the library that morning. Shining Armor had requested a meeting.

“We never did finish Flurry Heart’s Crystalling,” Shining said. “And with the threat of a recently-stolen nuclear bomb, I think this would be the perfect time to move back to the Crystal Empire.”

“That might be a good idea,” said Twilight. “We’ll have to reassemble the Crystal Heart, so it’ll take a while to get the weather under control, but with enough planning I think we could do it.”

“Plus, we could use Flurry as alicorn bait for the Sororal Order of Sorrel,” said Cordoba. “Maybe they’ll bring the bomb and we can take it back.”

Twilight’s face fell. “That would make them extra dangerous. What if they just decided to detonate it?”

“I don’t think they would waste it on one filly,” said Applejack. “If anything, they’d take it to Canterlot to go after the Princesses.”

“I hope they’ve increased security, then,” said Rarity.

“I’m sure Soarin’s working on it,” said Shining. “He’s done a good job since leaving the Wonderbolts.”

Rainbow sat on the couch, hooves crossed. She muttered something under her breath that contained the world “Wonderbolts.”

Shining glanced at her, noting the missing wings. “Er...”

“Don’t ask,” Twilight said quietly.

They planned the trip. Merry May, despite her depressives, was willing to help out when it meant transporting Shining, Cadance, and Flurry. Braeburn encouraged her.

“What about Skyla?” Twilight asked as they made ready to leave, pausing at Merry’s tailgate.

Shining and Cadance glanced at each other.

“She seems happy here,” said Cadance. “And, er, perhaps Rainbow will be spending more time at home.”

Twilight nodded.

Around front, Trixie was talking to Merry.

“Do you like dogs?” Trixie asked without preamble.

“I suppose so,” said Merry. “Applejack seems happy with her dog. Rainbow and Guinness seem happy with their dog-uh, dogs?”

“Something like that,” Trixie agreed. Nobody seemed to be able to agree whether Doug and Ike, the orthrus, was one or two dogs.

“There don’t seem to be that many dogs around,” said Merry. “I suppose everypony is responsibly spaying and neutering their pets.”

“Maybe,” Trixie acknowledged. “Could be the dogcatcher or something. Of course, my pet is a magical T-Rex skeleton, so…”

“It died a long time ago,” said Cordoba. “But then came back or something. I’m not really clear on the details. All I know is, euthanasia works.”

There was an awkward silence.

“Anyway,” said Cordoba. “We should get going.”

The group of them loaded up. Cordoba didn’t sit down and seemed to be shifting her weight. Merry mentally frowned as she compensated for the uneven load.

Reaching the Crystal Empire, the group disembarked. Maud had come with Rarity, ostensibly to look at crystals, but possibly to study Rarity’s salty shell and its effects on ice and snow.

Maud was patient. She was willing to accept one-sided affection. She was not nearly as potentially rapey as her sister. Good for you, Maud.

Merry had landed in view of the castle. She provided a windbreak while the others hunted through the snow to find the shattered pieces of the Crystal Heart they had left there. Braeburn decided to stay onboard.

“Hey, guys?” said Spike. “There’s something weird over here.”

They went out back of the castle. A fir tree had been set up, decorated with ornaments and tinsel.

“Nobody told me it was Christmas!” said Cordoba.

“What’s that?” asked Twilight. “Wait, I think I remember. Something Valiant said about a holiday similar to Hearth’s Warming.”

“But what’s it doing here?” said Applejack. “Who put it here?”

“Probably the same pony who wrote that,” said Pinkie, pointing.

On the castle walls high above their heads were the words VALIANT DID NOTHING WRONG painted in garish red and green with festive little decorations added.

“That’ll take forever to get off,” Shining grumbled.

“Something something you take forever to get off?” said Cordoba.

Twilight gave her a reproachful look. Cordoba shrugged. “How am I supposed to improve if I do not practice?”

“Practicing to improve is important,” said Twilight. “But I wish you’d focus on more productive goals.”

“But at least I have goals and don’t do everything for teh lulz, right?”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Yes, it’s important to have goals.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” An orange stallion walked into view.

“Who the hell are you?” demanded Cordoba.

“Aren’t you Sunburst?” said Shining. “I seem to remember you living in the Crystal Empire.”

“Well, passing through, really,” said Sunburst. He pushed up his glasses. “I’m glad I avoided all that unpleasantness. Mom never said I would amount to anything staying shut at home, but I suppose it’s better what I didn’t amount to.”

“Did you put that up?” said Twilight, indicating the tree and the message.

“No.” Sunburst read it. “Who’s Valiant?”

“You called?” said a voice. An orange stallion walked into view.

“You’re Valiant?” said Sunburst.

“I’m Valiant.”

“You’re not Valiant,” said Applejack.

“He’s not!?” screamed Cordoba.

Twilight caught her with magic and dragged her back, Cordoba slashing with her cutlass into thin air.

“So you’re not Valiant,” said Twilight.

“No, no, I am Valiant,” he argued. “And, um,” he glanced up at the phrase painted on the castle, “I did nothing wrong.”

“I could actually believe that,” said Twilight. “Because you aren’t Valiant. He did lots of things wrong.”

“But I keep telling you that I am Valiant,” he argued. “Come on, work with me here.” He produced a dozen lollipops. “I have candy.”

“I mean, he’s not Valiant, but I’m willing to overlook that,” said Pinkie, slurping noisily on the candy he had given her.

“Why would anypony want to be Valiant?” said Rainbow.

She had been sullen ever since her friends had done their best to show her the error of her ways by taking away her wings. It was only a mutual hatred of Valiant that could get her to open up like that.

“Because Val-I did nothing wrong. Valiant is a household name, you know. I’m a celebrity. You should praise the name of Valiant.”

You’re welcome

He jerked his head upward, but then shrugged and pointed at the sky. “What he said.”

“There he is!” shouted a voice.

While the group had been arguing, they hadn’t noticed a huge crowd of SOS ponies converging on them.

“It’s Valiant!” called one of them.

“He is risen!”

“We knew the appearance of the message was a sign!”

Awesome Sauce stepped forward, nuclear bomb held high above her head. “Unhand him! Or I’ll nuke us all!”

“Okay!” said Twilight. She gave the imposter a push.

“Oh. Well, finally somepony who knows how to treat a Valiant.” He ambled over to them.

“Messiah!” They all crowded around him. He grinned.

“How nice, you prepared a Christmas venue for us!”

“A what?”

“A venue, you know, this place with the decorations?” said Awesome. She gestured at the castle and the tree in front of it.

“Oh right! Yes, of course. Christmas.”

“When do we open presents?”

“Did somepony get presents? What’s the occasion?”

The SOS members furrowed their collective brows.

“It could just be one of his American jokes,” suggested one of them.

“American?”

Awesome Sauce spun around, fury in her eyes and bomb still in her clutches. “This isn’t the real Valiant!”

“That’s what we’ve been trying to tell him!” said Twilight. “We don’t know who this guy actually is.”

“This is war!” shouted Awesome.

Shining and Cadance got into a combat stance and lit up their horns, beams of glowing magic protruding a few feet from their foreheads. Taking a cue, so did Twilight. Since they’d taught her the spell, she’d made a few personal adjustments. To help protect herself, a pair of smaller beams came out her ears.

“Hang on, wait,” said Sunburst. “I think I might know who that is. Thorax, is that you?”

The orange pony went up in a blue flame, replaced by a sheepish-looking changeling. “Yeah. I figured with all these ponies looking for Valiant, I could get some sort of affection out of them.”

Rainbow snorted.

“Sorry about the confusion,” said Sunburst to the rest. “This is my, uh, roommate.”

“Changeling!” someone screamed. The SOS members scattered.

“It’s just one changeling who isn’t even disguised,” said Applejack. “And changelings in general haven’t really been a threat since Valiant killed their queen.”

“And this one’s clearly too dumb to know what actually works as a disguise,” sniped Rainbow.

“What about Awesome?” said Cordoba. “Priorities.”

“She’s running away,” Maud observed. “Also, this rock I found is interesting.”

“Priorities!” said Twilight.

“I have them,” Maud replied.

“Fortunately, we planned for this,” said Trixie. She tossed a look to Cordoba and the two of them went back through the castle to where Merry was parked.

“Awesome Sauce is here,” said Trixie as they boarded. “We need to go after her.”

“Doesn’t she have a nuke?” said Merry. “I’m not sure even this airframe could survive that.”

“What, you suddenly care about living?” said Cordoba.

“She can’t help the mood swings,” said Braeburn. “Are you forgetting she doesn’t have glands since somepony cut her brain out of her body?”

“I think we’re missing the point here,” said Trixie. “If we don’t go after Awesome, everyone could die.”

“O-okay.” Merry got her rotors spinning and lifted off.

Cordoba reached out the side door and connected a few wires. Merry jerked as the newly connected hardware hit her system. “Where did that rocket pod come from!?”

“We loaded it back in Ponyville,” said Cordoba. “When Trixie distracted you with the dog conversation earlier, I put it on. The codeword I said to her for successfully sneaking it on was ‘euthanasia.’ Fitting, right?”

“I’m not using weapons!”

Ahead, another magic portal opened, like the one Awesome had used to escape before.

“She’s going to get away,” Trixie pointed out. “We aren’t going to make it in time.”

“Take the shot,” Cordoba prompted.

“I’m not shooting her!” Merry protested.

“Master arm on, laser on, shoot.”

No!”

Trixie looked over. “Braeburn, tell your girlfriend that if she doesn’t act, all of Equestria could be in danger.”

Cordoba banged on an equipment console. “And I know that with your databases, you know exactly what that weapon is capable of if we don’t stop it.”

“Tin Mare would have already done it without even being ordered to,” Trixie said.

“I’m not Tin Mare!”

“Yes you are!” Trixie insisted. “The programming is different, but it’s still the same decision-making engine. Your personal hangups about killing aside, you know that stopping that pony will keep everyone else safe!”

“What, are you afraid that everyone is going to just now start thinking you’re a killing machine?” said Cordoba. “Do it. You’re the only one who can.”

There was a long silence. They could all see Awesome sprinting towards the portal. Then, a rocket motor ignited and streaked after her. With laser guidance, it splattered the SOS member.

“There! I took the shot! She’s dead! There’s blood everywhere!” Merry screamed.

“Thanks,” said Cordoba.

“We need to pick up that bomb,” said Trixie.

Merry let them out near the bits and pieces that were left, gingerly picking a piece of snow that was gore-free. Trixie and Cordoba got out to retrieve the weapon and she took off immediately to put distance between herself and the scene.

Fortunately, the device wasn’t designed to be an aerial bomb and upon flying into the air after the explosion and landing back on the ground did not go boom.

Trixie saw that Cordoba had it handled and cautiously approached the portal, leading with her horn. It was magic, she determined. It somehow seemed familiar, though she couldn’t remember where she had felt that signature before.

As she approached, it blinked out. Trixie made a quick sweep of the area and came up with nothing, no magical artifacts or anything that could have been fueling the spell. It must have been powerful magic to have beamed in a portal from a distance. But who could have that kind of power? Who would want to help SOS?

Trixie lit up her horn, tuning her magic to the infrared spectrum. It was a signal, and Merry’s cameras picked it up. She came to retrieve them.

They headed back to the castle. In the cargo area where they sat, Cordoba said, “You know, I was wondering. If that Thorax thing didn’t paint the message on the castle or set up the Christmas tree, the SOS ponies didn’t, and you and I didn’t, who does that leave?”

Trixie thought about it. “Mom’s the only one I can think of who might. But if she had, we’d know about it, right?”

Cordoba processed it, frowning.

“Hey, at least now that we have the bomb we can finally complete the Columbia Project,” Trixie noted.

Cordoba cheered up. “Right!”

Merry was quiet the whole way back. The group returned to the castle just as the others finished up reassembling the Crystal Heart. There was enough genuine affection for Flurry Heart that it seemed to restart the weather spell, returning the castle at least to a moderate temperature.

“I don’t think SOS will try again,” said Shining. “With their leverage gone, we’re good. I will ask Soarin’ to maybe send a few guards just in case.”

Cadance agreed and the two of them decided to stay in the Crystal Empire.

The others flew back to Ponyville. Sir Win was waiting on them, a pile of rocket parts spread out across the library lawn.

“I think this is what you asked for,” he said to Trixie and Cordoba. “I hope you know how they go together.”

“If we don’t, it’ll just blow up and kill us,” said Cordoba.

Sir Win shrugged. “I win either way.”

He turned and spotted Bible watching him from a window, and made a rude gesture, a smile on his face.

“You two are surprisingly cordial for being against each other,” said Cordoba.

“I just hate him because he’s naturally religious,” said Sir Win. “I’m sure he’s not a bad guy.”

“You should be his frenema then.”

“Frenemy?”

“I know what I said,” Cordoba replied.

Sir Win thought about it. “Oh. It’s because I’m gay.”

“That was the joke, yes.”

Sir Win shrugged. “If he has a sexual preference, he’s probably straight. Plus, Twilight has the hots for him. I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that.”

“Suit yourself.”

Cordoba and Trixie spent the rest of the afternoon strapping the rocket to the container of bacon. With that, plus the nuke, they were ready.

“Could we get a little boost?” said Trixie to Merry. “Just a little airspeed and upwards swing to help out?”

“If it’ll get you off the planet,” Merry muttered.

The slung the container under her. She struggled a little with the twenty-ton weight, but got it off the ground. Trixie and Cordoba hung on to the container. Trixie conjured a bubble of air for each of them to breathe while exoatmospheric.

Building up some airspeed, Merry pulled into a climb. They kicked the rocket on as the lifting straps swung them upward. Merry cut them loose and they were on their way.

The launch was timed carefully. As the moon rose over the horizon, the rocketized shipping container soared upwards. With just a few careful shifts of weight, they entered lunar orbit.

The landing wasn’t elegant, but with the limited gravity, it wasn’t too hard. The two of them jumped off. Cordoba spent a few moments looking at the abandoned fortress her father had built. Trixie let her stare as long as she liked.

Cordoba gestured and started towards the front door. Trixie followed her in.

It was a rough structure. It was a fortress, after all, and there hadn’t been time to really give it all the comforts of home. Still…it was him. Trixie hung back, taking a look around but letting Cordoba have the run of the place.

They met up in front of a large steel holding tank. It looked sealed, and solid enough that it couldn’t be easily or quickly opened. The important thing was that Columbia was stenciled on it.

Cordoba and Trixie nodded to each other. The bacon was ready. The bomb was ready. This was it.

After one final check, Trixie pulled the pins out of one of the container’s heavy steel doors. They lugged it a distance away and hunkered down behind it. With no air, they wouldn’t need to worry about a shockwave, but a nuke was still nothing to trifle with.

Trixie pushed the detonator into Cordoba’s hooves. She smiled and gave her sister a hug. Everything they had worked for was about to pay off.

The explosion was actually kind of sucky. No air makes for no fun. It was still a flash brighter than the sun, though, and a rapidly expanding dust cloud showed where soil and rocks were being flung.

Trixie’ calculations were good and they rode the tide of debris like a wave, surfing it on the container door right off the moon.

The force was sufficient to propel them back towards home. As they were drifting back down to the planet, Cordoba looked back. She squinted. Something was moving in the debris of the destroyed fortress and cooked bacon.

With Trixie’s cape and Cordoba’s wings, not to mention a healthy dose of magic shield, they made it back through the atmosphere and steered to the library. Again, kind of a hard landing, but how many others did you ever see even surviving re-entry without a spacesuit?

Twilight heard them hit the ground and came out. “Did you really just go to the moon and back?”

Cordoba took a little bow.

Pinkie came bouncing up, dragging Fluttershy and trailed by Rainbow. “Wow! Did you totally see that huge firework on the moon a second ago?”

“We were that firework,” said Trixie.

“And you aren’t dead?” said Applejack, walking up.

“What will Princess Luna think?” asked Rarity, arriving just then.

“Who cares?” said a voice.

Twilight reached into the library and flipped the switch for the porch light.

In front of them stood a red, white, and blue alicorn. She wore a confident smile. Confusing the issue of assumed gender pronouns, they all noticed an American-sized manhood swinging underneath.

“Hi! I’m Princess Columbia and I hereby declare my candidacy for President of Equestria.”

Author's Note:

This chapter directed by Lithl


Worry not, the real Valiant will be back before the end of the season. I took another poll and you guys voted him back.

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