• Published 23rd Nov 2013
  • 4,148 Views, 190 Comments

A Kingdom Divided - Samey90



For many years, Elements of Harmony were responsible for keeping peace in Equestria. But sometimes, magic of friendship is not enough...

  • ...
25
 190
 4,148

8. Rarity

True friends stab you in the front.
Oscar Wilde


“Have you seen that? That’s really outrageous,” said Fancy Pants, standing in front of a show window of one of his boutiques in western Canterlot. The glass was broken, and on the wall near it, somepony wrote with a red spray “FOAL MURDERERS”.

“Who would do that?” Rarity asked. She was wearing something that could be described as more elegant version of the Sun Army uniform, with a black veil pinned to the hat.

“There are some groups of them even here, in Canterlot,” said Fancy Pants angrily, “The Fireflies, The Lunatics, Moonshine Colts… Some of them openly support Luna, some of them say that they are apolitical, some even say that it is possible to rule without the Princesses!” he rolled his eyes, “But all of them apparently decided that the best way to manifest their beliefs is to demolish other ponies’ property.”

“Well, the fact that Luna’s forces are getting closer to the capital isn’t helping…” Rarity said, “We’re doing what we can, but even the best equipment won’t help without ponies who want to use it.”

“What? There’s not enough Royal Guards? Even Blueblood’s nephew decided to join the army…”

“Yes, but Twilight says that it’s difficult to give youth an example, when Princess Celestia calls in sick at least three times a week. The posters are not enough,” Rarity said, pointing at the propaganda poster on a nearby wall. Somepony had drawn a moustache and a beard on Celestia’s photo.

“The Princess is simply worried by her sister’s deeds and her subjects’ suffering. You should know it well,” said Fancy Pants, eyeing the veil partially covering Rarity’s face. “But we should at least have Royal Guards to protect us from those hooligans, especially after what happened to Fleur…”

“What happened to her?” Rarity asked. “I haven’t seen her around recently.”

“She was attacked by one of those groups, The Fireflies, I guess. They poured red paint over her, calling her a murderer. Since then she stays at home.”

“I guess it wasn’t her best idea to admit openly that she co-owns the bomb factory…” Rarity muttered, staring at her reflection in the remains of the window.

“Unfortunately, we live in times where patriotism is something one should be ashamed of. They can protest openly, the location of their headquarters is commonly known, and nopony does anything about it, while ponies like Fleur have to hide,” said Fancy Pants. “But I will never stop supporting Celestia. I even gave my money for making those motivational movies…”

“Propaganda movies,” Rarity corrected. “Frankly, I don’t think bat ponies are such bloodthirsty creatures–”

“What are you talking about, Rarity?” Fancy Pants looked appalled. “Those monstrosities killed your sister… Oh, sorry, I didn’t want to…” he added when Rarity sobbed, covering her face with a veil.

“It’s okay…” she said. “I think I’ll go back to the palace…”

***

The throne room was empty, save for a few Royal Guards. Rarity’s hoofsteps echoed through the chamber. The presence of the guards was unsettling; she felt their eyes scanning her and chills ran down her spine. She walked through the throne hall to the small door on the other side. She opened it and saw Spike sitting on a chair in a corridor, reading a newspaper.

“Hi, Spikey-Wikey,” she said.

“Hello.” He smiled. “Twilight is a bit busy at the moment, so if you want to stay with me and wait–”

“Is that Rarity?” Twilight asked from her office. “Let her in.”

“Yes, Twi…” Spike’s expression showed pure disappointment. Rarity entered the office to see her alicorn friend sitting in front of a large, oaken desk with several large stacks of parchment on it. Twilight’s mane was unkempt, and, with horror, Rarity noticed a quill tangled in it, staining her hair with black ink. She was levitating another quill and a cup of coffee.

“Sorry for that,” she said, yawning. “The Princess is sick again, so I’m trying to categorise all this stuff…”

“What is this exactly?” Rarity asked.

“Well, this will go to your department, two large orders for tanks, a project of new airship and apparently we’re buying lots of ammo…” she replied, levitating a binder, and putting some pieces of parchment into it. “This is the letter from Shining Armor – his forces are going to attack Detrot soon. He’ll arrive with two thousand crystal ponies to defend Canterlot in no time. We also got another letter from the Griffonian ambassador, I need to talk with the Princess about the sun, even the ponies are freaking out…”

“Exactly, I can’t sleep because of it,” Rarity said, watching Twilight with a horrified expression. She had bags under her eyes, looked much thinner than when she last time saw her, and her wings practically begged for preening.

“And this is pretty funny…” Twilight gave a little laugh, but her eyes remained emotionless. “Ponies started to send letters to the Princess…” she cleared her throat and started to read. “Dear Princess Celestia, my neighbour keeps tearing the motivational posters off the walls of his house. I suspect that he is Luna’s agent, or Dear Princess Celestia, today I heard the group of drunk mules planning to hire a changeling assassin…

“Changeling assassin?” Rarity asked. “That sounds pretty serious…”

“I don’t think they’ll find one in Canterlot. Besides, our intelligence checks every information we get. Have you noticed the guards? They’re there because of that letter.”

“I wouldn’t say that they’re doing well, darling.” Rarity sighed. “They didn’t even ask me who I am…”

“They maintain a changeling-detecting spell. If you were one, you’d already be in the castle dungeon.” A faint shadow of a smirk appeared on Twilight’s face. “Look, this one is interesting…” she levitated another piece of parchment to Rarity, who read:

Dear Princess Celestia,

I want to inform you that my squadron leader, Rainbow Dash, came to the base drunk yesterday night, became aggressive and beat my wingpony when she was trying to help her. Then she demolished the bathroom door by kicking it out of its frame and destroyed the portrait of You hanging in the corridor.

Your faithful subject and soldier.

Rarity frowned.

“Who would write that? And what happened to Dash?”

“You know what Dash said, some pegasi are freaks…” said Twilight. “A propos, I wanted to ask you… I was supposed to visit the wounded pegasi in a hospital today, but as you can see, I have to deal with this… Can you go there for me?”

“But… what am I supposed to tell them?”

“Something that will look good in the news. Ask them about their wounds, they love to tell stories. And check on Dash. I barely see her since Fl– Since it all began...”

“If you want, darling…” Rarity said and left the room. Spike was already waiting for her.

“Don’t you think that she’s a bit weird?” she whispered to him.

“She always liked to work hard, but since Fluttershy’s death she leaves that room only to talk to the Princess,” he replied, putting the newspaper on the floor.

“And about the Princess… Listen Spike, have you seen her recently?”

“No, her guards don’t let anypony except Twilight go to her chamber. They say that she mourns all the fallen ponies and that causes her illness.” He shrugged, and looked at Rarity with hope in his eyes, but she trotted down the corridor and soon left the palace.

In the garden, she saw Applejack and Pinkie, examining one of the new tanks with some Royal Guards.

“Now careful,” said Applejack to a guard who crawled inside a large vehicle. “We don’t want any accidents… Pinkie, is that safe?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Pinkie put a helmet on her head and saluted.

“Ya don’t have to salute, Pinkie…” said Applejack, when the guard started the engine.

“Hi, darling,” said Rarity. “How are you doing?”

“Can’t hear ya!” Applejack shouted, but her voice also drowned in engine’s roar. She waved at the guards and they turned it off.

“I asked how were you doing...”

“Somepony in the factory had a great idea to deliver it directly here,” said Applejack. “We’ll have to drive it to the headquarters…”

“Can you give me a lift?” asked Rarity, seeing Pinkie disappearing in the tank’s interior.

“Bad idea, it ain’t the most comfortable vehicle in the world.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Also, Pinkie Sense sometimes warns us about suffocation when we’re inside, so Ah guess there’s somethin’ wrong with its exhaust pipe. We’re working to fix this, but so far we have to drive it with an open hatch.”

“So, how can I get to the Air Base?”

“There’s a cart waiting for ya,” said Applejack. “With some guards and a photographer.”

Rarity followed her gaze and saw the vehicle in question.

“Thanks,” she said. “Good luck with this.”

“Yeah, Ah’ll need it – when Pinkie saw it, she wanted to try shooting…”

“Hey, Applejack! There’s no ammo here!” Pinkie shouted from the inside.

“See?” said Applejack, shaking her head, and climbing on the caterpillar. Rarity went to the cart.

The road to the hospital was rather short. Most of the ponies from Canterlot were sitting in their homes – although Moon Army’s airships were aiming mainly at the factories, they were still afraid of bombings. The shop windows were boarded, walls covered in posters and graffiti. Rarity saw some groups of aggressive young colts walking down the streets and disappearing quickly in the nooks upon seeing the guarded vehicle.

The gates of the Canterlot Air Base were closed and guarded by at least a dozen of ponies, including snipers sitting on the top of a tower. Rarity, her guards and Photo Finish, who, after the war had started, became the official photographer of the Sun Army were scanned with a spell by one of the soldiers, a young unicorn.

“We’re checking if you’re not changelings,” he explained.

“Yes, I’ve heard about this… new policy.”

Walking to the hospital wing, Rarity saw some pegasi clearing the sky above the airstrip. She looked at them closer, but Rainbow Dash wasn’t there. However, when her small escort reached the hospital, she saw her friend walking out of it.

“Hi,” Dash said emotionlessly, waving the bandaged hoof at her.

“Hello, darling,” Rarity replied. “What happened to your hoof?”

“It’s an old wound,” said Rainbow Dash after a short pause. “It got dirty and I had an infection, but don’t worry, Redheart fixed everything.”

“Yeah… I think she has a lot of work,” said Rarity, seeing that Dash’s other legs were also covered with plasters, arranged in peculiar patterns. Dash noticed her stare.

“No, it’s just… I put them there because my armour rubs me, and I don’t wanna have blisters,” she explained quickly.

“Oh… I’ll come to you when I’ll be done with the injured ponies and I’ll help you fit it.”

“No, you don’t have to, it’s okay,” Rainbow Dash muttered, “It’s better when it’s tight, it’s more aerodynamic…”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes! I’ll go and help the rest – since no weather team works now, we have to clean the sky for ourselves. See you!” she said and took off. Rarity shrugged and proceeded into the building, where Nurse Redheart was awaiting them. They both put on their best professional smiles when Photo Finish took some photos of them.

“I’m glad that you’re taking care of our brave soldiers,” said Rarity officially, seeing that the former fashion photographer noted their every word.

“Well, at the moment there are only two of them here,” Nurse Redheart smiled even more, making Rarity shudder. It wasn’t a pleasant smile, but rather a sardonic grimace.

“So, it’s good to hear that they get better quickly.”

“Yeah, because the rest of them were either only slightly injured or dead,” Nurse Readheart deadpanned, still smiling at the camera. Photo Finish, however, wasn’t taking any more photos of them, too busy noting. Rarity sighed.

“Can’t you cooperate?” she whispered. “Say something optimistic…”

“What? ‘Thanks to our efforts, only one pegasus will probably be disabled for life, and only half of the crew take sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants’? Why should I even bother? You can come up with some random bullshit…”

“Can we talk in private for a moment?” asked Rarity, glaring at her guards and Photo Finish. They quickly left the room. She thought that they probably stood behind the door, eavesdropping. She didn’t like the look Photo Finish gave her before leaving.

“You should watch out, darling,” she said. “There’s somepony in the base who likes to inform Princess Celestia about what everypony here says…”

“Honestly? I don’t give a fuck,” said Nurse Redheart. The profanity surprised Rarity; the nurse usually maintained the professional attitude. “We’re not in the Griffon Empire, I can say what I want. If Princess Celestia’s going to put me in jail for talking, then I can understand all those ponies who support Princess Luna...”

She wasn’t smiling anymore. Rarity looked at her but didn’t find any good reply. Nurse Redheart continued.

“Listen, I watched all that propaganda crap sponsored by Fancy Pants. You know, happy little ponies, bloodthirsty beasts with fangs, good Sun, bad Moon, such shit. I know some good bat ponies and I know some bad ponies. If somepony wants to make me to join the choir of ponies mindlessly praising Celestia, I’m sorry, but I just have to stand against, you know.”

Rarity murmured something. Nurse Redheart smiled, this time it was a natural, heart-warming smile.

“I’m sorry, I just… You know, I had to get that out.”

“It’s okay, darling,” Rarity replied. “I sometimes think that Blueblood, Fancy Pants and the rest of the nobles got crazy since the war started.”

“Let’s not talk about that, okay?”

Rarity nodded. Another question popped in her brain.

“How’s Dash? I’ve heard her wound got infected…”

“What? I’ve never heard of that! She was here just before you arrived, but she only asked me for some sleeping pills.”

“That’s strange,” said Rarity, but before she could ask another question, her guards came back.

“Photo Finish is now taking pics of the soldiers,” said one of them. “Can you talk to them?”

“Yes, I’ll be there soon.” Rarity followed him to the ward.

One of the pegasi in the room, a violet mare with a blonde mane was sitting on her bed with a bored expression. Her bandages were removed, showing an old bruise.

“What’s your name?” Rarity asked.

“Cloud Kicker. I got hit by a bullet, but my armour saved me and thanks to the good care here I’ll soon be able to go back into service…”

Rarity let Cloud Kicker talk, barely listening to her, knowing that the specialists from Celestia’s propaganda office would soon create an uplifting article in Equestria Daily, illustrated with her photos. She looked at the other pony, an aquamarine mare with an amber mane, lying lifelessly in her bed, staring at the ceiling. One of her wings was spread and covered almost completely in bandages.

“Lightning Dust?” she asked.

“Who are you? If you’re somepony important, tell them to let me die.” Her voice was emotionless, and Rarity noticed that it resembled Rainbow Dash a bit.

“What happened to her?” she asked Cloud Kicker.

“Dunno, she’s like this since they brought her here, high on painkillers and antidepressants,” the mare said in a slightly annoyed tone. “She told Dash about something, and my cousin said that Dash went nuts…”

Rarity nodded and trotted to Lightning Dust’s bed.

“Hello… My name is Rarity, Rainbow Dash’s friend.”

Lightning Dust lifted her head so quickly that Rarity jumped backwards, startled.

“Rarity… I heard that name before…” she said weakly.

“Where?”

“That kid… She was calling her parents and somepony called Rarity before… before they cut her legs off…”

Rarity felt her heart skipping a beat. She had to force herself to breathe.

“Sweetie?”

“I don’t know…”

“Small, white unicorn…” Rarity sobbed.

“Yeah, that one…” Lightning Dust continued monotonously, “They couldn’t find her after the fire… I was telling them to leave me and go and find her…” she waved her hoof, tearing the needle of the i.v. rack from it. “It’s all my fault…”

“It’s not your fault, you were wounded…” said Rarity quickly, while Cloud Kicker was calling Nurse Redheart.

“It’s all my fucking fault!” Lightning Dust snapped, trying to get up from her bed. “I dropped a fucking bomb on those kids!”

Rarity felt as if the blood froze in her veins. She didn’t even notice when Nurse Redheart bumped into her, rushing to give Lightning Dust an injection. Next thing she remembered was when the guards carried her out of the building. She slowly inhaled the fresh air and felt that she could get back on her hooves.

“Leave me alone…” she whispered. “I must find Dash…”

“What’s going on?” somepony asked. Rarity saw a familiar black stallion in front of her.

“Thunderlane, right? Is Dash somewhere here?” she asked, straightening her mane and trying to keep her voice steady.

“She’s helping us clear the sky, I can get her in a minute.” He smiled at her and took off.

It took even less than a minute before Rainbow Dash landed in front of her and looked at her unsurely.

“Can we talk for a moment in private, darling?” Rarity asked.

“Yeah, I think so…” Dash said and lead her to a small building near the airstrip where their briefings usually took place. The room was a bit dusty, but Rarity had no time to complain.

“I just talked to one of your colleagues,” she started. Rainbow Dash cowered in her chair.

“I… I think I know what is this about.” Dash’s voice was devoid of any trace of emotion. Unable to look at Rarity, she was staring blankly into the wall.

“You knew?” Rarity stood up, resting her forehooves on a table. Her voice was quavering with concealed fury. “Your wingpony dropped a bomb on a group of foals and you haven’t told anypony about this?”

“I didn’t know at first… Only when Dust came back from the hospital…”

“And even then you haven’t told Applejack and I who sent our sisters to a hospital where they were burned? Or that, quoting Dust, Sweetie was calling my name before they cut her legs off?”

“I… I wanted to spare you the details…”

“Sorry, Dash, but the fact that you and that reckless idiot basically killed Sweetie and Apple Bloom is not a detail! What were you thinking?”

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash snapped, taking off. The chair fell on the ground. “Do you think I’m not asking myself that question? I think about this every day, and I don’t know! I thought Dust was dying, told her to drop the bombs…” She landed on the table staring into Rarity’s eyes.

“I can understand that you were worried about her…” Rarity said a bit calmer. “But still, why didn’t you tell us? Why did you lie?”

“I… I didn’t want you to suffer…”

“No, you didn’t want us to blame you! Rainbow Dash, you were simply saving your flank! You’re all the same, using Celestia’s name to justify everything!”

“Do you think I’m happy with that?” Dash shouted, leaning closer to her. “Did you forget that Scoots also died?” In one swift move she torn the bandage off her hoof, exposing freshly cicatrized cuts and causing Rarity to back away.

“Look…” she said. “Do you know why I did this to myself?”

“You’re sick!” Rarity shouted, charging her horn, and firing at Dash, who dodged it a bit too late. The spell left a long cut on her cheek and burned some of her hair.

The door bursted open and Cloudchaser, Snowflake, and Thunderlane entered the room.

“It’s okay,” said Rainbow Dash. “We were only talking…”

“Quite loudly,” Cloudchaser deadpanned.

“Yeah…” Dash smiled sheepishly, hiding her hoof behind her back. “But it’s okay, Rarity’s leaving now, right?”

“Indeed, darling,” said Rarity coldly, jumping off her chair. She walked to the door, not even looking at any of the pegasi and went to her cart. A guard saluted when she sat in the vehicle.

“Should we drive back to the palace, Ms. Rarity?” he asked.

“Not now. I have to visit one more place…”

***

Lies. Nothing but lies. Even Rainbow Dash… I wonder if Twilight knows. Well, darling, when everypony is lying, you have to look for the truth by yourself.

Rarity always imagined the headquarters of an group of plotters as some smelly, ruined building, inhabited by dozens of ponies, sleeping on pulicous mattresses scattered on the dirty floor. However, the flat where The Fireflies were holding their meetings looked quite clean for the district it was in. The door was open, and when Rarity entered the flat, a light blue earth pony approached her.

“Hello sister,” he said. “My name is Noteworthy.”

“Umm… hello. May I talk to your boss?”

“There’s no ‘boss’ here, only brothers and sisters.”

“Right… But, there’s somepony who is, umm… in charge? A leader or something?”

“Firefly is now meditating,” Noteworthy explained. “But she should be free soon. Take a seat and make yourself comfortable.”

Rarity went to the kitchen and sat on a chair, watching the flat and its inhabitants carefully. Another pony gave her a cup of tea. No one asked her anything, they treated her as if she always was there. She recognized one of the ponies as Roseluck, a flower vendor from Ponyville.

“Hi Rarity,” she said. “So, you also think the end is near?”

“What are you talking about, darling?” she asked. Roseluck frowned, but Rarity quickly added, “I mean… I haven’t found my way yet. I need to talk with Firefly first.”

Noteworthy appeared in the kitchen door.

“Firefly wants to meet you,” he announced. “Follow me.”

The room was almost empty, except for a mat lying on the floor. Several joss sticks placed on a windowsill were burning, filling it with exotic smell. A pink pegasus with a blue mane was sitting on the mat with her eyes closed. Rarity took a quick glance at her cutie mark. Two blue lightnings weren’t something she’d expect from the self-proclaimed prophet.

“Welcome, sister,” she said.

“Hello,” said Rarity unsurely, and sat on the floor.

“Something’s troubling you, sister,” Firefly stated.

“Yes,” Rarity nodded, “I… I started to doubt whether Princess Celestia is right…”

“Everypony doubts. Despite the propaganda telling us that questioning the authority is a bad thing, a bit of doubt is always, I’d say, refreshing.”

“And I’ve heard that you support Princess Luna. I… I want to join her. I can provide information… Crystal ponies…”

Firefly opened her violet eyes, piercing Rarity with her gaze.

“I’m sorry sister, but you’re at the wrong address,” she said in a surprisingly cold voice. “We don’t support Luna, Celestia or anypony else. Try Moonshine Colts.”

“But…” Rarity looked at her, unsure what to say. “But I thought you want to end the war…”

“Of course we do. But we believe that by using violence to end the war, we’d end up being like the princesses. Violence is not a solution, Rarity. You know about it well.”

“Then how do you want to end it?” Rarity asked.

“We’ll just wait,” Firefly replied. Her voice was again soft and ethereal. “One day Princesses and the nobility will be gone and ponykind would be able to live in peace, not ruled by anypony.”

“That’s insane!” Rarity exclaimed. “The Princesses have been around for thousands of years! They won’t just go away!”

“What else can we do?” There was pain in Firefly’s voice. She lowered her wings and looked into Rarity’s eyes. “For years, pegasi, the most impatient of ponies, were known as great warriors. I was supposed to be a warrior, but I chose to live at peace and wait patiently, while my former classmates... Do you want to know what happened to them?”

She raised her hoof, silencing Rarity.

“Surprise… she became a Wonderbolt and few days ago was shot down over Ponyville. Fluttershy and Derpy… one of them is dead, and the other is here, taking care of her paralysed daughter… Another innocent victim. Rainbow Dash…”

“I just talked to her,” Rarity interrupted. “She killed my sister.”

Firefly’s head drooped. She placed her hoof on her chest, as if she was checking her heartbeat.

“No…” she muttered, dropping her ethereal manner of speaking. “She would never hurt a child…”

“She did,” said Rarity coldly, but, seeing the pegasus’s expression, she added, “But I saw her and I think she regrets it…”

“This can destroy her… Just like it almost destroyed me, when she… she helped me after…” Firefly said to herself, closing her eyes again and taking a deep breath, while rubbing her temples. When she spoke again, there was so much pain in her voice that for a moment Rarity thought that something wrong happened to her.

“I’m sorry, Rarity, but I can’t talk with you now… Take care of yourself. And of Dash too…”

When Rarity left the room where Firefly started to meditate again, she almost bumped into a small, blonde unicorn filly sitting in a wheelchair.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Rarity,” the filly said, looking upwards at her. “How’s Sweetie?”

“Dinky! Who are you talking to?” A grey pegasus mare stood in the door to one of the rooms, looking at her daughter.

“There was Ms. Rarity here, but she had to go,” said Dinky cheerfully, pointing at the door, closing after Rarity who’d left the flat in hurry.

Author's Note:

I actually have headcanons for all the groups mentioned by Fancy Pants, even though I don't think I'm going to ever use them. And also, when I was revising this chapter after writing few further ones (currently, I'm writing the first draft of the chapter 16), I found it ironic that Cloud Kicker is the one complaining about other pony being constantly high...