• Published 6th Dec 2013
  • 10,320 Views, 784 Comments

Guardian - Requiem17



After making an emergency slipspace exit Spartan II Ale finds himself the last survivor of UNSC Enduring Ember. Ale becomes the defender of Equestria. But there are dark forces rising. Can Ale defend our beloved ponies?

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Donuts and Lost Ships*

EQUESTRIA
PLANET EQUIS
24 HOURS BEFORE GRAND GALLOPING GALA

The air was filled with a cacophony of noise, only bits and pieces being identifiable. One could only catch small parts of scattered conversation, porter’s whistle calls, hissing steam, and loud wails of train horns. The Canterlot train station was busy 24/7, loading and offloading passengers and cargo from all over the nation. Twilight could list a whole slew of facts about train travel and the logistics involving it, but she was currently preoccupied by staring at one of the many time zone clocks on the wall of the ticket office. She traced the periodic movement of the second hand as it ticked round and round, never blinking her drying eyes. Time almost seemed slower than normal as it was wont to happen when focusing on such things. She had apparently never learned the supernatural reasoning that watching for water to boil caused it to never boil, a fact that every foal knew.

She had almost confirmed her paranoial belief that the second hand was half a second off when Spike, who had been lounging on her back in boredom while pony watching, suddenly gasped in excitement. “Twilight! They’re here!” He jumped to his feet, only an inch or so taller than Twilight when standing on her withers. “Hey guys! Over here!” he shouted as loud as he could, waving his small arms to the group departing the train. His movement on her back and his loud shouting was surprisingly enough to rouse Twilight out of her trance. She drug her gaze away from the clock and looked in the direction Spike was waving in.

She was having a hard time seeing through the crowd of ponies as her friends had stepped off the higher level of the train and onto the station platform, but the bright and unique colors of her flying friend hovering above the crowd was easy to spot. “Rainbow!” Twilight called. When her friend failed to respond, Twilight began working her way through the crowd, but her pace was heavily impeded. Wanting to catch them before they got too far, she used her magic to poke the rainbow colored pegasus on her shoulder, causing her friend to look in her general direction. Her sharp eyes quickly scanned the crowd and brightened when she spotted Spike, followed quickly by Twilight. Her mouth opened as she said something, but it was inaudible through the noise of the station. She turned her head back and dropped down into the crowd.

Twilight kept moving towards her general location before Rainbow made another appearance in the air, moving slowly towards Twilight. With only a few more meters, the pegasus became impatient and quickly cruised the rest of the way over to Twilight, landing nimbly before giving Twilight a quick, strong hug. “Hi Twilight!” She moved her head to the side to look at Spike and gave him a quick noogy on the head. “‘Sup Spike? Been keeping her out of trouble?”

Spike nodded, “She’s been focused solely on the preparations for the Gala. I only had to prevent disaster a few times so far.”

Rainbow smirked, “Good job little buddy. As promised, one Wonder Ponies comic, first edition.” She passed a sleeved comic book to the baby dragon, giving a genuine smile as the drake took the comic in unsuppressed glee.

Twilight looked between the two. “Really?”

“What?” Rainbow asked in defense.

“I used to live in Canterlot, surely you have some faith in me?” Rainbow proceeded to raise an eyebrow, causing Twilight to sigh in defeat. This didn’t last for long as it was then the rest of her friends made an appearance. She quickly brightened back up. “Girls!”

“Twilight!” The group rushed in, all giving hugs to the purple mare and her drake.

After they had finished, Twilight took a small step back. “How was the trip?”

“It was simply marvelous darling,” Rarity spoke up as she looked upwards a bit, quickly blinking her glittering eyes. “I’m so glad we invested in first class tickets this year. It was a nice change of pace to sit in the luxury car with ponies waiting on your every hoof. And the food was surprisingly fancy might I add. Oh, and don’t even get me started on th-”

“Ah think what Rarity is trying to say is that the trip was comfortable and enjoyable,” Applejack interrupted by putting a hoof on Rarity’s mouth.

Rarity brushed her hoof away with magic before tossing her mane. “Yes, well, a mare can choose to describe every glorious event if they so desire. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a story polished and gleaming if one so desired.”

“Uh-huh, if ya say so Rares.”

“Well I don’t know about all the things Rarity said, but the one thing she was totally right about was the delicious scones, pies, and cupcakes!” Pinkie took a huge inhalation of air as she became overly excited. “And there was this hugenormous triple stacked chocolate ice cream cone with some kind of amazing golden custard drizzled on top that a pony was wearing on her head but when I asked if I could have some she gave me this really weird look so I figured she was confused as to why she wouldn’t be willing to share such a large and tasty treat with others so I went to take a bite but for some reason I think some of her mane got stuck in it because all I could taste was mane and then she started freaking out probably because she was embarrassed or something but when I-”

For the second time within a minute, Applejack played interference with a hoof to the mouth, muffling the rest of Pinkie's sinfully long run on sentence. “Ah think she gets it sugarcube. And what did we learn about eating other ponies fancy mane doo’s?”

“‘Tha nouth tho ith,” Pinkie said, her mouth now consuming Applejack’s hoof as the farmpony had neglected to pull away.

“Ach!” The orange mare pulled her now slobber covered hoof back from Pinkie, shaking the drool onto the ground. “Land’s sake,” she mumbled.

“Uh, guys?” Rainbow called to attention. “I hate to interrupt our little pow-wow here, but I think we need to leave. Fluttershy has had her fill of this place.” Sure enough, the girls looked past the rainbow pastel pony and noticed Fluttershy lying down on the stone floor of the station with her head covered by her hooves.

“Oh, alright, let’s go. We can find some peace and quiet at the castle, maybe even pick up some donuts on the way,” Twilight stated, beginning to lead the way.

The group followed after, leaving the quivering yellow pony behind. That is, until Rainbow Dash swooped back, gripped her fellow pegasus’ pink tail, and started dragging her after their friends. “C’mon Flutters, let’s get you out of here.”


“So, Twilight, how have the preparations been coming along?” Rarity asked before taking a guilty sip of her secret pleasure drink. That is, not before looking around quickly for any onlooking famous ponies before taking a sip of her steaming cup of coffee, if the sugar, milk, and whip cream beverage could even be prideful enough to be labeled as such.

Twilight finished the donut she had been chewing before replying, “Things have been going pretty well. All deliveries have been on time and we’ve had the pony power needed this year. I’ve projected that we should be finished and ready to go within the end of the day, early morning at the latest.”

“‘Reckon this one will go better than last year?” Applejack asked. “Not that last year was bad,” she corrected after the looks she had received from her surrounding mares. “It was just a might bit... exciting.”

“As long as Pinkie behaves herself,” Rainbow started, “we should be ok.” She looked at the pink mare in question. “No offense Pinkie, but you are quite the attention grabber.”

The pink mare pulled her head out of a massive pile of donuts, her cheeks bulging with packed confectionery. She made what seemed to be an impossible and very, very painful swallow before tilting her head to the side and knocking a stray donut out of her ear. “What was that ‘Dashie? I was listening carefully for the ingredients to Joe’s secret recipe.”

Rainbow shook her head, gesturing for her to continue before turning her attention back to Twilight. The purple mare smiled before picking up another donut in her magical grip. “Actually, I came up with some rather clever ideas this year. I know that last year we tried to do the things we wanted, and we all saw how that turned out, so I figured that we could try to do the same again this year, only I’ve taken the liberty of combining everything together in what I hope to be a success.”

“Sounds ambitious Twilight. But uhm, how exactly will you incorporate animals into the gala this year?” Fluttershy took a small nibble on her plain donut out of nervousness or suppressed excitement for Twilight’s answer.

“I’m glad you asked Fluttershy. There are a few big things like the addition of fish in the palace fountains, both indoor and outdoor, and the magical wards that keep birds away from perches that allow them to potentially, ahem, grace somepony with a new paintjob to their hat have been removed and instead will force them to leave if they need to take care of business. This allows them to get a lot closer to the guests.” Twilight tapped her chin. “I even think there’s a monkey that will play an organ grinder outside. Celestia thought it would be nice to add some more ethnic flavor to this year’s Gala.”

“Interesting,” Rarity stated. “I can certainly see and appreciate her choice. Having the same kind of ponies and culture, especially that of Canterlot, can be quite dull and unexciting at times.” She quickly looked around as her eyes widened. “Not that there’s anything wrong with the culture or ponies here, it’s just that the locals here can be a bit, well….”

“Snobbish, or a real pain in the flank. Maybe both. Actually, let’s just say always both,” Rainbow finished, taking a swig of a soft drink.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right Rainbow Dash, although I would have used different words,” Rarity replied. Dash just shrugged.

“Hopefully that won't be a problem this year.” Twilight brushed one of her bangs out of the way before leaning over the table, talking quietly. “Don't tell anybody about this, but after the changeling attack, there's been a bigger concern over infiltrators.”

“Meh, I don't think we'll be seeing those bug faces anytime soon,” Rainbow yawned, surprisingly keeping her tone down. “Especially not so soon after we kicked their flanks. If we haven't gotten rid of them for good, they'll still need time to gain their strength.”

Twilight mused over her friend's words, seeing where her reasoning was coming from. Dash’s family had history in the guard and she had learned a thing or two from them. Plus, she was a Wonderbolt reservist, and contrary to popular belief the Wonderbolts were more than just glorified showponies. They were both veterans and active guards from all branches.

However, there hadn't been any true combat in hundreds of years. The changelings were really the only threat Equestria had encountered throughout that time. Nonetheless, Twilight believed in preparation and had done her homework, even if it was fairly grisly.

“Think of this Rainbow, the changelings don't need an invasion force.” In response to Rainbow’s imploring look, she continued. “All you need is one drone to pull off something as dark and dirty as an assassination attempt.”

The girls’ eyes widened. Applejack coughed. “That's uh, quite the thought Twilight.” She took off her hat and scratched her mane. “Ah sure hope you're wrong about that.”

“Me too Applejack,” Twilight nodded. “But the rest of the world, while adopting many of our beliefs and cultural customs, still have plenty of violence, none of which we see here anymore. The griffon’s civil war was a very bloody conflict, and that only happened a little over a century and a half ago.” Twilight sighed and drank a little bit of her milkshake through a straw. She pulled away and glanced at Spike, the drake still engrossed in his reading. “It's something that can't be ruled out.”

“Well, they'll have wards for changelings in disguise, right?” Twilight nodded at Rainbow's question.

“I don't think I really…” Fluttershy started before her voice faded out of the audible spectrum.

“What was that dear?” Rarity asked before taking her own dainty bites of the donut.

“I uhm, I don't think I really want to go if there's going to be… changelings.” Fluttershy almost sank under the table. “T-they’re so scary.”

“Not to worry Flutters!” Rainbow lifted out of her seat a bit to flex her muscles. “I got your back girl, nothing will touch you.”

Twilight motioned for her friend to calm down and to take a seat. She turned her gaze back to her shy friend. “I wouldn't think anything of it Fluttershy. The Guard is already taking precautions. We should have a fun filled and changeling free gala.” Twilight's eyes suddenly sparkled a bit. “Actually, there's going to be a whole manner of new creatures you've probably never met before Fluttershy. There's going to be zebras, which you've already met Zecora, but there'll be many other things like minotaurs, yaks, griffons, a few diamond dogs, and even an adult dragon!”

Twilight smiled in happiness. “I'll finally get to share the power of friendship with others and hopefully cause some new found relationships. I'll get to study what kind of bounds we cross and how we adapt to different cultures.” Twilight quited down for just a brief second before her eyes suddenly took on a sharp and focused look. “Notebooks… I'm going to need notebooks to record my observations. Hmm, and maybe I can get some brain wave scanners.”

“Heh heh,” Applejack chuckled nervously. “Uhm, Twi? Why don't you just let the relationships git a happenin’ without your… uh, interference?”

Twilight broke out of her muse and pouted. “But this could be a golden opportunity!”

It was at this moment that Spike produced a tremendous burp, green flame spouting from his muzzle. The dragon reacted without thought and caught the new scroll that had materialized out of his dragonfire. He quickly read the sender before passing it over into Twilight's magic. “It's from Princess Celestia.”

Twilight's mouth was in a perfect ‘o’ shape before she opened the scroll and began reading. It only took her a few moments to burn through the letters contents before she set it down.

“We're invited to dinner tonight with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.” Twilight smiled. “This will be nice, getting a chance to talk with the princesses before the inevitable of no free time during the gala.”

Rarity smiled very brightly in response. “And this will give me the perfect opportunity to wear some of the dresses that didn't make the final cut for use at the gala.”

Twilight giggled a bit. “I'm pretty sure it's going to be more of an informal event Rarity.” She polished off the last donut on her plate. “You don't have to wear anything.”

“Oh, but I shall! I must always look my best around royalty! You never know who will be watching.”

Twilight quirked her head. “Fair enough, but speaking of dresses, I didn't see any luggage with you this time.”

Rarity lifted her head proudly. “Why, I had it mailed here earlier as to save both Spike and I the trouble of carrying it around.” The white mare looked at Spike. “I didn't want to overwork my little Spikey-wikey after he has been working so hard already. Why, that would just be so uncouth to do!”

“Ah, it's nothing Rarity,” Spike replied, looking up from his comic. “I would have helped carry it, no problem.”

“Aw,” she responded, pinching Spike’s cheek with her magic. “And that is why you're my special little dragon.”

The baby dragon blushed before drifting off into his own fantasy. Twilight rolled her eyes before pulling out the bits necessary to pay for their food and drink. “Well girls, let's get going.”

Pinkie’s head suddenly launched out of her massive pile of donuts. “Whaaaammmpff?!”


1700 HOURS, APRIL 20, 2555 (MILITARY CALENDAR)
UNSC CA-121 ENDURING EMBER
MARATHON-CLASS HEAVY CRUISER

The air almost vibrated with the sound of the heavy metal playing from the room's speakers, underlined by the sharp clanks and bangs of actual metal striking on metal. It was very difficult to hear any kind of conversation throughout the room unless you stood next to your partner and talked at a much higher volume. Luckily, or rather sadly, depending on how you looked at it, Ale did not need to worry about others hearing him. The very rarely unarmored Spartan II was occupied by keeping his breathing regulated while pushing the weighted bar up into the air before bringing it back down. He breathed out when pushing up and took a calm breath in when letting the bar come back down.

He noted with indifference the stares he was drawing from the other crew members in the weight room as he lifted the equivalent of a small car over and over, never drifting from the rhythm he had set. The metal bar he used was already bent from previous use, although it wasn't going to last forever if he kept up this pace, small white stress lines crisscrossing across the smooth yet heavily stressed metal.

The stares could probably also be attributed to the fact he was currently armorless, a rare sight for most of the crew aboard the ship. Nonetheless, Ale paid them no mind and continued his routine. The Spartan had spent the last few free days doing exactly as he had planned, keeping strict to his schedule. He had however also decided to take a brief leave of his armor, both to ensure he himself was still in good shape and to get some freedom from it. Although he did still feel a bit… exposed without it.

Wrapping up his planned workout, Ale set the weighted bar on the rack before sitting upright. He took a moment to himself before stooping a bit to grab a nearby towel on the floor. He brought the clean and dry towel to his face and wiped off the accumulated sweat, dapping at his forehead. Ale made a few quick swipes over his bare torso before making a binshot throw with the now used towel into the appropriate bin. The chiseled human finally stood up and gave a few quick stretches before cleaning up the equipment he had used and securing the attached weights to their holders.

Finishing this, he grabbed his shirt and started walking for the exit, pulling the gray military undershirt over his head. He passed his fellow soldiers without a word and stepped into one of the many hallways in the ship. Ale’s next destination was the armory, where his set of MJOLNIR armor awaited him in its rack.

Ale passed through the hallways quickly enough, noting nothing of particular importance happening, other than a few more stares than usual due to his armorless form. Subconsciously following his mental map, Ale entered the armory and found his armor safe and sound where he had left it. A couple Marines stopped suiting up and grabbing arms from the nearby weapon lockers for their daily battle simulations to watch the Spartan. Ale made his way over to a secure locker near the armor rig and began to strip down to his boxer briefs before grabbing the rather heavy undersuit to his armor from the locker. He opened a flawless seam located along the back of the black material and slipped his legs into it, squirming his way into it. Once it was snug around them, he pulled the heavy suit up the rest of his torso and inserted his arms into their proper places. He reached behind his back and pressed the seam closed, the break in material designed to press right back into place at a nanofiber level, keeping it tight and strong. The reactor imbedded in the metal armored spine of one side of the seam allowed power to once again flow through the crystalline circuitry of the suit, giving the suit it's true strength and speed.

Satisfied, Ale stepped into the armor rig and grabbed the handholds, triggering the machine to spin into action. Various hydraulic arms carried the shaped reactive titanium plates into place around the Spartan, pneumatic bolt guns securing the pieces together. It took a little less than a minute for the Spartan to be completely covered in the legendary armor of mankind's greatest soldiers, with the exception of the helmet. Ale chose to grab it from the machine before it had a chance to secure it into place, instead tucking it under his arm as he stepped off the rig with two loud metal thumps.

Nodding to the Marines, Ale walked along the metal floors, setting a thumping rhythm echoing around the room as he moved. His next objective was to talk to the captain and figure out what their next mission was. He secured his helmet to the magnetic lock on his thigh located just above one of his hidden experimental SMGs. He walked down the corridors to the bridge with a fair bit of unintended swagger. Nobody really noticed too much as it came with the territory of higher rank and skillsets.

Staying clear of the occasional maintenance cart, Ale passed the blast doors of the bridge and found his way to the captain’s chair. Finding it empty, Ale turned to ask one of the orderlies where he could find captain Sanders before the gravely yet friendly voice of the captain spoke up behind him.

“Chief Petty Officer, it's wonderful to see you again,” Ale heard as he turned to face the man addressing him. “And without hiding behind a pane of glass might I add.” The captain smiled and reached for a handshake, one Ale took in stride despite the captain's lighthearted jab. “What can I do for you Spartan?”

“Sir, just looking for intel on any mission updates.” Ale broke the handshake and stood to attention, awaiting his captain’s reply.

The aging man absentmindedly scratched his chin, “Well, we have something a bit more interesting.” He stepped towards a situation holo screen, waving Ale over. The Spartan obeyed and watched the captain fiddle with a few of the digital buttons. “This isn’t one of our normal runs,” Sanders spoke with a bit of an uncomfortable tone. He finished his jabbing and pulled up a 3-D model of a solar system. The captain passed a hand through the holo image. “This is an unmarked system. It’s just a bunch of numbers and letters. However, some unlucky bastard during the war was followed after following the Cole Protocol to his random slipspace coordinate. They were lucky enough to have only been followed by a small corvette, but both ships ended up destroying each other.”

Sanders frowned a bit before rubbing his face in frustration. “We’re only just now learning about this after some UNSC analysts stumbled across some of the old battle logs from a Covenant archive.”

“What of drift? Surely one or both of those ships would have been pulled in by one of these planets and destroyed or flung further out into space?”

“Regardless, ONI want’s us to take a look, and we will abide,” the captain replied.

“Something tells me that there was something special about this ship, Captain.” Ale nodded towards the system. “Why else would they send a military ship of this size for a simple cleanup?”

Sanders paused to take a breath. “They didn’t give too much information, but one of their spooks was on that ship. I think he or she may have something they don’t want the Covenant or any civilian to know about.” The man shook his head. “You’re no stranger to black ops, so I don’t need to say anymore. Just expect to be there in two days time.”

Ale nodded his affirmation. “Understood sir.”

“Good, now off with you. I’m a very busy man and having a half ton of metal following me around will only prove distracting.” The captain winked before walking to his chair, leaving Ale alone.

The Spartan didn’t need to be told twice, already turning and fulfilling the desire of the captain. Already he had the next few days planned out, following a not-so-shockingly similar routine to his previous one. He wasn’t going to let a few days travel time stop him from ensuring he was green for the mission. All he knew was that whatever the spooks wanted, they would have it soon enough.


“C’mon Twilight, you’re the one that didn’t want to run late!” Rainbow said as she urged Twilight along the hallway.

Twilight kept her current pace and glanced up to Rainbow Dash. “As much as I hate being late, I’m not going to run to get there.” She raised her head high with her eyes closed. “I learned my lesson once as a filly and I won’t be repeating it.” She decided to keep the details of her little ‘accident’ to herself.

“I have to agree with Twilight. We are guests in the home of royalty and we should not disrespect them so as to running through it.” The white mare blinked. “Besides, we’re not late so much as we are… fashionably late.”

Both Applejack and Rainbow rolled their eyes. “Let’s just keep going. That train ride wore me out,” Rainbow yawned. “I could really go to sleep right now.”

“An’ yet you napped the whole way here RD,” Applejack stated with one corner of her lips turned downward.

“Hey,” Dash turned towards her, flying sideways. “It takes a lot of energy to maintain ‘this’,” she gestured up and down her body.

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Ya could walk, save ya some flappin’ effort.”

“But- I, whatever.” The blue pegasus returned to her normal flying state, deciding she was too tired to try and explain her reasoning.

“I for one don’t understand how she can sleep on the train. It’s so… noisy, and fast. Especially fast.” The girls looked at their soft spoken friend, Fluttershy maintaining her light steps despite the attention turning to her.

“She is all speed Fluttershy,” Pinkie said. She took a few steps before her eyes suddenly brightened as she gasped. “What if going on really fast things act as a charger for her flying energy?! The faster it is the better the charge. Wait! What would happen if she moved really fast on an already fast moving object?! Would she be able to maintain the energy forever or would she go double the speed?! Wait! What if-”

“Pinkie, I think you’re overthinking it.” Twilight rubbed her head. “I know it’s hurting my brain.”

Pinkie started pronking. “But girls! This could be a serious discovery! Imagine how fast she could deliver orders for Sugarcube Corner! We would be unstoppable!”

Applejack stared at Pinkie in a bewildered amazement. “Ya know Pinkie, sometimes you are downright scary.”

“Uhm, I think we’re here,” Fluttershy interrupted, pointing to a pair of immaculate doors. The large doors were decorated with a carved image of ponies gathered around a large table full of food. Two guards in golden armor stood at attention to either side of the doors, watching the group of mares approach.

Twilight cleared her throat in preparation of announcing who they were and what they were here for when one of the guards interrupted her. “Welcome Twilight and friends,” he spoke in a gruff voice. “The princesses are expecting you.” The unicorn guard opened one of the doors with his magic while his fellow guard did the same for the other. “Have a nice evening miss.”

“Uh, thank you,” Twilight responded with an awkward smile before stepping through. Rarity and Applejack reciprocated their thanks to the guards as well before they all filed inside, the doors closing behind them. Inside, a moderately sized round table was set up in the much larger room, perfectly sized for a group their size, plus a few more. There were many dishes piled on the table, all still fresh and waiting to be served. But, more importantly, two ponies sat next to each other and were talking quietly before looking up to their visitors. Large smiles broke out on their muzzles before the white alicorn greeted, “Twilight Sparkle! Welcome!”

“Princess!” Twilight shouted in glee before rushing away from her friends to greet her old mentor and now fellow princess. Celestia rose from her chair and bent her head down, allowing Twilight to nuzzle her. The contact was brief before the two broke apart, Twilight looking up at Celestia with adoration before her ears suddenly flattened a bit. “Sorry we’re behind schedule Princess. I got a little distracted with a few things on the way here.”

Celestia smiled before shaking her head, glancing up as the rest of her student’s friends reached the table. “It is nothing to be sorry over, my faithful student. It gave Luna and I some time to talk with one another.” She glanced back at her sister, whom gave a friendly smile to both Twilight and the others. “But rest assured, you need not stress over the gala. Everything is almost ready and everything will be fine.”

Twilight, having been comforted by these words, found that she could indeed relax a bit and breathe easier. Straightening a bit, she stepped away and settled down into the chair next to Celestia’s, her friends settling in alongside her and around the table, ending with Rainbow Dash sitting next to princess Luna. The group of ponies all looked around before Celestia nodded towards the food. “Dig in everypony, I’m sure your trip took a bit out of you.”

Rainbow smiled evilly before rising a bit straighter in her seat, her forelegs spread wide in preparation. “You got that right princess.” She then proceeded to rapidly pile a random assortment of food upon her plate. Everypony else gave quiet ‘thank yous’ before serving themselves. Spike was delighted to find an assortment of foods that matched more closely to his dietary needs.

Twilight made sure she had chewed and swallowed her first few bites before turning her attention to the two royal sisters. “Princess Luna, how has the Night Court been coming along? I haven’t had much time to speak with you during my stay.”

The lunar princess waved her off with a foreleg before clearing her throat. “It has been going well, thank you for asking Twilight Sparkle.” She smiled in understanding before continuing, “And I take no offense to the lack of socializing between you and I. I understand that planning for the Gala is something important to you.” She shrugged before turning her attention to her own dinner. “Besides, it is a bit inconvenient that we are awake and asleep at different times, but such is my duty.”

“Have you made any new friends?” Fluttershy timidly asked, nervously playing with her mane. “Not that I didn’t think you could, but I, uhm…”

“Do not worry dear Fluttershy. And yes, I have befriended a few of the castle’s staff.” She twiddled her hooves a little bit. “It is a bit hard however to seek out conversation with other ponies I’m not in contact with on a daily basis. I rarely leave the halls of this castle.”

“I keep trying to get her to check out one of the clubs my little ponies seem to love to frequent, but she won’t go without an escort,” Celestia informed. She turned and looked at her sister. “Maybe you can find an opportunity with Twilight and her friends. I’m aware that going with a few guards isn’t exactly approachable for other ponies.”

Luna looked a bit glum, but nodded nonetheless. “I will try.”

Celestia smiled and turned to look back at her visitors. “Are you all excited for this year’s Gala? I know Twilight has put a lot more effort into ensuring that this one be the best one yet.” All of the girls nodded in differing levels of excitement, with the exception of Pinkie, whom was now buried under a pile of a sweet salad, her tail wagging back and forth from outside of it.

“Ah just don’t want her plum tucking herself out before it even starts,” Applejack commented, adjusting her stenson that she had sat on the table a bit.

Celestia nodded in agreement. “We’re taking a more lax approach this year. Better preparations have been made in an effort to try and reduce any kind of issues this year. If all goes as planned, everypony should enjoy a fun and exciting night. We have a few events planned out this year, including fireworks, a small street display, plenty of live music, a water fountain show, and even a miniature dancing competition.”

Twilight nodded in agreement. “There’s a few other things, but I thought it would be better if we had more variety in what we did. That way, we can attempt to cater to more ponies interests.”

“Sounds like it’s going to be a great year!” Rarity commented. “Certainly better than last year, I’m sure. No offense Twilight,” the white fashionista added when she received a slight stare from the purple mare. “Will there be any celebrities of other species here tomorrow night?”

“There will be a few ambassadors from varying empires around the world, as expected, but there will be other political figures, media icons, and even a few successful entrepreneurs.” Luna looked to Rarity. “I’m sure you’ll recognize a few.”

“I’m not so much interested in all that governmental and Hoofenwood stuff as much as I am looking forward to talking to the Wonderbolts!” Rainbow squeezed out from around her crammed mouth. “It’s been a few months since I last spoke to Spitfire or any other of her teammates.”

Celestia smiled, “And I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to see you Rainbow Dash. You’ve certainly left a lasting impression.” Her pink eyes turned to Fluttershy’s direction before she leaned a bit towards her. “And as for you Fluttershy, I would like to speak to you after you are finished with dinner. There is a spot in the gardens I think you’ll greatly enjoy that I can give you directions for if you’re interested.”

Fluttershy brightened considerably and her eyes flashed in excitement. However, she still kept her voice at it’s normal level of quietness. “I’d love too!”

Twilight opened her mouth to add further to the conversation, before movement beneath her muzzle caught her attention. Looking down, the only thing left on her plate was a single baby tomato, said tomato was rolling back and forth a bit. She stared at it in bewilderment before a long pink tongue quickly latched onto it and hauled it back from whence it came.

“Wow, did you see that!?” Spike exclaimed. Twilight looked around before she noticed that everypony’s plate was empty, including all the dishes located in the center of the table. She followed the gaze of her friends and zeroed in on Pinkie.

The successful baker was currently lounging in her seat with a physically impossible distending in her belly. The mare seemed happy and satisfied as she patted her gut before letting loose a belting burp. “Ah, that hit the spot.”

“That had to have been at least 6 feet in distance,” Spike said in awe.

Rainbow was the only one who seemed unimpressed. In fact, she seemed a bit ticked off that her food had been stolen, this being confirmed when she sighed in frustration. “Pinkie, was that really necessary? I was going to eat that.”

“Shhh… I’m monitoring controlled nuclear fission in my stomach. Call back when I’m not in danger of going critical.”

Rainbow stared at her blankly for a few seconds before turning to look at the princesses. Both princesses were stunned themselves. Luna was the first to break out of her shock. “I uh, I haven’t seen anything quite like that in hundreds of years, and it’s quite frankly disturbing when it’s coming from a pony.”

Celestia finally regained her own control before shaking her head, clearing her throat. “I will have more brought out. For now,” she eyed the now slumbering Pinkie. “Let’s just leave her be. I think she could use the rest.”

All present at the table had a quiet laugh before continuing to chat about lost time between themselves and the expectations of the upcoming and highly anticipated gala. Much was said, but they all came to agreement that it was going to be the best gala yet. It didn’t seem like there much room for anything to go wrong and everypony would be happy. They had much to look forward to and were ready to go to sleep by the time they had finished eating to rest up in preparation for their big day. Everything was going to be fine and if anything were to happen there were many failsafes in place.

Hell, it wouldn’t take anything short of a complete government uprising or a small war to stop the anticipated night from happening. And everypony laughed at the ridiculousness of such a thing happening. The band of friends dispersed to their rooms and fell to their peaceful dreams, where everything bowed to their every desire and pleasure. Tomorrow was going to be a big day, and they needed to be prepared for anything to happen. Nothing could stop them now. Together, they were the greatest force in Equestria, possibly even the world. They were too big to fail. This was too big to fail.

The night passed on, enshrouding the world in a peaceful darkness and keeping it safe from the fires of the burning star. Tomorrow would be a new day, one that would be openly welcomed by many. But until that time, now was the time for silence, and silence did reign.