• Published 10th Dec 2013
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My Family and Other Equestrians - Blade Star

A HiE fic with a twist. Our protagonist is not alone. How does one approach being in Equestria, when their family is along for the ride?

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Chapter 80 - Summer Sun Celebration

Splitting up to go with their respective side, the guards left the Tavern, donning their armour and changing their behaviour to fit those expected of a soldier. The Lunar Guard all grouped around Swift Wing and the other officers, whilst their solar counterparts left to join Shining Armor and his staff. As for me and the other ‘civvies’ that had been hanging about, we now respectfully bowed out and began to make our own way to Town Hall, where the whole ceremony would be taking place.

Both guard sections marched away smartly and with a great amount of professionalism, with an officer leading each small platoon one after the other. They would ultimately meet up again on opposite sides of Town Hall, guarding their respective princess.

Consequently, for a while, I was left alone until I could meet up with AJ and the rest of the family. I’d promised them I’d meet them at Town Hall in time. It had been one hay of a busy night; I’m fairly sure AJ would kill me if she found out what I’d been up to, but it would be a fun little story to tell Apple Bloom.

As I walked on, Strong Shield, who due to his temporary holiday, would not be taking part in the proceedings, joined me. The slightly aging changeling seemed pretty content, despite his current situation.

“Heading up to the square are you, Rookie?” he asked.

“Yep, Ah promised Applejack Ah’d meet her an’ the family there. Y’all are welcome to join us, if you’d like.” The old guard shook his head.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” he replied. “I figured I might head on back to the Tavern for a bit, get a drink or two while it’s quiet. That and think about my options.”

“What are ya thinking of doing anyway. Ah mean, the princess can’t keep ya on leave forever, right?” Strong Shield frowned a little.

“Well, it may not just be leave. Too many incidents, Rookie. Even the little things are starting to set me off; sudden noises, open spaces, even just being tapped on the shoulder.” He sighed and paused for a moment before continuing. “Look, you know I get funny spells from time to time, and I could get around them, but now…” he trailed off. I thought for a moment as we crossed the bridge over the small river that ran through Ponyville.

“Cap, permission to speak freely?” I asked. That got a laugh out of him.

“Sure, when haven’t you?”

“All your problems really, come from what happened in Canterlot, and what your own kin did to ya. It were some mighty serious trauma. That brought on your troubles. But right now, Ah reckon it ain’t just that. Hayseed, everypony’s still a little scared right now; the whole Tirek thing shook everypony up. But it’ll pass. The threat’s contained and there ain’t no risk of a repeat. Now, Ah ain’t no psychologist, but Ah think that in a couple of weeks, with some rest, y’all will be fit for duty again. The old stuff’ll still be there, but this Tirek business will be put to bed.”

Strong Shield thought for a moment, evidently examining what I had told him. I hoped I was right; most of my conclusions were based on my reactions, for a couple of nights I’d been scared witless, so had AJ, and even Big Mac. In Strong Shield’s case though, his existing problems were being compounded by it all, making him even more prone to an episode.

“I’ll be honest with you, Rookie,” he said at length. “The guard headshrinker said pretty much the same thing, with a hay of lot more medical mumbo jumbo. Celestia willing, I should be back within a month. Still, doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan, right?”

“No, it sure doesn’t. Ah know a lot of ex-soldiers on my world went to work with private security firms. You know, body guarding and close protection, stuff like that.” Strong Shield nodded.

“Exactly, so I sounded out a couple of guys I know in Canterlot. If worst comes to the worst, I should be able to get a job with them.” Using his magic, he passed me a business card. “If the apple farming business ever hits trouble, you could think about it; Celestia knows you wouldn’t be half bad.” I think that’s the best endorsement I could ever get from Strong Shield; it was certainly more complimentary than his norm.

However, the company’s name gave me pause, flagging up unfortunate another commonality between Equestria and Earth.

“Black Ops and Dark Tan’s Security Consulting? Shoot, Ah think ya ought to give that one a miss, cap.” Much to my surprise, I recognised the company logo; they’d been the hired help for the fashion show Rarity dragged me to several months back. I guess likening them to Executive Outcomes was being too kind, if they actually did have anything in common with their human counterparts.

Taking the card back, Strong Shield bade me farewell. He then headed on back to the Tavern for a well-earned drink. As for me, I plodded onward.

Heading into town, I passed any number of banners to mark the occasion, golden orange ones emblazoned with the sun for Celestia, and dark blue and purple ones for Luna, with her cutie mark on them. In a way, it reminded me of that dream I had had several months ago, not too long after I arrived here. That was only the second time I had spoken with Princess Luna. Have I really been here that long? Nearly a year already?

I looked up as I neared Town Hall. In the eastern sky, you could just make out the faintest glow. The blood of many a Lunar guard. For some reason, I still felt a slight sense of disquiet at the sight. The dawn was coming, and in another half hour or so, the moon would slip beneath the horizon to make way for the sun and the day. Such is the way of things, in another twelve hours or so, the process will be repeated in reverse. Day and night, each balancing each other out, just as the two princesses do. It is a sound political system if you ask me. Unless they both go power mad at the same time, there will always be somepony to keep Equestria safe.

Trotting into the square in front of Town Hall, I began to make my way through the crowd, looking for Applejack and the others. In the end, I managed to spot Big Mac, who of course was quite noticeable, given his larger stature, amongst the gathered crowd.

“Hey, Mac!” I called out, waving a hoof to catch his attention. The large stallion quickly spotted me and led the rest of the family over.

“Howdy, Bones,” he said in his usual way. “Everythin’ alright?”

“Sure, Mac, sure,” I replied. “Everypony ready to get this thing started?”

“Eeyup. Twilight just left to meet up with the princesses. Ah reckon it’ll be dawn in another five minutes.” As a princess herself, Twilight would be part of the proceedings proper, along with her older brother, who had hopefully calmed down a little by now. Applejack then appeared.

“There ya are, Bones. Ah thought ya were gonna miss this,” she said as she hugged me.

“Sorry Ah couldn’t get here sooner, ‘Jack. Ah caught up with a couple of the guys Ah know in Canterlot; time kinda got away from me.”

We all settled down to wait for the ‘show’ to kick off. Steadily more and more ponies began to trickle in. I spotted my mother chatting with Cheerilee a ways off (I also saw Big Mac almost literally pining after the latter). My father of course, was with various other big wigs that had turned up and I spotted him conversing with Mayor Mare. It was then though that I spotted something that surprised me.

It was my little sister, Lizzie. I’d expected that she’d turn up with Fluttershy. In my experience the two of them were virtually inseparable aside from when Lizzie was doing weather work with Rainbow and the others. In this instance though, Fluttershy had peeled off at some point and was talking with Rainbow and Pinkie over a few cupcakes. Lizzie meanwhile was with Dewdrop, one of the ponies she had been working with during the tornado. I owed the guy a drink considering how he saved her from getting sucked in by the tornado.

When that had all been winding down, I’d overheard him asking her out, sort of. He was hardly taking her out on a date after all. Besides, it was good that she was doing stuff outside of the cottage and her job; she’s significantly more sociable than me and I was honestly surprised she kept so close to Fluttershy for this long. The guy seemed nice enough, like her last boyfriend she’d probably be the one wearing the trousers, but there was nothing that threw up any real red flags.

The two of them were contentedly wandering around the square talking to pretty much anypony either one of them knew. Since I hadn’t seen Lizzie since that tornado, I decided to head over there myself, with Applejack following me. Judging by the way she rolled her eyes, she’d already figured out what I was up to.

“Hey, Lizzie!” I called out as I trotted up to the pair. “Nice to see you too, Dewdrop.” In an incredibly fun, albeit trollish move, I grabbed his hoof and foreleg with both hooves. A little invasion of his personal space and, if psychologists are to be believed, establishing my dominance. I may have nothing against him, but I do still have to follow my role as Lizzie’s older brother.

“Hey,” Lizzie replied, half-heartedly waving a foreleg. “Any chance you can stop threatening Dewdrop now?” As I looked back at the poor lad, I saw he had all but seized up in fear. The guy was like a male version of Fluttershy.

“Alright, alright. Ah was only joking,” I replied. “Sorry, Dewdrop, just lookin’ out for my sister is all.” Dewdrop quickly retreated a little behind my sister. “What have you two been up to then?”

“Oh, erm, Lizzie suggested we come here together,” Dewdrop offered. “She said it would be a good way to get to know a few other ponies in town.”

“Fair enough. So where’s Fluttershy got to then? Ah’d have expected her to come along with you two.” Lizzie gestured off towards Sugarcube Corner.

“I think she’s with Rainbow at the moment. The three of us came here together, but she said she wanted to go and talk to Rainbow for a while.” At this point, my cross examination was interrupted.

“C’mon, Bones, lay off that will ya. It’s startin’!” Applejack called.

And she was right. Out onto the balcony above us stepped the two diarchs of Equestria; their Grand Royal Highnesses’ the Princesses Celestia and Luna, rulers of the day and the night respectively. They were dressed in their typical regalia and were both flanked by the captain of their guards and at least two of their best and brightest. Standing behind the two, but still prominent, was Twilight and the mayor. Celestia spoke first.

“My little ponies,” she began in her usual motherly voice. “It was on the very spot just a few years ago that I was able to welcome my dear sister back to Equestria and allow her to take her rightful place as its co-ruler. You should not thank me for raising the sun this morning; I am in your debt for returning my sister to me.” She then stepped back letting Luna have the floor.

“I too would like to express my fondness for this town. Were it not for the citizens of this cosy hamlet, I would not have realised the joys of Nightmare Night, or the appreciation so many of you have for my night. Even as I lower the moon today, I know many of you yearn for the night time…and are not wholly obsessed with my sister’s sun.” The sudden, unexpected joke from the usually serious princess got a laugh from the entire crowd.

With that, Luna, in one great leap, soared high into the sky. Standing almost bipedal, with her forelegs stretching upwards into the sky, and her wings flapping in a steady rhythm, she set her horn aglow. Slowly but surely, and with increasing speed, the moon descended from the sky, whilst Luna herself also slowly floated back towards the ground. At the same time, Celestia too, took to the skies. Performing the same manoeuvre in reverse, she began to lift the sun steadily over the horizon. Off to the side, I saw some of the thestrals squinting against the bright glare of the sunrise. Having gotten used to the night, it was quite dazzling to me and I pulled my hat down a little in an effort to preserve my retina.

One by one, the stars vanished and the once deep blue sky began to turn a reddish purple colour, before shifting to become the typical sky blue of the daytime. Finally, Celestia too returned to the ground to stand alongside her sister amidst the cheering of all the assembled ponies, as well as two humans. Regardless of what else I might think, it was a spectacular sight to behold, far more mesmerising that merely watching a sunrise. Plus, as a unicorn, I could vaguely feel the immensely powerful magic given off by the two alicorns. All in all, a pretty humbling experience.

“Wow,” I muttered quietly, unable to come up with anything else to describe what I had just seen.

“’Wow’ is right, Bones,” Applejack said. “Ah seen Celestia raise the sun a bunch of times, but it never stops bein’ amazin’.” I nodded in silent agreement. I think the closest approximation to it all was a religious experience, though I am loathe to call it that as an atheist. It certainly made me realise how lucky I was, considering I was on a first name basis with one of the participants in that ceremony.

As the feeling that had compelled everypony to remain where they were in quiet awe subsided, ponies steadily began to disperse. Applejack and I wandered off towards the park, whilst Big Mac apparently plucked up the courage, and went over to be with Cheerilee. We eventually settled ourselves down under one of the large trees in the park.

Across the way from the two of us, on a small knoll a short ways off, a strange thing was happening. With neither word, nor signal of command, the entirety of the Lunar Guard present had gathered together. They were all lined up, as if on parade, and at the front of their column stood a colour bearer, with a lunar flag, similar to the one which I had been gifted, fluttering in the slight breeze. They all remained fast at attention, facing the rising sun. And again, with no command, the assembled guards began to sing a solemn tune.

Oh have you heard the cruel news?
Alas it is too true.
At Canterlot’s old courthouse,
Went down our cause so true.
Our armies have surrendered,
We bow to Celestia’s might.
Forever more forbidden is,
The wearing of the night.

No more on fields of battle,
Waves the banner of our pride.
In vain beneath the crimson folds,
Where many a stallion died.
Like the stars of the early morning,
Our flag burns by the light.
And low are they who guarded it,
The wearers of the night.

Remember how we scattered them,
Beneath the mountains old.
And how we tossed the powers of strong,
The valour of the bold.
We thundered through the bloody gap,
Our Princess led the fight.
Remember this and ne’er forsake,
The wearing of the night.

We have lost all but honour,
Our dark banners have no shame.
Though beaten down by numbers,
We’ll keep our ancient fame.
Though exiled from Equestria,
We’ll still keep up the fight.
We’ll not forget our old dear land,
And proudly wear the night.

Now honour to the guardsman,
Who still keeps up the fight.
And shame upon the lunar stallion,
Who wears the golden light.
From our home within the mountains,
We’ll still keep up the fight.
We like those mountains never leave,
The wearing of the night.

Then here’s to our dear Princess,
And comrades true who died.
In the forefront of the battle,
The thestrals would not hide.
When our Lunar banner floats again,
No more burned by the light.
Let a token of our victory be,
The wearing of the night.

As the song ended, the flag was promptly dipped in salute, whilst the assembled group snapped to attention, and removed their helmets as a sign of respect to their forebears. A few moments later, the banner was brought into the recover and the helmets were replaced.

In a final act of remembrance, the commanding officer stepped forward and moved to the front of the column. Turning around to face his subordinates, he removed a scroll from his armour and began to read. After a few lines I realised its significance; it was the so-called ‘Exile Speech’; the speech given by the captain of the Lunar Guard after Nightmare Moon was sealed away, attempting to lift the spirits of the assembled troops, who would then flee Equestria for a millennium.

“It has been a long war. It has been a tough war. You have fought bravely and proudly for your country, and your princess.” He paused to steady himself emotionally. At the time, this was all but a eulogy to Luna and the night. “You are a special group. We have found in one another a bond that exists only in combat…among brothers…among soldiers. We have shared foxholes…held each other in dire moments. We have seen death, and suffered defeat together.” Pausing again, he looked up, pride evident on his features. “I am proud to have served with each and every one of you. You all deserve long and happy lives in peace.”

Finishing the short speech, the captain nodded to the assembled group. As one, the group turned to look at the horizon, beneath which the moon had descended. Then, as one, they bowed as if to the princess. With that final token, the group steadily began to disperse. Amongst them, I spotted Swift, as well as Nutmeg and the other two thestrals who aided us in our earlier coup.

Thestrals can be a strange bunch. Whilst Celestia’s own guards are extremely dedicated to her, and the Lunar Guard as a whole is dedicated to Luna, the thestrals as a people border on religious fanaticism. They see the moon as the physical embodiment of Luna and each of the stars representing one of her former guards. They revile Nightmare Moon far more than any other foe for her crimes, viewing her as something along the lines of the anti-Christ. They also have a strong need for ceremony and symbolism, as I had just witnessed. They make me appear almost normal.

The two of us stood underneath the tree we had been resting under, watching the final end of the spectacle that had just unfolded before us. Had I not found myself working on Sweet Apple Acres, I might well have attempted to enlist. I doubt I would have been much good; for all my interest and admiration for soldiering, I am not particularly good at it. But in the event, I would certainly have attempted to join the Lunar Guard. As the guards departed, we heard hoofsteps behind us.

“A curious ceremony, is it not?” a kind hearted voice asked. Quickly turning around, the two of us saw Princess Luna, who had evidently too been watching the proceedings.

“Princess Luna,” I replied, promptly bowing, with Applejack quickly mimicking my movements. Luna laughed softly and smiled at the pair of us.

“Really, young Blade Star. After all this time, and all the excursions you have taken me on, you still cannot bring yourself to address me informally in person?” I don’t know why, but whenever I was with Luna in a dream, I naturally felt more relaxed around her. But right now, I was conscious of the fact that I was in the presence of an Equestrian princess, an alicorn, and a being who could end my existence if she wished with a mere flick of her horn. Perhaps it was an effect of the dreamscape, or perhaps it is just me. Quite quickly though, my long standing informality returned.

“Sorry, Luna; force of habit.” I apologised.

“It is quite alright, child. I am sorry if I startled you, but were my guards to see me observing them, they would be down on bended knee before you could say ‘zap apple’. I merely wished to see the ceremony they performed. A curious spectacle, though you have to admire their devotion. Faith is an ever useful ally in battle.” The three of us settled down again to talk.

“Princess, Ah gotta say,” Applejack began. “Even after all the times Ah’ve seen it happen, watching you lower the moon is one of the most amazin’ sights in all of Equestria.” I was actually a little surprised at how diplomatic AJ was being; pragmatism after all is not her strong suit. Luna took it in her stride.

“Thank you, Applejack. I must confess it is a thrilling thing to do, even after all these years,” she replied.

“Ah just wish you had your own day. A Winter Solstice Celebration or something. Everypony would watch the sun set and see the moonrise; just stay up for one night and look up,” I added.

“But what of the morrow, Blade Star?” Luna asked. “The farmers and labourers would be exhausted; a whole day would most likely be lost. And my night, with no dreams to guard would be quite dull.” She raised an interesting, if surprising, point.

For as long as I have known her, Luna has been like that. Like her sister, she always seems to be one step ahead, always has one last trick up her sleeve. No matter how well a pony might claim to know her, Luna often manages to surprise me. In a way I find it quite comforting, to know that there is always somepony you can turn to. If Celestia is Equestria’s mother, then Luna is the big sister who keeps us out of trouble.

“I suppose that is true,” I replied, unable to form a counter argument that didn’t refer to Nightmare Moon. Perhaps it was merely that entity that sought control, and in reality, Luna was content with her existing position. Well, the full nature of that story will probably only ever be known to Luna herself. Though she considers me a friend, it is not my place to ask such searching questions.

“Speaking of dull, have you noticed a change in Discord of late? My sister tells me that he has made a habit of visiting you from time to time.”

“What of him?” I replied.

“He seems to have become somewhat, different recently. He has shook off his encounter with Tirek quite well, but he now seems to have gone to an unusual extreme. Last week he completed all of my sister’s work for her, as well as settling several cases for your father. Whilst I am glad of such a turn of events, it is still unusual. And given Discord’s nature, unusual can be something of an issue.” This partially explained the strange incident Applejack and I had had with him yesterday. The two of us quickly summarised what had happened.

“Well, whatever it is, I imagine Discord will speak of it when he wishes.” The Lunar diarch rose from her sitting position. “I suppose I ought to be off as well. I will see the two of you around of course. But for now, I think it is apt the two of you be left to yourselves.” She prepared to leave, but a moment later, turned around to face me “Oh, and Blade Star.”

“Yes, Luna?” The Lunar princess smiled in a way that would make Celestia envious.

“Well done on your little excursion earlier. It’s always nice to hold the quality of my guards over dear sister’s head.” Applejack of course, looked a little confused, whilst I offered an over the top bow to the departing diarch. Much to my surprise, Luna took out a small crow feather and placed it in my Stetson. “I do not have the firmest grasp of Buffalo culture, Blade Star. But I believe you have earned this.”

With a quick burst of magic, Luna vanished in a bright flash of light, perhaps to meet up with her sister, or possibly even straight back to Canterlot. Such a thing after all, was well within her abilities as an alicorn.

"And what exactly happened on this 'little excursion' she was mentioning?" Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow.

New to relationships I may be, but new to dodging the questioning of a mare, I was not. I knew any attempt to fib my way out wouldn't work, so I simply whistled lightly as I walked off to lay back down under the tree, pretending not to hear.

"Blade Star, I swear, there better be no guards showing up at the farm. Ya hear?" Applejack warned

"'Course not, 'Jack. 'Course not," I replied as the two of us settled down. Then I turned and mumbled to myself, "Probably."

With the departure of both Luna and her thestral guards, we were at last left alone with each other. It was now more than bright enough to see clearly, and the whole world was bathed in the reddish hues of the early morning. The two of us didn’t really speak much, we just sat there, under that same tree, at peace. We had nothing to concern us, no harvests, no planting or ploughing, no market, no princesses, no Discord. There was only the two of us.

We stayed there for quite some time; Applejack dozed slightly, resting her head on my barrel. I too was beginning to feel the strong need for sleep. I had been on the go, and participated in a daring night time heist amongst other things, for well over twenty four hours. Eventually, not wanting to nod off in public and be caught out, least of all by Rainbow Dash, I roused Applejack and the two of us steadily made our way back to the farm. Everypony else was already resting when we got there; even Ponyville itself was unusually quiet with everyone sleeping the morning away.

In the event, I was given an opportunity to play the gentlecolt once more. Just as we passed through the front gates, Applejack’s tiredness got the better of her, and she fell down fast asleep in the road. Obviously unable to leave her like that, I carefully lifted her using my magic, a fairly difficult task, though not beyond my abilities. And then, half resting her on my back and half holding her in my magic, I made my way to the house.

Careful not to disturb anypony on my way in, I carefully eased myself up the stairs. I considered a quick teleport, but that’s always a bit of a risk with two ponies to think about, and I don’t think anypony wanted to see AppleStar or other such mishmash inadvertently created. Making my way to Applejack’s room, I carefully lifted her into bed and tucked her in. I smiled a little to myself, at some point we would have to address the issue of sleeping together; though I doubt Big Mac would ever be comfortable with it. As I settled her, Applejack squirmed a little in her sleep as she got comfortable in her bed. Pausing, I let her settle, before planting a quick kiss on her forehead. And then I too headed to bed.

Author's Note:

Proofread by Sidetrack.

So, Blade Star's now rocking the whole John Marston look, isn't he?

Only three more chapters to go until the end now.

Also, see if you can spot the hidden politically incorrect joke. Those of you hailing from either Britain or Ireland, and who know their history, should be able to spot it.

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