• Published 26th Mar 2014
  • 1,131 Views, 58 Comments

Rise of the Phoenix Empire - kudzuhaiku

Set after the events of 'The Alicorn Academy' this story tells the tale of the rebirth of Equestria, Out of the flames and ashes comes new life.

  • ...

Chapter 2

A blue unicorn trotted along the mooring wing of Canterlot Fortress. She was bright blue and had a purple-blue indigo mane that stuck out in all directions, waving crazily in the breeze, her mane known by all as “Celestia’s Bane.” No force of known magic in the universe could tame it. She nodded, looking around at the various ships docked, admiring the new rigid shell design, the armored and improved version that had replaced the old gasbag models. The explosive gas was now gone as well, and the shells were filled with super-compressed cloudstuff, made by pegasi cloudmasters. It kept the ships afloat, but produced an abundance of electricity.

Which was fine, really. It powered the electro-cannons and allowed the crew to fire lightning bolts at anything that ventured too close. One kick with a pegasi hoof or a properly enchanted earth pony or unicorn hoof and the cannons would spit streams of lightning. The lightning bolts were powerful enough to stun even a good sized dragon, and multiple lightning bolts from the clustered cannons were devastating.

At the end of the mooring was the nearly finished Hailstone class dreadnaught, the new pride of the fleet. It was large. The largest airship ever built. Over a thousand cannons, all little pointy metal antennae looking things with metal balls on the tips, they didn’t look like cannons at all. It could also hold a crew of five thousand. It was immense, and for good reason. The psychological factor alone was a great deterrent against any threats against the Phoenix Empire. And there were still threats...

The massive dreadnaught was swarming with life. Pegasi, griffons, unicorns and earth ponies with sticky hooves spells, all swarming over the hull and the shell, working. Bright sparks glared. A large dragon was lifting a steel strut into place, the dragon standing on the ground far below. It was a big dragon. His name was Tiny, because he was reputed to be the runt out of his hatchmates. As large as Tiny was, the airship dwarfed him.

Hoodwink stood on the mooring, watching the work taking place, and nodded approvingly. She hoped that she could do her job and leave, as she had places to be. She checked off her checklist. Check on airships. Check. She was now free to go. Before she winked, she saw the figure of a white alicorn standing on the exposed deck, watching the work.

Hoodwink popped into the center of Ponyville with a thunderous crack, causing several ponies to spook with alarm. Two large stone ponies turned their heads at her, gazing, and then resumed their pacing, guarding the town against any and all intruders. The stone guardians were immense. And alive. Hoodwink had created them herself. Immense, tireless, always pacing, always on guard, patient, they were perfect guardians. And the townsponies of Ponyville could communicate instructions from the guardians with ear language, which is how the guardians spoke.

The townsponies calmed, seeing Hoodwink, watching her. A few smiled and waved. Hoodwink looked around her. Ponyville had grown. It was larger than it used to be. Many ponies lived here now. Much of it had burned to the ground during the war. And now it was rebuilt, much as it had been, with thatched roofed buildings and homes. Ivy had grown new trees, and some of the trees had homes shaped into them.

The library had survived. it has been damaged, but it had survived.

And it was now Minerva’s place of residence, a crystal pony far from home. The living tree had grown larger, thanks to Ivy. It had more rooms. More books. There was an entire wing of defensive magical spells, free for public perusal, allowing good unicorns to defend their home.

And there were many good unicorns. Hoodwink knew for that certain. She thought of her students and the classes she taught. The bright little faces, all of them curious. Attentive. Ready to learn, eager to learn, ready to make a difference.

The war had shown that even foals can make a difference. Hoodwink’s mind wandered as she thought about the night that four foals made a difference, long ago…

Lyra had said a tearful goodbye to Bon Bon and Snickerdoodle, sending them towards Sweet Apple Acres. Lyra’s magic was exceptional at exposing changelings, so she had opted to stay. Other unicorns had begun to join them as they pushed into the town, pausing only so Hoodwink could enchant a few statues, animating them under her control. They were pushing into the town now, further and farther, striving to reach Sugarcube Corner, where Lyra had said that Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were holed up, along with quite a number of Ponyville’s militia.

They were almost halfway to Sugarcube Corner when Ivy fainted dead away, without warning, suddenly comatose. Her eyes were open, but she was limp and unresponsive.

“Spell?” Brimstone asked, worried.

“I don’t know.” Sparkler, a unicorn, said.

Minerva lifted Ivy with her magic, struggling to concentrate in the chaos. She had lifted Hoodwink once. It took a few tries, but she felt comfortable with her ability. “I have her.” Minerva said.

Lyra exposed a fresh batch of changelings hiding in plain sight, posing as cowering ponies trying to flee from the chaos.

The statues made short work of them.

Sugarcube Corner lay ahead, besieged. A vast number of changelings encircled the building, spells of all colour firing from their horns. Spells were lobbed in return from the windows.

“Changeling magic is usually green.” Lyra said. “Something has changed. I don’t understand it.”

“Looks like unicorn magic.” Sparkler said. “Nothing good will come of this.”

The group took cover behind the remains of a crumbled wall, ducking under spells. Hoodwink willed her statues forward.

Brimstone peered over the edge of the wall, his eyes narrowed, a look of intense concentration on his face.

His horn glowed with a nauseating green twinkle.

A small cloud of gas appeared within the changeling ranks. They began to cough and sputter, gagging, and falling over.

Brimstone rubbed the side of his head, closing his eyes for a moment, his face creasing in pain. “Ow.” He muttered. “Hurts letting it out after holding it in for so long.”

There was a roar and the crackle of flames as another thatched roof caught on fire. The companions sat, huddled in the rubble, watching as everything fell down all around them. Hoodwink animated a few tables and chairs found in the rubble, sending them towards the changelings ahead, to join the statues.

“Hold on Ivy.” Minerva soothed. Ivy said nothing, but continued to stare vacantly ahead, limp.

A wing of lunar pegasi were making landfall around the bakery now. A cheer was heard from inside. Hoodwink pressed her advantage, moving forward, getting closer, ducking down behind an overturned wagon. Brimstone moved to follow her, while Minerva and Ivy stayed back in the rubble.

Ahead, a table stomped a changeling under its legs, and a changeling blasted a chair with a stream of golden magic. The lunar pegasi were swarmed, a dozen or so lunar pegasi buried under a wave of dozens and dozens of attackers.

Brimstone gassed them, knowing that the lunar pegasi were immune. Swarms of the enemy died. Bodies began to pile up.

“Brimstone?” A voice said. “You little fart stain! What in bowels of Tartarus are you doing here in Ponyville?”

Brimstone didn’t cringe. “Doing what is right!” He shouted in return.

Mare Nectaris pressed her advantage, leading her wing against the remaining bugs encircling Sugarcube Corner. Brimstone broke from cover and ran forward, rushing towards Mare Nectaris.

He found himself in the middle of the battle, not the outside. Black shapes rushed him in the night. He didn’t panic. He simply let go. He strode ahead fearlessly, enveloped in a cloud of strangling gas, causing things to drop dead as he cut a swath through the crowd.

“Something is wrong with Ivy!” He shouted to Mare Nectaris over the din of battle.

More lunar pegasi were landing now, pressing the advantage, securing the front side of the bakery, with was now blazing brightly, flames soaring from the roof and into the night.

“We have injured ponies!” Rainbow Dash cried, her head protruding from the door as more lunar pegasi began to secure the area. “Really glad you showed up when you did!”

“I don’t want to die! I want to have my foal!” Pinkie Pie shouted, her voice coming from indoors.

Hoodwink willed the tables forward towards the door. They stood waiting, table legs tapping impatiently. Hoodwink pushed her way forward, through the crowd, through the mob, reaching the door of the bakery.

“Load up the injured.” She commanded. The tables in the bakery began to twitch as her horn glowed. “Now.” She said gently, her voice cutting through the chaos. “We’re falling back to Sweet Apple Acres.” She explained, her tone commanding. “We’re going to need escorts.”

Lunar pegasi were securing the airspace around the bakery, and the battle had retreated around to the rear. Brimstone returned to the front of the building, his face grim. Mare Nectaris trotted beside him, grinning broadly, looking pleased with herself.

A young lunar colt landed and saluted. “Area is mostly secure.” He shouted over the noise. Mare Nectaris nodded, looking upward at the battles still in the sky. The front of the bakery was secure, the attackers now driven off, holed up in crumbled buildings nearby, others retreating around the rear.

“Quickly!” Hoodwink urged. “Load the injured. The tables are quite sturdy.”

Minerva laid Ivy upon a table, her horn going dark, her magic exhausted.

“Hoodwink, what is the plan?” Mare Nectaris asked.

“We fall back to Sweet Apple Acres. I’m going to need escorts. And maybe some strong backs to help carry the inured.” Hoodwink said, staggered by the sheer number of limp bodies being brought forward from all around, not just the bakery, but from nearby buildings as well.

“I want every member of the Ponyville Militia still on their hooves ready to move out!” Rainbow Dash shouted. “We’re falling back to let the guard secure the rest of the town. We’ve got ponies to guard. Now let’s get organised!”

“I can’t even begin to imagine the trouble you four are going to be in when Celestia and Luna return.” Nectaris said. “But I want to be there to watch.” She smiled, looking down at Brimstone, her muzzle bloody, her fangs and teeth pink. “I’m proud of you.”

Brimstone nodded, saying nothing.

Wagons were brought forward and more lunar and solar pegasi dropped from the sky. A chariot full of guard unicorns landed, towed by lunar pegasi.

“We’ve seen a line of refugees heading toward Sweet Apple Acres.” A unicorn reported. “We’ve sent troops over there to make sure the area remains secure. Discord had secured the area and is its primary defense. More troops are inbound, and we are securing the road as well.”

“Casualties?” Mare Nectaris asked.

“Many.” The unicorn replied. “We lost over twenty solar guard and four lunar guard reclaiming the hospital. It was a costly victory, but we’re going to need the supplies.”

“The hospital is in the hot zone.” Nectaris said. “Start moving those supplies to the apple farm. Quickly. Secure a few chariots. Airlift. Turn whatever is left of the apple farm into a field hospital. And I want that farm SECURE!” Nectaris bellowed.

The unicorn nodded.

“Minerva, if you have any magic left, I want you to open a door between here and Canterlot, if you can. I’m going to send a message to the castle. We’re going to need doctors, nurses, medicine, and getting them here might be tricky, the skies are actively hostile. Think you can open up a portal for easy transfer?” Mare Nectaris looked hopeful.

“I might need a while to rest, but I think I can do that. I can still feel the balcony door in our room. But we’ll need a secure door at this end.” Minerva nodded, thoughtful, her voice confident.

Mare Nectaris heaved a sigh of relief. She turned to Hoodwink.

“You!” She barked at Hoodwink. “You are in charge of making sure the injured get back to the apple farm. Do not disappoint me.”

Hoodwink nodded.

“Brimstone?” Mare Nectaris said.

Brimstone looked at her attentively.

“Look after Ivy.” Mare Nectaris said.

Brimstone nodded.

There was a roar and a crash as the upper roof of the bakery collapsed.

Chapter 2

A purple dragon snapped Hoodwink from her memories. She paused, clearing her mind, trying to reclaim her thoughts, as the dragon began to squeeze her foreleg. Spike was much the same as he was, small, young, having only grown slightly over the years, a little taller, a little longer, a little broader.

“I’ve missed you.” Spike cried.

“Come to Canterlot.” Hoodwink said. “Pay a visit.”

“I have to watch the library.” Spike said, blinking.

Hoodwink smiled gently, pulling the dragon in for a hug, pressing him against her. He was warm and smelled faintly of smoke. “You are a good dragon, watching over Twilight’s library.”

Spike began to sniffle, and then gave a grunt. “Minerva does a great job as librarian. I think Twilight would be happy.”

“I am sure she would be.” Hoodwink said, her voice gentle, soothing, sounding very much like her mentor.

“I gotta go. Ponies need books.” Spike said, lingering for a long moment.

Hoodwink watched him go. Spike was so serious now, dedicated, devoted even to preserving the library. It was all he had. He had channeled his grief into something useful, like so many others had done. Hoodwink turned and began to walk down the lane that would lead her to the Everfree, Hoodwink enjoying the chance at a leisurely stroll.

She saw the rebuilt Sugarcube Corner in the distance and shivered slightly, that night still in her mind, the smoke and the burning. The doubt. The fear. She had done her part. She pushed those thoughts from her mind, picking up her pace, moving swiftly through town. Several smaller stone guardians passed by her, always prowling,

It wasn’t long until she reached the Everfree, the wooden trees shaped into an inviting arch over the pathway. Something lumbered in the underbrush, and Hoodwink suspected that she was about to be visited by Ivy’s hounds.

Elsewhere, Minerva sat in a comfortable chair, sipping tea, taking comfort in spending time with her dear friends, reveling in the pleasant news. “Motherhood suits you Ivy.” Minerva said, blowing on her tea.

Ivy lounged upon the bed, resting her long body. Brimstone sat in a chair nearby. Ivy was holding a teacup in her claws, taking the occasional sip, not bothered in the slightest by the hot liquid. Ivy nodded, hearing Minerva’s words.

“Does your family know?” Minerva asked.

Ivy shook her head no. “Not yet.” She said, smiling. “I wanted to let you know first. And then I was going to invite family over and tell them. A few at a time. In small numbers. So it isn’t overwhelming.”

“So when are you going to settle down Minerva?” Ivy asked, getting right to the point.

Minerva choked, nearly spilling her tea. “Oh I don’t have the time. Research. The library. Teaching class in Canterlot and Ponyville.”

“And I manage this entire wood.” Ivy said. “I found the time.”

Minerva gave a sour scowl.

“The count must go up Minerva. One crystal unicorn isn’t enough. It is like a really bad itch that I can’t scratch.” Ivy said, pleading with her friend.

“I’m not ready yet.” Minerva said, her voice low. “But eventually, I do plan to make time for my self.”

“Fair enough.” Ivy said.

“Minerva?” Brimstone asked, his voice low and concerned.

“Yes?” Minerva replied, brows furrowing.

“How is the Crystal Empire? You’ve returned a few times. Ivy and I haven’t. We rarely leave this wood anymore. I’ve been wondering.” Brimstone’s tone was almost apologetic.

“It is slowly being rebuilt. The crystal structures are being regrown. Crystal ponies work hard. Rebuilding is slow. Amazing that any of it was left at all…” Minerva trailed off. “Poor Cadance.” Minerva said weakly. She let out a cry as she was snatched from her chair suddenly, whipped through the air, and deposited on to the bed with Ivy, who hugged her.

“We’ve all lost something.” Ivy said comfortingly, squeezing.

“I haven’t lost my stink, so the important things stay the same.” Brimstone said helpfully.

Elsewhere, within the wood, Hoodwink walked down the shaded path that lead to Ivy’s home. Like Minerva, she saw the comfortable hollows shaped into the trees, and the earth ponies working in the wood.

Unlike Minerva, she kept looking up, waiting for something to snatch her, remembering the long ago lesson from Luna, in the library with the book owl. There was no sign of Ivy or her troublesome tail.

It wasn’t long until she stood near a clearing, looking up, her breath caught in her throat as always. While Canterlot was beautiful, Ivy’s arboreal home was breathtaking. There was a loud howl from somewhere, a creaking sound like wind through branches, and Hoodwink saw familiar figures appear high above her. She saw Ivy leap, soaring through the air, gliding on mismatched wings, landing on a tree just behind her. Hoodwink braced herself for the inevitable tackle…

And sure enough, within moments, she was being constricted by an Ivy hug. She felt a kiss on her cheek, and, just when she thought she would die from needing air, Ivy relaxed her hold and let go, gently setting her upon the ground.

“I have something to show you!” Ivy said, excitedly.

Chapter 3

“How?” Hoodwink said in awe, looking at the eggs.

“Well…” began Brimstone, “when a pony loves a strange pony lizard creature, the strange pony lizard creature snatches the pony and hauls him up into a tree where she coils around his middle in a special way…”

“No!” Cried Hoodwink. “Just no!” She interrupted. “No no no!”

“Lizard?” Ivy said, hissing, flicking out her forked tongue at Brimstone.

“...and then she squeezes him until…”

“No!” Hoodwink cried, shaking her head.

“Really, this should be catalogued.” Minerva said.

“...something biological happens which fertilises the eggs and makes both the pony and the strange pony lizard creature feel really good!”

“Sure does.” Ivy said, smiling, looking at her eggs.

“But fire!” Hoodwink said.

“Oh yeah, the butt fire is dangerous.” Brimstone agreed. “We had to apply industrial grade grease to Ivy’s scales to prevent…”

“BRIMSTONE!” Hoodwink begged.

“...any accidental sparks…”

Hoodwink shook her head, her eyes closed, waving her forehooves around wildly. Her cheeks were as red as apples.

“...because all of that motion and squeezing and jiggling caused a lot of farting from Ivy’s backside.”

“Fascinating.” Minerva said.

“And Ivy was a LOT of fun covered in industrial grease. Slippery. Wiggly. Slithery. She was on me like a second skin.” Brimstone said, nodding.

Hoodwink shook her head. “I’m telling Celestia.” She said, falling back on the only threat her friends understood.

“Oh, Celestia knows what we’ve been up to I’m sure. She doesn’t know about the eggs yet though.” Ivy said. “She gave us helpful advice. And so did Luna.”

“Oh that was embarrassing, discussing that at dinner. How to safely mount a dragon.” Brimstone recalled. “My mother knows too much about this subject. The books she reads. But those are all dragons that shoot fire from the other end. I risked incineration for my lust.” He stroked his chin. “The really important part was the foreplay so the armored section would relax and open up, so I wouldn’t be torn to shreds against flesh rending scales that interlock and form a fire-proof protective barrier seal. Ivy has to be willing, oh so very willing, cause there ain’t no getting in there otherwise.”

Ivy began to fan herself with her talons. “I’m feeling a little willing right now…”

Hoodwink winced and looked like she was going to faint.

“Celestia almost died of mortification when Luna discussed draconic orgasm at length with the Griffon ambassador, who was also quite knowledgeable.” Ivy said, nodding.

“This was a formal dinner?” Hoodwink said?

“Yes” Ivy said. “The griffons desire to send a diplomat here, to my wood. And possibly a colony.”

Hoodwink broke down completely and sank back in her chair. She sat silent for several minutes, eyes open and closing, and then sat up. “Wait.” She said. “Why are there no griffons here?”

“There are some problems with the rules.” Ivy said, shaking her head and looking irritated.

“And the rules cannot be broken.” Brimstone added. “We do what we do here for a reason. Our rules are absolute. Celestia gave us autonomy. Our word is law.”

Hoodwink sat there, confused.

“The price for living here is simple.” Ivy said. “Do something to help care for the many foals living here. The griffons felt that their diplomat was not a foal sitter.” Ivy paused, remembering Cadance’s lesson so long ago.

“Ivy, please forgive me, but I still don’t understand your logic at times.” Hoodwink said, concerned.

“Her logic is simple.” Brimstone said. “After the war ended, Ivy nearly died, burning herself out trying to grow enough food to prevent the famine.”

“Which I failed to stop.” Ivy said sadly, trembling.

“Not your fault Ivy.” Brimstone said. “Ivy’s talent works best with earth pony helpers. Like here, cleansing this wood of its dark taint.” Brimstone continued. “Ivy considers the earth ponies the Everfree’s most valuable resource. You live here, you look after the resources.”

“That makes sense.” Minerva said, making a gesture with her hoof.

“I couldn’t stop it.” Ivy said. “I felt my self buckling under the pressure.”

“Stop Ivy.” Brimstone said gently, worry on his face.

“I couldn’t stop it from happening and so many died.” Ivy said, beginning to tremble.

“Ivy, stop.” Brimstone pleaded.

“I felt my mind slipping, just like that night in Ponyville, when it started to sink in just what I had done. All of the horrible things I had done. With my claws. With my fire.”

“Ivy!” Hoodwink said.

“I don’t like death.” Ivy said in a small wavering voice, her eyes brimming with tears.

“We know.” Minerva said, gently. “But those deaths cannot be blamed on you. Things happen. A lot of ponies died. You’ve kept your word that you would never kill sentient life again Climbing Ivy.”

Ivy nodded, sadly. “I still feel responsible. I just couldn’t grow enough food.” Her chest began to hitch.

Brimstone tackled Ivy fiercely, snapping her out of her funk. He squeezed. “We’re going to have lots of eggs.” He said. “We’ll make more life. We’ll fill this wood.” He kissed away a tear on her cheek.

“More ponies would have died if you had done nothing. We fought the war Ivy, you rebuilt the empire. We all had our parts.” Minerva soothed.

“I still think about that night.” Hoodwink said.

“I think we all do.” Brimstone said, clinging to Ivy.

“I remember carrying Ivy through the town, not knowing what was wrong.” Minerva said. “And the long march back to Sweet Apple Acres. I remember all of the crying and the pleading to make the pain stop, coming from so many ponies.”

“I remember the ponies in the orchard eating apples.” Hoodwink said. Those first few days, we didn’t even know what was really happening yet. I remember waiting for Celestia and Luna to lecture me for making all of you go to Ponyville.”

“That lecture never came.” Brimstone said.

“No it didn’t.” Hoodwink said, shaking her head sadly.

The four companions sat together at the end of a table. Savage was with them. So was Nightfisher and Sunflower. Moonshine sat close by the foals.

“I don’t know how to tell you this.” Moonshine said, her face contorting in discomfort, her ears twitching.

“Don’t coddle them.” Savage growled. Moonshine shot her a dirty look and returned her attention to the companions who sat in a miserable clump together.

“We’ve lost contact…” Moonshine’s voice died off. She cleared her throat and tried again. “We’ve lost contact with Celestia and Luna. And nothing, nothing at all has returned from the Crystal Empire. We can only assume that Celestia and Luna have been subdued somehow.”

Ivy, still a fragile state, began to cry. Hoodwink and Minerva tried to comfort her. Brimstone sat in silent shock. “Gone?” He asked. He shook his head no, stammering.

“Yes.” Nightfisher said. Nightfisher was withered, still missing patches of her pelt, and covered in scars. “We cannot reach them now.” The burned mare somehow seemed even more majestic and noble with her coat a fine latticework of scars.

“And there are bigger problems.” Savage said. “Like leadership.”

Moonshine nodded.

“Sunflower and Nightfisher have been made stewards, according to the princesses’ desires, should an event like this ever happen. And then there is you Brimstone. The magistrates do not recognise your authority.” Savage growled slightly. “But we do. The lunar pegasi will do as you ask, provided you are reasonable. If you are unreasonable, you will be scolded until such a time that you learn your place and how important your reason is to us during these times.”

“Sunflower and I will take what you say into consideration.” Nightfisher said. “Even if we cannot do so in a public manner.”

“Ivy, we need for you to be in contact with the dragons.” Savage said. “We need allies.”

Ivy nodded, tears still flowing. Her tail coiled around Brimstone.

“We can only assume that the changelings have been feeding from the crystal heart and have grown exceedingly powerful.” Sunflower said. “

“More of my kin are coming.” Savage said. “I hope nothing attacks Canterlot before their arrival. We’re in a bad spot.”

“We’re crippled. We have no ports of importance left. Our means to make manipulation shoes are gone, hobbling our war efforts. Most of our army just vanished, all of our princesses are gone, and there is chaos everywhere.” Nightfisher said. “We stand on the brink. One well timed push, and we will go over. We are in a precarious position.”

“We must come together.” Hoodwink said. “Like the founders of Equestria did. That night. In that cave. The Collective drove us apart, or tried to. We were weak. And we’ve fallen down. But we can still get back up. Together.”

Savage nodded. “Our kind survives because of extreme cooperation.” She paused for a moment, her eyes narrowing. “We also take our young to war. Maybe not always into battle, but the young have to learn sometime and somewhere. Going into Ponyville was brave. You did right by our standards. Other ponies can get stuffed. I hope they can see where soft living has brought them.”

“The magistrates will never agree.” Sunflower groaned. “They like their soft living, their soft thinking, and want to preserve their soft way of life. They will never understand the logic or necessity of allowing foals to go into danger. I’m not sure that I do my self, but I understand that these are desperate times, and we must resort to desperate measures.”

“We have a lot of unicorns right here in the school that could be useful in this war effort.” Savage said. “These are extreme times. If need be, I’ll take steps to remove the magistrates, if they hinder our cooperation.”

The room fell silent. Had it come to this? Sunflower thought. Apparently, it had. He looked at Savage, and then at Nightfisher. Nightfisher was a lot like her mother. He knew which side she would take. “I’m in.” Sunflower said. He looked at the burned mare, whom he still loved. He saw no scars, only beauty.

“We’re committing treason!” Moonshine said cheerfully. Our own stewards are plotting to remove the law of the land, making themselves dictators.” She smiled broadly. “Care to join us?” She asked, looking at the foals. “One of you is the only lawful leadership I’ll acknowledge.” She nodded. “You filthy fart stain.”

Savage shook her head in disgust. “You should not mock Luna’s foal.”

“If Moonshine didn’t call me a fart stain, I’d know for certain that the world had ended. Or she was a changeling.” Brimstone said.

“We will only do what actually needs to be done.” Savage said. If the magistrates hinder our war effort, I will have them black bagged.”

“What is black bagged?” Minerva asked, her voice faint.

“Well, a pony wakes up in the middle of the night to discover a black bag is over their head, and then they just disappear.” Savage said. “Phantom was a master of it.” Savage shook her head sadly. “I loved him like he was one of my own. He suckled at my teats with Nightfisher.”

Nightfisher squirmed with sudden embarrassment. “Mother, please.”

“Don’t ‘mother please’ me you little teat biter.” Savage said. “So we are all in accord.” She stated.

There were nods around the table, including the foals.

“Come foals. We have something in the skunkworks for you. Down below. Something we’ve been working on. Luna’s idea.” Savage said, smiling.

A short time later, down below, in the depths of Canterlot, the four companions stood around the table, looking at something they didn’t understand. Masks. Odd bug like masks. With glass coverings over the eyes and a long strange snoot that ended in a big bulb.

“What is it?” Minerva asked.

“Luna called them gas masks.” Savage said. Moonshine nodded. “You wear them over your face, and then you can’t smell Brimstone anymore, which is pleasant. And they protect you from the strangling gas. Which is even nicer.” Savage grasped a mask in between her grasping digit and her central knuckle, and then slowly placed it over Minerva’s head. She then did the same for Hoodwink.

“Brimstone!” Savage said, “Gas.”

Brimstone looked panicked. This was a small room. Hoodwink and Minerva were the only ones susceptible to the gas… But he didn’t want to risk it.

“Brimstone, do as I say, trust me. And trust in your mother. She was clever, and saw a need for it.”

Brimstone took a deep breath and then filled the room with gas.

Hoodwink and Minerva stood in the middle of the lethal green funk, looking like bugs, wearing the strange masks.

Nothing happened.

Brimstone took a deep breath, as did Ivy.

“We’re working on manufacturing them in real numbers.” Savage said. “When next we go to war, we do so under the cover of a cloud of green gas.”

“Can’t talk with the mask on.” Brimstone said. “Everypony is going to need to learn ear language if these masks are going to be used.

Author's Note:

Well, there you go. Chapter two. I really hope I cleaned away a majority of the errors. Please forgive me if I missed a few.

Tell me what ya think. A lot of work has gone into this.

Thanks for reading.