• Published 23rd Apr 2014
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MLDC Next Generation: Know Fear! - Michael_Ravencroft



"Starburst of Equestria, you have the ability to instill great fear!"

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The Unobtainable Dream Obtained

3 Weeks Earlier…1st Week

Starburst laid on a large couch, squirming and fidgeting in her sleep. She awoke with a start, glancing about her surroundings. It was a rustic home, a familiar one at that. Across from her was a furnace, to her right an old, dusty, rocking chair. And an amour to her left, which has seen some use. The light orange mare groaned as she rose up, aches and pains made themselves known all over her body.

Just then she heard hoofsteps coming round the corner of the kitchen. A stallion emerged, carrying a pitcher of ice water and some prefilled glasses. He was quite large, wearing a red bandanna around his neck, with an orange coat, clear blue eyes, freckles, and a two toned mane of brown and sandy-brown. Upon his flank was the image of three golden apples, Starburst knew who this stallion was, and immediately put two and two together.

“I did it again, didn’t I Del,” asked Starburst.

“Yep, overworked yerself, again, and Ah carried you back to the house, again,” said Golden Delicious, smirking.

“Okay, okay, I get it. I need to stop overdoing it,” she shot back.

“Ah’m just sayin’, one of these days yer goin’ to hurt yerself. But Ah know how darn stubborn ya are,” Golden Delicious then maneuvered the tray he was carrying on his back onto the table in front of him, “so c’mon over here and get yerself hydrated, you were sweatin’ up a storm out there. Celestia knows Ah was.”

Starburst groaned loudly and hopped off the couch. She sat at the table and took the glass of water into the crooks of her hooves and brought the glass to her lips. Star drank the cool liquid, finding the icy water refreshing after working hard in the fields with her best friend.

“Whoa, that tastes good,” exclaimed Starburst.

“Had the glasses chilled in the fridge, decided to start doing that after seeing you collapse every time.”

It was no secret that Star liked working the fields of Sweet Apple Acres. She found it good training for when she eventually entered the Royal Guard. Even though Star was a Princess, it still didn’t exempt her from legal age to enroll, which was eighteen, and unfortunately, Star was only fifteen going on sixteen.

“Just three more years, three more years and I can finally enter the Academy,” said Star.

“Ah know you’ll make it, you’ll probably blow through the training and probably give Valiant Heart some competition for Guard Captain,” said Golden.

Star chuckled, “I should only hope! Maybe then he’ll finally get how serious I am about wanting to join.”

Golden Delicious sighed at her. “He’s just lookin’ out for his cousin’ is all. Ah’m sure he’d be proud of you when ya graduate and me as well.”

“Well…with you, that’d make at least three other ponies that I know of that will.”

Golden knew what she meant. Starburst’s mother, Twilight, never really liked the thought of her daughter going into the Royal Guard. Although she promised to support Star in all her endeavors, the young mare knew that her mother secretly wished that she wouldn’t when she turned eighteen.

Guess I’m not the kind of daughter she was hoping for, Nighty’s more like Mom than me,” said Star, a hint of jealousy and sadness in her voice.

The stallion trotted over to the young mare, he then placed his hooves on her shoulders, making her stare at him directly. “Ya know that ain’t true! She loves ya Star! So don’t think that way, alright?”

Family was important to Golden Delicious, this was something that she knew of when she first met him. Seeing his cousins, Red June and Api, and their parents all happy together, even though she’d never admit it, seeing that was actually quite heartwarming. She could just see this stallion, married to some great mare, raising a family with big happy a grin on his face, and being a proud father. Now she that thought about it, her face was getting unnaturally warmer the longer his hooves rested on her shoulders.

“I understand Del…you can let go of me now.”

Golden Delicious didn’t seem to realize that he was still hanging on to her. The large stallion quickly released the young mare. Both had flushed faces, both keeping their eyes on particularly interesting spots on the floor.

“Ahem, well, I guess I should get back. Told Nighty that I’d watch him do magic later this afternoon,” said Star as she shot to her hooves and made for the front door.

“Um, maybe ya might want to use the shower before ya go.”

The pegasus mare quickly did an about face and stared at the stallion incredulously. Golden seemed to catch on to the way he had worded that statement and quickly brought up his hooves, shaking them in front of him in a dismissive fashion.

“Ah didn’t mean anythin’ by it, Ah swear! Yer coat just looks a little dusty and we were workin’ hard in the field and –!”

“Del.”

“Yes?”

“Shut up.”

“Gotcha.”

Star sighed heavily, the situation already felt awkward, and now he felt even more so. She then gave a few flaps of her impressively long and full wings before saying anything else.

“I’ll be back in a couple of days, I’ll send a letter if I can’t make it.”

“Sounds good,” responded Golden, deciding to keep his answers short. “See ya, Star.”

Star smiled genuinely at Golden, “Later, Del.”

With that said Starburst stepped out of the house, spread her wings and took flight in the direction of Canterlot. Golden Delicious stepped outside to see his friend off, staying there till Star was too far away to see anymore.

“Just tell her ya like her already.”

Golden whipped his head to the left and saw a filly stepping out from behind the farmhouse. She had a white coat with brown spots, a red mane with a pink bow tied to her tail, and dark-brown eyes that almost seemed black. Golden Delicious knew this filly, his cousin,
Api.

“What are ya talkin’ about, Api?”

“Ya know what Ah’m ‘talkin about’. You and Starburst… in a tree… K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

Golden blushed furiously at the implication, his mouth opened and closed many times as he tried to respond, but unfortunately his words all came out as utter gibberish.

“Made ya blush,” teased Api.

“API!”


Canterlot Castle

Starburst arrived at Canterlot, a little out of breath. She was almost regretting not taking the train, almost. By the time she had arrived at the castle she was even sweatier than before, though, thankfully, the cool air of the sky dried her off.

“Ugh, I definitely need a shower now…”

Star trailed off as she noticed something odd. There was an increased amount of Royal Guards on watch, each one looking tense, as if ready to spring into battle at the drop of a hat. The pegasus Royal Guards stood vigilant at the towers and rooftops, scanning the area below like hawks, spears at the ready. The unicorn Royal Guards kept watch over the ground, leering at any passersby that seemed suspicious in the slightest. Long swords were held in their telekinetic auras at attention. Earth pony RGs were decked out in heavy armor, although heavy for some, to this branch of the Guard, they were lighter than air. The armor was especially enchanted to stave off any magic based attacks, and was extremely durable, able to withstand mortar fire and extreme temperatures.

Starburst walked up to the doors of the Royal Palace, the two unicorn guards quickly crossed their long swords, barring Star’s entry.
The young mare stepped back in surprise by the action, looking indignant.

“What’s going on,” asked Star.

“Please give us your full name,” asked the left guard.

“My name? You guys know who I am,” she responded.

“Due to heightened security measures, all wishing to seek entrance must give us their full name, rank – if applicable – and reason for entry,” said the right guard.

“So, please, your name?”

Starburst didn’t understand what the reason was for heightened security. That usually didn’t occur unless there some high ranking dignitaries visiting or if there was an attack. Star was starting to get worried.

“My name is Princess Starburst of Equestria, daughter of High Princess Twilight Sparkle and High Prince Flash Sentry, third in line for the throne, and I wish to enter my home,” spoke Star with authority and a stern gaze.

The two guards shuffled nervously under her gaze. Starburst saw that her special talent was taking effect, her ability to intimidate. Sometimes her talent came out when she wanted it to, other times it happened when she least expected it. But right now it was helping her case.

“T-Thank you, Princess Starburst, sorry for the trouble, you may enter.”

The two guards used their magic to open the large doors, Starburst nodded to them and entered quickly. The young princess searched around the castle, trying to figure out what was going on. She asked the staff and all that anyone was willing to say was that there was something going on in the throne room. Star made her way to the throne room but stopped when she noticed that there were other ponies standing outside the doors.

The first was an alicorn stallion, wearing Royal Guard armor that had tints of royal blue. He had a two toned mane of navy blue and gold, his coat was silvery-gray, with blue eyes, and blue feathers. His cutie mark was of two crossed swords and a blue heart at the center. This was the Captain of the Royal Guard, her role model, and her cousin, the noble Valiant Heart.

The second was, well, an alicorn threstral mare. She had a dark gray coat, dark bat wings, a light blue mane, and yellow eyes. Her cutie mark was that of three Z’s, and she had an air of superiority about her, her name was Nidra.

The third was, even harder to describe. It was a stallion, with a white coat, a black mane, two horns, one green and straight, and the other blue and wavy. His right foreleg and right hind leg had claws, while his left foreleg and right hind leg were hooves. His tail was not like a pony’s; it was long, and serpentine, he also had a plumage of dark-brown feathers that covered most of his chest. His cutie mark was that of sun rays, a crescent moon, and a star. His eyes also resembled that of a certain draconequus. This wonderful jumble was named Illusion.

Lastly was a unicorn colt, he had blue eyes, a lavender coat, blank flanked, and a dark-purple mane with a lighter streak of purple going through it. He was pacing back and forth, looking worried, that is until he saw Starburst, her smart, but worrisome little brother, Night Light Jr. or Nighty.

Except for Valiant Heart, the others were wearing their royal regalia. Starburst slowly made her way towards her fellow royal heirs.

“There you are Star, Nighty was starting to get worried and…” Nidra then looked her over and gave a disapproving sigh. “You really should’ve gone and cleaned up first, you look like you just ran a marathon and rolled in the dirt.”

“Hello to you too, Nidra,” replied Star.

“Star, Star!” Night Light came bounding to his big sister, looking even more worried than she thought. “The griffons are here! And they don’t look happy!”

“Griffons, here – in there!?” Star asked as she pointed a hoof to the throne room.

“Yeah, they arrived a few hours ago while you were away. It was an unscheduled arrival. Which is the reason for the increase in security,” said Valiant Heart, keeping a watchful eye on the doors.

Starburst, along with her little brother, walked towards Valiant, Illusion, and Nidra. Starburst stood beside the alicorn stallion, mimicking his stern and vigilant expression. Star knew that Equestria and the Griffon Empire weren’t on the friendliest of terms with each other. They shared a tentative peace, but there was still hostility.

“Still, not usually this many guards around, especially for some over privileged, bag of hot air, envoy.”

“There wouldn’t be, except that the Emperor himself and his Wing Commanders arrived together,” said Illusion.

“WHAT!?”

At that moment the doors to the throne room opened up. The five royals moved to the sides and watched their visitors file through. The first was a silver furred and feathered griffon with a scar over his left eye, and strangely enough, metallic wings. The second was a large griffon, with navy blue feathers and fur. he appeared more bestial than his companions. He gave a growling sneer to the young royals, making Night Light jump.

The third to exit was a griffoness, with red feathers, and piercing purple eyes. The fourth to follow was a black griffon, with gray talons and beak, and piercing icy blue eyes. He seemed a bit younger than the others, possibly in his teens, and there was something about his wings that appeared…off. The black winged griffon then looked towards the young royals. His eyes drifted towards Star, a fact that she didn’t like, she disliked it even more when he winked his eye at her.

Star had to tense her body to stop herself from shuddering.

Soon the Emperor strolled out. Garbed in his royal cape, gold crown, and golden claw bracers and chest plate, he looked as if he were ready for war. He had golden brown fur and feathers, and white feathers that covered his neck and head. There was a noticeable scowl on his face as the other royals exited the throne room. Twilight and Flash, Celestia and Discord, and Luna with her, former, threstral Night Guard Captain, Supernova, all of whom looked less than pleased.

“Once again, Emperor Stratus, we will not be intimidated by your show of force. The treaty that was forged with your ancestors more than a thousand years ago still stands, I see no need to change it,” spoke Celestia.

“Humph! You think I am a fool? That so called ‘treaty’ took most of our borders during the first war! What you call ‘Stalliongrad’ used to be land that was once owned by my great-great-great-great grandfather, Emperor Thalsdian! We demand that you give us back what was taken, as well as compensation for the slander you write in your history!”

“Slander, and what ‘slander’ are you speaking of,” asked Twilight.

“In your books, you write of General Forbes as a marauding barbarian, he was one of our great and noble heroes,” said Stratus.

“He laid waste to many Equestrian villages, killing thousands of innocents, and, as he was more dubiously known for, taking mares and foals prisoner, and torturing them physically and mentally till they begged for death. He was anything but noble, he earned the name Forbes the Sadist,” spat Luna.

“I wouldn’t expect you to see the honor and nobility of a battlefield, High Princess Luna. Besides, you were hardly sophisticated when you were possessed by your demonic persona, were you not?” Stratus mocked.

Nidra gritted her teeth as she saw the hurt in her mother’s eyes and prepared to tell off the old bird or at the very least throw him out of the closest window. But both Star and Valiant raised their large wings in front of her, keeping Nidra at bay. Although they weren’t on the best of speaking terms, Nidra knew that her mother’s time as Nightmare Moon was a time in her life that was filled with pain and heartache, and till this day she still hadn’t gotten over it. To openly say such things in front her own daughter was nothing but disrespectful.

Star saw the black winged griffon’s eyes shift in their direction, smirking as if he knew what Nidra was about to do, or maybe daring her let the alicorn threstral go.

“I think it’s about time you left, Emperor Stratus,” said Supernova.

“I quite agree, you’ve overstayed your welcome the moment you landed here,” added Discord.

Stratus eyed the draconequus and threstral, and then turned his gaze upon the children, noting the hybrids, Illusion and Nidra, among them. He then made a disgusted face.

“To think the Princesses of the Sun and Moon would have spawned with these two lowly creatures, deluding whatever equivocates to a ‘noble’ bloodline, it’s a weakness of yours that will eventually be your downfall. Or do you ponies just enjoy spawning halfblooded, deformed creatures?”

“Please leave, now, or we will have you escorted out,” barked Flash Sentry.

The other Wing Commanders leered at the High Prince, but Flash did not flinch.

“Rest assured, we will have satisfaction, mark my words. Come my Commanders, we are leaving this place!”

The four Wing Commanders and the Emperor made their way down the hall, a few Royal Guards followed close behind to make sure that they were leaving. The children didn’t know exactly what to say. The tension radiating from their parents was overwhelming, anger and frustration was apparent in each of their eyes. After a tense few seconds, their demeanor became more relaxed. Celestia turned towards their children and gave an apologetic look.

“I’m sorry you all had to see and hear that, children,” said Celestia.

“No, it’s alright Mother,” said Illusion. “But, really, what just happened?”

“Yeah, those griffons just appear out of nowhere and start demanding to see you! Honestly we should’ve just thrown them out of Canterlot,” said Nidra indignantly.

“We couldn’t just turn them away, as much as we wanted to,” said Luna, leaning against Supernova for comfort.

“Let’s all take some time to unwind, please, all of you, we’ll talk more about it later,” said Twilight.

As much as all five of them wanted to press their parents for answers concerning the events that just went on in the throne room, the children could tell that their parents were less than ready to divulge. With a collective nod, all dispersed.


Starburst had caught up with her father about what had occurred in the throne room that afternoon. Her mother had taken Nighty to go and play, explaining what happened the best way she could to him. Starburst watched as her father removed his crown and armor, and place them on the mantle he shared with Twilight, setting his regalia next to hers.

“I’m sure you want to know what that was all about, right,” asked Flash.

“Well duh, Dad, of course I do! Why was the Emperor of the Griffons even here!? I don’t even remember there being any meetings! Can he just show up like that, unannounced,” asked Star.

“Unfortunately yes and no. It’s considered rude to drop in on royalty without proper notification, but it’s not just for courtesy, it gives the host nation time to prepare proper security measures. The fact that the Emperor showed up, in his full regalia, with his Wing Commanders at his side, was just a show of force meant to intimidate.”

Starburst didn’t really like the way her father had said that. And from what she observed of the Emperor and his cohorts, they’re intentions were anything but diplomatic.

“So what did they want anyway?”

“In a nutshell, they want back the territory we gained during the first Pony/Griffon War, and that they want to secede from the Order of
Nations,” stated Flash, grimly.

“The Order of Nations, the very same that’s made up of Equestria, Draco, Griffonia, and Minotaurous. They want to secede, and then what?” Star asked incredulously.

“Not too sure…” Flash Sentry trailed off as he looked down from the window, watching Twilight and Nighty using their magic to play together.

Star walked up next to him and looked down at the same scene. A slight frown formed on her lips, one that did not go unnoticed by her father.

“You know, you don’t have to be like that around your Mom.”

“Like what,” asked Star, not taking her eyes off the two.

“Be distant. She loves you,” said Flash.

“I know…believe me I know.”

“C’mon, let’s go and hang around with your Mom and Nighty.” The two pegasi turned to leave the room, but Flash stopped when he remembered something. “Oh yeah, your Mom was hoping you could stay for a bit. This whole Griffon business has kinda spooked her a little, all of us actually.”

Starburst smiled to her father, “Sure.”


2nd Week

It was the middle of the afternoon, and, after informing Golden Delicious of the situation at Canterlot, Star decided that if she wasn’t going to get some training done at Sweet Apple Acres, she was going to do some while she was in Canterlot.

Of course, that meant convincing her cousin, Valiant Heart, to run some combat drills with her. She could tell that he was busy after what happened the other day, but with the current situation, Valiant seemed to take up Star’s offer, giving himself a break from the other work.

The two cousins met in the training arena within the castle. The arena itself was full of sand, meant to soft the landings from being thrown or otherwise. For the first hour and thirty minutes Valiant was instructing Star in the ways of close combat, in particular, throws, sweeps, and feints, making sure he was helping the young mare make the most of her agility and speed.

After that was over, they moved into full on sparring matches. Both cousins took to one side of the arena, circling each other. Starburst had an intense look in her eyes as she stared down the alicorn stallion. Valiant Heart had on his usual cocky, playful smirk as he stared at Star through narrowed eyes.

Starburst unfurled her wings and gave a mighty flap, propelling her towards Valiant. The alicorn met her charge head on, flapping his wings to give him a burst of speed. The two nearly crashed into each other, but Valiant changed directions at the last second, maneuvered his forelegs around her barrel, and threw Star, back first, in the other direction.

The added momentum of his charge and hers allowed Valiant to throw the pegasus mare a good distance of about ten feet. Luckily the arena was one-hundred feet in diameter, so there was still some wiggle room. Star felt the weightlessness of the toss end when she landed onto a mound of sand, skidding like a pebble on water before coming to a stop.
Starburst groaned as she rose up, shaking her body free of the sand.

“Lucky shot, Lance,” said Starburst.

“Luck had nothing to do with it, cuz. It’s all experience and skill but if you’re feeling lucky, then by all means, try again,” he dared.

And try she did. Star quickly galloped for Valiant, using her wings to, once again, increase her rate of speed. The alicorn stallion stood his ground, thinking he’d show his cousin his acclaimed “experience and skill”. Star had made up the distance fairly quickly, and was about to go for a grab, but like before, Valiant feinted to the left.

That was a mistake. Star quickly flapped her left wing, propelling her to the right and slamming her body into Valiant’s right side. The alicorn was unprepared for that move and got knocked off balance, sending him tumbling into the sand. Starburst didn’t let up; she rushed Valiant and got on top of him, getting him into a headlock with her forelegs.

“Say uncle,” ordered Star.

“Never,” declared Valiant.

“Are you sure,” she asked, increasing the pressure ever so slightly.

“Yep, I’m sure!”

To prove his point, Valiant Heart quickly rose to his hooves. He then began to gallop, jump, twist, and turn, doing everything in his power, short of magic, to buck Star off of his back.

Starburst held on for dear life, she was losing her grip on the headlock, and was now using all of her strength to keep from falling off.
The stallion continued to kick and buck, trying to throw Star off. Just then, Valiant felt her grip loosen, in one swift movement, he bucked Star off of his back and sent her sprawling onto the sand. The alicorn stallion rushed to her and placed his hooves on both of her wings.

“Pinned ya,” said Valiant.

“Really, do you really think that this is the best position to pin me? Given where I could kick you,” said Star.

She let the question hang in the air for a few seconds before Valiant Heart seemed catch on, gulping audibly.

“You, uh…you wouldn’t really, would you?”

Starburst started to develop a cocky smile, “You willing to take that bet, knowing how hard I kick?

The alicorn stallion jumped back a considerable distance away from his cousin, crossing his hind legs in an instinctual act to protect his nether region. Starburst got back to her hooves, dusting herself off as she smirked in Valiant’s direction.

“Thought that might work,” said Starburst.

“You’d really do that,” asked Valiant Heart.

“Of course not, I trust you, and love you like a big brother, but no, I wouldn’t. Unless you really ticked me off, then all bets are off.”

“Faust help any colt that gets on your bad side – Whoa now!”

During their little conversation Starburst dashed towards Valiant Heart, preparing to take down the stallion. Thinking that that was enough, Valiant’s horn quickly shined with light-blue mana.

At the last minute, Star felt her hind legs get tightly wrapped up. She was then hoisted into the air, dangling from her tied up legs, thrashing about uselessly.

“Valiant Heart! We agreed no magic or flight during the match!”

“Yeah, but I think that’s enough for now. Don’t want to overwork yourself and collapse. Like you always do,” said Valiant.

“Okay, fine, alright, just let me down already Lance,” grumbled Star.

The alicorn released his telekinetic hold, allowing Starburst to unfurl her wings and land softly on the sand covered arena. Valiant Heart used his right hoof to ruffle his cousin’s mane, earning him an annoyed groan.

“You almost had me that time, a little more practice, and you might be able to beat me, and I stress that word might.”

“Ugh, Lance, you can be a royal pain in the flank some days,” muttered Star.

“Oh, lighten up Star; I’m just messing with you.” Those words earned him an indignant huff in response. “Alright, look, how about we hit
Pony Joe’s and get something to eat, my treat.”

Star quirked an eyebrow at Valiant Heart’s offer, interest piqued. “Fine, as long as you’re paying, then yes, let’s go.”


The two cousins began their trot to Pony Joe’s. Although they lived in the palace and could have anything made for them by the cooks, nothing they made could compare to Pony Joe’s Diner. The two royals walked side-by-side down the streets of Canterlot. Every now and again a young mare or stallion would look their way, or wave to them in hopes of being acknowledged by the Prince and Princess. Star watched as her cousin would either wave back or nod in the direction of a mare that caught his eye.

Starburst just rolled her eyes, “You don’t find that a little annoying?”

“No, not really, it’s a good thing when everypony wants to greet you. Plus, it’s not every day they get to see a Prince and Princess walking causally down the street,” said Valiant Heart. “Besides, not all of those waves and ogling eyes are just for me.”

“You can’t be serious,” asked Starburst.

“Hey, just telling you what I sense. Some of the colts looking at you are quite enamored, as well as few fillies if you’re into that, are you by chance?”

“I am not even going to dignify that with an answer.”

Eventually the two arrived at Pony Joe’s. The establishment hadn’t changed much, although Pony Joe was now running the business with his son, Moe. The two stallions immediately recognized their visitors and readied their usual orders.

“Not my usual today guys, I want the special,” said Star with a devious grin.

“You got it,” said Moe.

“On it,” said Joe.

Star and Valiant then went and sat at a booth, a hot cup of coffee was brought out to the Prince, while Star enjoyed a simple vanilla shake.

One of the things they liked about Pony Joe’s was that, even though they were royalty, they were still treated like every day customers. No titles, just two ponies coming in for something to eat.

“So what’s on your mind, Star? You were really eager to learn some combat moves, any particular reason?”

“Guess you could say, I was motivated by the griffons,” said Star.

Valiant Heart shivered, “Really don’t want to remember them. Especially that one red one, she gives me the creeps.”

“Yeah, about that, who were they? Illusion called them ‘Wing Commanders’, what’s that about?”

Valiant took a sip of his coffee before answering the question. “They’re called Wing Commanders because of their titles. The red griffoness is called Blood Wing, the blue one Beast Wing, the silver one is called Steel Wing, obviously because of his metal wings, and the last guy, the black griffon, goes by Shadow Wing. None of our intelligence agents can tell us what they each can do, or what their real names are. But…we can suspect that they’ve earned those titles for more than just appearances.”

Starburst thought back to that day, the black griffon who smirked and winked at her, the one called Shadow Wing. Even now she couldn’t shake off the eerie vibe that radiated from him, it felt, wrong.

Their thoughts were soon interrupted by the arrival of their orders. Valiant had just ordered some powered donuts for himself, but Starburst, she decided to milk the “his treat” line for all it was worth. The “special” she had ordered was Pony Joe’s finest creation, Donutopia! The arrival of the giant, donut mini-city was met with a twitching left eye from Valiant.

“You’re treating, right,” asked Star.

Valiant sighed in defeat, “Yes, I’m treating…”

The two cousins ate their donut treats peacefully, enjoying each other’s company and the gentle jazz music playing in the background
of the store. The two of them spent about thirty minutes in all within the shop. Valiant paid for the whole thing, even though it wouldn’t really put a dent in his bit pouch, he still agonized over the principle of the thing.

“I still don’t get how a pony your size could eat that entire thing so fast, by yourself, and not have a completely distended belly,” exclaimed Valiant.

“I have a fast metabolism,” said Star in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Jeez, whenever Aunt Twilight eats that much she looks like she’s pregnant.”

“Hey,” she warned.

“Just saying.”

As the Prince and Princess exited Pony Joe’s they noticed that there was a large crowd gathering around one of the radio boxes that were mounted on some of poles around Canterlot. Curious, the stallion and young mare trotted over to the crowd to find out what was going on. As they got closer, they noticed that the faces of the ponies were filled with fear and worry for some unknown reason; whispering and indistinct chatting was going on between others.

{Once again…we have breaking news. Stalliongrad is under siege.}

Both Star and Valiant’s eyes went wide upon hearing that and pushed their way further towards the radio box.

{For those of you just tuning in now, we have confirmed reports that Stalliongrad, the border city between Equestria and Griffonia, is under attack. The siege began somewhere around 1:45 pm and 2:09 pm. As many of you may or may not know, Stalliongrad is a large and vast city, making it both a fortress border patrol base, and bustling metropolis.}

{The attack came in the way of fire bombing. From there, griffon soldiers initiated a blitzkrieg attack on the border patrol, and the Royal Guard troops stationed within the city. Our information at this time in limited, but from what reports we can get, most of Stalliongrad is burning at this moment and Griffonian troops are now marching into the city.}

{Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are caught in the middle of this conflict. We will continue to monitor the situation and update when possible. Reporting for Canterlot Radio News, this is Jacquelyn Whinny, signing off.}

The radio then cut back to the music it was playing earlier, but no pony could hear it over the bombshell of news that they had just received. Stalliongrad was under attack, not less than a day after the Emperor of Griffonia arrived. Star’s mind raced with worry, she replayed yesterday’s events in her head dozens upon dozens of times, trying to discern a hint, a clue that she might have overlooked that could’ve alerted them in advance that this was going to happen.

“The griffons are attacking…!”

“That’s not possible! We’ve had peace with them for centuries…!”

“This is some sick joke, right?! Some sort of radio show that they’re promoting, right?!”

“My son is stationed at Stalliongrad!”

The crowd was starting to get agitated and worried. Many shouting in panic or denial at the news of the attack, Star couldn’t blame them, even she was finding it hard to believe. Just then, Valiant placed a hoof on her right shoulder, leaning down to whisper into her ear.

“We need to get back to the palace, ASAP!”

Star nodded her response.

Unfortunately it was not long before the crowd was coherent enough to realize that there were two royals among them.

“Prince Valiant Heart,” a mare screamed, “what’s happening, is it true, is Stalliongrad under attack?!”

“I’m sorry ma’am; I don’t have that informa –”

“Princess Starburst, this is a joke, right, some crazy elaborate prank by the news ponies, right?!”

“I don’t – what I mean to say is –!”

Many ponies started to talk all at once, bombarding Valiant and Star with questions they could not answer. Soon the crowd was turning into an angry mob, screaming and demanding answers from the Prince and Princess. It all started to get to the point where it was becoming suffocating and deafening. Star had had enough.

She flared out her large wings to their full length and bellowed out at the top of her lungs, “ENOUGH!!!!!”

All the ponies in the crowd went silent. The crowd of ponies started to back away from the Prince and Princess, slowly and cautiously. Even though Starburst didn’t have the ability to use the Royal Canterlot Voice, she still had what it took to get a crowd of ponies to listen when she spoke. Her special talent was really coming into play at that moment, for a pegasus of her small stature, she radiated a fierce aura.

“Thanks Star,” said Valiant Heart.

Starburst composed herself, returning her wings to a resting position.

“Now look, everypony, I know you are worried and scared for your friends and family. But unfortunately, Princess Starburst and I have
only received the news ourselves just now like the rest of you. We don’t have the answers, but if you wait patiently, I’m certain the High Princesses and High Princes will address the situation,” said Valiant Heart in a rather political fashion. “Now please disperse, we don’t need a riot or an angry mob starting up, and distracting us all from the dire situation at hoof.”

The crowd murmured agreements, coupled with nods of approval.

“Let’s head back to the palace, now,” suggested Star.

Both Starburst and Valiant Heart unfurled their wings and took off with great haste towards the palace. From the air, they could already see the citizens of Canterlot scrambling about like a hive of angry hornets. As Star and Valiant approached the castle they gasped, a large gathering of ponies had assembled at the entrance to Canterlot Castle, all of whom looked scared and angry at the same time. Their shouting carried on the wind as a cacophonous, deafening roar that thrummed through the airways and beat against their eardrums.

Their shouting was hard to understand, but every now and then the Prince and Princess could make out the occasional, “We want answers!” or “Why is this happening?!” After a while they stopped being able to make out their shouts as they melded together.
Star and Valiant landed on the one of the chariot platforms. Two Royal Guard pegasi saluted them, with Valiant Heart and Starburst doing the same back to them. They then quickly galloped into the castle, trying to figure out what was going on. As they ran through the halls, they saw how almost all of the castle staff was in a panic, rushing about with important documents or a regiment of RG’s moving through the halls to some unknown destination. It didn’t take them long to find somepony to talk to. Coming out of one of the rooms, adorned in her royal regalia, was Twilight Sparkle.

“MOM!”

“AUNT TWILIGHT!”

The lavender alicorn turned towards the voices and watched as her daughter and nephew came galloping towards her, coming to an abrupt stop.

“Starburst, Valiant Heart, thank goodness, we were wondering where you two had gone,” said Twilight.

“Mom, what’s this about Stalliongrad being under attack!?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute. But first, Valiant Heart, you need to get in uniform now and meet me and the others at the veranda as quickly as possible,” she ordered.

“Done, see you in a bit.”

With that, Valiant Heart teleported in a flash of light-blue magic, leaving Star and Twilight behind, Starburst was about to open her mouth to ask another question but was interrupted by the tingling sensation of being wrapped in her mother’s purple aura.

“What – wait – Mom, what are you doing, I can walk on my own?!”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry, but I need to get you into your regalia now!”

Twilight carried her daughter into the room she just left, slamming the door behind her as they entered. The Princess of Magic plopped her daughter in front of a mirror and went to work. Brushes started to float around Starburst, each either combing her mane, brushing her tail, or evening out her coat. The brushes then disappeared with a pop and in their place were Starburst’s regalia. Unlike her mother’s or her father’s golden regalia, Star’s regalia, and that of the other royal children, were made of a sparkling sterling silver.
Once again Star found herself engulfed in her mother’s aura, lifting her up, and placing them on herself. Twilight slipped Star’s hooves into the horseshoes, then placed her tiara atop her head, and finally her necklace.

“Alright, you’re ready, now all we need to do is meet up with the others and then –!”

“MOM!”

Twilight snapped her head in Starburst’s direction, noticing that her daughter looked rather frustrated.
“Star…?”

“Would you please, for a minute, tell me what’s going on. Is it true, did the griffons attack Stalliongrad,” she asked.

Twilight looked between her daughter and the door. Knowing that they were needed at the assembly, but right now, she could see that
Star needed to know. So Twilight took a calming breath and sat on her haunches.

“Yes, it’s true, Star,” said Twilight.

“I-I can’t believe it…why?!”

“That seems to be the question of the day. The truth is, no pony knows, this attack came out of the blue. We were just as surprised as everypony else!”

“Was this the reason that old buzzard arrived in Canterlot, was that his sick way of giving us an ultimatum,” asked Star.

“We knew that the Emperor was…unstable, but we never thought he’d go this far…”

“So, it’s really true, all those ponies in Stalliongrad…they’re being killed as we speak…”

Twilight got up and moved closer to Starburst. She then enveloped her daughter in comforting hug, wrapping her wings around them.

“We’ll get through this, Starburst, I promise you. We’ll help them.”


3rd Week

The announcement was made, a unanimous decision by the High Princes and High Princesses, they would not tolerate a blatant attack on Stalliongrad. And so they would take this as an act of war against Equestria, and that Equestria would respond.
Princess Celestia immediately dispatched airships to go to Stalliongrad to give support and help in driving back the enemy. Many knew that Stalliongrad was a vast city, and that such a sudden attack would not have given the civilians within the city time to escape the siege.

The whole time that Star was sitting there with the rest of her family and friends as her parents made the announcement, she couldn’t hear a word. Her mind was too focused on what was happening. It was then that Starburst heard something that Valiant Heart said during the announcement to the city.

“At this time we are calling upon the Royal Guard Reserves and are now implementing a draft. Able bodied mares and stallions, sixteen and older, will be allowed to sign up and join the Royal Guard.”

As bleak as this tragedy was, this was a ray of hope to Starburst. In a couple of days she would turn sixteen, therefore, able to join the Guard. Now she could go and defend her homeland and the innocent ponies who were being slaughtered by those winged beasts.

However…this idea did not go over well with her mother or father.

“I will not allow you to join the Royal Guard, Starburst,” shouted Twilight.

“And why not?! I’ll be of legal age to join in a couple of days, Mom! I’ve been doing drills with Lance and training even more at Sweet
Apple Acres with Del! I want to help, I want to fight!”

“And get yourself killed?! Because that’s what’s going to happen when you go out there! This isn’t like before, Starburst, if you joined, at least it was mildly safer. Now, now it’s war, Star, WAR!”

Starburst stood before her mother, chest puffed out, wings flared, staring her down.

“I know it’s war, that’s why I want to go! As a Princess, it’s our duty to help our people and protect them from harm! What better way for me to do that than in the RG,” asked Starburst.

“Maybe because, oh I don’t know, you’re a Princess! What if you got captured by the Griffon Empire?! They could use you as a bartering tool; they could torture you, or worse! I know you’ve heard some of things that have happened to some the ponies they were able to rescue!”

It was true. The griffons were implementing tactics near similar to that of General Forbes the Sadist. Vile acts being perpetrated on captured ponies, ignoring all laws set forth by the Order of Nations on the treatment of prisoners, especially noncombatants.

“I know…”

“And you still want to go and fight?”

“……Yes.”

“Star, why can’t you understand!? I don’t want to send my only daughter to die!”

The young mare was starting to get indignant at her mother’s words. “You say that like it’s a certainty that I’m going to die the moment I set hoof in Stalliongrad! And that royalty excuse, in case you’ve forgot, Valiant Heart is a Prince, and he’s already out there, fighting!”

Twilight looked away for a moment, “You know darn well that Valiant Heart is not like you, Star. He’s –”

“An alicorn,” she finished, “so what? That alone doesn’t determine his safety. If anything, he’ll be safe because of his fighting skills, hay,
I’d be safer fighting beside Lance than anywhere else!”

“Okay, let’s all calm down.” Flash stepped between his daughter and wife, trying to diffuse the situation and thanking Faust that Nighty was with Illusion and Claire right now.

“Dad, you should be taking my side in this. My goal, my dream, is to become a Royal Guard and defend Equestria my way,” pleaded Starburst.

“It would never have worked.”

Flash and Star looked at Twilight, wondering if they had heard her correctly.

“Excuse me?!”

“Twi –!”

“No, she needs to hear this! Do you even know how hard it will be for you to get it in? First off, there aren’t that many mares in the Royal Guard, even when Princess Celestia allowed it more than two-hundred years ago, the male to female ratio is still off kilter. Then there’s your status as a Princess –”

“Again, Valiant is a Prince, and he became the Captain of the Guard!”

“But did he tell you what he faced during his time in the Guard?”

Starburst opened her mouth to retort, but, now that she thought about it, she didn’t really know. In fact, the alicorn stallion rarely spoke about his time in training or his other duties before becoming a Guard Captain.

“No…he, he didn’t,” said Starburst.

“Many of his fellow cadets either shunned him because they believed he was a privileged Prince that didn’t deserve to be there, or that
they could ride his coattails all the way to a high ranking position. He had very few friends in the RG Academy and fewer when he became one. He had to spend every waking moment, proving that he had earned the right to be there, and that he earned his rank as Captain. We know that, because Valiant Heart would come to us about what was happening, and it hurt because we knew we couldn’t help him, if we did, it would only prove them right…”

Starburst’s mouth was agape; she didn’t know that Valiant Heart had gone through all that during his training; whenever she saw him as a filly he’d always greet her with a smile and a carefree attitude. She couldn’t believe all that was going on, that he was masking that pain.

“So now you know…and the worse part is that it’ll be worse for you…”

Starburst looked at her mother and then to her father, “Dad…is this that true, what happened to Lance?”

Flash Sentry sighed heavily, nodding a yes. Starburst’s head hung low, ears flat against her head. “We didn’t want to tell you, but at the same time, we knew we had to. I don’t know if I could knowingly allow you to do it, knowing that you’d get hazed for being of royalty.”

Twilight returned he gaze to Starburst, her angered appearance giving way to sympathy.

“Star, I know –”

“Leave me alone…”

“Star?”

“Just leave me alone, Mom…”

Star turned her back to her parents, she then made her way to the door and left.


The Next Day

Starburst wandered the halls of Canterlot Castle for, what seemed like, forever. Her mind deep in thought about what her mother and father revealed about Valiant Heart’s time in the Royal Guard, and how blind she was to never see beyond the façade he put on for her. Even with all this hefted upon her; it only served to strengthen Star’s resolve, she was going to become a Royal Guard, and she’d do it on her own.

They really think I have no chance…If only I could prove them wrong, somehow, someway, she thought.

Starburst was starting to pass the Royal Library, the same one that she would escort Nighty to whenever he had finished “devouring” an interesting book on magic or some other subject. That’s when it hit her. A crazy plan, started to form in her mind. It would be dangerous, suicidal even, but to Star, it was the one way she knew she could prove her mother, her father, Valiant, and anypony else who thought that she couldn’t make it.

The pegasus mare quickly slipped into the library. The small entrance belayed the actual massive size of the Royal Library. Shelves upon shelves of books were everywhere; at least two stories tall, the library pretty much took up an entire wing of the castle. Of course, some space-dimension warping helped in fitting the vastness of it all.

Star, remembering a specific book her brother read, trotted up the stairs and to the one section that held what she needed. Soon enough, Starburst arrived at the Magic Section of the library, rows upon rows of archaic and esoteric knowledge laid before her. Many powerful and advanced spells were all kept in this section, as well as all there was about the history and application of magic. Well, here, and in the Starswirl the Bearded wing.

Well, found the section, problem is…I have no magic…Star neglected the fact that only those with magic, such as unicorns or alicorns, or even Spirits of Chaos, could enter. Since the section was protected by a barrier that only allowed entry to only the magic wielder.

“Princess Starburst?”

Star flinched upon hearing her name. One of the librarians, a unicorn stallion, came trotting up to the young mare.

“I haven’t seen you around here for a while, come to do more reading up on Royal Guard history?”

“Um, no, not today, I was actually sent to grab a book for my little brother, Nighty, he’s otherwise occupied and asked if I could get a book for him,” said Star.

“Ah, yes, Prince Night Light does so enjoy his spell books. Of course I’d be happy to help you in the procurement, tell me, what is the title?”

“It’s called ‘Charm Casters, A Magician’s Guide to the Effective Art of Charm Casting’,” said Star.

The librarian stallion seemed surprised by the name of the book and now looked upon Starburst with trepidation. Starburst noticed the look the stallion was giving her and was starting to worry she may’ve said something wrong.

“Um, Princess, that particular book is actually a Class A ranked spell book. It can only be checked out by authorized magic students, or one of the High Princesses.”

Crap! I didn’t think that it was THAT advanced! It must’ve been Mom’s and she just let Nighty look it over!

“Well I, um, actually it’s for my Mom, with the craziness going on around here lately, she asked me to get it for her,” said Star.

“But…didn’t you just say that it was for your little brother, the Prince?”

It was obvious to Star that this was going south and fast. She may be a Princess, but the Royal Library had a strict policy against the lending of spell books to unauthorized ponies. A policy set forth by High Princess Twilight Sparkle and High Princess Luna, as a precaution to keep anypony from using the spells to do harm or to cause trouble. Thanks Mom…

“Princess Starburst, I’m afraid without proper written or verbal consent, I cannot, in good conscience, alloooooooowwwwwww……”

Suddenly the librarian collapsed onto the floor, making Star jump back a bit. She was about to ask if he was alright, but stopped when she heard the stallion snoring. There was only one pony Starburst knew that could do something like this.

“C’mon out, Nidra, I know you’re there.”

Like she suspected, the alicorn threstral stepped out from of the aisles, a mischievous smile spread across her lips.

“You were getting nowhere fast, so I decided to step in before you got found out,” said Nidra.

“What are you doing here,” she asked.

“You didn’t look like you were in the best of moods when coming here, wanted to see what was up and now I find you wanting a Class A
level spell book, why?”

“Look, I’ll explain, but can you at least help me get the book?”

Nidra looked between Star and the aisle where the spell books resided. With a long sigh, the mare strode into the aisle, after a couple of minutes she reemerged with the book clasped in her silvery telekinetic aura.

“You owe me.”

“Gladly, now c’mon let’s go.”

Star and Nidra hurried through the palace, making their way to a storeroom that was hardly used during that time of day. Star made sure to lock the door behind them for extra insurance. Afterwards she wrenched the spell book from Nidra’s aura and placed it on a table and started to flip through the pages. Nidra looked over Star’s shoulder, watching her search through the many pages of the spell book, still wondering why she had wanted this spell book out of all the others.

“Nidra, can you cast any of the spells in this book,” asked Star.

“Just because my magic isn’t on my Mom’s level, doesn’t mean I can’t match or outdo an experienced magician or five,” proclaimed Nidra proudly.

“Good.”

“I take it you want me to cast a spell from this book. Judging from how you were when trying to get, I assume that your mom doesn’t know about this?”

Starburst stopped flipping through the pages and let out a dejected sigh. “No…she doesn’t, neither does my Dad or Nighty…” Star then found herself wrapped in a bone crushing hug from behind, with Nidra’s face pressed up against hers. “Um Nidra, I know we’re close friends, but you don’t have to take that literally.”

“I’m just so happy! It took you awhile, but you finally entered your rebellious phase, just like me! Welcome to the club filly,” said Nidra happily.

Star would’ve facehoofed herself if she had the use of her forelegs.

Nidra released her friend and began to bounce around giddily as Starburst resumed her search. “So what kind of spell are you looking for? ‘Cause if you’re looking for ways to sneak around, I already know an invisibility spell, one-hundred percent RG undetectable,
guaranteed!”

“Not exactly the kind of spell I’m looking for.”

“Oh…” Nidra began to think, the spell book was one for casting charms, and there were a myriad of them within the book. She was starting to develop an impossible idea of what she was looking for, but Nidra knew that Starburst was more of a direct kind of mare when it came to that, at least, she thought she was.

“I found it!”

Nidra looked over her shoulder and gasped, when Star saw her reaction so did she. The spell read “The Art of the Amour Charm”. Starburst quickly flipped through the pages again.

“Read that wrong.”

“Uh-huh, Star, we’re friends, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Close friends?”

“Yes.”

“So you don’t have to hide that you’re looking for a love spell, especially if it’s for Del.”

Starburst spluttered at the mention of Golden Delicious’ name and turned to face Nidra. “That’s not what I was looking for! I just got the words mixed up! And why do you automatically assume that it would be Del?!”

“Oh come now, Star. You spend most of your time together when you crash in Ponyville.”

“I spend most of that time helping out with the chores on Sweet Apple Acres. I help Del with farm work, it’s training.”

“He carries you on his back like the Princess that you are.”

“That’s because I run myself ragged and collapse from exhaustion after the fact.”

“And he always seems to smile this particular smile whenever you’re around, both of you do actually.”

Starburst groaned loudly, “For the last time, I don’t like him that way!” She then turned around and went back to looking.
Nidra huffed and puffed out her cheeks. “Fine, but can you at least tell me what exactly it is that you’re –?!”

“Found it!”

Nidra, once again, looked down at the page in the spell book and read the chapter title aloud.

“‘The Art of the Glamour Charm’? Star, you know that this spell is used to cast an illusion around yourself in order to trick others into
thinking you’re somepony else, right?”

“Yes, that’s why I looked it up.”

“If you wanted to prank someone while staying anonymous, there are simpler ways,” suggested Nidra.

“This isn’t for a prank. I want you to cast this spell on me Nidra, now.”

Nidra wasn’t one for taking orders, even from her friend. “Not until you tell me what it is that you’re going to do if I cast it.”

Starburst growled in frustration, “I don’t have time to explain, just cast the stupid spell!”

“Not until you tell me!”

Star wanted to argue, to force Nidra to cast the spell. But Star knew that her special talent wouldn’t work on Nidra, she’d just put her to sleep like the librarian. With a defeated sigh, Starburst told Nidra of the fight she had with her mother earlier that day. Nidra listened as her friend told her about how her parents didn’t think that she could make it in the Royal Guard because of what her cousin, Valiant Heart, went through. Granted, Nidra never really liked the idea of Starburst joining, thinking that a Princess didn’t need to be a Royal Guard, but that still didn’t mean that she didn’t respect Star’s decision and supported it. But now…

“So, you want to sneak onboard one of the air ships that’s heading for Stalliongrad, and fight at the border, that about sum it up,” she asked.

Starburst nodded.

“This is wrong, Cotton Candy is usually the impulsive and reckless one that gets into trouble, I sometimes – sometimes mind you – get in over my head with something’s, and you’re the one who’s supposed to keep a level head and keep ponies like me from doing something stupid! Not the other way around!”

“I know it’s stupid, reckless, and dangerous. But Nidra, this is my dream, and they’re pretty much telling me that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in Tartarus of achieving it!”

“Look, I know your mom isn’t totally shooting it down, she’s worried…”

“Please Nidra…you’re the only friend I can ask this of…please…”

Nidra’s eyes ears twitched, catching the sound of something faint. When she looked closer at Starburst she saw that small droplets of tears were falling from her eyes and onto the floor. Nidra’s feelings waged war within her, the rational part of her mind in combat with her sympathy towards her friend. After a period of silence Nidra sighed and looked at Star sternly.

“If I do this, you have to promise me, Starburst, that you’ll come back alive! I don’t care what you have to do, or who you have shove out of your way, I want you to come back here, alive and breathing, because you’re going to owe me BIG TIME for this!”

This time it was Nidra who found herself enveloped in hug, although it wasn’t like the tight, bone crushing one she had given Starburst earlier, more like, a hug of gratitude.

“Thank you, Nidra.”


Late Afternoon, Royal Air Fleet Hangar

Starburst had done a lot of searching, and found that an airship that was going to Stalliongrad today and that it would be a mere supply and equitarian aide mission. It’d be far from the action, and the Royal Guard troops boarding was on protection detail for when they landed. No chance of enemy contact and less chance of being spotted by Valiant Heart. Although the spell that Nidra cast fooled many, she wasn’t so sure how it’d fair when in the presence of an alicorn.

Starburst, with the help of her cousin, was able to procure some training armor to wear during their drill sessions. She wore the armor, giving her glamour form the full appearance of a Royal Guard pegasus. Many of the other pegasi RG’s didn’t seem able to see past the illusion, to anypony else, she appeared as a pegasus mare Royal Guard. She saw many of them too, both male and female RG’s, trotting about, making sure everything was ready for takeoff.

A few ponies either nodded at her, went for a hoof bump, and others, well, others were checking out her flank in the armor, receiving stares from mares and stallions alike.

Great, I’m eye candy now, thought Starburst. I swear Nidra, if you made the glamour image seem overly seductive or whatever I’m going to put you to sleep my way!

Starburst continued her jaunt through the hangar till she arrived at the airship. The name on the side of the ship read “Nightingale”, it wasn’t as big as the other warships, it had few armaments from what she could tell, just six cannons mounted on the starboard and port sides, built for speed more than combat. Star watched as Medics and Guards loaded the last of the supplies into the airship, the remaining squads were now starting to file in.

The pegasus mare took in a deep breath and exhaled, calming her nerves and preparing to set her crazy plan into action. The lieutenant of the squad waited at the ramp, ushering his troops into the ship, talking to one of them. Star trotted up the ramp, listening closely to the conversation.

“Duke is sick sir; we’re going to be a pony short.”

“Great, Duke was on the detail for the supply run, and I’m just learning about this now, he was on aerial recon for the supply run with
Sunny Skies,” said the Lieutenant.

“Excuse me, sir, maybe I can help,” said Starburst.

The two stallions looked upon the mare before them, or more accurately, the glamour form.

“And who are you?”

“I’m, uh, Daisy…Cutter…yes, Private Daisy Cutter.” Starburst saluted the lieutenant. “I’m fresh out of boot, and I’m ready to go, sir!”

“A newbie, huh? You have any experience in recon work,” he asked.

“Yes sir, I’m also skilled at close combat, sir!”

“We do need a second for the recon run, and it’s better to have more eyes in the sky,” said the trooper.

“Ugh, alright, I’m going to forgo the paperwork, this is war, and I don’t need the headache, so get your flank in there and report to Corporal Sunny Skies, she’ll fill ya in,” ordered the lieutenant.

“Yes sir!”

Starburst quickly entered the ship, the ramp behind her closed as the earth pony and unicorn stallion walked into the ship.

{All crew members prepare of immediate departure. Repeat, all crew members prepare for immediate departure.}

Suddenly Starburst heard the whirring of gears; she made her way to one of the portholes and watched as the platform was extended out the mountainside. The ponies on the platform then released each of the latches that secured the ship, with each of them waving their forelegs in specific patterns to indicate that the ship was released.

Star then felt a familiar sense of weightlessness as the ship started to ascend, the hot air and propeller turbines on the side whirred to life as they continued to climb higher and higher into the sky. Soon, Canterlot came into view as they got higher. Starburst felt a pang of sadness in her heart, she was confident that she’d return to Canterlot, to her friends and family. But this was something that she felt she had to do, and no force on Equus was going to stop her.

{Attention all crew members, the Nightingale has launched, our destination, Stalliongrad.}

Here we go…

Author's Note:

To Be Continued...