• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,114 Views, 414 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything


Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

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7
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Left Shaken

The first tremors struck at 10:15 AM, Canterlot time. From Maredrid to Tokirin, Hosslo to Rio de Caballero, the earth heaved. At yet, despite what every seismograph read, those closest to the epicenter felt it the least.

Though the world shook, Equestria was still.


At high noon, Celestia and Luna paced around a central point in the Hall of Honors. Equestria's history was presented in stained glass, but they could only see an ominous future.

"You are certain it wasn't Discord?" asked Luna.

Celestia nodded. "Positive. He said himself that—"

Luna stumbled, turning it into a spin that had her facing her sister. "And you believe him!?"

Celestia met her gaze, unblinking. "I do when he says something isn't funny. Humor is the one thing he's serious about. Such is his nature."

Luna glowered, but any rejoinder was lost to a burst of violet light. Twilight looked from one sister to the other, her wings flared, her mane and mein both crazed. "What's going on!?"

The diarchs huddled next to one another. "I thought you sent her a letter!" Luna hissed.

"I did!"

"I can hear you!" Twilight said from five feet away. She stalked closer. "And I can read between the lines, too. A letter that essentially reads, 'Go stick your head in the sand until it's over' doesn't fill me with confidence!"

Amusement and incredulity warred on Luna's face. She turned to Celestia and shook her head. "Really."

"I told her to go on vacation!" Celestia yelped. "Take her friends! They deserve it for all they've done!"

"Really."

"We both know I panic when I'm caught off-guard! Stop looking at me like that!"

"Ladies! If we could focus?" Twilight nodded as the sisters brought their attention back to her. "Thank you. Now, whatever Celestia was trying to do—presumably to protect me, which I can understand—it didn't work. As such, could one of you please tell me what happened?"

Celestia and Luna looked at one another, and after a few twitches of cheek and ear, the former bowed her head. Luna turned back to Twilight. "What do you know about the name Behemoth, Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight blinked and scrunched her muzzle. "I'm familiar with the word, of course, but I didn't realize it was a name."

Luna nodded. "Understandable. Even before my madness, the lore was obscure. Behemoth claims to be the first dragon. I do not know if this is true, but he is certainly the oldest still living." She moved to one of the windows, which depicted some kind of spherical egg containing a draconic form. "Dragons do not die until they are killed, and until that time, they never stop growing."

Twilight noticed the sun and moon on either side of the egg. She backed away from the window. "No. No, you can't mean—"

"She does." A white wing spread over Twilight's withers. "Behemoth is so vast, there is only one place where he can lair."

"The molten bowels of the earth," concluded Luna.

"You mean that..." Twilight pointed a shaking hoof at the depiction. The dragon took up most of the space in the "egg." "That... that... that!?"

"Well, it's not to scale." A stained-glass Discord peeked out from behind the cutaway view of the planet. "Behemoth's a behemoth alright, but he's not quite that big."

Twilight gulped. "So the seismic readings were because—"

"Big B's awake, yes." Discord vanished from within the window, reappeared face-to-upside-down-face with Twilight, and stuck a gold star on her horn. "Brilliant deduction. Perhaps next you can—"

"Discord." Phantom thunder echoed in Luna's voice. "We have no time for your usual japes."

"Yes, yes, I know. Very, very, very..." He paused for a moment, counted on his eagle talons, and sprouted eight extra heads, no two alike.

"Very" "Very" "Very" "Very" "Very" "Very" "Very" "Very" "Very"

Discord ended his hydra impression. "Old dragons are no laughing matter. I don't know about you, but that's the sort of situation when I could most use a chuckle, if only to break the mood."

Twilight glared at him. "And I suppose you had nothing to do with this?"

Discord nodded. "Your supposition is entirely correct, yes. I didn't even have anything to do with Equestria not feeling the quakes. That was all Behemoth."

"Quakes?" Twilight gasped. "As in earthquakes? But my seismograph didn't..."

Discord went utterly still for a moment, eyes wide. "They didn't tell you?" A grin spread across his face. "They didn't tell you. Oh, this is a surprise. But really, when a dragon that big gets out of bed, everyone's going to feel it."

"We have had no time, Discord." Luna glared at him, then looked to Twilight. "Do not misunderstand, Twilight Sparkle. That we were preserved from Behemoth stirring from his slumber is not a sign of the dragon's mercy, but his thirst for vengeance. He wishes to confront Celestia and me personally."

"We have faced him before," added Celestia, "but every battle was more difficult than the last." She knelt before Twilight. "I have asked much of you and your friends in the past, Twilight, and it is at least possible that you could help. But should the unthinkable happen, Equestria will need a ruler in our stead."

"Yes, the unthinkable." Luna glared at Discord. "Say, a sudden outbreak of magic-devouring vines from the Everfree."

Discord stuck his nose in the air and crossed his arms. "Oh, that happened once." He pulled his nose back out of the air and reattached it. "A few more jabs like that, and I may rethink helping with collateral damage." He paused and furrowed his brow. "Hmm. Best to be sure. Celestia, did you mean causing or preventing?"

"Preventing." Celestia's weary groan made it clear that this was far from the first time he'd asked.

Discord shook his head. "I really should know better by now, but I keep getting my hopes up, and you ponies keep disappointing me."

Twilight frowned. "Wait, why can't Discord just, I don't know, turn Behemoth into a chinchilla or something?"

"Ooh!" Discord sharpened a notepad and jotted something into a pencil. "Delightful as that idea is, a dragon as ancient as Behemoth is going to be largely immune to my more whimsical methods. If I were to dispose of him..." He shook his head. "Most complex molecules wouldn't survive. Life wouldn't stand a chance. Certainly not ponies."

"But..." Twilight gritted her teeth. "Ugh! After all the times you've trusted me with the fate of Equestria, if not the world, I'm really supposed to just sit back on a beach somewhere knowing that you two are risking your lives?"

Celestia shrank before her former student. "I... I never wanted to burden you with the knowledge, Twilight. You've grown, but to ask you to take on something like Behemoth—"

"Oh, gag me." All three alicorns glared at Discord, who simply raised an eyebrow. "What? Besides, Twilight has a much more important task ahead of her."

"I do?"

"She does?"

Luna kept her glare steady. "Explain."

"Call it an outsider's perspective. While you three are worrying about national security, the rest of the planet is rather more concerned with picking up the pieces. And once they do, they're going to look around, and see that everyone else in the world is suffering as they are... with one notable exception."

Discord ran his hands through a mane much poofier than usual, then held them up defensively. "Now, I'm not saying they'll think we're responsible, but they may suspect us, especially if they misinterpret the Behemoth fight as you two trying to contain an out-of-control magical weapon. Even in the best case, there will be refugees wanting to flock to these unshaken lands, and that's certainly going to stir things up."

The diarchs looked to one another, each seeing a mirror of her own uncertainty. Twilight kept her wary gaze on Discord. "So?"

He smiled. "So? So, somepony's going to need to keep the surge of immigration from becoming tent cities with quality of life somewhere below 'Sibearian gulag.' So, the Crystal Empire felt enough of the tremors that the palace is currently being held together by spit, chewing gum, and Candybutt's magic. So, Little Miss All-Team Organizer, you have a task in the near future that's going to need every ounce of logistic weight you can throw around. After all, I'm certainly not going to do anything about that."

After some contemplation, Twilight sat heavily, her expression vacant. "Oh."

"Indeed. Honestly, what did you ponies do without me?" Discord smirked at Celestia and Luna. "Come now, ladies, if you have time to glare, you have time to prepare. And I believe I now owe a minotaur royalties. I'd offer you all, but I don't think the books would balance." He bowed. "Now, I've performed my good deed for the day. I need a little mischief to rinse the taste out of my mouth. Tata!"

Once he vanished, the room was silent for a good minute. Finally, Twilight turned to Celestia. "What do you think?"

"I think Discord resents something else generating more chaos than he does." Celestia nodded. "Twilight, return to Ponyville and prepare for the influx. The town and all its resources are at your disposal, as is anything here in Canterlot that Luna and I will not need."

Twilight began charging the teleport, but hesitated with her horn aglow. "What about you?"

Luna moved next to her sister. "Focus on your task for now, Twilight Sparkle. If we fall, employ the powers bequeathed to you by the Tree of Harmony. Should those fail..." She shut her eyes. "We shall see."

Author's Note:

Clearly the earthquake doesn't affect ponies. But I asked myself, what about the rest of the world? And for that matter, why are ponies exempt?

Of course, my first thought was "Oh my gosh, this is perfect. No one's ever going to believe this one came up."

And yes, I had fun with place names.