• Published 5th Sep 2018
  • 1,239 Views, 226 Comments

The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book I - BlueBastard

A Berylverse Story - The ponies investigate an ancient prophecy tied to Sombra's plan to destroy Equestria, all the while Sunset prepares for her coronation. But not all is as it seems when the mystery begins to imply a far darker truth of the past.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
Chapter 27: Mommy Unclearest

Golden Age of Apocalypse

Chapter 27—Mommy Unclearest

Evening began to descend on Canterlot, and yet planning still went on for this most important of upcoming events. For the first time since anypony could remember, ponies were working on ceremony planning and preparation long after the sun had gone down and the moon had taken its place. Luna, watching from her tower, frowned slightly at that; it had been exactly that sort of thing that had made her feel unwanted and thus vulnerable to the Nightmare Force back then.

Now, she understood, but...she hated to see her beautiful night as nothing more than a backdrop for endless cascades of workers and constructionponies, it seemed like only her more mature outlook from back then prevented another holocaust.

Of course, the fact that my sister is acting like a plothole isn’t helping matters, Luna mused. It wasn’t as though she was jealous of her niece’s accomplishments; Sunset, by all means had deserved this. But Celestia was blowing things out of proportion in an attempt to be the Ultimate Mommy™ and Luna well knew that when she did things like that, things tended to go bad.

She could only hope that Twilight and the others could help her see reason. After all, the days were ticking down until Sunset’s return, and ready or not, two societies that didn’t know the other existed were about to learn that they did, for good or ill.

Problem was, she wasn’t sure about whether anypony—or anyhuman—was ready for the “ill”.

“So, please, have the banners ready,” said Twilight, “and make sure her full name fits on it, please.”

“Yes, your princessliness!” saluted Flash Sentry, an eager smile on his face. He’d been requested to assist with the party for reasons unknown, but given what Twilight had since learned about his counterpart, the human stallion—“boy”, sorry, Sunny; I’ll make sure I get that term right—she’d been attracted to, she’d given the pegasus a wide berth. Granted, he wasn’t the same as the other Flash, but Twilight wasn’t yet ready to deal with that.

“Cpl. Sentry?”

“Yes, Twilight?”

“For one, right now, it’s ‘Princess’. Secondly, please show some decorum. Normally I wouldn’t insist, but this is an important occasion, understood?”

“But Twi—"

“C’mon, Roameo,” another guard said, seeing the look of annoyance on the princess’ face and deciding to remove Flash from the area for his safety, even if he wasn’t aware of it.

“I see Cpl. Sentry’s showing his affections for you again, isn’t he?” a voice behind Twilight said. She turned to see her old friend Moon Dancer, approach. Since the assistance with the Mirror several months ago, Moon Dancer had become a respected researcher at the Royal University of Canterlot, as well as a research fellow for the newly-founded New Pony Future Institute. The NPFI was a high-level think tank that the Princesses had founded, although in truth, Twilight knew it was just an organization that was designed to see if they could turn the technology Sunset was occasionally sending from the human world into items that could be used by ponies.

Twilight waved a dismissive wing. “You want to date him? He’s all yours, Moony.”

Moon laughed. “Didn’t you tell me last year that you thought he was cute?”

Twilight nodded. “I did, but….”


“Let’s just say that it’s a side effect related to your duties at the NPFI and leave it at that, okay?” Twilight said.

“Ah, so it’s related to the….” Moon quieted down; she knew that humanity was still a secret even within the walls of the castle. “Gotcha.” She produced some paperwork. “Well, the reason I came by is because I need you to sign off on the paperwork for the ‘ball point pen’ project. The factory is willing to make the prototypes, but because it’s still restricted technology, it needs the signature of a princess to authorize.”

Twilight giggled. “Restricted technology and yet they’re practically ten for a bit over in the human world,” the alicorn said. Using her magic to float the paperwork out of her friend’s magic grasp, Twilight produced a quill and ink and signed the copies. “I really need to get a seneschal,” she told Moon. “Spike’s a great help, but I feel like I’m overburdening him at times. A seneschal would be perfect to sign in my place.”

“I thought you were working on that?”

“I was, but…” Twilight fluttered her wings uncomfortably. “It’s not anything I want to get into right now. Let’s just say that despite my duties as Princess of Friendship, some ponies still don’t quite get the message, and that makes the realm suffer as a result.”

“I see. Well, I should have the prototypes ready in a week, and based on that, if they meet with approval, the factory can start churning them out in no time flat. Profits are still scheduled to go to the charities you outlined.”

“Thanks, Moony. Don’t know what I’d do without you,” Twilight said gratefully.

“Well, you could put in a good word for me with that hunk you call a captain.” Moon blushed.

Twilight blinked. “Div?”

Moon nodded. “Um...yeah. We briefly met last year when I was first setting up the NPFI and he was giving a guest lecture at the University. We kinda hit it off, but then Tirek happened and...well, you know how busy I can get. Still, I kinda hope he’s interested.”

Twilight, for some reason felt something flicker in her heart. She wasn’t sure why, but for some reason she felt offended that Moon would be asking about Div. It wasn’t rational, but she wasn’t sure that she wanted to tell even her oldest friend anything about him. So instead, she said, “I’ll...um...pass it on.”

“Thanks. I’ll be on a research trip for the next couple of weeks, so I’ll have to miss out on the festivities. Tell Princess Sunset I said hi, okay?”

The strange feeling passed from Twilight and she suddenly felt awkward. “Okay, will do.”

Moon hugged Twilight and said. “Thanks again, Twi. I’ll talk to you when I get back from Inari!” With that, she departed, leaving the alicorn alone to her confused thoughts and conflicted emotions.

Three ponies departed the Defense Ministry building after a late meeting. One of them had a neutral look on his face, while the second, also male, had a matching look. But it was that third, a mare’s visage, that carried a look of seething anger.

“That stupid harridelle!” barked Arrowswift, the Vice Captain of the EUP Guard. Stocky for a pegasus, she had a tan coat and a short gray mane that accented her wine-colored eyes. Her cutie mark, three arrows shot from a bow, stood out against the duty uniform of the Guard.

“Arrow, Adm. Tumblehome is doing what she usually does, you know that,” Shining Armor told her. “She has always considered the defense of the nation first and foremost, and given the importance of this event, it’s only natural that she be zealous about it.”

Arrow scoffed. “Shining, you’re a prince, so you get to do the diplomatic bit. Same with you, Div. But me? I’m just a gal from Oatmaha who worked her way up the ranks, so excuse me for being as earthy as an earth pony. That stuck-up, stiff-as-a-board plothole can kiss between my stifle, okay? I’m tired of her ‘The Navy Defends Everything in Equestria’ schtick. Frankly, I have no idea how Gen. Halberd puts up with her, because every time I have to attend these meetings in your place, Shining? I swear I just want to grab her, fly to the top of the stratosphere, and drop her!”

Div laughed. “Arrow, did you forget Tumblehome’s a pegasus as well?”

Arrow muttered something under her breath. “I didn’t say I’d do it with her feathers attached,” she grumbled.

“Sounds like you need a vacation.”

“Yeah, I probably do, but being the Vice Captain of the Guard, the ride never ends. You know that, now that you’re in charge of your own division, Div.”

“Yeah, that I do,” he told her.

A sly look came over Arrow’s face. “So, how’s it working for—”

He glared at her. “Finish that sentence and I’ll teleport you to Yakyakistan,” he growled.

She laughed. “Touchy, touchy! Okay, I’ll keep your secret a little longer.”

Shining perked up at that. “Secret?” he asked. He looked at Div. “Something I should know about?”

Divine flustered and shook his head. “Um...no, not at all. Seriously, Shining, don’t worry about it.” He took a side-eyed glance at Arrow, who simply stood there, grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

“Well, it’s a long day and I’m going to go home and unwind, guys,” Arrow stated as she lifted off the ground and hovered in the air. “See you guys tomorrow—we’re still on for the ceremonial barding inspection, right?”

“First thing in the morning,” Shining told her. She nodded, saluted and flew off.

“You should get some rest as well, Div. You look a little paler than usual,” Shining advised.

“You don’t say….” he commented.

“Hey, just looking out for one of Cady’s favorite cousins,” Shining said with a grin. “Plus, you’re the head of my sister’s guard now, so you see her more than I do. I’m counting on you to make sure the undesirables stay clear of her. Big brother’s prerogative, you know.”

Divine gave his boss and friend a smile, even though he felt like he could vomit from nervousness at that point. “Um...sure. Got it. I think I’m going to go get a smoothie from Smoothie Sam’s. I’ll talk to you later.” He started walking off.

“Um...Div? Isn’t Smoothie Sam’s in that direction?” Shining stated, pointing down the street.

“Taking the long way! Good for my health!”

As the planning had gone fairly well, Celestia thought it would be best if she had her family and friends over for an evening dinner. After all, with it normally just being herself and her sister, she missed having the chance to dine with Twilight and to hear about her former student’s escapades in her life.

Said student, however, was not thrilled about what the dining plans entailed. “Um...Princess?”

Celestia gave her usual smile, though her eye twitched ever so slightly. “So, Twilight, are preparations coming along better than they were before?”

“Yes and no,” Twilight said diplomatically.

“More no than yes,” Cadance muttered under her breath.

“More hell no than no,” Luna agreed with her.

Rarity looked over at her nervous assistant and said, “Don’t worry, Coco, dear. As...grotesque...as it may seem, they can’t harm anypony else.” Rarity looked again. “I hope.”

The “They” in question were the stuffed cadavers of both Sable Loam and Fair Vista, propped up in the corner, fierce in their countenance as they were for all time, taxidermied into their permanent positions. As everypony present couldn’t help but steal looks at the two creatures, appetites were being lost and all present agreed on one thing: it was a step too far for Celestia, though nopony had any clue as to what her mindset was when she decided she had to have these things participate.

Applejack pushed aside her stuffed apple-and-brie casserole. “Okay, Ah’m just about to lose mah lunch. What in tarnation are those things doing here?”

“Why Applejack, dear, I had a wonderful idea,” Celestia said. “Given that these creatures are the last great threat to our society that we vanquished–”

“Because somehow she’s managed to forget we just got over a war,” Luna hissed under her breath.

“–that I thought it would be grand for my daughter to ceremonially participate as well,” Celestia said, as every other pony in the room’s jaws collectively dropped. “She is a pony as well, after all––”

“WHAT IN THE BUCK?” That shout came from Cadance, who looked at her aunt with complete confusion. “Auntie, are you out of your mind? These things nearly destroyed us, and you want to display them like plushies at Treasured Moments’ Toy Store?”

Celestia looked at her niece with a patient gaze. “I suppose I’m not explaining myself very well, but I want things to go perfectly for Sunset’s coronation,” the solar alicorn stated. “Unlike the last couple of times, I want there to be no mistakes.”

The room became so quiet one swore they could hear a pin dropped by a breezie. “Last couple of times?” Fluttershy asked, getting ready to duck under the tablecloth. “Do you mean the last couple of coronations?”

“I’m soooo glad we decided to upgrade the sewer works,” Luna said to nopony in particular.

“Why’s that?” Lockbox ventured.

“Because all that shit that’s normally flowing through there is about to hit the fan at about Mach 5,” the night alicorn said drily.

And then it happened.

“WHAT THE BUCK?” the two juniormost princesses said in unison, looking at each other briefly before turning to look at Celestia with faces filled with shock.

Luna rose from her chair. “Well, I think tonight would be a lovely night to finish dinner on the veranda,” she pronounced. “Anypony is more than welcome to join me, if they wish.”

“Sounds good, but shouldn’t we be here?” Razz asked.

“Only if you want shattered eardrums from the shouting that’s about to commence,” Luna advised. The point was made and the other ponies quickly filed out.

“I can’t believe you just said that our coronations were a mistake!” Cadance cried, hurt by her aunt’s words.

“Cadance, dear, aren’t you overreacting a bit?” Celestia asked her.

“No, I think she’s pretty much hitting the nail on the head,” Twilight said in dejected tones. “I thought you were proud of us, and now we’re finding out our coronations were mistakes? What, are we just practice runs for Sunny?”

“Yes, because that on top of taking the corpses of two of our worst enemies is a great idea,” Cadance added. “And I thought that they were supposed to remain in the Empire’s vaults, because they were prepared for those two in case something went wrong. And now we’re parading them around like floats? Auntie, have you gone mad?”

“I am only trying to think about my daughter’s best interests as a pony!” Celestia defended. “If all goes to plan, she and her entourage will be here in two days and that is hardly enough time for her to spend time as a pony before she has all the agenda she needs to attend to before her coronation.”

“So you’re saying you’re bonding over dead, stuffed werewolf corpses?” Cadance asked her. “Are you even listening to yourself?”

“Yeah, I have to admit, Sunny can be odd at times,” Twilight commented, “but even that one might be a little out of her league as a human or pony.”

“I swear, if Shining and I ever have a foal, she’s going to be a nice, normal child, and we’re going to do normal parent things,” Cadance said shaking her head. Turning to Twilight, she said, “I’m so angry right now that I don’t know what to say, so I’m going to leave.” She turned back to her aunt. “Auntie, I seriously hope you come back to Equus, because right now your mind is somewhere well beyond Auntie Luna’s moon and I’m not sure we have time to mount a space expedition to get it back.”

As Cadance stormed out of the room, Twilight shook her head. “You know, I seem to recall when you thought I was overreacting to events here. Funny, I never thought I’d see the day when it would be the exact opposite. Please, just….” The look on Twilight’s face was sad. “I...I really don’t know what to say, so I’m not going to say anything. Sometimes, Friendship should just be silent.” Nothing more to add, Twilight followed her sister-in-law out the door, leaving Celestia alone with a table groaning under the weight of food uneaten and empty seats, with no other company than two of the ponies she despised most in the world.

She wondered how things got to this point.

Dinner, after the initial disaster, had been a little better thanks to Luna’s attempts to recover from the disastrous evening. The princess of the night had summoned pizzas from Pepperoni Pizzazz's Pizza Paradise, and even though the dinner that had been planned had gone uneaten, everypony agreed that at least eating with friends under the stars was a better option than being center stage to whatever argument that Celestia, Twilight and Cadance were having.

But tomorrow was another day, Raspberry decided, and with two days to go until Sunset’s return to Canterlot, things were still being planned. Thankfully, the last week would probably be taken up by showing the others around Equestria, as well as whatever official duties everypony had to attend to, but for now, Razz could just relax and get some sleep.

That lasted all of several minutes as she lay in bed, suddenly thinking about the fate of the Rose. Razz herself had survived her ordeal, but no one knew about what had happened to the Rose. And so with extreme reluctance, she reached over for the book and read the next chapter.

DAY 187:

Equestria has finally invaded, and the war is joined in full. It began in one of our border towns – or I should say supposedly a border town, as the Sisters claimed that it was well within Equestria’s lands and not on the frontier. Either way, their armies immediately attacked us, and one of my towns is now in their hooves.

What is truly galling is that the moment they invaded, my forces within the town surrendered – surrendered! – without so much as an arrow loosed or a sword drawn. In fact, were it not for my loyal spies, I would never have known. Fortunately, Shadow Shale earned her keep, and it gave me the chance to test the Rose’s mettle in battle.

I have included Shale’s report here for posterity. Unfortunately, she is a better spy than an educated soul, so there are several irritating errors in it. Still, the report has merit and I have added it to my notes.

I canot beleve my eyes. A manticore! How are they so far north! The horific thing is the size of an alicorn, a demonic beast of leathery wings and fierce teeth! It decended on the town and slaughtered all! The enemys, the traitors, even those that might have been innocent (though I doubt that), all fell to the brute. Worse, manticores are carnivorus scavengers, and yet this one seemed to be wantonly killing as if with a purpose, as though a cunning inntellect was behind it!

Could our Emperor have kenned a way to master nature itself? Or does nature itself acknowledge him as the riteful ruler of all? I cannot answer, that and I dare not even try. One thing I do know – I must leave town before the manticore sees me, or I am as dead a mare as those whosse lifeblood stains the coblestones of this town.

As Shale noted, the Rose proved to be a masterstroke, and with the improved Compulsion Mangle has created, I no longer need multiple dosages to keep her in check. Where I would expend tenscore in a day to keep her under my hoof, five simply suffice. My weapon is now field-tested and battleworthy.

Even more, I have found that she is a wonderful enticement to my generals: for their faithful toils, I have given them a night with the alicorn of their choosing, to despoil as they want, so long as they don’t kill her. I did, however, have to punish Gen. Broken Feldspar for what he did; his fetishes ran towards whips and it took a few days for the Rose to heal from her wounds. Still, though I censured him for his actions, he is a strong and loyal soldier, and so I forgave him for the damage.

It did, however, convince me that I should not offer the Rose to my faithful troops at large, however. I’ve heard the bawdy tales of what some of the soldiers would do if they could get their hooves on the alicorns, and while Rose has been able to heal from extensive injuries, I do not wish to find out if she can heal from death.

When I can, I must speak with Mangle to see if she can create doppelgangers of the Rose. I would like to see my troops rewarded for their efforts, after all.

“And I can’t believe she actually said that!” Twilight mourned over coffee and donuts. She was currently at Donut Joe’s, where she was drowning herself in the old standbys of her youth.

Seated next to her, Divine kept her company. “Auntie’s just worried, Twi,” he told her. “She’s always been a loving aunt to so many generations of my family, but being a parent? It’s still something somewhat new to her. And like any parent, they make mistakes – sometimes large ones. I’m sure your parents made some bone-headed mistakes when raising you and Shining, right? I know my parents did when they brought up me and my sister.”

Twilight sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right, Div,” she told him. “It’s just that I thought that after the whole incident with Cadance’s wedding, she would trust that I know what I’m talking about. And for her to just dismiss that...it’s infuriating!”

Divine took a drink of his hot chocolate, then continued. “Sometimes older people have a hard time recognizing when the younger ones grow up and change. My butler, Saddleworth? When my parents died, he had a large hoof in raising my sister and I, with some supervision from Auntie. So he was always there to see how both Hi and I turned out. I turned out better than expected, I suppose. But my sister? Well...sometimes you don’t see when ponies turn out for the worse and by the time you do, it’s too late to change things. That’s really not anypony’s fault; it’s just pony nature.

“Auntie Celly, long before Auntie Luna’s return, had to watch over generations of us. And not just us. She had to watch over the nobility, run the realm and administer the sky. That’s a heavy responsibility for anypony, and she got used to that. And then she became a parent – and that, arguably is an even more critical role, because at that point, you’re responsible for how a life turns out. And not just that life, but how other lives are impacted by that one child.”

“But how does that impact why she’s doing what….” As Twilight spoke the words, clarity sank in. “She’s afraid of failure, isn’t she?” When Divine said nothing, she shook her head. “I should have realized that. She was so afraid of what she did to Sunset that she raised and educated me in an entirely different way than she did with Sunny or Cady. She’s been afraid at times of losing us for one reason or another that she’s insisting that she’s doing the right thing.”

“And sometimes the right ideas cause the wrong results – just look at my sister for that one,” Divine said sadly.

Twilight shook her head again, looking at her captain and friend with new eyes. “How did you get so wise?”

“I didn’t, Twi. I’ve just always worried if I were to see ponies who live up to my name – who think whatever authority or power they have is by utter fiat – that they become worse than what we fear. And I have always tried to steer clear of that, even when it’s done by accident.”

“Spoken, once again, like a true prince.” Both turned to look behind them to see Celestia standing there, a sad look on her face.

“If you don’t mind, Divine, I would like to have a talk with my student,” the elder alicorn said in a tone bordering on pleading.

“Of course.” Getting up from his chair, he looked at Twilight. “I’ll be waiting outside, Twi, if you still need somepony to talk to,” he assured her. Taking a final drink of his cocoa, he then departed the donut shop, leaving mentor and mentee to their own devices.

The two looked at each other for the longest time, the bond between them speaking volumes without uttering a single sound. The other ponies in the shop knew this to be a private moment between two individuals and not something between their rulers and instead gave them the same privacy they would any other pair of mares present. With the sole exception of Donut Joe bringing out a mug of his finest ruby cocoa and a red velvet cake donut for Celestia and to refill Twilight’s coffee, nothing else was said to either of them.

Finally, Celestia spoke. “It is hard to be a parent,” she said, “when you’re afraid that you’ve already lost your child, and that you have to play catch up for something that you shouldn’t have in the first place.”

“Celestia,” Twilight began.

The older alicorn shook her head, a wordless gesture to ask Twilight to let her say her piece. “I couldn’t protect my precious little filly, Twilight. She died – it doesn’t matter that she saved her world in the process, or that she ascended, my little filly – my dearest darling daughter – died.” Tears formed in lilac eyes. “And I couldn’t be there to help her, not one bit. And instead of it being up to me to help my foal, it was left up to others – the humans that have taken her in – to give her the love and understanding she needed. What I should have.”

“Celestia, you couldn’t do anything about that, and she knows that. We were at war at the time,” Twilight told her. “Plus, didn’t she write you that letter telling you how much she loves you and how much she considers you her mother? Her biological mother, no less?”

“I’m afraid I’m at a loss for that term,” Celestia admitted.

“It means...well, humans give birth just as we foal and in that case, they’re considered the ‘biological’ parent, because they share biology,” Twilight explained. “Even though you didn’t foal her, you share more biology with her than her adoptive parents do, and….” When Twilight continued to see the heartbroken look on her mentor’s face, she realized now wasn’t the time to go into long, convoluted clarifications. “Look, the point is, you are her mother. It doesn’t matter that she’s the adopted daughter of somepony else, or that she chooses to live with them. You are her mother – and that is never going to change.”

Celestia sighed. “And yet I nearly pushed her away doing something stupid, because I was so afraid, that I wasn’t even thinking.”

“Is this about the werewolf corpses?”

Celestia nodded. “In the old days, Minoan parents proved that they were able to protect their children by displaying the stuffed cadaver of a fearsome enemy in their home to show they would do anything to safeguard their calves.”

Despite the situation, Twilight giggled. “Humans can be rough, but not like that. Razz could tell you more than I because she was there longer, but they’re more like us than minotaurs. If anything, they’re kind of like an amalgamation of all the species on Equus. They’re a mystery, simply because we don’t know them as well as we should.”

“I guess I overreacted, didn’t I?”

“Well...let’s just say it was out of character for you and leave it at that, shall we?”

Celestia reacted with mock-indignation. “Twilight Sparkle, I am not some character in a book as if I could simply be ‘out of character’, as you say! I’ll have you know, I contain multitudes, so I am allowed to contradict myself!”

At that, the two mares laughed, their cares vanishing away in the chocolate and pastries. After several minutes, Celestia finally said, “I have spoken to Cadance and apologized for my miswording, and I’m doing the same now. I apologize for what I said – I didn’t mean it the way it came out.”

“I didn’t think you did. Cadance and I were just more worried about your mental state, if anything.” Twilight stretched and yawned. “Well, it’s getting late. I guess I should get back to my tower. Did you want to come?”

Celestia shook her head. “No, I figured that you and Divine wanted to talk some more, and that he would escort you back to your tower, like the gentlestallion he is.”

Twilight nodded, blushing slightly. “He is, isn’t he? Well, I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight, Celestia.” WIth that, the lavender alicorn walked off towards the door and the dashing captain waiting just outside.

Drinking from her mug of ruby cocoa, the princess of the day watched through the window as her apprentice and her nephew both talked for a second, laughed, and then walked off in each other’s company.

She smiled to herself. “I guess the next major event here I should plan for is a wedding,” she said to no one in particular.

It then hit her that she had no idea if her own daughter was dating anypony or anyhuman. She made a mental note to ask about that as soon as she could. Twilight might tie the knot before Sunset, but Celestia was not going to just let her daughter’s social life slide without knowing.

With that, the mother finished off her donut and signalled to Donut Joe for another round. For now, she could just let her cares wile away. They sure as hell would come back within the next two days.

Author's Note:

In case you forgot werewolves were technically how we all got on this crazy train in the first place :trollestia:

PreviousChapters Next