• Published 22nd Jul 2012
  • 36,263 Views, 7,113 Comments

Rites of Ascension - CvBrony

Twilight makes a new spell and starts the gears of fate with her ascension to alicornhood. (Writing started before Season 3.)

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No News Is Good News

“Highness, we’re approaching the town. Do you have a specific address you wished to be dropped off at?”

Twilight rolled her eyes a bit at the Day Guard pulling the chariot. I really need to figure out how I want to be addressed. At this rate, I’ll be an actual princess before I make a decision on what to be called as grand mage.

Spike held up the paper and read something near the bottom. “The newspaper says it’s address is ‘735 Farriers Drive.’ We probably want to head there first. Wherever that is.”

“I am familiar with the area,” one of the two pegasi stated. “Although it has been some time since I have visited, I do know that street. We can drop you off at the front door, Highness.”

“Do it,” Twilight replied, fighting back a grumble. They were every bit as stoic and formal as the Night Guard, just less scary looking. Odds are they’d call me ‘Highness’ no matter what I said. “Spike, give me the paper, and stay with the Guardsponies. I’ll send off a purple flare if I need you. If I do, go ahead and bring the Day Guard with you. I have a feeling intimidation may be called for later.”

Rainbow chuckled, then took off into the air next to the chariot. “Nothing quite like a dragon flanked by some Day Guards for intimidation.”

“Highness, I believe I see the building. We are twelve seconds out.”

Twilight got up on the chariot and stood near the side, letting her mane fly in the breeze. “I see it too. Just get me near. I can jump safely.” With luck, we’ll have arrived before news of the illusionists’ failure reached their associates. Few things can outpace Day Guard charioteers over a distance like this.

The chariot roared down the street, passing just over the rooftops of the modest city. As the paper’s office grew close, Twilight leapt off the chariot, falling about four stories straight down. Using her pegasus magic to create a wind buffer, she landed with all four hooves hitting the ground at the same time with a generous, but nonhazardous *clop*.

Hmm. Buildings are about three stories, packed close together. Cobblestone roads. Well lit. Decent number of ponies on the streets. Vendors serving lunch. Maybe fifty thousand residents total? Just a guess, but certainly larger than Ponyville. Any paper here should know a hell of a lot better than to publish something like this.

Rainbow zoomed by and landed next to her a moment later. “Gotta say, Twi, I’m still not used to you jumping out of a chariot without needing rescuing.”

Twilight smiled a bit. “I’m not entirely used to it either. Even with experience, my heart still skips a beat.”

The door to the newspaper’s office slammed shut, and a plump, light purple unicorn mare glared at the door with searing rage. After a second or two, she opened the door and slammed it again, just for good measure, before storming off.

“Don’t bother going in there. Flank-wipes! Worst customer service I’ve ever seen! Ever!”

Twilight lifted an eyebrow at the mare, but she ignored both of them and stomped down the street.

“Well, that’s encouraging.” Twilight stepped forward, steeling herself for whatever was beyond the door.

It was warmer inside than she expected, and a little humid. The walls looked a little neglected, with a few wallpaper corners starting to peel. A damp stench dominated the air, while a lone fan struggled in vain to keep fresh air circulating, succeeding only in wafting the dusty air into Twilight’s face. The uneven wood flooring groaned and creaked under her hooves. A large wooden counter dominated the room, with both a door and a pony behind it. The pony was an older stallion wearing a green eyeshade and a wholly perverted look in his eye.

“Well, lookie here. Two more tasty trollips come lookin’ for ol’ Juicy. What can I do ya fer?”

Twilight looked at Rainbow and shot her a thought. Is this guy for real?

Despite both mares’ lack of telepathic abilities, Rainbow deflated in just the right manner to seemingly reply with a ‘Sadly, it looks like it.

Twilight cleared her throat and stood as tall as her tiny frame would allow. This pony might not be from Canterlot, but you are, and you’re representing the crown. You need to at least start off polite. “While I do not appreciate the lewd comments, I do need to ask you some questions. Specifically about the article you ran in your paper this morning titled, ‘Grand Mage Launches Crackdown.’”

“Whoa now, little missy!” The stallion spat into something behind the counter Twilight silently prayed was a bucket. “Yer gunna hafta do yer own reportin’! No stealin’ our work!”

“What work!?” That’s it. Time to up the pressure. Twilight waved the article in his face, including its large picture of herself. “It’s a complete fabrication!”

“Tha’s it! We don’t cottin’ ta’ lyin’ types around here! Git out!”

Twilight and Rainbow looked at each other for a moment before Rainbow cut in. “Hey geezer, are you blind or something? She’s got a royal torc, and I’m in Guard armor! Oh, by the way, take a real close look at that picture in the paper. Notice anything familiar?”

The stallion hunched over to look at the paper, adjusted his glasses, and snorted. “Hmph! Nope! Now you two hussies—”

Twilight shot magic into her horn, letting it flare to light with a bright light, but not casting any actual spell. “I am Grand Mage Twilight Sparkle, representing the Crown of Equestria, and if you speak to me like that one more time you’ll get to see what an actual crackdown looks like firsthoof! Now, I demand to know who wrote this article and who the source was that gave you this information.”

His jaw dropped, frozen for a moment before he put up his hooves. “I surrender!”

She growled at him, “You don’t need to surrender, just tell me who wrote it, and where they got this bogus information!”

His perverted smile returned, and he calmed down. “Well now, missy. That there is legally protected information! Law says that law enforcement can’t compel reporters to turn over sources. So Juicy Scoop ain't gots ta tell you anythin'!”

Rainbow sighed. “Damn, I think he’s right, Twi.”

Twilight shook her head. “Actually it’s a lot more complicated than that. Normally, he’d be correct. Libel suits are notoriously difficult to win because of that. A paper could just say they didn’t look into it enough to know they had bad information, and print a tiny retraction in an obscure corner. It makes them look bad, but also legally invincible.” She inhaled, letting the moist air fill her lungs as her mind positioned her argument for checkmate.

“But, this time, he’s dead wrong. When a reporter or reporting agency, such as a newspaper, issues a story about the royal families, higher standards are in place. ‘Not checking’ ceases to be a defense against libel charges, both civil and criminal. In addition, sources that give information leading to libelous information being published about them…” Twilight smirked at him. “Excuse me. Published… about us… are not protected by the law and must be revealed on demand of the Crown, under penalty of perjury.”

His hoof slowly extended out to point at her, visibly shaking. “That… That hasn’t been enforced in centuries!”

Twilight waved the paper in front of him again. “Maybe not, but it’s one thing to call Celestia fat or Luna clueless like any other tabloid. What you’re doing here is making ponies think they’re in real legal trouble with the Crown, when they are, in fact, innocent. This goes beyond the pale and I’m willing to break with precedent to get to the bottom of it so that it doesn’t happen again. Now, answer my questions or I’ll get the rest of my guards to haul your flank in!”

“Okay, okay!” He shivered, his glasses down his face. “I’ll talk! My source is from the police department. I don’t know his name; they use dead drops! He works in the precinct down the street!”

Twilight stomped a hoof on the counter. “And the retraction?”

“As good as done! We’ll get it ready right away!”

“Good! Now, stay here.” She snapped around to trot out the door. “I’m certain I’ll be back with more questions.”

The pair exited the building, Twilight leading Rainbow down the street a little before letting out a frustrated growl. “Can you believe that flank-wipe? I don’t even use language like that very often, but holy crap was he frustrating!”

Rainbow snorted in agreement. “Yeah. I’m sad you didn’t order me to kick his flank a little. Maybe zap him. There are some ponies I just don’t want to share my air with.”

“Yeah, well, we got what we came for. In fact, I think I can see the police station from here. Let’s get in there and find out what they know. Hopefully they’ll be more cooperative. This is turning out to be harder than it should be.”

Rainbow snickered. “Heh. Told ya.”

“Quiet.” Twilight deadpanned while opening the glass door to the police station and trotting inside.

The interior was a short hall with a couple of benches on the walls, and a single desk with a uniformed officer occupying it.

“Can I help you ladies?” the green stallion asked.

“Yes, yes you can,” Twilight began. “I am Grand Mage Twilight Sparkle. Recently, a story ran in one of your local papers that contained information libelous to the Crown and our subjects. I’m investigating the sources of this. I was told that one of them was a pony in this department. I’m aware it’s standard practice to ‘leak’ specific information when it’s beneficial to an investigation, but I’m afraid that in this instance you were wildly off the mark, and that this isn’t something that I can let slide. I must to speak with the pony who revealed this so-called information, immediately.”

The stallion stood up with a grimace on his face. “Ma’am, I can tell you that we do not and have never leaked information to the press in secret, and I do not appreciate your accusations. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, or I’ll be forced to lock you both up.”

Twilight and Rainbow looked at each other, and Rainbow raised her eyebrow.

“Lock us up?” the pegasus asked, pointing at Twilight. “Are you stupid or something? That’s the Grand Mage. You can’t lock her up. That’d be like arresting the Princess.”

The stallion pulled out his club and tapped it on his hoof. “I can, and will. Now, leave.”

“Ugh. I take it back, Rainbow. I won’t say something’s going to be easy again.” Twilight lit up her horn, ready to fire a flare.

“Spell!” The stallion lunged at her, but Twilight didn’t even flinch. A rainbow-colored blur tackled him long before he got close.

“Don’t move, dirtbag!” she said through clenched teeth and a hoof holding him down by his neck.

A purple flare launched up into and through the ceiling, phasing directly through the building and up to the sky.

“You… You can’t do this! I’m a police officer! Argh!”

Rainbow pressed down with her hoof. “Don’t make me repeat myself again. She’s the Grand Mage. What you just did is the same as assaulting Princess Celestia.”

A dragon slammed open the doors, practically strutting as he led the two pegasus guards inside. “That didn’t take long, Twilight. I thought that… Whoa. What happened here?”

“Those… Those are…” the stallion on the floor started sweating and swallowing nervously.

“Yup. A fire-breathing dragon with a couple of Day Guard.” Rainbow twisted his foreleg, restraining him for the other guards. “Congratulations, idiot, you finally got the memo. Hey, guys, this moron tried to assault Twilight. Haul his flank in.”

One of them saluted with his wing while the other swooped in, shackling the police officer’s legs with irons in a single fluid motion.

“Wha—Wait! Please! I’ll talk! I—Oof!” He tried to turn around, but the chains just caught him and sent him falling flat on his face.

“You probably should have thought of that before attacking her.” Rainbow brushed off her shoulder. “Now you get to enjoy a complimentary trip to Canterlot Palace dungeon!”

Actually… Twilight lifted a hoof to her chin in thought. If I let him go, he could prove useful in more ways than one. Hmm…

“Hold!” Twilight commanded, turning around and walking up to the stallion in irons. He was probably about ready to wet himself, but even crouched down as he was, he was still taller than her. A kind grin would probably seem too meek here. If I scowl, though, it might be overkill, and I do not want to see him actually make a mess on the floor. Perhaps… She smirked at him somewhat haughtily. “I think we can help each other out here, actually.”

“Right! I can help! Just—Just don’t arrest me! My wife would kill me, she—”

Twilight held up a hoof to silence him, and he stopped. “It would be rather inconvenient if I have to keep proving my authority. If you help spread the word that my authority is real, and reveal who leaked false data to the press, I’ll drop the charges.”

“Ah, I get it.” Spike snapped his fingers. “And if he doesn’t cooperate, putting a police officer behind bars is a good demonstration anyway!”

“Precisely, Spike! Now then, will you help me, Officer…” Twilight glanced at his badge. “Cuffs?”

He dropped to the ground in a bow. “Yes, yes, I will! It’s Sergeant Patrol Beat! He’s in the squad room over there! I’ll definitely tell everyone you’re real!”

“‘Tell everyone you’re real’? Congrats, Twi.” Rainbow chuckled. “You’ve been elevated to Tooth Fairy status!”

Spike shook his head. “I’m more astonished about that Sergeant’s name. I mean, Patrol Beat? Sergeant Beat? That’s either the best or worst police officer name in history.”

Twilight smirked a little more. “I’d lean towards worst, but that’s me. Okay, you can go. Gentlestallions?”

The guard reached down and opened the shackles, letting the officer pony stretch out his legs. “Thank you! Oh, thank you, Highness! I’m so sorry, I didn’t think it was really you. I mean, why come to a town like this? I thought you’d be in Canterlot and—”

Twilight held up a hoof again. “It’s not complicated. Like I said, I’m conducting an investigation. And it’s not ‘Highness.’ That’s only for the Princesses.”

The officer blinked. “Then should I call you Grand Mage, or…”

“You know, Twi…” Spike examined his claws. “Ponies are going to keep asking you this question until you figure something out.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “I know, it’s just frustrating. None of the examples I’ve heard so far sound right…”

“Archmage, maybe?” Rainbow asked.

“Nah, that’s been done to death.” Spike jumped up. “Ooh! I know! 'Archlibrarian!’”

There was a long pause.

“Really? Archlibrarian? Come on Spike, you’re better at this than that.” Rainbow chuckled. “What’s she going to do? Make all libraries her sole domain?”

Twilight had to hide her grin. “I suppose I could do something really absurd like make them all stay open to midnight. But that would just be silly.”

“Okay, okay! Sheesh!” Spike rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. “It was just an idea.”

Twilight gave him a one-legged hug to show there were no hard feelings. “Well, how about this. Technically, I also have the title of ‘Lady’ from my brother’s marriage. Maybe I should just use ‘Lady Sparkle?’ What do you guys think?”

Rainbow shrugged. “It’s your call. I can’t see anything wrong with it.”

“Less of a mouthful than ‘Grand Mage Twilight Sparkle’. I say go for it.” Spike gave a thumbs up.

“So… Lady Sparkle, then?” The officer asked. “I should tell ponies to call you that?”

Twilight shrugged. “It’ll do. Your sergeant is in there, right?” She pointed at a wooden door.

He nodded. “Right, that’s the Squad Room. Just go in there and ask.”

Twilight tilted her head over. “Follow me, everypony. I get the feeling they’ll get the point a little faster if I have a couple of armored Day Guards.” She grabbed the handle with her magic and turned, pushing the door open and into the small cacophony inside.

The sounds of typewriters, conversations, and chalkboards being written on quickly filled the air as she stepped into a crowded room of ponies and desks. Almost every single pony had on a police uniform, with a few well-dressed exceptions. Probably prosecutors or detectives… Okay, think Twilight. Look for a Sergeant’s rank on a shoulder.

The sounds quickly died down as she made her way inside, followed by her guards. All the talking quited, the clacking typewriters fell silent, and even some chalk thudded to the ground. Ah, well, I suppose having Royal Guards behind me makes an impression. Since I have their attention… “Pardon me, everypony, but I’m looking for Sergeant Beat. Where might I find him?”

One pony’s ears perked up, and he slowly turned around in his chair and stood up. He was quite the large draft stallion, standing almost as tall as Big Macintosh. “I’m Sergeant Beat. Can I help you, miss?”

“Guess his name fits him after all,” Spike whispered.

“It’s Lady, actually.” Twilight corrected the pony, ignoring Spike. Suppose now’s as good a time as any to start using the title. “Lady Sparkle.”

The policepony’s eyes went wide. “Lady Sparkle? As in—”

Twilight pulled out the paper she was carrying. “Correct. Grand Mage Sparkle is also my title. I’m here to talk to you about this?”

Patrol Beat picked up the paper and examined the pages. “What about it?”

“I was told you were the one to leak the information on the byline. The highly inaccurate, libelous information. Is this true?”

The pony flipped back to the front page and stared at it. “... Nope.”

Twilight’s took a step back in shock. “Come again?”

“I’ve heard of this Trixie character, sure, but the only thing she did here was get a disturbing the peace citation. Even paid the fine right away.” He turned around in an angle that both of them could see the paper. “And, well, this paper? The Hoofington Post? It’s been out of business for the last few years. Where did you get this?”

“Hoofington Post?” One of the other ponies in the room asked. “I think I saw some new issues of that at the newsstand. I thought someone bought them and restarted it or something.”

Twilight’s jaw went to the ground. “No way… Was it just the last couple of days? When was the citation given?”

The sergeant folded his forelegs in thought. “I think the citation was around a week ago. Officer, when did you first see the paper?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Four days ago? Maybe three? I thought it kind of strange.”

Twilight pulled away the paper from the sergeant and looked at the date, eyes wide in realization.

“Before we begin today’s lesson, I wish to offer a word of advice for when you are in the field for an extended time. Twilight, I know you are fond of habits and schedules—”

“When she isn’t busy being obsessed with something.” Spike interrupted, earning him a light bop on the head from Twilight.

“But,” Luna continued, “unless your location is exceptionally secure, vary your schedule as much as you can. Do not go to the same place twice at the same time of day. Eat at different places, etc.”

“How come?” Twilight asked. “Seems… unnecessary.”

Luna shook her head. “It takes three days to pull off a kidnapping. On the first day, a hostile can see what your habits may be, and on the second they confirm it.”

Rainbow cringed. “I think I have a guess what happens on the third day.”

“The third day, you are lost.” Luna confirmed. “Since you are what the enemy would consider a ‘High Priority Target,’ you should be mindful of this. Vary your schedule. It could save your life.”

“This one is from three days ago. This… This cannot be a coincidence. Spike! Rainbow! We have to get back to that paper! Now!

Twilight turned around and bolted out the door, her guards following closely behind by the sounds of it. Shortly after leaving the building, wingbeats overhead followed in formation, and the sound of a set of strong, pounding hooves pulled up beside her.

“If I might ask, Lady Sparkle!” Patrol Beat hollered, catching up to her. “What’s going on?”

“That paper isn’t what it looks like!” she yelled back. “Spike! Get the anti-candle ready!”

“On it!” Came a yell from overhead.

She brought her hooves to a halt, skidding on the sidewalk and turning to face the doors to the paper. She didn’t even settle for normal telekinesis, and instead sent a stream of power into her horn and blasted the door open before charging in.

The curmudgeon behind the counter looked startled but no less astringent.

“You’re going to have to pay for that!” he yelled, pointing a hoof. “Officer! Arrest her for trespassing and destruction of private property!”

She trotted up to the desk and slammed her hooves on her table. “Stuff it!” she yelled in his face, little bits of spittle going flying. “You lied to me! And I know why! Spike!”

“Right here!” The dragon rushed to the counter and slammed the candle onto it, holding it in a fist.

Twilight lit up her horn, readying a binding spell. “Last chance! Come clean or this candle does it for you!”

The stallion got in her face, slamming his own hooves on the counter. “Come clean? About what! You’re the one barging in here, demanding this, demanding that—”

“Light it!” Twilight commanded, and a stream of green fire arced across the wick of the candle.

Then, all was dark.

One palomino, two palomino, three palomino, four! Twilight blew out the candle, bringing the light back to the room.

The wallpaper around them had been stained and peeled almost entirely off, there were holes in the drywall. A dry wind was blowing through the room and the shattered windows. A rusted-out, ancient fan sat in the corner, its cord cut. The flooring was half-missing and covered in moss. The wooden counter wasn’t even there anymore, replaced by a slightly less worn spot on the ground. If not for Spike's grasp, the candle would have fallen to the ground.

“What in the name of Celestia…” Patrol Beat took off his hat. “How?”

“No time for that!” Twilight leapt over the ground in a single hop and barreled through the door behind it. The frame cracked and busted open on its latch, swinging open and hanging loose. An instant later, another door on the far end of the large room clacked shut, and Twilight tore after her phantom, dodging printing equipment along the way. Her hooves clacked on the cement floor, and her teeth ground at the thought of answers being just on the other side.

A blast of magic all but tore the door off its hinges as she powered through into the alley, turning each way and looking for a pony, any pony with her magic sight.

There were only buildings, darkness, and trash cans.

Twilight ground her teeth and sneered at the empty alley while her magic sight probed it over and over, each time finding nothing.

“Dammit!” She swung around and bucked a dumpster, putting a huge dent in it.

Patrol Beat’s jaw dropped. “Whoa. I heard you were powerful, but…”

Wonderful time for my earth pony magic to come back. Twilight snorted. “Let’s get back inside. Maybe there's some evidence I can use…”

Spike came up behind them both. “Care to explain what’s going on first?”

Twilight froze her head still, thinking over the options. If their illusions are this good, there’s no tailing them… “Yeah, okay. Let’s get back inside, though.”

The small group wandered back in, weaving through the machines and over to where Rainbow was looking at the ground while the two other Royal Guard pegasi guarded the door.

“Hey, Twi, check it out. Some real odd markings in the concrete here. Fresh grease nearby, too. I think the marks are recent.”

Twilight lifted an eyebrow. Rainbow, being observant? This I have to check out. She went over to her and illuminated the floor with her magic. “Hmm…” There were markings in an equilateral shape, and all of them were heavy scrape marks going into some kind of machine grease that dotted the ground in blotches.

“Huh. I think Rainbow’s… right!” Spike held his cheeks in shock. “Did a changeling sneak into our group?”

“Quiet, sulfur breath,” the pegasus muttered. “I can be observant too!”

“I think she’s right, Spike.” Twilight tapped the floor. “ The grease doesn't have any dust accumulation, but it was here when the floor got marked, which means, yes, it's recent. Good eye, Rainbow. I’ll make sure to point it out to RGIS. For now, though, let me bring you all up to speed on what’s going on.”

“Please do,” Patrol demanded. “I want to know what’s happening in my town.”

Twilight looked at him and thought for a moment, narrowing her eyes a little. What to do? Normally protocol would dictate to dismiss him immediately. But that will do little to garner additional support, and could lead to the town becoming politically hostile to the crown’s influence. It could even leave him unnecessarily vulnerable for not knowing what’s going on.

I also have to consider the possibility that he’s aligned with this same organization I’m investigating. Granted, from his reaction, lack of horn, and the fact that he didn’t disappear in the candle’s aura leaves me to believe he genuinely doesn’t know anything. Hmm… Split the difference. Warn him, and don’t reveal anything the group wouldn’t either know already or be able to reasonably figure out. And have him observed by RGIS for a while if possible. “Very well. I do not believe your presence will place you at risk given that you don’t have a formal connection to us. For your sake, however, do not repeat what is said here. Consider the information classified.”

He folded his forelegs. “So you’ll prosecute me if I talk?”

She shook her head. “No. The organization we’re dealing with here is well managed and willing to take lethal action against threats to its existence. If you keep quiet, they’ll probably think none of us know anything, and will leave you alone. Talk, and, well…”

Spike chuckled. “We’re the only ones here that have been trained by Luna. You’re on your own, bucko.”

His coat went pale. “Oh. Right. Fair enough. I’ll keep silent.”

“Very well.” Twilight cleared her throat. “Our ‘friend’ Trixie was attacked by this group in Canterlot, but I don’t think that was their original plan. Remember what Luna said about kidnapping? It takes three days to set up. But if Trixie’s been chased for a long time I’m betting she knows this too. She varied her schedule, and this group wanted to capture her alive. If they didn’t, she’d’ve died in that attack instead of merely being disabled. Hence, I think they set up a trap.”

Spike snapped his fingers. “Now I’m getting it. They set up a fake newspaper here and put out the ‘warrant.’ Since Trixie wasn’t a local, she didn’t know it was a fake, and even to the ponies that did live here it’d just be an oddity. So they’d just get her when she surrendered, or tried to clear her name, or maybe even when she ran! They might have figured out her escape routes.”

“But she didn’t run or surrender.” Rainbow countered. “At least, not here. She surrendered to Twi personally.”

“Exactly!” Twilight looked around at the group. “They had to act fast, or I’d get involved. But they weren’t fast enough. Trixie found me. However, she panicked and ran when she realized it was a trap rather than a petty revenge ploy on my part. That let them spring a much more hasty trap that we ultimately broke her out of.”

Patrol nodded. “So, they probably just took up residence in this empty building because it was available and had printing equipment. They’d only need a few days worth. It was a convenient target.”

“And the rude flank-wipe at the front desk?” Rainbow asked.

“I bet the rudeness was to keep ponies from getting back here and realizing it wasn’t a real paper. The illusion magic would do the rest, but the papers themselves had to be ‘real.’ Remember when Trixie looked behind us and panicked? I’m betting she can see through their illusions somehow. That’s probably another reason why they set the trap. They knew she’d see through any simple attempt to take her with illusions.”

“So, ultimately, they failed.” Spike folded his arms. “I mean, we have Trixie and we know about them now. Although we don’t quite know who ‘they’ are.”

“Not yet we don’t,” Twilight smirked. “But I’m going to have RGIS tear this place apart, starting with this mark on the floor here. Hopefully they’ll get us some evidence we can use for a lead. Otherwise, I think we’re done here. We should get back to the Castle and inform them that the anti-candles are an effective counter to their illusions.”

Patrol Beat stepped forward. “What do you need me to do?”

Twilight looked back at him and smiled. “Well, for starters, you’ve already been very helpful. Thank you!” She gave him a slight bow. “It’s refreshing to have somepony take me seriously for once!

“Second, remember what I said about not talking to anypony, and I mean anypony about this. With these ponies, you never really know if what you’re seeing is real. Third and lastly, have your officers keep this building secure. Nopony gets in until the RGIS shows up, but if these guys come back, do not engage them. You won’t win.”

He bowed in return. “As you wish, Your Highness.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Not ‘Highness.’ That’s only for the Princesses. If you have to use an honorific, call me ‘Lady Sparkle.’”

He bowed again. “Of course, Lady Sparkle. Do you need a police escort anywhere?”

She shook her head. “My guards will take care of that. Rainbow? Stay here with the Sergeant until Intelligentsia shows up, then return to base. Light the candle if you suspect even the slightest disturbance. Spike? Let’s get back to the castle. I need to talk to Trixie.”

Author's Note:

Hey all!

This chapter has yet to see a technical pass, as my tech editor is rather busy as of late, so expect some roughness. It will be updated later.

This mission is relatively short. There is only one additional chapter. Much like with the first mission, this illusionist thing isn’t going to get resolved so quickly as one simple mission. ;)

As ever, I have to say how grateful I am to all of you for your continued interest in my story, even through all the delays and the medical issues and the canon stuff. That I continue to see people enjoy my story warms my heart and holds the worries and depression at bay. As I mentioned in my blog, I'm NOT one of those authors that thinks comments are only worthwhile if you have some kind of keen insight on how to make things better. Anything that says you still enjoy reading my story and that it's still worth keeping up with is very welcome. I love getting comments, even if it’s as simple as pointing out something in the chapter you thought was awesome. :)

There’s a big blog post going up with a lot more information. I hope you guys enjoy the chapter! :)


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