• Published 11th Dec 2018
  • 357 Views, 9 Comments

Knight of Equestria II: Discordant Harmony - scifipony



Then I encountered Discord turning Ponyville into the Chaos Capital of the world. I wasn't buying his changes made ponies more fun, and I told him as much, which meant I had a part to play in the drama.

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1 - Alpha Mare

Author's Note:

Songbird's Playlist

Fly Away!, the JPB Remix by NCS.
Looking for You by the Empire Cast
Ain't Nobody, a cover by Ain't Nobody, not the original by Chaka Khan
I'm Free by Kenny Loggins on the Footloose Soundtrack.

It's hard to reminisce about the naïve events of your foalhood when you can't help but remember seeing the princess of your adopted homeland murdered. Worse, moments later, said murderer looked me square in the eye.

Obviously, I experienced the morning of the 1000th Sun Celebration differently than you.

I'd been a shy pony. Shy had a ropey black fringe that hung over her eyes, and she often hid behind it—or behind her mum's legs.

You see, I was an immigrant, a foreigner in a strange land, a nopony class-climbing peasant who'd advanced to cleaning houses with her mum and dad. That night I pretended to be a DJ at the official party for the celebration. Pretended might be a bit harsh; ponies had danced happily to my beats and owning all the hooves had proven revelatory.

But then...

Eye to eye with Princess Nightmare Moon. Yeah, eye to eye. It turned the world I understood upside-down and pulled me inside-out.

And I held her gaze.

That pony I thought of as Shy evaporated like the fog on a hot summer morning. When I knelt and called her "Your Majesty!", the usurping princess promised to knight me. I later learned I was the only pony who knelt, or even recognized her manifest royalty. I was the pony who survived certain death—by acting on instinct and without thought.

Minutes later, I stopped a stampede in Town Hall the same way by glaring at the panicked ponies and shouting one word: "Stop!" Fear became a weird emotion that puzzles me even as I write this for its lack of grip on me. Those few twilight hours transformed me, maybe broke me (ha, maybe?), but they didn't have much of an outward effect on me.

Ok. I did earn my cutie mark, puppet hearts suspended from a cloud, that night—the night that was supposed to last forever—but I'm still not certain for what. So, not much of an inward effect, either.

Not much anyway.

I no longer suffered nightmares. Instead, I had vivid dreams, some accompanied by blaring heraldry trumpets and bright prismatic lights, almost all starring the black-crowned usurping princess in her armored regalia. She always recognized me as being her first knight of the realm. Sometimes I flew with and fought beside her in Town Hall accompanied by a symphonic overture.

Like everypony, I'd heard of Twilight Sparkle's travails mastering the elements of harmony, but my dreams did not follow the official line that seemed rather too friendly. Mine relied on a Trottingham-style peerage thinking Twilight Sparkle had indeed been named Crown Representative and therefore had been named Princess Celestia's regent because the princess had no progeny and no declared heir. The instant backlash of them discovering a commoner in the succession with Celestia missing resulted in a struggle by the six friends and their supporters to make the royal guard actually capture and master the mad alicorn instead of trying to arrest Twilight Sparkle. I typically found myself staring down Princess Nightmare Moon, trying to convince her to surrender in a grandiose drama—prance horns and cellos darkly playing her theme music—albeit usually to fail... but with the six mares getting their chance to catch her in the same rainbow tornado I'd seen murder Princess Celestia.

Each dream ended with the scent of ozone in my nostrils and the same feeling: That's nice. It's over. Don't I have some homework I've forgotten to do?

I knew what was truly terrifying: late homework.

The only thing that had outwardly happened until today, had happened on the school playground near the end of summer. It was going to be my twelfth year. I was a de facto senior as they call it here. The previous year's crop had moved on. I was theoretically one of the lords of the playground. Nevertheless, bullying proved more often a flaw of personality or a side effect of being strong than it did the class year to which you belonged.

One day, I walked around a corner toward the swing set to find Blue Bird and Gone South, both husky unicorn mares, telling Ruby he owed them his lunch by shaking him, causing the ginger pegasus' down feathers to swirl into the air. Since they'd ambushed him near the corner, I walked in on the tableau.

"What are you looking at?"

I'd just halted. I looked into Blue Bird's indigo eyes, parting my overhanging fringe against my usual instinct. I'd learned the trick; I could push back by holding my gaze. It was like keeping eye contact with Princess Nightmare Moon, or stopping the stampede. Something at the back of my mind complained that I didn't want to mess with bullies, that I'd get my wings broken. Instead, I lost all expression and kept staring... not even blinking.

"What are you looking at hearts-hiney?"

I glanced at Ruby tumbling mid-air in a midnight blue aura, then at Gone South with her grey fur and sunny yellow mane, then back into Blue Bird's indigo eyes. True, Ruby's mom owned a diner; she probably prepared her colt an extraordinarily tasty lunch, but you needed to find a way to share with a classmate, not to literally shake down your fellow student. "Ruby doesn't want to share his lunch."

"You'd better mind your own business," Blue Bird said, grabbing up a rock and dropping Ruby.

"Yeah?" I asked blandly.

"Yeah." Pissed off, she threw the rock half-heartedly and charged.

I shifted, causing the rock to bounce off my withers, not my wing. As I did so, I spun on my right leg with a flutter of my wings and kicked with my back legs.

That resulted in a bloody nose. Both Ruby and Gone South fled.

"Yeah," I said as Blue Bird sat hard and began to cry. I trotted back around the corner and bumped into Cheerilee. Well, I had a bruise to prove I wasn't the bully. Of course fighting wasn't allowed. I didn't mind detention because Cheerilee always had something interesting to teach. Mum and Dad weren't happy, regardless.

I was, however.

It made me wonder. I didn't like what I had done, but it had been what needed doing, and I liked that I had done the right thing. It puzzled me that I'd hurt a pony to do it.

After that, I had a reputation for secretly being an alpha mare. Bullies behaved when I was around, and I made a point of being in sight when particular wankers weren't behaving themselves. I heard that other ponies called me "cold and steely-eyed." Good enough for me, even if I usually hid my eyes behind my overgrown rag-mop fringe. Neither Vinyl Scratch, nor the ponies that hired me to DJ their parties, cared.

I was different. Yeah. A bit broken. How much, I would soon learn.

It came after the Running of the Leaves. It came after the Great Galloping Gala during which Twilight and her friends figuratively turned the event upside down to the joy of the tabloids and, as attributed to Pony magazine candids, Princess Celestia herself. It came out of nowhere, unless you considered the Royal Sculpture Garden somewhere. My immigrant parents had, on a cultural holiday to Canterlot, taken me to "appreciate" Equestrian high art, you know: paintings, stained glass, and, well, sculpture.

Who knew that Princess Celestia had a gallows sense of humor? I immediately recognized the no-longer-a-statue creature when I saw him in the flesh weeks after the trip.

Dense grey cumulonimbus clouds appeared in the sky as I trotted home from school, my latest batch of new music releases playing into my ears from my iSing. Mum and I being pegasi, we usually heard about the scheduling of storms—if not felt them as twinges in our bones. Dark and bulgy, they caused the sky to take on a green tinge. Rogue under-layers of fluffy pink cumulus and flat stratus scudded in quickly and unexpectedly. The new dancehall synth playing in my ears kept me dancing happily along, sliding now and again.

Having lived in rainy Trottingham until almost thirteen, a little rain never bothered me. However, having lived on the ground all my life, I hadn't yet taken enough climate science to know candy-floss pink clouds weren't proper weather, even in Equestria. The iSing was an enchanted black opal, so I didn't worry about moisture.

But when a very tall, lanky, faintly dragon-y looking monster appeared in the middle of town between one blink and another, I slowed. I had been about to cross the bridge over the brook in the park, but I turned toward him. He had a malformed stallion face, so I decided he was a he. His mismatched antlers and claws and hooves were a downright weird pastiche of unrelated animals, and, I thought, probably painfully unbalancing. He was the creature I'd seen in the sculpture garden. He grinned, widely, and looked extremely happy and—the primitive pony deep inside knew already—happy in a dangerous way. He rubbed his claws together greedily as his long tail rolled upward. The fluff at the end became a claw that made a snapping sound. The house in front of him turned into red-striped blue-plaid cloth and began flapping in the breeze. It collapsed like a tent as ponies cried and dashed out.

I stared as he made another snapping sound, snickering to himself like a five-year-old sneaking away with the contents of the biscuit tin hidden above the icebox. Something else changed down the street ahead of him. I couldn't see what, but ponies screamed.

I felt ice cold. I walked toward him, eyes narrowed, the clop of my hooves sounding incautiously loud. A brown pair of ponies in ballet clothing, dancing on point despite the dangerously uneven cobbles, crossed in front of me. Their bouncing pink tutus looked absurd.

I got within ten pony-lengths. His irises were red and mismatched like the rest of him, surrounded by a sickly yellow instead of white. I looked up, waiting, while, deep inside, suppressed pony sensibilities screamed Ahhhhhhhuh!, bucking me repeatedly in the belly, trying to make me spook and run where he couldn't possibly see me. But I had looked into Princess Nightmare Moon's electric green eyes. That I could, and did, had twisted me inside out. She'd acknowledged me by my action and it had capital-C changed me. The crucial cranial circuit between fear recognition and horse-spooking lay shattered like pink carnival glass. Replaced with...? I so wished to understand what—or why standing up like this made my hooves warm up and my heart beat strong.

He looked down. His eyes widened in surprise. Princess Celestia had kept this monster in her sculpture garden magically turned to stone. Alive. But turned to stone. What did that say about her? About him? That made him a definite puzzle—and somehow special.

He blinked first.

"What do you think you are doing?" I asked. My alpha mare voice might have convinced him better had it not quavered between "are" and "doing"!

In my peripheral vision, I saw ponies looking around corners and out windows and doors. They saw I'd gotten the monster's attention. Taking a very deep breath, I motioned with a hoof and a wing while maintaining eye contact.

I heard fleeing hoof falls.

What in bloody Tartarus are you doing? I thought.

He cried, "Ooo! Another serious pony!" He popped out of existence and back in beside me. "Are you related to Twilight Sparkle?" He wrenched up one of my wings, then pulled my tail.

I bucked his claw and got an "Ow!" I turned and fluttered back, again locking my eyes on his.

The dodgy creature held his claw in surprise and lifted an eyebrow as he stepped back, too. He said, "Maybe not. You don't seem particularly friendly."

"No. Not friendly when somepony is hurting everypony," I said. "Princess Nightmare Moon had a big influence on me."

"Hmm." He scratched his fuzzy bearded chin. "Never heard of her."

"You'll be sorry if you hurt ponies."

"Will I?" Between one heartbeat and another, he held me up at the height of one story, cupping my chest in his lion paw. I flapped my wings to support myself. His chicken claw flicked in the empty air above my forehead, but made a reverberating sound as if he had struck a rod of wood. "No horn."

"Others have them."

"Like this Princess Nightmare Moon?" I found myself suddenly mid-air, unsupported, happy I'd insisted on flapping just now. He said, "Haha. They don't matter."

"All ponies matter."

He looked at me, scratching his head, clearly puzzled, which was good. He had faced south when he first confronted me. Now he faced north. Most ponies were good at sensing danger, unlike myself. Behind him, ponies fled their houses and down streets. I saw tens, then hundreds. Their hooves made a distant thunder, but I had his full attention.

He said, "In any case, I'm not hurting ponies. I'm just making them more fun!"

"Most ponies would disagree."

"You are tightly wrapped, aren't you, my little pony?" He began laughing. "You get it? It's what Celestia says. But, she's not here. Haha. Get it?"

I circled slowly west, giving even more ponies an opportunity to dodge around corners and into alleyways or to shoot into the sky. I tried to look as dense and as confused as I could until his face began to sober before I said, "No..."

"Really?"

I pursed my lips and tilted my head, watching and waiting as his mercurial bewildered expression slowly condensed toward disbelief before I shook my head. "Nooo..."

"I mean, Celestia says, 'My little pony,' when she's trying to act like everypony's mommy and I said..."

"Um... I-I don't get it."

"Huh? Well, for a flying pony you are way too dense. Like lead. You need to lighten up. Let me fix that."

My heart skipped. The part of me that suddenly insisted I had a death wish did manage to make me flinch, but I held his gaze for my final seconds, hovering just out of paw-reach, even as his eyes changed into a swirling sparkly psychedelic light show. I said, "I don't need any fixing."

"Au contraire. You think you can control others, but you're wrong! You're controlling yourself, suppressing your inner happy pony while ponies shrug and humor you."

"I don't think so."

"You do, and that's the problem." I heard a snap.