• Published 15th Sep 2018
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Fire & Rain: Applejack and the Queen of Knives - Limbo Theorem



The fate of the world hangs in the balance and its potential savior is a mysterious figure known only as The Queen of Knives. But who is she? That's what Applejack has to find out.

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The Best Laid Plans...

PONYVILLE, OKLAHOMA
181021SJUL30:

Despite the fact that what she held against her right now made her skin crawl, Fluttershy tried to relax. She braced the frame against her right shoulder, looking down the scope, trying to recall what she remembered from the last time she did it.

“You’ll be fine, hon,” she could hear Flash say behind her. “It’s mostly muscle memory.”

“You know it isn’t,” she snapped at him, a little harder than intended. “I’m a healer, not a killer.”

“You know I don’t like doing that unless there’s no other alternative,” he said to her gently.

Fluttershy sighed, then set down the rifle, a P-90 USG, and looked at him. “I’m sorry I snapped at you,” she told him. “I just…I don’t like guns.”

“I know you don’t,” he replied. “And if I had my way, you wouldn’t touch one. But that choice was taken out of my hands – both of ours.” He went over and embraced her. “I have always wanted to keep you safe, love, but I can’t do that all the time.”

She smiled and kissed him. “I know.”

“Then let’s try this again, okay?”

Fluttershy nodded, returning to the fireline and rehefting the weapon. Originally, it wasn’t a weapon that the US Army tended to use, but given the immense destruction of weapon systems around the world in the past five years, the armies of the world used whatever they could get their hands on and it was now just as common for the US Army to use the P-90 as it was for Russian Special Forces to use XM8s. The remaining weapons factories around the world were now working together to try to field a globally-uniform weapon system that could be used by all nations, but rumors were of it being in development, not actually field tested just yet, so everyone had to make do with what was available.

Aiming carefully, Fluttershy pulled the trigger and the gun bucked. A small lick of flame tore away from the muzzle as the round cleared. However, the bullet missed the target, instead embedding itself into the concrete wall at the back of the firing range, far from her intended mark.

She frowned as she set the weapon down. “I’m not that bad of a shot!” she groused, ignoring her husband while he laughed, collapsing to the floor in fits while his wife huffed.

“That was,” he gasped between gales of laughter, “the worst shot I’ve ever seen!”

“Be glad I love you or you’d be the next thing I’d shoot at,” she said in a hurt tone.

“Yes, but I’d be perfectly safe – the surroundings would be the objects at threat,” he replied. He finally forced himself to calm down and looked at her. “It can’t be that hard to shoot a gun, can it? I mean, you’ve been exposed to them before. I recall Sunset had that airsoft gun she used to shoot all the time at Applejack’s place.”

Fluttershy was quiet for the longest time, before she said, “I remember that. She loved using that thing for target practice.” For some reason, the unicorn-turned-teen had a fascination with firearms, and though she had never intended to use them on anyone, she shot whenever she could.

“I used to be worried that she would do something stupid with those guns, but thankfully they were just for fun.” The two were silent for the longest time, reminiscing over someone common to their lives long gone and likely dead now.

After a few more awkward seconds, he said, “Okay, let’s try this again.” He walked over and grabbed a sidearm, setting that and the magazine on the table. “Make the shots and dinner’s on me, okay?”

“And if I don’t?”

“Then dinner’s on you – which it should be anyway, since you get paid more than I do,” he reminded her.

“But you’re my husband. You’re supposed to spoil me rotten because you love me,” she said with a smile, and he just shook his head, chuckling at the silliness of her words.

Meanwhile, Fluttershy picked up the sidearm and magazine and slid it into the well. She thought of the fun times she’d had with Sunset, long before it had all gone south. Though she’d never herself fired Sunset’s airsoft gun, she did remember how it came together.

The memories brought a bittersweet smile to her face. But from where he stood, Flash then looked at his wife as she started to glow with a green aura. “Flutters?”

She turned back to him and the glow stopped. “Yes?”

He wondered if he’d just imagined what he saw. “Everything alright?”

“I was just…reminiscing,” she admitted. “But I guess I should focus on what I need to do.” She set the gun down momentarily to slide on her safety glasses and ear protectors, then picked up, aimed, and fired. The pistol barked its tinny report as the woman fired, the weapon briefly buckling as each spent cartridge ejected away from the weapon.

When she put the gun down, she looked at her husband with a smile. “Let’s not go to the pizza place tonight, okay? Getting a little tired of that.” She then went to return the pistol to the gun rack, so the rangemaster could take care of it.

Flash jogged out to where the target was, and looked on with a shock. Perfect bullseye for the whole magazine. How the hell’d she do that?

He went back to ask her when one of his men rushed up to them. “Captain? Col. Spearhead is looking for you and the Major,” he said. “Said it’s urgent and for you to drop everything. I brought a car so we can get there soonest.”

Flash and Fluttershy looked at each other; whatever other weapons familiarization planned was now on hold. “Okay, Sergeant,” he said. “Let’s get going.”


“Thanks for coming, you two,” Spearhead said as they entered his office. “We just got word from the Mountain that they’re sending along some heavy hitters for this operation. They’re not just sending SEALs from SEAL Team SIX, but we’re getting their top platoon as well: The Amazons.”

“The Amazons, sir?” Fluttershy asked.

“Naval Special Warfare Development Group Platoon Alpha, codenamed ‘the Amazons’,” Spearhead clarified. “Their lone all-female team, their most effective squad, and, as I understand it, they’ve been in the worst of the fighting out there. These gals apparently know their shit far more than anyone else, which is why they’re taking the lead on this.” He reached over and handed them two folders. “But they’re not the only ones coming along for the ride.

“The President is worried about another Boston, so he’s authorized the use of the Changelings – a CIA wetworks group. The SEALs are there in case the Octos act up.” Spearhead shook his head. “The Changelings are there in case the locals act up.”

“What?” Fluttershy gasped.

“You heard me, Major. Personally, I don’t like it, either. And the more I hear about this, the less I like it. But I suppose I can bring that up with the project leader, Col. Shining Armor. I know Col. Armor; he’s a good man. But if he’s along for the ride that means that he’s had some say in all of this – but whether that’s as a voice of reason or as the fall guy, I don’t know.”

“Sir, I have to protest,” Fluttershy told him. “I don’t know much about the CIA, but even I know they’re not supposed to operate within the US—”

“Those are the old rules, Major,” Spearhead said. “With the Octos now trying to kill everyone, those rules went out the window. Nowadays, the only difference between the FBI’s intelligence group and the CIA’s is that the FBI are generally considered the nice folks.” He set down the folder. “In any case, that’s unimportant. I’m more concerned about whether or not your folks are ready to go.”

She looked at Flash. “Your call on that one, Captain.”

“Yeah, sure, make your husband do all the hard work,” he grumbled.

“Knock it off, you two,” Spearhead told them. “As it is, I’m already pushing several regs by sending you both on this mission. While I know you two are just joking, the fact is, many people won’t, and they’re not going to care that it’s just husband and wife banter. You’re a major, Fluttershy. Sentry reports to you as that, and for right now, only that.”

“Understood, sir,” she said, taking the hint. “In any case, from what I can tell, my people are good to go. We’ve been working with Flash’s company and although we’re not fighters, we’ll do our best not to be a burden.”

“And your assessment, Flash?”

“My senior cadre has been working with hers and they’re as good as we can make them. While they won’t be dyed-in-the-wool light fighters, they should be able to deal with the situation at hand.”

“That’s the most I can ask for. In any case, we have word that they will be here tomorrow. Afterwards, we’ll work things out with Col. Armor and figure out where to go from there. Chances are, we’ll be moving fast, so I expect you two to have your folks ready to move at a moment’s notice, got that?”

Fluttershy finally decided to put the elephant on the room on notice. “Request permission to speak freely, sir.”

“Granted, Major, though I already know what you’re going to say.”

“You don’t want to do this, do you? Send us, I mean.”

“No, and not just because of regulations. You two….” He sighed. “You two remind me a lot of my wife and I way back when. Happy as clams, living a peaceful life and not having to worry about aliens or anything of the like. You two were dragged into this because you’re both from Canterlot, and if what little we know so far is true, I may be sending you two – a pair who deserve much better than this – to your deaths. So, no, this isn’t easy at all, Fluttershy, and I don’t like this one Goddamn bit. Only solace I can take is that you’re going in protected by the best the government has.”

Flash looked at him, then his wife uneasily, not comfortable with the fact that as an accomplished soldier – and a police officer before that –he was still having to rely on someone else to do what needed to be done.

She then made her next request. “Sir, I’d also like to have Lt. Bolt come along with us. She’s worked hard to get my group up to snuff and she can serve as a company XO for me.”

“I think I can arrange that,” he told her, “just as long as you’re sure about it. Lt. Bolt is a communications officer, not infantry.”

“Then it’s more important that we have one of those along for the ride,” she told him. “If we’re going to succeed at this, sir, we’re going to need every chance at success.”

Spearhead looked at her and for a second he wondered he saw a mouse about to roar. “Then it’s best to make sure that I do so,” he said, templing his fingers against the desk. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow, once it all starts. Dismissed, you two.”


As Flash and Fluttershy departed the colonel’s office, she commented, “We should probably look for quarters for the incoming SEALs. We can probably commandeer one of the abandoned apartment buildings that the town hasn’t used yet.”

“I’ll talk to my first sergeant and see if he can have the quartermasters get involved. As it is, we’re probably going to need some for their noncoms and enlisted troops.”

“A platoon, though? That’s smaller than your company. Will that be enough? Even for Special Warfare?”

“The President seems to think so. Plus, I once had the chance to train with some Green Berets. If the SEALs are anything like them, a platoon of them should be more than enough – hell, they’ll probably be more effective than my own people, and that’s saying a lot.”

She crossed her arms. “Also, there’s another thing we should consider.”

“Which is?”

She playfully jabbed a finger in his chest. “You promised me you were going to take me somewhere else tonight, right? I made the shots, so you owe me dinner at a decent restaurant, got that?”

He laughed. “What happened to the sweet, gentle girl I married?”

“You married her – that was the problem,” she said with a grin.


“Okay, get a room you two.” Bolt rushed over to meet them, briefly saluting both. “Flutters, are you sure about this?”

“I need someone I can trust,” she said to Bolt, “and I know I can trust you.”

“Thanks. I’ll try not to blow it.”

“Well, you can start by doing our work for us,” Flash suggested, looking slyly at his wife, who caught it immediately.

So did Bolt. “I just showed up at the worst time, didn’t I?”

“Yes you did, XO,” Fluttershy replied. “Now the Captain here is going to give you an assignment, and he and I are going to go work on procuring weapons for our company in the meanwhile.”

Bolt’s eyes narrowed. “Since when did ‘procuring weapons’ become a euphemism for ‘going back to the apartment to fool around’?”

“It didn’t – we really are going to go check on weapons for you guys,” Flash told Bolt.

“Yes, we use different euphemisms for sex,” Fluttershy said, leaning briefly against Flash.


WINCHESTER ARMY AIRFIELD, VIRGINIA
181837RJUL30:

Once upon a time, Winchester Regional Airport had been nothing more than a small municipal airfield, a place where cargo and hobbyist aircraft flitted in and out of, on its way to destinations elsewhere. But since the destruction of Washington DC and most of the military bases on the Eastern Seaboard, several municipal airports had been repurposed into military facilities in order to accommodate the war. The Air Force took over the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, turning it into Springwind Air Force Base; the former Leesburg Executive Airport was now busily being expanded as Naval Air Station Leesburg. Winchester Regional, with its proximity to the Mountain, had been no different; and as a result, had become Winchester Army Airfield.

At the moment, the majority of the “FAR Group” (as Lightning had nicknamed them) was meeting in a conference room inside the terminal building. Applejack had already introduced Tempest, Shipshape and her other senior personnel to them, and Tempest had arrived with new information: due to them now being semi-independent of DEVGRU, they were being assigned the official designation of SEAL Team SIX Detachment ONE. Additionally, an aircraft from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron FOUR SIX was now assigned to them, flying one of the new HV-22C “Super Osprey” aircraft specifically designed for special warfare use.

They were now going through the initial order of battle, though further planning would have to commence once they arrived at Ponyville.

“Look, all I’m saying, folks, is that we’re not going to be able to crowd in everyone into our craft,” Lt. Splitdown, the pilot of the aircraft, stated. “It was meant to carry a SEAL platoon, so we can probably squeeze in a couple of others, such as my aircrew, Ms. Chrysalis and the Colonel here, since we’re just doing a straight flight to Oklahoma. However, once we get ready for the hot zone, we’re not going to be able to carry a company of groundpounders and medics as well. And if we’re talking medical supplies and all that? Sorry, I’m flying a plane, not a destroyer.”

“We’ll work on that,” Lighting stated. “As it is, once we get this ball rolling, I’m not sure working out of rented CIA offices is going to cut it for us anymore.”

“Oh, and here I thought we were going to get some good coffee for a change,” Tempest said with a smirk.

“I’ll get right on that as soon as I can,” Lighting responded with equal humor. “Seriously, though, Colonel, if what Cmdr. Apple has stated is true, then we’re looking at having to move around the world at a moment’s notice.” She looked at Applejack. “You said you weren’t the only one who worked with this unicorn girl, right?”

“That’s true. But I have no idea where they are or even if they’re still alive,” Applejack answered. “And quite frankly, I don’t care. They were my friends once – but we ruined one of the best things in my life and each other in the process. Some things are meant to stay buried and some things are just best left behind.” The look in her eyes was one of uncomfortable pain and anger, something that the others hadn’t seen before and something that Tempest had only seen rarely.

Shining looked at his subordinate, then at Lt. Shadow and decided that she would be best to take care of it. He didn’t know Applejack as well as her subordinate did, and mission or not, Canterlot native or not, he figured it was best left between friends. Besides, being from Canterlot himself, everything he’d heard her say at the briefing with President Sombra, combined with follow-ups made him put two and two together in several places, as strange as it had seemed. The construction accident at Canterlot High School which he’d heard about, explained away simply as the result of so-called “concrete cancer” accrued over the school’s decades of operation; people had reported that demon, but at the time it had been dismissed as just special effects for a student film. Then there was the fireworks show in Greenvale Park during CHS’ high school talent contest, with pyrotechnics that somehow had sown chaos; people had reported seeing a giant winged unicorn, but that was later attributed to mass hysteria. And then there was the intramural games between his alma mater, Crystal Prep, and again, CHS, where things had once again gotten out of hand. He hadn’t found out what had occurred, other than that Crystal Prep was issued its first draw; and that the longtime principal, Abacus Cinch, had been fired over something that had occurred between her and a girl named Moondancer.

Both he and his wife agreed it was a good thing his sister had been sick with the flu that week, or likely Cinch probably would’ve roped her into whatever it was. As it was, Cadance couldn’t really remember for some reason, save that the board had promoted her to dean of women’s issues after the whole thing.

But now…now he knew that magic – magic?! – had been behind all of that, and that his subordinate had been a part of that mess. And now, without any understanding of what it was or the ramifications of what it would do, they were going to rely on it to save the human race. And clearly, Applejack had almost no interest of reinvolving herself in those affairs, which made him wonder exactly what it was that she had done as a teenager…and what had happened to make her shun it like no tomorrow.

Somehow, he wondered how much of the seventeen-year-old girl was still there in the twenty-nine-year-old woman, hating whatever it was that had happened a dozen years ago.


PONYVILLE, OKLAHOMA
181937SJUL30:

“I like this place,” Fluttershy said, looking at the décor of the restaurant. They were at a place deep inside the civilian sector of town, out where the military personnel rarely ventured, as it was more family-oriented, with bars and other venues catering to the Army at a minimum. “How’d you find it?”

“Boltie said if I didn’t take you here she’d frag me,” Flash said blandly. When his wife looked at him oddly, he grinned and added, “Seriously, there are flyers all over the main drag. Apparently a bunch of restaurants in this part of town are about to go out of business, because there’s not enough civilians still in town left in order to keep them afloat. None of them want to leave, so they’re trying to reach out to us. When I saw the flyer, the owner of this place was walking by and she insisted that we come here.”

“So…you did it because she’s throwing free food at us and not because you actually searched.”

“Well, if you put it that way,” he said, shrugging.

She giggled and picked up her hamburger, taking a bite out of it and savored the taste before setting it back down. “Hey, so long as the mission gets done, no one cares about what shortcuts are taken, right? That’s the Army way.”

“I’m so glad you approve, Major. I can die happy now.”

She took another bite and looked around. “You know, this reminds me of that old place we used to hang out at after school – Sugarcube Corner.”

“I remember,” he told her. “You were there so often it’s like you all had one of the seats reserved just for your group.”

She nodded. “Those were the days. But then we all fucked up and split apart, and I retreated into myself. Didn’t come back out of my shell until you ran into me at Cloudsdale U.”

“I remember that. You seemed so happy to see someone from CHS, even someone you didn’t hang around with before. And you weren’t the only one who was hurting by Sunset’s loss. She was my girlfriend, and then left me and then she came back…changed. And we….” He shook his head. “You know, what? Forget it – it’s in the past.”

“Is it?”

“How long have we been married now? It’s in the past, and I’m far surer of our marriage than I ever was of my relationship with Sunset. And in the end, it’s you and me.” He reached over and took her hands in his. “We’re going to make it out of here, we’re going to end this war, and then we’re going to start a family like you wanted.”

She smiled, falling practically in love with him once again. “You promise?”

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s a promise.”


WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA
182256RJUL30:

Even though she wasn’t familiar with the area, Tempest knew it wouldn’t take long to find her old friend.

“Figures…all I had to do was find the apple trees in the area, and I knew you’d be there,”

Applejack gestured at the apple tree. “Akero. It’s a cultivar that’s hard to find outside of Northern Europe. It’s the standard variety in Sweden and Estonia, if I remember.” She looked back at the abandoned house, surprisingly still in good condition. “Found this place one afternoon after borrowing a car and just deciding to take a drive. I was going to ask the Reclamation Authority if I can take ownership, but if we’re going to be moving away from the Mountain, I guess I shouldn’t count on it.”

Tempest looked around appreciatively. “Looks nice. Owners must’ve really liked this place.”

“I just like the fact that it’s twenty minutes away from the Mountain. I can relax in peace.”

“Bullshit. People like you and I don’t get peace. Not yet, anyway.” Tempest hopped onto the hood of the JLTV and lay on it, looking at the stars above. “You know, this really reminds me of where I grew up.”

“You never really told me about that.”

“Two-bit place in southwestern Wyoming called Kludgetown. Part mining town, part art enclave, all weird. My dads thought it’d be a great place to grow up – they were a bit idealistic about that sort of thing. We got insulted a lot, but they went out of their way to take it in stride; said that in the end, namecalling were just words that let them have power over you only if you let them.” She raised her hand to the air. “Sky just seemed to stretch on forever.” She then leaned up on her elbows and looked at her friend. “So, Jackie, want to cut the bullshit and tell me what’s wrong?”

“I’m not looking forward to returning. I left Canterlot because I destroyed everything I had there, and when I left, I thought I was going away for good and would never look back. But here I am, a dozen years later and headed back to my failures.”

“Everyone has regrets. I told you how I got the small scar under my eye, right?”

“Yeah, but you were in the right, as I recall. I drove away someone I cared about like a sister only to find out that it was my own flesh-and-blood sister that was the guilty party. We were all friends, all six of us, and in the end despite everything we said about our friendship being strong and sure, we didn’t even give Sunset a chance to prove she was telling the truth.” Applejack stared at the ground as if it would give an answer she’d been searching for years for. “I am – I was – Honesty, and yet I couldn’t get past my own prejudice to see she was telling the truth.”

Are you worried you’re not going to find her?”

“I’m more worried that I will – and I won’t know what to say. Did I tell you I had a dream the other night about her?” Applejack then went over her dream and how she seemed to have had a conversation with the wayward unicorn in it. “And in the end, she told me to forgive myself…but I don’t know if that was really her, or me just trying to convince my own guilty conscience.”

“Twelve years is a long time to be a martyr, Jackie.” Tempest shifted slightly. “I’ve known you for years and I’ve never known you to be this down on yourself. You’ve always bounced back before. Why not this time?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s the kid in me that wants Sunset to actually forgive her, and the adult I am now is just too jaded to believe it.”

“Or maybe you just need to hear it from her in person. Either way, that’s not going to happen until you step up and start pushing the dominos.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t have the luxury of that choice anymore,” Applejack reminded her. “I stepped into this, now I gotta step forward.”

Tempest gave her friend a grin. “Fuck Six, Jackie.”

Despite her mood, the blonde laughed. “Yeah, Fuck Six it is.”


CANTERLOT, COLORADO
182103TJUL30:

The cargo recovered from the downed drone turned out to be far more of a treasure trove than Button or the others had even imagined. Within the two crates were six military-grade hardened laptops running the latest edition of Windows, as well as enhanced solar panels and a few other things that had been developed or advanced in the outside world since they’d been cut off so many years ago.

But the biggest surprise had come on an accompanying tablet: a message recorded by Sombra, President of the United States (wasn’t the president Kibbitz? Had something happened to Washington?) Seated in what looked to be a location that didn’t look like the Oval Office, he faced the camera as he gave his speech:

“To the brave people of Canterlot: we know you’ve suffered, that you’ve put up with a lot to protect your homes and loved ones even as the war has raged on. But America has not forgotten you and now we aim to keep our promise to come back for you. Enclosed on the computers within are part of the plan to return to Canterlot and take back the city. We hope you’ll be there to join our forces when we do. Until then, Godspeed, and God Bless America.”

“Well,” Button said with disgust, “that has got to be the biggest line of bullshit ever. Wonder how many takes it took him to say it with a straight face? Goddamn jackboot.”

“And yet they supplied us with the stuff necessary to contact them,” Bloom told him. “He might be telling the truth, you know.”

“No way in hell he is. He’s a politician and you know how you can tell a politician is lying?” Button seethed. “He opens his mouth.” He looked at the rest of those assembled. “Well, you heard our dear President. How many of you out there actually believe he gives a damn about us?”

The group was currently in the remains of the cavernous Downtown subway station, the only place large enough to fit all of the resistance fighters, as well as those of the survivors who wanted a say in how things were done. The underground structure had thus become a central meeting hall as well as the defacto City Hall, given that the original building was a burnt, ruined husk. Between Downtown North’s labyrinthine corridors, walkways and platforms, it had become the true heart of Canterlot in this desperate time: part military-base, part gathering location and part market for those still working to survive in this hell.

For her part, Gilda looked at the face of the president on the large screen Button had displayed the message on. She took a drag of her handrolled cigarette, then threw away the rest. “Fuck that bastard,” she said. “Fuck them all. Where were they when our families were getting killed? Where was he when my kid sister Gabrielle died in my arms?” Her eyes narrowed, becoming amber pinholes of rage. “I’ll take the Octos over those fucking thugs any day – at least the Octos are clear and honest in their need to try to kill us.”

“I really doubt the government would contact us just to kill us,” a kid with a shaved head and messy clothing commented. He was the latter because he’d been one of the ones that had barely survived the earlier assault, and was waiting to give his grisly report. The former was because his dreadlocks, that he’d had for years, were now a liability and if he was going to cut them, he might as well go all the way. “I say we get in touch with them and take our chances.”

“There was a time when we couldn’t trust you,” one of the older adults in the room pointed out. “Stupid stoner kid now suddenly thinks he’s hot shit because you’ve killed a couple of aliens. Why the hell should we listen to you?”

“Because I grew up,” Sandalwood stated, giving the older man a glare. “Can you say the same?”

The older man stormed towards Sandalwood. “I oughta smack the smug off you, kid.”

The younger man closed the distance. “Bring it on, fossil. I’ll dust you like I did the Octos.”


“THAT’S ENOUGH!” a clear, commanding voice rang out. “WE ARE NOT EACH OTHER’S ENEMY – THE ALIENS ARE!” Everyone in the room turned to look in the direction of the voice, and at once, the room turned to face the speaker.

Zeus and Hera were present, a sad look in the elder’s eyes. “We are the survivors of Canterlot! We rest on the bones of those who were sacrificed so that we could live! We vowed to take our city back and to honor those who fell – and you wish to squabble between yourselves? Do you forget that is what the Others likely want? For us to turn on one another, so that we may finish the job they started?”

Zeus glared at the older man first. “Old Book! You should know better than anyone else that these aren’t the kids that were in school when you were the Chief Librarian. These are adults with their own minds and own opinions, and you should respect that.”

Sandalwood was the next target. “And you, Sandalwood – you should know better. You’ve heard your respect as a grown man, but you need to do the same for others as well. Old Book has knowledge that you don’t, and it has been vital to our survival. Do you want to grow up in a world where your daughter has no respect for her own father, because he has never shown any to others?” Chastened, he backed down.

Firm eyes fixed on the group. “Everyone, this is a hard decision, I know. We’ve lost friends, family, loved ones…. We’ve lost too much. We can’t afford to lose ourselves as well: not as Canterlotians, not as people. We have to trust once more: not just each other, but the outside as well, or else the Others win, whether or not we free our world.” Zeus put a comforting hand on Hera’s shoulder. “As much as I understand the rage and the anger, we need to think about our children and our future. We can’t have that future if we become what we hate.”

The room was quiet for the longest time. Button himself sighed, kicking up dust, looking at his wife. He didn’t trust the government at all – but he did trust Zeus. Everyone did. And if that’s what Zeus wanted…

“It’s for our baby,” Sweetie told him softly.

“Fine,” he said softly. “For our baby.” He looked at Sweet Transmission, who was seated at one of the laptops, listening for a signal. “ST, let them know we’re here.”

Transmission looked up at him and nodded. “To any government operatives listening in on this channel,” she began. “This is the Canterlot resistance – we are reaching out to make contact. Repeat, to any government operatives listening in on this channel, this is the Canterlot resistance – we are reaching out to make contact….”

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